The coronavirus pandemic has turned many people into hermits, albeit against their will. Over the past year, a large number of workers have seen their jobs go completely remote as health-related concerns have made office buildings off-limits. And because so many schools have been closed for in-person learning, families are spending more time than ever crammed together in tight quarters.
It's a situation that a lot of people have become used to -- but also aren't happy with. And it's changing the way renters set priorities.
Space over savings
In a recent RentCafe survey, respondents were quick to say that open-air amenities (like balconies and patios) as well as more overall space were the most important features to them in a new apartment. This comes as a stark contrast to a similar survey RentCafe conducted a year earlier, which found price was a more pressing factor in renters' decisions to sign a lease.
All of this makes a lot of sense. Seeing as how many companies aren't making plans to return employees to the office anytime soon and remote work arrangements will likely remain in effect for a lot of people who previously did their jobs from an office, having more square footage at home is essential. Furthermore, private outdoor space can provide a much-needed escape, so it's not surprising renters might favor apartments with some type of outside component.
Interestingly, 25% of people who are moving now say they're doing so because they need a change of scenery. And upgrading to an apartment with outdoor space helps achieve that goal on several levels.
The investor takeaway
If you're looking to add rental properties to your real estate portfolio, you may want to focus on units that are more generous in square footage. Also, real estate investors should look for those with outdoor features. Garden apartments work well in this regard and may be even more in demand than apartments with balconies. Not only do garden apartments tend to feel less claustrophobic, but many people have adopted pets during the pandemic -- and having a small, private backyard is something pet owners in particular are apt to seek out.
The fact that renters are also so focused on space could give you, as a landlord, some wiggle room to charge extra for a more spacious home -- especially one with an outdoor component. In fact, now that a lot of people are sitting on $1,400 stimulus checks, it's a good time to think about scooping up some extra rentals and finding tenants willing to pay up for an extra bedroom, office, or alcove.
The Millionacres bottom line
Though the economy as a whole is still shaky, we're at the point where people are starting to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and many renters may look to shore up their plans in the coming months. Give them ample room to spread out, both indoors and out, and you could wind up a lot wealthier for it.