A year from the start of the pandemic and lifestyle preferences have changed many things. One of them is what tenants look for in US rentals. As a recent survey reveals, renters nowadays want more open-air amenities and a bigger space of their own. They’re also keen for a change of scene but within the same city. These trends will favour buy-to-let properties with balconies and generous floor plans.
Lifestyle improvements top priority
A RENTCafé survey carried out in February reveals that tenants in US rentals have put lifestyle at the top of the list of their priorities. Their most important must-haves include open-air amenities, ie a private balcony or patio in the rental. 21% of respondents aspire to this. The need for more living space comes a close second (20%).
Both these requirements were well ahead of a good internet connection (a priority for just 10%). Perhaps surprisingly in today’s era of remote working, having a home office was important for only 5% of the survey respondents.
Reasons for moving
The survey also asked about tenants’ reasons for moving. A quarter said they wanted a change of scenery, up from 18% last year. However, they’re not looking for a major shift because 48% said that the new scenery would be in the same city but a different neighbourhood.
For RENTCafé, this shows that renters’ goals are about “improving housing conditions, not drastic change”.
Type of rentals
The new lifestyle trends in rental properties in the US also affect the type of apartment tenants want to rent. 28% of respondents are now looking for a place to live by themselves, up from 20% in March last year. Correspondingly, the number wanting to share with a flat mate has dropped to 6%.
Space has also become more important. 19% said that they were looking for “something larger”, up from 12% in the previous survey.
Price, however, does not appear to be one of tenants’ prime concerns. 25% claimed to be looking for somewhere cheaper to move to now against 34% a year earlier. More financial certainty as the US economy starts to recover may influence renters who now see a brighter economic future.
More confidence in health and safety
The survey also revealed that tenants feel more secure now than they did in March 2020. In this year’s report, just 9% claimed to have concerns about whether it’s safe to move. This is down by half on March 2020.
Cleanliness in the apartment itself has become less important too. This year’s survey found that 9% of respondents are worried about hygiene standards in US rentals compared to 15% 12 months ago.
Good year for US rentals
Ever-rising house prices and a plummeting inventory mean that many first-time buyers find it impossible to access the US housing market. This opens up the market for rentals in 2021.
In 2020, occupancy rates in the US saw their highest rate in 30 years and analysts believe this year will see a similar trend.
As well as buy-to-let opportunities, build-to-rent investment is an up-and-coming niche. Both multifamily and single-family homes feature in build-to-rent portfolios with many REITs turning their attention to this market.