Why Parking Pain Points Should Be a Priority

by Todd Katler

I was intrigued by Matrix Fitness’ informal survey at this year’s Apartmentalize, which prompted attendees to select the amenities that were most important in their communities. While fitness centers and community events performed well, the clear winner was parking.

Parking ranks high among renters in every preference survey out there, receiving three mentions in the eight most important amenities. Covered parking, dedicated visitor/guest parking and controlled-access parking each appeal to more than 66% of residents. All three of these preferences also ranked in the top eight of items that renters consider a necessity. And the best part, residents are willing to pay to have these parking amenities available to them.

So, what do you do when you’ve already built the building and you can’t meet those demands? What if spaces are unavoidably limited at a development? There are numerous multifamily properties that can’t even supply parking to all their residents, let alone offer dedicated guest parking. And shrinking parking ratios in multifamily are only exacerbating the problem.

The only option is to find a solution that lets you optimize your parking spaces. For example, communities commonly assign parking spaces to their renters. When a resident moves out, that spot sits open while the unit is readied for the next renter. Why let those spaces sit unused when you can make them temporarily available to current residents or their guests? Communities have the option to automate parking solutions, reducing the stress of parking for residents and onsite teams.

Why Parking Can’t Be Overlooked

It’s never helpful to have a challenging parking situation, and it’s even more problematic now. The multifamily industry is facing a mixed bag of financial news. Rent growth declined YOY for the first time since began keeping stats, but demand continues to growConstruction delays jumped to 90% last quarter with nearly two-thirds saying financing was the cause. And everyone is still waiting to see if the Fed’s pause on interest rate increases remains in effect. The uncertainty has made retention more important and communities have to compete for renters more than before. Those two factors mean now is the time to address any parking issues and avoid any hindrance they might bring to your leasing success.

Renters’ tastes change constantly. The co-working space that people crave today may become strained in the coming years. However, there are some amenities that will also always remain top of mind to your residents and prospects, including WiFi, in-unit washer/dryer and parking. To attract new residents and retain the people already in the building, efficiency in parking isn’t a “nice-to-have,” it’s a “must-have.” I heard one of our clients mention last week, “When it comes to resident feedback, we hear about the two p’s – parking and poop!”

Parking Affects Reputation Scores

The balance of power is shifting to the residents. If they’re unhappy, it will result in negative reviews and parking is the amenity that appears the most. For 70% of prospects, parking is an important issue, as reported by NMHC/Grace Hill, and for 30% of them, they won’t even consider your properties if parking is a problem.

Parking is the amenity referenced the most in community reviews, appearing in 14% of online critiques, according to Rent. Top concerns include availability for both residents and their guests, as well as proximity to their unit, and they trend negative. On the flip side, when residents are content with the parking situations, mentions of parking start to vanish — along with the low ratings they carry. Out of sight, out of mind is usually the result. It’s not necessary to make residents love your parking situation, but you absolutely need to remove the stress.

Fixing Parking Problem to Save Money and Make It

High reputation scores speak for themselves. Once reputation is in a good place, companies have the opportunity to save money on ILS, ad spending and reputation management. You also have your onsite teams focused on managing the community, not the issue. The solution may just be in automating parking for residents, who when surveyed, expressed a willingness to pay for better parking. What’s better than finding a parking solution that eliminates all that stress and improves NOI? Parking is one of the most important amenities to your residents — make it important in your organization. 

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