Friday, January 11, 2013

What Renters Want

As if how to increase NOI isn’t enough, believe it or not the more aggressive owners of multi-family investment properties continually wrestle with the ever-present question: “What Renters Want.”
Because it can have implications for how to increase NOI (Net Operating Income).
Better titled, “Are You Sick of These Five Apartment Designs?,” trends constantly come and go. Some attract higher paying residents. Others . . . well, not so much.  Several elements are growing in use in today’s apartment communities. If owners don’t feature them in their community, then, good luck attracting new lessees. New residents want the latest whiz-bang. You want new and better residents.
Here is the Top 5 List, according to MHNblog, and my take on each:
-        Stainless Steel Appliances:  They are all the rage and have been for several years. They make kitchens look more professional. Reasons for them to go? All the “chef” shows on cable have residents thinking they want professional-grade kitchens. Everyone wants to be Anthony, or Giada. Likely to stay? Yes. They are striking, and stainless is gender neutral, appealing to all kinds of residents.

-        Granite Countertops: Preeeetttttyyyyy!!!  They look more expensive than other types of countertops (because they are), and they come in various colors. Reasons for them to go? Please refer to earlier “expensive” reference. Have I mentioned they are uber-heavy! There are less costly alternatives, laminates among them, that look like granite. Likely to stay? Yes, but popularity is waning due to cost. AND, its not a deal-breaker for most new residents.

-        Hardwood Flooring:  Way to make an apartment look classy! While few want to beat a rug and most “dustbust” or mop or vacuum. Wood is classic, color neutral and goes with pretty much every décor. Reasons to go? Have you ever had to sit for a long time on hardwood? Not comfortable, and running around with socks doesn’t create enough static to shock a significant other, roommate or annoying sibling. Then there is the cost of hardwood. And there are cheaper laminates that mimic the look. Likely to stay? Yep! If you’ve got ‘em, FLAUNT ‘EM! If building new and can afford it, go for it.

-        Paint:  It’s simple. It’s cheap. Dirty walls? Paint over them simply and cheaply. See the pattern? Reasons to go? Neutral colors are drab. Bright colors can look gaudy.  Bring back wallpaper? Ooohhh… that's a subject for another day. Likely to stay? For rentals, neutral paint will stay. It appeals to every caliber of resident.  Mix with wall decals featuring catchy, impressive sayings to appeal to the intellectual, or folksy (depending on the audience) set. Your mileage may vary.

-        Open Floor Plans:  Doggone those high-profile cooking shows! Everyone fancies themselves a Gordon Ramsey, Paula Dean or Swedish Chef. Entertaining is popular and now EVERYONE wants to be in the kitchen! Reasons to go? Not many, when you think about it. Open floor plans open up small apartment spaces and enable people to watch TV from their living room while they’re slaving over their stainless steel stove whipping up a delightful crème brulee to go with their mac-n-cheese.  Likely to stay? Duh! Here for the duration.

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