For many, the decision of rent vs. buy is a tough one, but with the housing market still on the mend, more people than ever are renting. Builders are taking notice, and they are hoping to appeal to renters who want a place to call home for the long term.
According to a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), builders and developers are focusing more on urban projects near public transportation. Millenials—the largest segment of the renting population—want to cut their commute times and have a healthy work-life balance.
“It’s all about the lifestyle for today’s renters,” Jeff Kayce, vice president at Bozzuto Development Company, told the NAHB. “Because of this, many developers are building near transit hubs and along transit lines. Bozzuto, for example, has been building many of its new apartments along DC’s metro line to create easier access for its renters.”
Beyond location, building design influences renters
Easy access to restaurants, shopping, and nightlife are important to today’s renters, but so are the buildings themselves. Amenities are important, as people who choose to rent instead of buy still want something that offers all the latest creature comforts. In addition to a great living space with nice finishes, tenants also want a building that caters to their needs and provides a sense of community.
Current trends dictate a more open design of a building’s common areas. “In the previous design cycle we saw separate, distinct rooms,” said Rohit Anand, AIA, and principal of the KTGY Group, told NAHB. “Now we have the computer room, media center, and lounge all part of the same room, for example. This type of design helps foster interaction among residents.”
Essentially, today’s young renters are looking for a classier version of college dorm-style living. Instead of loud parties, residents mingle over morning coffee in the lobby or relax on the rooftop deck after work. It’s a great opportunity for young professionals to meet new friends, explore their neighborhood and, perhaps, get a few dates.
Renters find fitness centers and outdoor areas important
The active lifestyles of many of today’s young professionals mean fitness centers are more popular than ever. Instead of a dark room at the back of the building, today’s fitness centers range from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet and often have great city views. Some developers and management companies are upgrading to state-of-the-art fitness equipment and adding yoga and Pilates areas in the hopes of attracting new tenants.
New buildings, and some older ones undergoing major renovations, have begun to incorporate pools into their designs as well. In addition to being a big perk for the fitness-minded renter, pools are a great place for residents to mingle and add to the sense of community in the building.
Other outdoor areas, like patios and decks, are being designed with this same concept in mind. Instead of decks reserved for fair weather only, management companies and developers are equipping outdoor space with heaters, covered areas, and indoor-outdoor elements. This way, tenants can have a place to relax year-round.
Depending on where you’re looking for an apartment, you may find niche amenities like dog runs, pet washing stations, garden plots, and bike storage that doubles as a bike workshop. That all depends on location, though—the NAHB notes that amenities like these depend on the clientele the neighborhood attracts.
Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and at the Home Equity blog for CBS MoneyWatch.