The option of in-unit laundry left other amenities out to dry—cleaning up as the most in-demand apartment feature that renters seek, with 3 out of 4 prospects preferring a unit with a washer and dryer, according to the 2019 PERQ Multifamily Field Guide.
The renter insight report analyzes national and regional data collected from 193,000 consumers on 320 property websites that use AI-driven marketing cloud and web conversion technology to collect valuable prospect data in real time. Read on to see what else the industry data revealed and how apartment communities use those analytics to gain an advantage.
Top 5 apartment amenities renters seek
Modern appliances and walk-in closets tied for the second-most wanted apartment amenity for the 50,505 prospects who ranked their favorite amenities while researching apartment communities online. Rounding out the list of Top 5 Amenities: Balconies, followed closely by wood flooring. While the top amenities remained roughly the same throughout the country, some regions showed preference to certain amenities over others.
In the Northwest, prospects chose open floor plans and didn’t rank modern appliances. Renters living there are 40 percent more interested in balconies than the national average, and showed the least interest in luxury appliances compared to other regions. Balconies also made the Top 5 in the Southwest with 11 percent of prospects picking it, putting it fourth in that regional list. Midwesterners preferred patios and dishwashers more often than other areas of the country. Dishwashers ranked in the West as a top priority as well.
“We’re definitely seeing the same dynamics as what was found in the PERQ prospect survey,” says Lisa Harris, regional manager at Texas-based W3 Luxury Living. “Of course, prospects have to find a place that fits into their budget, but we’ve found they are looking for good locations and spaces that are a reflection of who they are and they want the social aspect of what that brings.”
Additional perks include parking, pet amenities and internet access
The number of people using online streaming services to binge watch the latest TV series or tune in to cheer on their favorite sports team continues to rapidly rise, so it’s not too surprising fewer renters require cable access. Sixty-six percent said they do not need cable service, yet 88 percent do want internet as part of the apartment amenities package.
As any property manager knows, bad parking situations can invite ruthless online reviews and resident dissatisfaction, with paying renters battling visitors for preferred spots in overcrowded parking lots. When given an option, a quarter of prospects surveyed nationwide preferred covered parking or a garage and 34 percent would like an additional parking space.
Pets also placed high on the list of prospects’ priorities with 33 percent indicating they own at least one. Twice as many pet owners have a dog versus other types of animals. To serve those furry family members, many properties offer amenities like dog-wash stations, conveniently placed poop bag disposal, and even doggie spas.
At W3 Luxury Living properties, where the majority of residents own a pet, the on-site staff hosts special pet socials such as Yappy Hour and adoption events to entice new animal lovers to live there. They stock dog treats in all of the offices and regularly hire photographers to come take pictures of residents with their four-legged roommates.
“I’d estimate up to 65 percent of our residents have pets,” Harris says. “Dog parks/runs and spaws are really standard for W3.”
Use amenity data to improve lead follow-up
More than 80 percent of renters begin their apartment search online. Give them what they want and make it as convenient as possible to do research and gather information about the apartment community without having to contact someone in a leasing office. As they’re researching your property online, utilize technology to capture as much data as possible on the prospect so you can personalize the process and provide superior customer service—both online and in person.
Lead data empowers leasing specialists to connect with prospects on a personal level and helps them stand out during the lead follow-up process by highlighting their preferred amenities in the pitch. Be sure your leasing staff points out a prospect’s favorite amenities and focuses on popular community features when giving a tour.
Take full advantage of prospect data
In addition to learning about the individual needs of prospects, collecting online consumer data on a property website also helps a multifamily company improve its digital marketing success and attract ideal renters looking online to find the few communities they’ll actually visit in person.
Mission Rock Residential, a Denver-based multifamily property company managing 107 apartment communities across the country, uses the prospect data collected online to increase effectiveness of digital advertising campaigns and boost search engine optimization (SEO).
According to Vice President of Marketing Marcella Eppsteiner, that data-based approach is critical in highly competitive markets like the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where the cost of Google PPC and social ads is getting more expensive as the competition and population numbers continue to increase. She says in markets where her assets utilize AI website software to collect prospect data, the properties enjoy a lower cost per lease because of the detailed consumer journeys they receive on each website visitor who engages with the content.
“We can gather some psychographic information from the engagement pieces on our website, and then use that dynamically on a monthly basis,” Eppsteiner says. “We evaluate those insights and then tweak and optimize our SEO strategy, and maybe even change the content within different advertising sources.”
Eppsteiner explains other ways they use the amenity data to get a property noticed. If prospects in a certain market prioritize upgraded amenities over another location, the company rearranges the website photo gallery and adjusts social media accounts to highlight the stainless steel appliances and granite countertops before other community amenity photos.
Don’t miss the mark when promoting your property amenities
Ultimately, your leasing consultants may be missing the point if they only promote an apartment community’s luxury, high-end features to a prospect who prioritizes budget and simplicity over pretty things. Consider this: 48 percent of prospects across the U.S. described their ideal apartment as “comfortable, yet economic,” while 35 percent chose the words “simple and budget friendly.” Only 17 percent of those surveyed by PERQ picked luxury features as their priority.
Chris Berry, senior regional manager at First Communities, tells this warning tale to illustrate how off the mark some leasing agents can land when they ignore the consumer data at their disposal. Responsible for the Southeast region of the Atlanta-based multifamily company’s portfolio, Berry once visited a competitor’s property and pretended to be an interested prospect wanting a tour. He says he was mortified when the agent continuously suggested he give away his beloved dog because he was such a great match for the property—aside from the no-pet policy.
“She said it four different times during the tour, too. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’” Berry says. “Be helpful and pay attention. The data we gather on our website helps us be more personable and tailor our responses in email or on the phone. Don’t just send a cookie-cutter response telling the prospect something they already know. They’ve already been to our website.”
Author Kristy Esch, PERQ