Ny sf surveyNew York City and San Francisco – two of the most economically thriving cities in the U.S. and two of the top places to live. But how do renters in these cities feel about the “sometimes stressful” rental process? With the rental market competition at an all-time high, and rent prices through the roof, renters have a lot to consider when deciding whether to stay in their current place or find a new abode.

AppFolio recently conducted a bi-coastal survey in NYC and SF to gain deeper insight into what renters in these top metros want and need. Ultimately, renters not only have requirements for their physical apartments, but also for their property managers – think digital!

Below are some of the key findings from the survey:

Renters in both cities would pay more to stay in their current place

With extremely high rent prices in both NYC and SF, it may come as a surprise that the majority of renters in NYC (51.9%) said they’d be willing to pay between one and five percent more to stay in their current apartment. Of note, 7.1% of renters in NYC over the age of 65 were most likely to be willing to pay more than 11 percent to stay in their current apartment. That’s right – 11 percent! With the rental market going gray, this is something property managers with older tenants should keep top of mind.

In SF, almost half of renters (42.8%) said they’d be willing to pay between one and five percent more to stay in their current apartment, with 13.8% willing to pay between six and ten percent more. When broken down by household income, a little over half of respondents (58.5%) making less than $25,000 said they’d pay between one and five percent more, and almost half (41.2%) making between $100,000-$149,999 said they’d be willing to pay between six and ten percent more.

If you’re going to increase rent, tenants expect better maintenance & new amenities

When asked what makes an increase in rent acceptable, both renters NYC (30.2%) and SF (26.4%) listed better maintenance and upkeep as the top reason. Specifically for the younger generation of renters in NYC, this is important. Almost half of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 (47.6%) said they think better maintenance and upkeep is the most acceptable reason for a rent increase. This is closely followed by new amenities (29.8%), which includes keyless entry, video doorbell, etc.

While maintenance ranks number one for SF renters, the survey also found that one in five males (20.6%) said keeping pace with rental market prices was the most acceptable reason for rent to increase in their city. This compares to just one in ten women (10.3%) who felt the same.

… But an increase in rent is the #1 reason to move

Although renters in both NYC and SF said maintenance and upkeep is the most acceptable reason for an increase in rent, both groups also said it is the top reason to look for a new apartment. Almost half of renters in NYC (40.6%) would consider moving if their rent increased, while even more renters in SF (48.5%) would do the same. This is especially true for younger renters – over half of respondents between the ages of 19 and 24 in both cities would consider moving if their current rent price increased. Moral of the story: it’s all about balance. While increasing rent is a main reason for tenants to jump ship, they would be ok with it should the heightened price tag come with better maintenance and amenities.

Broker fees, low-quality landlords & digital communication with property managers

When searching for a new apartment, the majority of respondents in NYC (42.3%) typically view between three and six locations before making a decision, whereas a majority of respondents in SF (37.8%) typically view between one and three. What’s the worst part of the rental process for these renters? Almost one in three renters in NYC (31.4%) said broker fees, while one in three renters in SF said low-quality landlords.

Lastly, it didn’t come as a surprise to us that renters in both cities expect communication online/via text from their property managers during the rental process – almost half of respondents in SF (44.8%) and 37.6% in NYC. This is especially true for young, tech-savvy renters. Nearly half of renters in NYC between the ages of 18 and 24 (46.5%) said they expect communicating online or via text from a property manager, and the majority of renters in SF in the same age group (52.1%) agreed. Makes sense since today’s millennials are glued to their mobile devices!

So what can property managers do to please their tenants in NYC & SF?

If you’re a property manager looking to retain current tenants in NYC and SF, keep in mind it’s ok to increase rent, as long as you ramp up your maintenance and property upkeep, and incorporate new, unique amenities. You may also want to consider adapting to this tech-savvy generation and using software that allows you to communicate online and via text with your tenants. Luckily, tasks are completed online seamlessly with AppFolio’s Property Management software!