What First-Time Renters Want Most

Industry News,

Those who represent first-time renters are not a single, easy-to-define group. Many new to the process—or who may not have rented in decades—have different budgets, locations, square footage preferences and reasons to rent. Many younger renters have saved by living with their parents and working to afford their first apartment. It may lack bells and whistles associated with the amenity wars of recent years, but it’s their first home or castle and a huge achievement. “The joy of being able to come into a clean, quiet building with everything that I need has been the highlight of my year,” says London Purnell, who started renting a studio last fall at Chicago-based Habitat’s 43 Green apartment community. 

Others, typically older, have equity from the sale of a house and seek to replicate the space and extras they con-note with homeownership, except forgo maintenance. The varied range of wants makes it essential for developers and property managers to understand who resides at each property. 

At the top of wish lists, most renters put price/value, location and convenience, though a strong fourth contender is a sense of community due to the isolation many felt during the pandemic, says Louie Colella, Vice President of Leasing and Operations at St. Louis-based CRG, which operates 2,500 beds at its purpose-built student housing (PBSH) and 1,000 multifamily units in eight states. At the same time, many renters desire quality and privacy within their units, even when apartment square footage is shrinking nationwide, says Michael H. Zaransky, founder of Chicago-based MZ Capital Partners, which operates 2,500 units in three states. The average size of a new apartment shrank in 2022, according to RentCafe, decreasing from 941 square feet a decade ago to 887 square feet.

Here’s more to consider