Millions of dollars are spent each year studying the housing market. Buried in the tomes of research, are clues about resident “wish lists” and expectations. If you didn’t get a chance to attend the 2014 Multifamily Executive Conference, here are a few things you might not know about today’s renter.

#1 Long-term renters

Young adults are eager to own their own home someday, many don’t expect it to be a possibility until they hit their late thirties or early forties. More than 50% of respondents surveyed see themselves as homeowners in the future, but Millennials are most interested in homeownership.  Only 28% of Gen-Xers, compared to 61% of Millennials, see themselves as homeowners five years from now.

#2 Renters by choice

Interestingly, although Millennials see themselves as homeowners in the future, they also are the group most likely to be a “renter by choice.”

#3 Upgrading or staying put

Properties with the following characteristics and amenities are more likely to get a second look from residents looking to upgrade:

  1. Mixed-use properties with a mini-grocery or coffee shop on the property.
  2. A well-equipped fitness area and/or access to walking/jogging/hiking trails.
  3. More privacy, i.e. exceptional soundproofing
  4. Extra parking

#4 Expanded parking options

Speaking of parking, only 5% for apartment residents don’t own or have access to at least one private automobile.

#5 Pets or no pets

More than two-thirds of more than 27,000 renters surveyed don’t own a pet; there is even a segment of renters that prefer a no-pets-allowed community.

#6 Home office or commute time

A tiny fraction (4%) of renters work primarily from home; the average commute time for residents that work in an office is less than a half hour – 23.81 minutes.

#7 Storage space

More than a quarter of older residents need and expect extra storage space, but survey results indicate that more than 80% of renters don’t rent extra storage.

#8 Going green

Some surveys suggest prospective residents are willing to pay more to live in an apartment with “green features.” The J Turner Research report titled Resident Lifestyle Preferences: An Insight prepared in partnership with Multifamily Executive reveals that renters are willing to pay more if it improves or enhances daily life – but not necessarily just because the property is considered eco-friendly.

The report reveals:

  1. Although low-flow toilets made the list of  eco-friendly fixtures residents look for, some respondents said they are counter-productive because you end up flushing more times to get the job done.
  2. Almost 20% of respondents expect to buy an electric car in the future – installing charging stations now could be an investment in the future.
  3. Walkability scores and energy efficient appliances ranked high on the list of “must-haves,” scoring 8.10 and 8.33 respectively on a scale of 1-10 – with ten being the best possible score.

#9 Staying fit and healthy

Residents are looking for more than just a work-out room with a treadmill and a bench. To capture the attention of residents who want access to health and fitness amenities, properties will need to offer a full-gym, private or group classes, a pool and walking/running paths. Twenty-four hour access is essential, too.

#10 Socializing

On a scale of 1-10, a community’s “quietness” scored very high – 8.73. Residents prefer peace and quiet; however, they want options to entertain, cook out and socialize occasionally. There was no single social marker that resonated with a plurality. While some residents want a huge kitchen with all the bells and whistles, 34% of apartment residents said they never entertain.

The survey results reveal subtle differences and similarities across diverse cohorts. One thing is certain, property managers will need to stay engaged in order to attract prospects and keep them renewing the lease.