Updated: Mar 7
Being an owner and operator of thousands of multifamily doors, I can tell you that multifamily has always been a competitive space, and with the impact of the pandemic the heat has certainly been turned up. My company, Blue Lake Capital, focuses on Class B properties in Texas, Florida, and Georgia and our go-to strategy is what’s known as value-add. This means we secure the properties and identify steps we can implement to drive up the overall profitability of the investment by either increasing income, reducing expenses, or both. Now, an obvious key to this is, of course, tenants and occupancy.
One unique challenge for attracting tenants is amenities, and these are now even more important, as COVID has significantly increased the number of people working remotely and spending more time in their homes than ever before. With the impact of COVID some amenities, which earlier in the year were considered innovative and a powerful value-add for tenants, have been forced to adapt. What were these leading amenities and how have they now adapted to the impacts of COVID and social distancing?
Here are the top 7 innovative adaptations of multifamily amenities due to COVID:
7. High-speed Broadband Internet
Due to the pandemic, access to high-speed broadband internet is a top demand and expectation of tenants. The need for reliable internet services, rather for remote work or remote schooling, is now more critical than ever before. There have been many reports of the lack of reliable internet access causing tremendous difficulties for those in rural communities, to the point that this is now escalating to a legislative level. In turn, this drives tenants to re-locate, even in the middle of a pandemic. Prior to COVID, this amenity was a luxury. Now, it’s an absolute demand.
6. Dedicated Workspaces - Nooks
While shared working spaces became increasingly popular in 2019 and into 2020, COVID shifted the trend. Pre-COVID shared workspaces were all the rage; however, post-COVID, spaces like this now represent too great a risk. Instead, one of the features more and more tenants are attracted to are “nooks”, which can be used as dedicated workplaces within their homes. Being that an increasing number of people are now, and for the foreseeable future, working remotely, nooks are becoming a coveted feature in apartment layouts.
5. Extensive Outdoor Amenities
When evaluating our newest acquisition seen above, one major differentiator that caught our attention was the outdoor amenities. It is no longer enough to have a pool and believe that will ensure a successful multifamily investment. Prior to COVID, a pool and clubhouse were common amenities used to enhance a property. Post-COIVD, most pools and clubhouses are now closed to ensure social distancing is enforced. However, tenants still desire and crave options to get out of their apartments and break the monotony of the pandemic lifestyle. Offering tenants large green spaces that include walking trails, high-quality fitness obstacle courses, seating areas, grills, and even a soccer field and bocce ball court are increasingly valuable amenities. They not only provide safer, outdoor spaces that reinforce social distancing, but also attract a stronger tenant base more likely to remain for a longer term.
4. Recording Booth
Similar to shared workspaces, one feature that more prominent multifamily properties offered pre-COVID was recording studios. Now, with the impact of the pandemic forcing many families to work remotely, this amenity is increasingly popular. Residents can reserve the space, with sanitation in between sessions, that provides tenants a creative outlet for recordings of business or school presentations, podcast episodes, or even in developing their musical abilities while safely remaining socially distanced and having a quiet space.
3. Community Arts – Crafts
Along these same lines, some multifamily properties pre-COIVD offered community spaces to promote common connections and hobbies. Post-COVID these designated spaces are generally no longer open to ensure social distancing. The Post-COVID adjustment is to provide DIY projects to pre-registered tenants at their doorsteps, and then guide them through the craft projects through live-steamed instruction. This helps to promote community building and connection while keeping tenants safe, and simultaneously elevates the offering of the multifamily property in comparison to competitors.
2. Pet-Friendly Community
Pre-COVID, offering a pet-friendly community was a decision some properties pursed, and others did not. However, post-COVID pet sales have soared. This creates a significant opportunity for owners to recognize a new trending demand for tenants, that when seized, can significantly increase income with pet deposits and monthly pet rent fees. The tradeoff for tenants is having the convenience of large outdoor spaces for their pets with additional perks like a dog-park and dog washing station.
1. Grab & Go Kiosks
Convenience is more important than ever, especially considering many people are now implementing social distancing and hesitant to leave their homes for casual errands. Pre-COVID onsite vendors like coffee shops and small cafes were popular. Post-COVID, these options have adapted to grab & go kiosks. The added benefit is giving tenant’s convenience while implementing increased safety measure for social distancing and minimize traffic flow in and out of the property for deliveries.
With a little creativity, multifamily properties can continue to thrive, add-value, and remain competitive even during a pandemic. Like any challenge, the ability to adapt is key, and being innovative in these measures will help ensure your tenants and investments remain resilient.
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About the Author
Ellie is the founder of Blue Lake Capital, a real estate company specialized in multifamily investing throughout the United States. At Blue Lake Capital, Ellie helps investors grow their wealth and achieve double-digit returns by investing alongside her in exclusive multifamily deals they usually don't have access to.
Ellie is the host of REady2Scale , a podcast that highlights honest, insightful, and thought-provoking discussions on the multiple approaches for successful real estate investing.
She started her career as a commercial real estate lawyer, leading real estate transactions for one of Israel’s leading development companies. Later, as a property manager for Israel’s largest energy company, she oversaw properties worth over $100MM. Additionally, Ellie is an experienced entrepreneur who helped build and scale companies by improving their business operations.
Ellie holds a Masters in Law from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.