In today’s competitive real estate market, amenities have become a crucial factor in attracting and retaining tenants. However, not all amenities are created equal, and it is essential for property owners and managers to strike the right balance between offering attractive features and avoiding unnecessary frills.
What is an amenity?
Amenities are a way to attract new residents and make your property more desirable to the community around you. In some cases, amenities make the property more fun or help the residents feel at home – pools, gyms, nearby parks, etc. Often, however, amenities are useful to a resident, making their lives easier with function. Some amenities, both useful and enjoyable alike, are more ideal for some communities than others and it’s important for property owners to understand which amenities are worth the investment, as well as how to treat them.
Consider the Needs of the Community
As you begin to consider what amenities you want to add to your property, you should first consider the needs of your potential residents. What will they need in their day-to-day life and what will make life easier for them. Dishwashers, laundry machines, a/c units, and Wi-Fi are all common amenities that most residents will consider a necessity to sign a lease. Amenities can also be helpful without being necessary for each unit and unique from other properties. Parking spaces/garages, balconies, storage, trash shoots, extra bathrooms, etc. are not always essential, but will be appreciated by your residents. You may also consider amenities that you do not build into your property, but perhaps are found near/around your community. Choosing an area with public transportation access, parks, hospitals, schools, low crime rates, etc. can all enhance the value of your property and entice new residents – and they don’t cost you anything.
Consider Your Target Market
By considering the types of residents you expect to live on your property, finding the right amenities becomes a game of logic. There are standard amenities which often include pool access, fitness centers, walking trails/parks, etc. – these amenities work well for most environments and for most people. However, if you want to enhance your property for, perhaps a younger audience, you may consider more unique amenities such as a game room, movie room, fire pits & outdoor seating, rock climbing wall, study rooms, vending machines, etc. Amenities that a younger audience would not only get good use out of but would otherwise search for outside of the property and pay membership for. It could save them a little money and make them more accessible, while giving you a higher occupancy and likely higher annual revenue.
When considering an older audience, families or seniors for instance, childcare centers, on-property restaurants, tennis courts, playgrounds, meeting rooms, spas, fitness, craft or life skill classes, etc. would speak more to residents who want more ease of life, and ways to relax between responsibilities. They are usually looking for ways to improve their condition of life without adding greater responsibility or strain to their day to day. The importance of finding what works with your audience is to ensure that whatever amenities you choose are worth the investment and will be consistently used by residents.
Consider the Cost Investment
Of course, amenities can be costly to install, so it’s important to assess whether the amenity is worth the investment. Consider whether an amenity will significantly impact your residents’ growth. For example, if your community is primarily cold or cloudy, it’s unlikely that residents will use an outdoor pool very often and therefore it’s not the best investment. However, something like a fitness center will be both appealing and used in any climate. One would rarely get used and the other, used very often.
You may also consider the cost of upkeeping your amenities. Gardens, pools and spas, classes, and other things like these are amenities that may excite potential residents but are also amenities that either need constant care or require their own staff. Whether the staff, or the upkeep, the time added to caring for these amenities will often be a consistent additional cost to the one-time cost of having it on your property. Of course, there are some ways around the additional cost, such as having your office staff take over some of the upkeep responsibilities during their slow periods. Nevertheless, you need to know first if that is manageable.
The last thing to consider is how your amenities should adjust a residents rent. Will the amenities be included in the lease or paid for separately – if so, what is the cost increase or additional cost?
Look at a Legal Perspective
With anything you put into a property, there is a long list of potential legal issues, and it is essential to be aware of what they are. The first issues are often found within city codes and government permissions. Pool installation, for instance, without approval from the municipality will lead to trouble. The next issues can be found in liability. For a climbing wall, a tennis court, a fitness center, or anything potentially harmful, liability cases are more common, and at times, more difficult than you’d expect. For some of amenities, it may be safer to have a waiver signed for entry, or with each lease. Before clearing any amenities, it would be beneficial to consult with an attorney about what steps should be taken to add amenities.
Care for and Market Your Amenities
After you add amenities to your property, the work doesn’t stop there. Each amenity is different, and therefore, you must consider the care for each one. For some, such as in-unit amenities, care may be upon request maintenance – for which you will want a trustworthy and capable maintenance team handy. For community amenities, pools, fitness centers, gardens, courts, etc. It will be important for staff to routinely check on them and know when and how to clean and freshen them up. The care for your amenities may benefit from research, but whatever you decide is at your discretion. No one likes to get ready for an activity or task and find it dirty or broken. Likewise, no one touring a property who sees amenities that have not been cared for will expect to be cared for in their unit. Maintaining your amenities will keep your current residents happy, new residents excited, and make sure your investment retains value.
Consider Amenities with Caution but Optimism
Care, however, is not the only way to keep your amenity in use and valuable. Marketing your amenities can also be a huge help. You do not need a huge production or marketing experts to show off your amenities. Something as simple as a property social media page can give some love and attention to your amenities and remind residents to take advantage of them. Have your office team run it, preferably someone who enjoys and understands social media, and find ways to motivate your residents to follow the account. As they follow, post fun ideas about ways to use the amenities, or reminders about when they are open. You can even, with permission, post pictures of residents using the amenities. If you want to take it a step further, host an event at or using your amenities and market the event through email campaigns, social media, flyers, etc. Remind your residents what potential your property has and why they were excited to live at your property. Amenities can often be the final reason for a resident to sign or to choose your property over another. With power like that, why wouldn’t every property look at what they could do to make their property stand above all the others? Of course, it is a daunting thing to consider, never knowing for sure whether it will be worth the cost. Yet, when you know what to consider and you understand what to avoid, amenities seem much less scary. Look at your residents and attempt to see what they see – their needs and desires. Make your property work for them as much as it will benefit you. That’s all it takes.