VANCOUVER, WA AUGUST 1, 2019 – With an interest in community and wellness living on the rise, amenities are becoming a deciding factor for potential tenants. This can create an environment of competition between developers. “There is sort of an amenity war going on now,” said Rob Meyer. Bringing the focus on product differentiation, Jim Schroder says,“For us, it’s just so critical that you have the best amenities that differentiate us from our competitors,”. “It’s an arms race for the best amenities.”

Rob Meyer, a partner with Atlanta-based Catalyst Development Partners and Jim Schroder, a Tribridge Residential partner are among the industry leaders influencing the change in apartment amenities.

Many studies, like the ones mentioned in the TIME article “Everyone Needs Some Else – Why Americans Of All Ages Are Coming Together In ‘Intentional Communities”, are bringing to our attention that the shift is moving from individual unit upgrades to common areas and amenities because of the interest in the community. Recent shifts have landlords, developers and investors pushing to increase the size of their gyms, at times to be the single largest amenity on a multifamily property. These aren’t your average gyms that used to sit empty in apartment complexes. These are technology-connected facilities that have more than just an elliptical and some free weights. For example, Meyer talks about how Catalyst Development Partners have transformed their gyms to have high-intensity interval training equipment, giant tractor tires, rotating rock walls and even Peloton bikes — stationary cycles that stream live or pre-recorded workouts. In the last 10 years technology has revolutionized the way consumers do just about everything.

“I think [apartment gyms] will go more and more into fitness-on-demand and remote instruction just because it’s too convenient, and you can get access to so much great advice.” “Part of it will be driven by technology,” Schroder said. “You can say that’s getting ridiculous … but at the same time, it’s also a fraction of the cost of what we’ve done in the past of bringing in live instructors.”

The investment in upgrades and more sought after amenities is not a waste of resources as we now know renters are willing to pay for this higher quality of living. In a recent NAA’s Research Report there are figures that reflect 46% of residents are willing to pay the premium for fitness classes and 42% are willing to pay the premium for walking trails/ tracks. Ranking fitness and wellness related amenities at the top of the list. A post renovation survey has shown that occupancy rates increased by 0.55% points in just three months and an additional 1.15% points six months after renovations were completed.

Being that over 51% of all rental housing stock built before 1980 and new supply on rising, it’s extremely important that multifamily property owners remain competitive, keeping buildings, outdoor spaces and individual residences up to date. Demographic and lifestyle trends that have favored apartment living in recent years are not showing signs of reversing. Providing the right choice of amenities at all price points offers a win-win for both owner and resident.

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