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Top Trends That Renters Are Looking for During Covid

Many office professionals will be spending more time at home than ever before.  

Covid has changed the real estate landscape, perhaps forever.  While we are trying to get back to normal (whatever normal is), certain trends have shifted.  “Work From Home” has become a part of our lifestyle, with big implications for homeowners and renters alike.  Even with a return to the office, many companies are reducing their office footprint, moving permanently to touch-down stations, and offering 2-3 day a week WFH arrangements, which means that many office professionals will be spending more time at home than ever before.  

Check out the 15 trends that inspired our recent HGTV article

Functional Working Space

Office, den, nook, whatever you want to call it… Renters are looking for somewhere to work at home other than their kitchen island or dining table.  This is especially important if there isn’t a separate bedroom in the apartment!

Bigger Spaces & More Bedrooms

There is a huge premium for larger spaces, larger bedrooms, and more bedrooms than ever before.  Being able to fit in a bigger queen bed and a desk is something that tenants keep asking for.  An additional bedroom allows couples to have separate “offices” when working from home (especially when on Zoom calls), or even if they need simply a little more of their own “personal” space.

Flex Space

To cure the boredom, renters have picked up many new interests and hobbies throughout the pandemic, and they are looking for flexible and adaptable spaces to continue to pursue their new-found interests, arts, crafts, and hobbies… and also act as their makeshift at-home gym!

Balconies & Outdoor Patios

Easy and quick access to outdoor space is at a premium during Covid.  Being stuck inside all day, renters value being able to step outside quickly and enjoy a coffee or read a book on an outdoor patio or balcony.

Dedicated Backyard

Renters still want that social connection, but in a safe environment.  A backyard space is a way for them to still have friends and family over for a BBQ or drinks.  One specific caveat is that they tend to want dedicated private outdoor space, not shared with other tenants! 

Live Greenery

Spending so much time indoors, renters are craving a fortifying breath of fresh air and sense of tranquility that live plants can bring.  While this is obviously more of a decor item than a feature of an apartment necessarily, outfitting your unit with planters and planter boxes indoors (or even outdoors on a balcony/patio) can give your unit that inexplicable sense of “home” over other units!  Bonus: Proximity to parks is also big on a renter’s list these days!

More Natural Light

More windows, larger windows, skylights – anything that counteracts that “boxed-in” feeling you get when spending 24hrs a day indoors!  Specifically, windows facing either South or West are more desirable, given that it is where sunlight generally comes from.

Well lit basement units

Modern pot lights and feature lighting provide well lit apartments.  This is especially true of basement units, which are typically darker and lack the natural light of above-grade units.  In the beginning of Covid when rents were on the decline, basement units were less desirable due to the smaller price differential compared to main/upper floor units, so providing nicer and better lit units was a way to attract tenants (although this has now since reverted back to normalcy and tenants are returning to rent basement units again).  

Separate entrances

There has been a big shift to wanting completely separate entrances.  Obviously, this is impossible when living in an apartment building or condo building.  But when living in a house with multiple units, renters are placing emphasis on not having to share entrances or amenities with anyone else.  This is one of the reasons that Laneway Suites have become incredibly desirable!

Separate HVAC

Renters LOVE when there is their own private Heating, Cooling, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems.  This means that you won’t be sharing any of the “same air” as other tenants in the building.  This is not cheap, though, and typically can only be put in when completing a large multi-unit renovation, such as the ones that Volition handles for clients.

Sound Separation

Sound separation was always highly sought after by  tenants, but even more so in the Work From Home era.  While your neighbour blaring his 80s Rock in the evening was always a potential concern, now you want to make sure that they aren’t disturbing you (or your Zoom call) in the middle of the workday.  In contrast to HVAC, soundproofing can be put in during a cosmetic renovation of a single unit within a multifamily property, since it only involves the redoing of drywall (and insertion of Roxul SAFE‘n’SOUND insulation and Resilient Channels to reduce vibration transmission behind the new ⅝” drywall).  Quality Vinyl Plank (QVP) flooring also adds to soundproofing.

Pet-friendly units

To combat the isolation, tenants are getting more pets for companionship during Covid.  Allowing pets could make your unit attract a wide audience of renters!  Quality Vinyl Plank flooring can make your unit more durable, since it resists scratching and resists moisture better than other types of flooring (and it looks great!). 

Bike Storage / Bike Parking / Bike Racks

As public transit is still a concern, there has been a massive uptick in the use of bikes, and therefore in the demand for bike storage.  Landlords are starting to cater to this demand by providing bike lockers, sheds, bike racks, or other bike parking solutions. 

Parking Spaces

Similarly, there has been a surge in demand for parking.  People have started purchasing vehicles (a reversal of the trend towards fewer Millennials owning cars!) since public transit has been less desirable during Covid.

Trend away from smaller units and “micro-suites”

Smaller units and Micro-Suites were popular amongst novice investors for the past decade or so, for their lower price point and easy rentability to first-time Millenial tenants venturing out on their own.  Volition has always deemed that types of units were never going to be a sustainable investment approach though (which is why Volition’s sophisticated investors never followed this trend), and this is now exacerbated with Covid.  Small micro-suites are now the least desirable units amongst prospective tenants and most difficult to rent out.

Looking for more education specific to Real Estate Investing in Toronto? Join our Investors Mastermind Meetup for monthly events: www.meetup.com/volition



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