This article was posted on Friday, Jan 01, 2016

The rise of apartment living is changing communities, driving new development and raising the expectations for the amenities and services offered to the 38 million people in the U.S. who call an apartment home. From walkable neighborhoods to on-site fitness classes, package pick-up solutions to online rent payments and more, new data from the largest-ever survey of apartment residents gives a detailed picture of what apartment residents want – and even what they’d expect to pay for it. 

The National Multifamily Housing Council/Kingsley Associates 2015 Apartment Resident Preferences Survey analyzes data from nearly 120,000 responses across the country about their priorities for home features, community amenities and more based on a variety of demographic factors. Comprehensive analysis is also available for 44 local markets. Key findings from the survey include: 

Location, Location, Location

While many factors are considered during an apartment search, some of the most important concern location convenience and communities amenities. Apartment renters have strong opinions about walking versus driving to their regular destinations. Walking wins over driving for getting to the grocery store (by 7 percentage points), restaurant and bar (by 6 percentage points for both) and public transit (by 19 percentage points).

Conversely, driving is preferred over walking when traveling to work/office (by 24 percentage points), school (by 7 percentage points) and college/university (by 6 percentage points). 

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Packages Pile Up

Online shopping has grown into a more than $300 billion industry and apartment communities are seeing a corresponding increase in package deliveries for residents. According to recent NMHC/Kingsley Associates research, a typical apartment community can receive as many as 100 packages a week, which can double during the holiday season.

Currently 88 percent of management offices accept packages for residents, and 72 percent of residents want a package storage/holding area. Eighty-seven percent of respondents say they are not willing to pay for a package locker, but if there was a charge they would expect to pay around $20 per month. 

Mobile Is a Must

Mobile is king with 91 percent of apartment renters using a mobile phone all the time. In fact, 53 percent of residents tested connectivity during their apartment tour. While 98 percent report good reception is important, only 68 percent say coverage at their current community is great. 

Pets Need Pampering

Pet owners will spend an estimated $60 billion on their pets this year. Renters are part of this spending population, as 33 percent of apartment residents own a pet. Pet owners in apartments report interest in amenities for their pets, including: 

  • a community dog park (67 percent),
  • dog treats in the lobby (35 percent) and
  • a community pet-washing station (54 percent). 

Electronic Payments Grow

In the digital age, writing a rent check is going out of style. Apartment renters reported that 78 percent prefer paying online. Additionally, 63 percent were interested in paying their rent with a credit card.

“There have been 1.6 million new renter households created in the past five years,” said Rick Haughey, Vice President of Industry Technology Initiatives with the National Multifamily Housing Council. “Many of these new residents are making a lifestyle choice to rent instead of buy and are thus looking for personalized services and amenities. The apartment industry is stepping up to provide those experiences.”

“This is the largest survey of its kind and reveals new insights into this fast-growing segment of the housing market,” said John Falco, Principal with Kingsley Associates. “With Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies projecting upwards of 4 million new renters during the next decade, we expect the race for new amenities – and the demand for them – will only grow.” 

Based in Washington, DC, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is the leadership of the trillion-dollar apartment industry. They bring together the prominent owners, managers and developers who help create thriving communities by providing apartment homes for 38 million Americans. NMHC provides a forum for insight, advocacy, and action that enables both members and the communities they help build to thrive. For more information, contact NMHC at 202/974-2300, e-mail the Council at [email protected] or visit NMHC’s Web site at