The perfect New York City apartment has taken on almost mythical qualities: A private roof deck! An on-site gym! A washer and dryer in the unit! Even though many tenants left town in search of more breathing room during the pandemic, the hunt for the ideal pad in New York still goes on. According to NYC real estate listing website StreetEasy, those hunters are getting more specific about their wish lists.
Like other listing websites, StreetEasy has filters for users to narrow their search for specific apartment amenities among available units. StreetEasy reports that in 2020, about one-third of rental property searches used an amenity filter, a 22% jump from user searches conducted in 2019. What's more is that in recent months, some users have even reached out to the site to request more filters to further customize their search.
What NYC apartment dwellers want most
Prior to the pandemic, certain apartment amenities might have been on the nice-to-have list rather than the must-have list. After all, tenants were spending at least eight hours a day outside of their apartments at work. But with the onset of work-from-home life for many in March 2020, many apartment dwellers were looking to upgrade the often cramped configurations they suddenly found themselves spending much more time in.
Here are the top 10 amenities StreetEasy users searched for in New York City during 2020:
- Washer/dryer in unit
- Pets allowed
- Laundry in building
- Private outdoor space (includes balcony, rooftop deck etc.)
- On-site gym
- Central air conditioning
- Public outdoor space
Pet-friendly apartments were the top search in 2019, but in-unit laundry stole the furbabies' thunder in 2020. This is likely because apartment dwellers preferred not to have to go downstairs to a communal laundry space or out to a laundromat during lockdown.
In fact, much of this top 10 list is related to spending more time at home. For example, a doorman is a prized amenity that not only enhances security for an apartment building but acts as the receiver of the many packages and food deliveries the pandemic caused.
What it means for apartment investors
Investors should consider these and other amenities coveted by their potential tenants when building new apartments or upgrading existing ones. Granted, there are some things like city views -- which is another filter on StreetEasy -- that can't be changed without an architectural miracle. But a washer/dryer hookup is something a landlord can install and add value to a rental property.
And since pet adoptions soared during the pandemic, having a pet-friendly property will definitely attract more tenants. Even if there's no room in the operating budget for a full-time doorman, perhaps there's money for a virtual doorman that can provide a lower level of security for the property.
Of course, when writing descriptions for online apartment listings, landlords would be wise to insert all the necessary search terms in the listing so tenants can easily find their units amid all the other vacancies in the city.
The bottom line
Even with an exodus of renters during the early stages of the pandemic last year, apartment hunting is still happening in New York City. Would-be tenants seem to be pickier than they once were, but the market is very much in their favor, as landlords are forced to drop rents and make concessions to fill a record-high number of vacant units.