2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report reveals renters’ wants and needs

Report from 221,000 survey responses delivers local, regional and national insights in a turbulent time, capturing shifting desires

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The 2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report released by NMHC and Grace Hill provides a comprehensive look at the home features and community amenities that renters can’t live without, how much they are willing to pay for them and what matters during their home search. The report features input from 221,000 renters living in 4,564 communities nationwide, with data available in 79 markets. See example projects here.

“The pandemic caused many renters to reevaluate their housing priorities, with a striking example being one-quarter of all moves we tracked were specific to changes in teleworking,” said Sarah Yaussi, Vice President, Business Strategy, NMHC. “Whether it’s digital nomads looking to join a flexible membership club, pet amenities dog owners won’t rent without or the insatiable appetite for more packages, the NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey reveals all that has changed since 2019. And what we’ve seen overall are renters reporting a great desire for more space, better amenities and in-home creature comforts.”

Among hot topics and trends covered in the report:

Sprawling Out

All the lockdowns seemingly led to a strong desire for additional space; 28 percent of renters who said they intend to move to a different rental community when their lease expires cited “additional living space” as a reason, up from just 19 percent two years ago. This was the third-most-common reason for wanting to move after “seeking lower rent” (49 percent of renters) and “seeking better community amenities” (29 percent).

When asked which types of rental homes were considered during their last home search, traditional apartment homes garnered a majority of responses (57 percent). However, townhomes and single-family rentals were also in the mix at 23 percent and 19 percent of responses, respectively, supporting the desire for more space and validating industry and investor eyes on these property types.

Creature Comforts

Now more than ever, home is proving to be a sanctuary, and renters have a great desire—and are willing to pay a premium in additional monthly rent—for certain amenities. Reported features with the highest share of renter interest, and their associated additional average monthly premiums, include:

  • Washer/dryer in-unit (92 percent of renters interested / $54.73 monthly premium);
  • Air conditioning (91 percent / $54.73);
  • Soundproof walls (90 percent / $46.21);
  • High-speed Internet access (89 percent; $47.93); and
  • Walk-in closet (88 percent; $43.46).
Special Delivery

While many kept venturing out to a minimum, the need for goods to be delivered increased. The share of renters who received two or fewer packages per month dropped from 45 percent in 2019 to just 24 percent this round. Conversely, the share who received three or more packages per month increased from 55 percent to 76 percent over the two-year period. And the share of renters who received perishable items several times a month or more nearly doubled from 9 percent in 2019 to 17 percent.

“It’s important to note that, beyond national trends, there are several market-level nuances affecting renter preferences,” said Kendall Pretzer, CEO of Grace Hill. “National data paints an overall picture for the industry, but it is vital for operators to keep a finger on the pulse of each individual market in their portfolios. Trends vary by region, by state and by municipality and may stray significantly from national averages. A program that regularly polls prospects and solicits resident feedback is essential to successfully meeting renter preferences and expectations.”

A few examples of market-level nuances affecting renter preferences include:

  • A gear wall, for home storage and organization, is a sought-after home feature in Honolulu, where 45 percent of renters say they are interested or won’t rent without one.
  • Rental dwellers in Savannah, Ga. show the least interest (11 percent) in a gear wall but show more interest than any other market in a makerspace/DIY room (39 percent).
  • More interest in hot tubs in Boulder, Colo. (70 percent) than in Philadelphia (41 percent).
  • Covered parking is more important in Minneapolis (80 percent) than in Gainesville, Fla. (47 percent).

Since its inception in 2013, the NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report has been the authoritative data source for apartment owners, managers, developers, 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.