by Darcey Leach
The 2024 Renter Preferences Survey Report released today by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Grace Hill provides a comprehensive look at the home features and community amenities that are most important to renters, how much they are willing to pay for them and what are their biggest considerations during their home search. The report features input from 172,703 renters living in 4,220 communities nationwide, with data available in 77 markets.
“These findings present an opportunity for policymakers to better appreciate that the vast majority of renters have a high level of satisfaction with their housing situation,” said NMHC President Sharon Wilson Géno. “This information also illuminates the needs, both desired and necessary, of residents and the realities that housing providers face in providing homes that are the foundations for renters to build their lives.”
The reports sheds light on some intriguing trends, illustrating a fascinating mix of financial motivations, evolving expectations and the influence of remote work in the post-pandemic era. The following are just a few examples:
The Reality of Renter Satisfaction: The report finds that, by and large, renters enjoy living in their rental communities and feel valued by their housing providers. Most respondents reported that they agree or strongly agree (85%) with this statement: I enjoy living in my community. A majority of respondents also reported that they feel included and accepted in their community (86%), their property staff demonstrates a culture of respect and kindness (85%) and they feel their well-being is important to community management (75%). The survey also revealed that, across income spectrums, three top factors contributed most to a renter’s positive sense of community: neighbors respecting the rules; feeling welcomed by the community staff; and access to services that can enhance residents’ wellbeing.
The Evolution of Remote Work: While the push to return to the office in some industries is reflected in an overall decrease in the number of those working remotely—the share fell from 62% in the 2022 report to 52% in the newest report—the fact that a majority of respondents still reported working remotely signifies that “work from home” is more than just a fleeting trend. The largest group (39%) reported they worked from home several days a week, followed by those who worked from home every day (31%), a few times a month (21%) and once a month or less (9%). Most important, the share of renters who did not anticipate changes in their remote work frequency increased from 64% in the 2022 report to 73%. The share of renters who anticipated working from home less frequently, meanwhile, decreased from 27% from the previous survey to 15%. The remaining 12% of respondents in this year’s survey thought that they would work remotely with greater frequency going forward.
Renters Moving Toward an Electric Future: While relatively few renters (4%) drive a fully electric
or hybrid plug-in vehicle, triple that amount (12%) said they are planning for their next vehicle to be so, and still more are considering it (35%). When asked about timing, 42% of those considering or expecting to drive a fully electric or hybrid plug-in vehicle planned to purchase or lease one within two years. However, when asked about their satisfaction with their on-site vehicle charging setup, only one-quarter of the existing electric or hybrid plug-in owners reported they were at least somewhat satisfied, while the largest group of respondents (34%) reported their communities did not have any chargers. Housing providers will need to plug into this trend in preparation for the upcoming demand.
In analyzing this data, it becomes evident that today’s renter is navigating a landscape of emerging technologies and practical considerations. While they continue to desire creature comforts, they also seek modern features and amenities that reflect a very mobile and connected lifestyle. This is evident in the strong interest in things like shared workspaces, with respondent interest growing from 35% in the previous survey to nearly half of respondents (48%) today, or high-speed internet, which 86% of respondents say is either very important or absolutely essential. Understanding these shifting priorities is paramount for property investors, managers, developers and architects.
“This year’s survey provides critical insights to rental housing providers about every stage of the customer
journey,” said Grace Hill CEO Kendall Pretzer. “With our new interactive dashboard, organizations have
access to a more enhanced and comprehensive analysis of the in-unit features and community amenities
that are paramount to renters, informing growth strategies for 2024 and beyond.”
Since its inception in 2013, the NMHC and Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report has been the authoritative data source for apartment owners, managers, developers and industry suppliers, as well as architects, financial institutions and others seeking insights into the minds of renters. This biennial survey provides users with reliable data to make a variety of investment, development and operational decisions. The for-sale product continues to evolve alongside changing consumer preferences, as well as market and industry trends. The 2024 version includes several new lines of questioning around property type, renters’ financial health, connectivity and community values. In addition, the full report package now includes an interactive data dashboard option that supports additional analysis of the survey data, allowing users to cut results across a number of demographic and geographic factors.