2017 NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences Report Reveals Impact of Online Reviews and Short-Term Rentals on Leasing Decisions

A new survey of more than 270,000 current apartment residents covers everything you want to know about renters — from why they rent and why they move to what amenities they like and what will ultimately get them to sign on the dotted line. (Graphic: Business Wire)

“Since 2011, the number of residents living in all rental housing has increased by an average of nearly 1.7 million every year, according to the Census Bureau. Demand for rentals continues to grow and this report provides unprecedented insight into how apartment renters search, what they expect to pay, and what they won’t rent without,” Rick Haughey, Vice President, Industry Technology Initiatives, National Multifamily Housing Council, said. “New findings in this year’s report include data on short-term rentals and the impact of online reviews when deciding which properties to visit.”

Nearly half of respondents under the age of 25 (49 percent) are interested in the opportunity to generate additional income through short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, compared to 15 percent of renters age 65 and over. Further, 32 percent of renters age 65 and over report they would not rent in a community that offered short-term rentals.

More than three-quarters of the respondents (79 percent) reported that online opinion sites influenced their current leasing decision, with many (72 percent) noting such sites stopped them from visiting a community. The report also found that renters aren’t just looking at online reviews – they’re looking at how property managers respond. More than eighty percent of respondents (82 percent) noted they expect to see a response to at least negative, if not all, online reviews.

It’s not just a matter of what renters want – it’s also about what they can’t live without. The 2017 NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences Report captured the most important features and amenities for renters as well as which items renters really can’t forego. A sizeable portion of renters noted they won’t rent without the following features or amenities. The top five apartment features renters prioritize in terms of interest are:

When it comes to community amenities, apartment renters are most interested in:

The survey found that 57 percent of those surveyed are highly interested or interested in package lockers. Nearly half of renters surveyed (47 percent) receive at least three packages per month.

“It will take millions of new apartments in order to meet the growing demand for rental housing,” said John Falco, Principal, Kingsley Associates. “As developers work to meet these demands, understanding the needs and wants of apartment renters across the U.S. – from basic apartment and community features like flooring, countertops, pet areas, and architectural features to premium amenities such as smart thermostats, soundproof walls, and walk-in closets – is paramount.”