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Renters in America

Resident Preferences and the Impact of the Past Year

What residents valued in their apartment homes was changing before the pandemic. Now, some of those changes have only sped up.

Every other year, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Grace Hill release the Renter Preferences Survey Report. The report surveys hundreds of thousands of apartment households to capture opinions and reveal what the nation’s apartment residents like, love, and can’t live without in their home.

Given the seismic changes the pandemic caused across the nation and society, this report, which will be released in January 2022, comes at a critical time to help us better understand the impact of COVID-19 on community behaviors; what we value in our apartment homes; and what owners, operators, and managers will need to consider as they look to attract the next generation of apartment residents.

Greater flexibility

One of the most notable takeaways from this year’s report was that 60.3 percent of respondents moved in the past 18 months, and 45.1 percent moved in the past year. For reference, according to American Community Survey microdata, only 26.7 percent of apartment households moved in 2019. Of the respondents who moved in the past 18 months, a quarter (25.1 percent) reported that their move was due to the pandemic. This significant increase in the number of residents changing locations may reflect the new flexibility many apartment residents enjoyed when firms moved to a work-from-home model. For instance, the report found that 26.8 percent of respondents stated they work remotely every day and that as respondents look ahead, 63.9 percent believe their amount of remote work will stay the same.

The amount of remote work that residents are taking part in is already having an impact on what those residents are looking for in their apartment community. For example, when asked about the importance of flexible space, 65.1 percent said that having a flexible space was important. And 34.8 percent of respondents noted their interest in a shared workspace specifically.

The internet age

There is no greater connection than between remote work and the need for high-speed internet access. Across all age groups, 54.4 percent of respondents stated that they “won’t rent without high-speed internet access.” Highlighting the value of strong Wi-Fi upon moving into a new apartment home, 53.8 percent of respondents said they would be interested in pre-installed Wi-Fi.

Before the pandemic, interest in flexible apartment homes and workspaces was increasing, and the need for dependable, efficient high-speed internet was clear. Indeed, it was almost seen as on par with utilities like water, electricity, and gas. After the past year and a half, apartment residents have made clear that strong Wi-Fi is an essential amenity at any apartment community.

These findings are only the tip of what the 2022 NMHC-Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report found relating to the pandemic and how behaviors have radically changed. Going forward, the need to be responsive to the values of apartment residents will be more imperative than ever before.

Find more information on the 2022 NMHC-Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report.

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