The Apartment Search is Changing
As professionals in the apartment industry, it is important to know the factors that contribute to the current state of the market. In recent years, several influences have exerted pressure on the residential rental market, some pre-dating the COVID-19 pandemic and others arising from it. The ability to understand market trends and adapt accordingly enables industry leaders to consistently meet the rapidly changing needs of consumers. From the way apartment seekers begin their hunt, to the factors they value most, the apartment search is evolving fast.
Today, apartment seekers are more reliant than ever on online reviews. When it comes to apartment buildings and using locators, people are eager to learn about the experiences of others before making a commitment themselves. As a result, online reviews of all sorts are heavily influencing the apartment search.
Additionally, more people, in general, seek support from professionals when searching for an apartment. A national apartment locating company, AptAmigo, has seen a 445% increase in tours since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent study, a vast majority of renters indicated that 1-on-1 support from a real person is the most valuable aspect of working with a locator (41.67%). The second most important factor is the ability to save time by avoiding an ILS (32.86%). The third is the ability to find an apartment they didn’t previously know about, or couldn’t have found on their own (18.4%). Trailing in last place, only 4.09% of renters indicated that website features add value to their search process, a surprising finding for an industry that focused primarily on website functionality in recent years.
In addition to 1-on-1 support, the demand for virtual tours increased substantially in 2021, likely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. AptAmigo has seen a 1,426% increase in virtual tours since March of 2020. It is likely that virtual tours will remain popular amongst apartment seekers, both as a way to cut down touring time and to make increasingly popular out-of-state moves easier.
The way people find apartments isn’t the only major transformation occurring in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic also created an overall change in what people are looking for in a new apartment. Unpredictable times have left people wanting more flexibility in their living situations, including the ability to move when they choose. As a result, short-term leases are becoming more popular, and monthly stays on sites like Airbnb have grown 50% year-over-year.
As a result of various lockdowns and quarantines, people are spending more time at home than ever before. This extended time at home has led to a desire for more space, balcony access, and better amenities. High-tech gyms, expansive pools, and even coworking spaces are becoming must-have amenities for many apartment seekers. With a continued trend of remote and hybrid positions in the workplace, apartment renters continue to expect more out of their living space, and are unlikely to change their priorities any time soon.
As we enter into a new year, it is clear that the 2022 market will be vastly different from the 2021 landscape for multi-family real estate. Reflecting on these changes is key since an evolving market demands adaptability from the industry at large.
Within an ever-changing world of digital advancements, elevated consumer expectations, and more time spent at home, the way in which the apartment industry meets the needs of apartment seekers must be revisited. It is ultimately up to industry leaders to take initiative to ensure that the demands of consumers continue to be met.