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Rent vs. Buy: Renters Want More Amenities

Written by Ilyce Glink on July 9, 2012 in Real Estate  |   6 comments

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…

rent vs. buyFor 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.

6 comments

  1. Shawn Holcomb says:

    I am very interested in becoming a property manager of my own properties. I have not purchased the properties yet but I have a significant amount of cash to put into the project. I do have a few questions though that deal with renting or buying. I have been offered the opportunity to lease out 17 units in a condo complex or buy 27 apartments and the property they rest on. I can also buy a few empty lots zoned for aprtmen buildings and build my own housing units. Would it be best to buy and then sell the condo units or buy and the rent out the units? If I rent out the units, I would then still be able to manage the units as the property management company. I would lso like to knowi if I could also sell the condo units but still manage the property? Thank You.

  2. Fred says:

    Who wants to live near a transit hub? Just want I want to hear every night train cars rattling down the tracks and blowing their horns and buses motoring through the neighborhood at all hours. Not to mention the low class people who ride those vehicles coming into the neighborhood.

  3. J.P.Hayes says:

    I think you should buy right now and rent out. The housing market is down and in 2 or 3 years it will probably turn around.

  4. Dbeth says:

    Are you sure Shawn….Management can be a headache. Don’t get me wrong, I really like real estate and think everyone should have some real estate in their portfolio. However, I’ve made more money investing in fractional ownership employing quality asset managers than managing myself. By doing so, I can go into the best markets in the country using the best managers. No management headaches, great tax benefits, and economies of scale. Much better than when I managed my own stuff. I wish you luck.

  5. Shawn Holcomb says:

    Dbeth – tell me more about fractional ownership manager? It might be what I am looking for. Thanks


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