Is The Pandemic The End to Apartment Living?

Over the last 12 years, the demand for urban apartments has been insatiable. Renters have enjoyed the flexibility and convenience of apartment living, realizing how fewer maintenance obligations allow more free time. Apartment living is no longer thought of as the step before you purchase your own home, but instead, an opportunity for people to enjoy life. This has resulted in increased demand for apartments in both urban and suburban communities.

The onset of the pandemic confined people to their homes and prompted companies to shift to remote work. With an element of the unknown, many companies are now offering pro-longed teleworking into 2021.

At the same time, financially capable urban apartment dwellers have begun to question if they need to live near their company’s location now that they were working from home. The social or physical distancing required by the pandemic became problematic for renters of small urban apartments and apartments with many high touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons, handrails, and garbage shoots, that officials warned people to be careful around.

What does that mean for apartment owners? Are renters fleeing urban apartment buildings?

A recent survey by the members of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) shows that New York vacancies have increased 2% since February.  While many renters have left the city, according to the Connecticut Multiple Listing Service, the number of Fairfield county apartment leases signed from April – September increased about 20% over last year’s signed leases from the same period.

The same is true in Boston, where a recent report on Zumper indicated the median 1-bedroom rent in August saw a decrease of 2.1% and a drop of 0.4% in the 2-bedroom median rents.

According to Hartford Business Journal small to mid-size cities have not escaped the downward pressure on rents reporting a 1.1% decrease in rent prices from mid-March through June 2020.  Leading to the conclusion that it is not apartment living alone that is driving the migration.

This means that many pre-pandemic renters are still looking to rent during the pandemic, but they are looking for different things in their living space. With people free to live where they want rather than close to where they work and renters looking for different amenities then pre-pandemic times, renters have scheduled the moving trucks.

In addition to safety precautions, one Greystar survey shows the top 5 amenities that renters are looking for have shifted from swimming pools, multi-use common areas, pet-friendly features, soundproof walls, and washer and dryers to extra space, kitchen bar eating area, balconies, better package delivery capabilities for all the e-commerce packages they are receiving, and the ability to reserve time at the pool or gym.

Apartment owners looking to mitigate their risk should consider how they can meet the needs of their tenants and future tenants as we move forward with pandemic living.

For NY-area investors seeking to benefit from fast-growing rents in secondary markets, Northeast PCG is currently offering Seabreeze Apartments featuring a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom floorplans, many with water views of the Long Island Sound and balconies. You can learn more about Seabreeze here.

If you’re looking to enter the Boston market you may be interested in our Malden Street Apartments offering which features a one-bedroom & five two-bedroom floor plans with balconies, off-street parking, and coin-operated laundry. Learn more about Malden Street Apartments here.

If small to mid-size markets are more your style check out our featured listing, Adams Street Apartments, in Holyoke, MA. This building is comprised of 5-one bedroom, 11-two bedroom, and 4-three-bedroom apartments were completely renovated in 2019 and is professionally managed. To view this and all our current listings visit our website, NortheastPCG.com, or click here.