Technology is affecting every facet of how we work, play, and live. To remain competitive, apartment firms have to truly understand the technology needs and desires of current (as well as future) residents. Unfortunately, little quantifiable research exists to help firms make these important technology investment decisions.
To help fill that gap, the Washington, D.C.-based National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) has published a new research report that explores which technologies renters currently use in their daily lives and which ones they desire in their apartment homes. The report, Apartment Renter Technology Survey, is based on a national survey of nearly 1,000 residents conducted by SatisFacts Research LLC.
“In the future, apartment properties may be ‘branded’ as much for the quality of their Internet services as they are today for their curb appeal,” says David Cardwell, NMHC’s vice president of capital markets and technology. “Keeping up with the nearly constant changes in the technology landscape is a real challenge for apartment firms. This survey revealed some surprising results that will help apartment owners develop their future technology plans.”
The days of the landline telephone are numbered, according to NMHC’s Apartment Renter Technology Survey. Only 58 percent of apartment homes have a wired landline phone, and only 38 percent consider it their primary phone. Instead, renters are relying on mobile phones; 88 percent of renter households have a mobile phone compared to 74 percent of all households.
“The widespread use of cell phones poses new challenges for apartment owners whose structures block cell reception or are in a particular service provider’s dead spot,” notes Cardwell. “For renters whose primary phone is a cell phone, the ability to get a cell signal may be a compelling factor in the decision to renew, or even to recommend friends to live at the same property.”
The Apartment Renter Technology Survey also confirmed that the Internet has arrived! Seventy-eight (78) percent of respondents have computers in their apartments; 85 percent of those subscribe to high-speed Internet service: cable, DSL, or wireless.
The younger age of apartment renters - more than half of the survey respondents were under 34 - suggests that high-speed Internet access will become an even higher priority for apartment firms. These young renters are more likely to use their Internet connections to play online games and watch streaming video.
“This fast-growing trend has clear implications for apartment owners and other investors in broadband infrastructure,” says Cardwell. “Today’s college students, accustomed to lots of bandwidth on their college networks, are tomorrow’s apartment bandwidth hogs.”
Other findings of NMHC’s Apartment Renter Technology Survey:
- Lower-income renters are just as involved with technology and desire it just as much as upper-income residents. Service penetration rates and rankings of importance are almost identical, no matter the income range.
- Residents want wireless access; 69 percent would like communities to offer wireless hotspots.
- Renters still want to talk to managers. By a factor of 500 percent, residents would prefer to communicate with their community’s staff in person vs. sending an e-mail or using a Web portal. Calling the office was the second-most desired means of communicating with the apartment staff.
- Residents don’t want their services bundled with a single-service provider. Only 15 percent said that they were “likely” or “very likely” to bundle their phone, video, and Internet services with one provider.
- While 94 percent say that they didn’t choose their current apartment home because of the technology amenities it offered, they report that high-speed Internet, good cell phone reception, and a choice of service providers might be important factors in choosing where to live next.
This information was provided by the NMHC, a national association representing the interests of the larger and most prominent apartment firms in the U.S. For more information, contact NMHC at (202) 974-2300, e-mail the council at ([email protected]), or visit NMHC's website at (www.nmhc.org). The NMHC’s Apartment Renter Technology Study is available at no cost to NMHC members at the organization's website.