On the move or heading out on your own for the first time? For many, this means finding an apartment that’s perfect for them: a balance of location, amenities and most of all, price.
With so many developers building skyward, many cities have more apartments than ever, and competition for tenants can be steep. In fact, though the US is seeing its overall vacancy rates drop, the average national rental vacancy of 8.2%, is still among the highest in the last 40 years.
View the full ForRent.com ‘Apartment Amenities Infographic‘.
One way developers are competing for rental dollars is by loading up their properties with high-end amenities, including: pools, gyms, built-in laundry and more.
All of these amenities may seem great, but they come of a cost to the renter. In this article, we’re going to break down some of the most common amenities and what they add to your costs, from the most expensive to those that could even end up saving you money on a monthly basis!
One ‘amenity’ most sought-after by apartment renters is that “million-dollar view.” Depending on the metropolitan region you’re shopping in, this can mean a premium of between 2.5-80% on units without a comparable view. That’s a huge swing, especially for something that’s more of a ‘want’ than a ‘need’ for most people.
Another amenity people covet is outdoor space. Currently, it’s estimated that a quality outdoor space can add 25-50% to the cost of rent. This goes for balconies, terraces and yards. But renters should be aware that limits on the use of outdoor spaces – particularly balconies – can be dictated by the landlord. So make sure you can put that new BBQ grill to use before you sign on the dotted line.
Although every renter is different in terms of their ‘must-have’ list of amenities, a few features are pretty much universally desired. Among the most popular ‘in-unit’ amenities are high-speed internet (93%), outdoor space/balcony (92%) , in-suite washer/dryer (88%) and cable TV (70%).
But it’s not just about what an apartment unit on its own has going for it: the entire building contributes to the appeal. Some of the most popular ‘community’ amenities in a recent survey include: fitness room (84%), package drop-off/storage (78%), and community internet access (70%)
An in-suite washer/dryer will also potentially save you money, with a trip to the Laundromat costing on average $3.12/load and in-suite costing only $2.15/load.
Still, for some, the amenities that many renters have come to expect can’t compare to a sense of history and period architectural details.
In major markets, pre-war buildings or converted industrial properties can command a 10-15% premium over modern counterparts. The reason for this is largely that historic districts tend to be located in the most desirable/established parts of the city, and industrial conversions are the signature of gentrification and the emergence of ‘hip’ neighborhoods. Also, design elements like exposed brick, hardwood floors, original fireplaces and hand-finished moldings are too cost-prohibitive to be found in new construction builds, but are ubiquitous in historic properties.
Some amenities can actually mean genuine value for your pocketbook. For example, it’s estimated that an on-site gym represents a 5% increase in monthly rent. The average cost of a monthly gym membership in the US is only $55, which means that your rent would have to be >$1000/month to save money. However, the national average wasted cost for underutilizing your gym membership is a whopping $39 of that $55. If your gym is only an elevator ride away, you’re far more likely to exercise (bad pun) that value.
Ultimately, finding the perfect apartment is about balancing your needs and your expectations. A lap pool, garden terrace or skyline view are hardly worth the extra funds if you can’t afford it. Practical amenities like on-site laundry and package drop-off and storage may not be the most glamorous features, but they pay dividends in terms of convenience. With some diligence and smart planning, a balance can be found between what you want, what you need, and what you’re capable of having.