Don’t Get Caught Chasing Fad Amenities at Your Apartment Complex

By Franco Faraudo

It seems like every few years, a new pastime sweeps across the country. Apartment complexes once offered a range of amenities and activities that have waned in popularity, such as racquetball courts, tanning beds, elaborately themed pools, and business centers with shared computers – all less common today. Now, the new paddle sport pickleball is booming in popularity. If you’ve been living under a soundproof rock for the last year, pickleball is a cross between tennis and ping pong. Pickleball courts have become one of the hottest new features for real estate listings this year, leaving many apartment owners wondering, just like they did with fads of the past, if they should dedicate some amenity space and budget to this new popular activity.

As tempting as it is to dedicate budget and precious amenity space to trends like pickleball, it can be a costly endeavor, especially if the activity falls out of favor. To prevent wasting time and money on fads that could fade over time, apartment managers are using technology as a way to test the waters before diving in. Setting up communication systems and organizing groups is an excellent way to gauge interest in different activities. If enough people organically ask for things like personal trainers or pickleball tournaments, it could be time to offer them as a service. Good apartment managers also have staff dedicated to floating new ideas to tenants (or outsource it to a third party), which can go a little further in understanding tenant needs than just waiting for someone to ask.

Once it’s established that there’s a desire to have a certain new activity available to tenants, it still might not be time to pour money into developing new dedicated amenity spaces. A property’s current amenities can often be activated by bringing in professionals to organize classes and events. Yoga can be done on rooftops, and pickleball courts can be temporarily installed in parking lots. These organized events can not only establish demand but also serve as a way to wait and see if the new popular pastime is more than just a flash in the pan.

Amenities can help with tenant retention, but the holy grail is increasing leasing activity and/or rental rates. To better understand how amenities and activations truly translate into higher prices, apartment owners should keep a very close eye on competitor listings and mining the data. If a certain amenity becomes a prominent focal point repeatedly mentioned in listing descriptions and highlighted with professional photography, it could signal that the landlord has seen a meaningful spike in requests or boost in conversion rates because of it. Monitoring the specific verbiage used to tout these amenities and tracking any correlating rent premiums is essential.

It is human nature to want to be part of the hot new activity, which is one of the reasons that certain popular trends have exponential growth once they gain mainstream traction and cultural relevance. The climb of pickleball from niche hobby to national craze is a prime example of this herd mentality taking hold. But just as swiftly as those trends rise in popularity, the fickle herd can abruptly move on, leading fads to then fade into obscurity just as rapidly as they came on the scene.

Changing out or converting amenities spaces in apartment buildings is an extremely costly and time-consuming endeavor that requires extensive construction. That’s why property owners and managers should first leverage technology to accurately gauge lasting tenant enthusiasm before ever lifting a hammer. From deploying community activity apps and surveys to analyzing keyword search data and social media chatter, tech enables a truly data-driven approach to ensure they are not going to be stuck with dedicated space for a sport, fitness craze or hobby that will no longer be culturally relevant and in-demand in just a few years’ time. The opportunity costs of misjudging trends are simply too high.

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🚚 Special delivery: Delivery drivers have said that finding the right apartment can be the hardest part of their job. In response, couriers are designing their own tech solutions to help drivers navigate inside popular buildings.

🤖 Robo-bias: Regulators concerned with potential biases that could arise from using AI to screen tenants have begun writing a Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. .

🥸 Bad deed: High-tech criminals are using artificial intelligence to impersonate real estate pros and infiltrate transactions. Would your clients know the difference?

👻 Haunted house: Renters and homeowners are having problems with smart home tech that is left behind by previous residents.

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