Building owners and property managers must keep up with the rapid pace of change. At the center of our decisions about building design, amenities, technology and potential updates, residents should always be the North Star guiding us. By taking an intuitive approach that considers the building’s nearby location, target residents, and lifestyle trends, it’s possible to create a community that has high appeal and high retention – creating value for the long run.
Skip “checking the box” with amenities and select amenities most valued
A building should be a community that meets the needs of its residents with the latest technology, flexible floorplans, and inviting common spaces. Offering a bundle of amenities that are never used doesn’t add value for residents or owners. Make choices that reflect the lifestyles of the people who live there. For example, one suburban developer DMG works with pairs high-end spacious apartments with basic common amenities. The building doesn’t have a traditional business center or community room, but is located by a park with a putting green and firepit that is a draw for local residents.
The right mix of design and amenity choices can improve your building’s retention rate. Strong design both in-unit and in select value-add spaces like outdoor space can produce a welcome return on investment in lease renewals and save on the costly marketing and re-leasing process.
Focus on Livability for Today
Many decisions are being shaped by a post-COVID world, in which many people work remotely and spend more of their time at home than ever before. Apartments need to have more flexible space, including carved-out places to work that are not necessarily in a bedroom, and for roommates and couples may need space for two desks. If you have the opportunity to set up a model apartment or virtual tour, consider staging a flexible workspace in the living or dining area.
Highly connected is highly desirable
High-speed WiFi in apartments and throughout common spaces is a given. Residents need trustworthy connections for work video calls, as well as streaming the latest television series or sporting event that everyone will be talking about tomorrow.
People expect apartment living to be as turnkey as possible. Smart apartment features such as adjustable thermostats and lighting, keyless entry fobs, and video intercom and apps for package management, maintenance requests and rent payments make apartment living more convenient.
Make it multipurpose
Common space should be maximized for daily traffic, not a rarely used commodity. For example, party rooms can be a waste of space for most buildings, but if you add flexible furniture it can become a useful coworking office or company meeting space during the weekdays and host events or parties in the evenings or weekends. Meeting rooms can also be used by building staff to work from, so they’re available for resident support or prospective resident tours.
Invest in green space
Apartment residents crave useable outdoor space more than ever, especially when they need a break from working at home. Some upgrades are a relatively light lift – think dog runs, outdoor gathering areas with a firepit, neatly landscaped parkways or courtyards – while others require more investment, such as upgrading pools to a more hotel-style pool and lounge area. To enhance outdoor living, DMG recently created a family-friendly playground and picnic space at the Whitnall Park Apartments taking advantage of its location adjacent to Milwaukee County’s largest park and its appeal to residents with young children.
To gym or not to gym
Adding a gym space historically has been a check the box amenities to apartment buildings. However, before investing it’s worth considering whether it’s a valuable amenity for your residents. Fitness enthusiasts probably already have a favored specialized gym or personal trainer in the neighborhood, so a building gym is not a necessity. However, in city high-rises, a gym right in the building might be a welcome way for residents to save time and money.
If you’re going to devote space to a gym, don’t simply stick a few treadmills and free weights in an unused room. To make a gym space more desirable, think about adding specialized equipment like Peloton cycles residents can reserve or high quality weightlifting equipment for training sessions. Or potentially host fitness/yoga instructors to provide classes for residents that serve as a way to build community in the property as well as offer an amenity.
Successful owners and property managers continue to watch trends and understand their residents interests and needs from their living space. With a portfolio of buildings in the city and suburbs across three states, DMG has deep experience in understanding residents and properties to effectively reposition, lease and manage multifamily properties while increasing occupancy and retention.