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Is Community an Amenity?

In this March 25 issue of the Multifamily Edge newsletter, we explore the various discussions around multifamily community.

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We start off with the week’s multifamily insights and then dig deeper into community as an amenity for multifamily.

This Week’s Top Headlines

  • In Q4 2021 multifamily prices grew by 19.6% and NOIs grew by 17.7% — GlobeNewsWire
  • 2021 was the biggest year for student housing sales in the last 10 years — Wealth Management
  • Rents jumped 15% across the U.S. in 2021, but didn’t keep up with the rapid increase in the price of mortgage payments (see more below) — Inman
  • Multifamily home starts in February had a strong showing, with a jump of 9.3% to an annualized pace of 554,000 — RISMedia
  • Multifamily mortgage performance normalizes, as delinquency rates sit lower or flat — MBA
  • The cost of building materials continues to rise, with the prices of construction goods rising 1.6% in February alone — NAHB

The Story

Is community the newest multifamily amenity? And if so, what importance will it play in the resident experience? These are questions that many multifamily owners are wrestling with at the moment, and it’s something we get asked a lot about at Swiftlane. 

The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption, and the physical sense of community has come to the forefront as residents seek more social interaction and belonging. Here are some of the ways to think about and promote community in multifamily assets.

Resident Portal

Using some form of resident mobile application not only gives residents a one-stop shop for access and building information, but it also allows owners and managers to streamline data collection that can help with strategic business decision-making. Quantifying resident actions and engagement is critical to future-proofing a multifamily business.

One central application can facilitate a number of community-building activities such as building access, visitor management, reservations, package delivery, resident forums, neighbor interactions, event coordination, guided tours, parking management, maintenance requests, and more.

Keep in mind that application fatigue is a real problem, and disparate systems will create friction with your residents. It’s critical to centralize as much as possible this type of resident-facing technology. 

Security

A sense of community also centers around security. We know from recent data that residents want this, and are willing to pay more for a greater sense of security. Specifically, according to a recent NMHC survey 71% of residents want controlled property and amenity access, with 20% saying it is a necessity. Further, the survey found that the average additional monthly payment that residents would be willing to make for controlled access to the property is $36. 

The New ROI: Return on Interactions

Social isolation is a real problem, even for multifamily owners. A recent study found that people with higher levels of social isolation had a lower connection to their community as well as lower levels of housing satisfaction. Francesca Loftus, Co-founder of HOM recently stated that “We typically see that more than 60% of folks list community as their number one reason for renewing.”

Although there’s no silver bullet for creating a sense of community, as every city, neighborhood, and building are different, owners and managers should consider some common community-building tactics. These include:

  • Surveys (ask your tenants what they want!)
  • Resident-only wellness or fitness classes
  • Lunches
  • Education sessions
  • Charitable support — one-time donations or donation matching with residents
  • Discounts for local businesses
  • Host a spring cleaning clothing drive for charity
  • Farmers’ markets with local produce
  • Game and movie nights
  • Co-working spaces

Expert Take

 “With the right tech support, the managers of tomorrow will be part community organizer, part marketer, part system manager. Buildings will become more active, more successful, and resident engagement will grow. The key to this type of multifamily community starts with access, but that’s just the beginning.” — Propmodo 

So What?

Community is an amenity, an important one. Multifamily owners cannot lose sight of creating and enabling a vibrant community among residents by putting into action some of the above advice.

Weekly Chart

Rents up 15%, mortgage payments up 31%

According to a new report from Redfin, both rents and mortgage payments increased dramatically year-over-year. Expect this trend to continue as interest rates creep upward.