Multifamily buildings are changing in light of COVID-19. These changes are partly due to the health concerns the pandemic has brought on. But another part? That'd be changing renter demands and preferences. It's true: The coronavirus pandemic has had a marked impact on renter sentiment, affecting what tenants need in their homes, as well as what activities they take part in while they're there.
As such, multifamily properties must evolve. They're adding new features and services, changing up leasing terms and commercial tenants, and ramping up existing offerings that saw surging demand during stay-at-home orders. Here's what multifamily properties look like during COVID-19 times -- and beyond.
Many gyms and fitness centers have been closed during the pandemic. This, coupled with people spending more time at home, has led to increased demand for health- and fitness-related amenities -- things like gyms, wellness centers, pools, saunas, and more.
Some buildings are taking it even further. In the Legacy Hotel and Residences in Miami, which will open in 2023, residents will enjoy an eight-floor health center. Spanning 50,000 square feet, it features diagnostic testing, surgical services, medical fitness programming, physical therapy, altitude training, IV therapy, nutritional services, fitness equipment, cryotherapy, and more. Over in New York's Townhouse on the Park, all residents even have in-unit MIRROR gym systems.
Expanded co-working facilities
With so many people working from home these days, on-site co-working spaces are on the rise, too. These boast conference rooms, individual workstations, and equipment like printers, fax machines, and more. These facilities can be rented out on an hourly or daily basis or offered to tenants for free.
According to Javier Lattanzio, director of sales and rentals at Time Equities, these give tenants "relief from distractions, such as spouses and children."
The key here is to provide this relief in a safe, socially distanced manner -- with plexiglass partitions or desks carefully stationed at least six feet apart. A regular cleaning and sanitizing schedule is also critical.
Increased outdoor amenities
Being stuck inside so much has put a premium on outdoor amenities these days, especially for renters with smaller units. They're looking for spacious patios, rooftop terraces and pools, outdoor courtyards with grilling areas, and even things like dog parks and walking trails -- anything that gives them a good dose of Vitamin D (and maybe a light workout, too).
Lattanzio predicted of 2021: "In terms of multifamily amenities, outdoor spaces will be the most important. Previously, rooftops and gardens were taken for granted but are now -- and will continue to be -- one of the most sought-after amenities in multifamily buildings."
Another perk of these amenities? They can prevent outbreaks at your building. According to a new study, COVID-19 is almost 19 times less likely to spread outdoors than in a closed, indoor space.
More sanitary features
Offering sanitary features is obviously on the rise, too. These include things like touchless elevators, keypads, and storage lockers, as well as air purifiers, disinfectant sprayers, and other equipment that keep the property cleaner and more sanitary. Also important: a comprehensive sanitizing and cleaning plan -- one that's transparent and out in the open.
As Iliana Acevedo, SVP of new development at MNS Real Estate, explained, "Sanitizing schedules will become more public, since tenants ask about it more often now."
Other features you might expect
Multifamily players have other changes on the mind as well. Here are just a few in the works at developments across the country:
- Smaller-scaled social opportunities: Since going out on the town isn't as much of an option these days, smaller, more intimate on-property offerings are growing. A good example? The hidden speakeasy offered in Washington D.C.'s Watermark building.
- Creative partnerships in urban areas: The pandemic has caused many Americans to leave urban areas for more distanced, spaced-out communities in the exurbs and suburbs. To make up for these losses, multifamily owners may start to form more creative partnerships. "5% to 10% of multifamily buildings delivering in urban locations in 2021 will sign agreements with a short-term rental or corporate housing company to combat a tough lease-up environment," said Will Lucas, CEO of Mint House, a hotel solution that caters to business travelers.
- Flexible leasing: The rise of remote work will lead to more migration, thus requiring more flexibility from landlords. According to Lucas, Mint House has already seen an uptick in two- to nine-month bookings from renters looking to avoid full-year leases.
- Better concierge services: Food and package delivery has surged since the pandemic began, putting a strain on concierge services and front desk employees. Multifamily buildings will need to beef up these departments in order to better serve tenants.
Overall, renters are looking for more all-in-one experiences in their pandemic properties -- homes that cover all the important bases, like health, work, kids, pets, and more.
Acevedo said: "Buildings will start operating as one-stop-shops to have everything tenants might need on site. Some examples include in-unit washer and dryers, home office spaces, complimentary high-speed internet, full-sized ovens and gas stoves, more bike storage, fitness centers, dog runs, pet spas, package rooms, more outdoor common areas, business centers/coworking spaces, children's playrooms, and virtual classes."
The bottom line
COVID-19 has changed renters, so multifamily properties need to change, too. What are you doing to ensure your rental property stays in line with tenant needs and preferences? If you're not sure, use this slower holiday season as a time to reflect and realign. There's still time to adapt your property as we head into the new year.