CHICAGO, IL - As moving season kicks into high gear, renters have many factors to consider in their decision-making process when searching for an apartment. Apartments.com recently conducted a national survey of more than 2,500 renters to help get a better understanding about why people rent, as well as gain insight into what it would take to motivate them to move immediately, and which specific aspects of renting are the most important when choosing where to live.
As a result of high demand for rentals, the incentives and special offers apartment communities offer to renters have decreased dramatically in recent years. Back in 2009 when the vacancy rate was at a 23-year high, The Wall Street Journal reported "some landlords are showering flat-screen TVs, cash, rent cuts and other incentives on tenants to encourage them to renew their apartment leases." There is a sharp contrast today, as concessions and incentives are nonexistent in some hot rental markets. Renters surveyed seem to be realistic about this aspect of renting, when asked about the importance of rental incentives in 2014:
Nice to have but not a deal breaker: 33 percent
They're one of a few key factors in deciding to move or stay put: 28 percent
I haven't even seen any rental incentives during my apartment search: 20 percent
They're critically important (make or break): 14 percent
I don't care about rental incentives at all: 5 percent
Although rental incentives are few and far between, when Apartments.com asked renters what it would take to get them to move to a new rental immediately, the most popular responses were:
1. A big discount on monthly rent for the full term of the lease
2. More space for the same amount of money
3. Free rent for a month
Only 6 percent of renters said they love their current apartment so much that absolutely nothing could convince them to move.
The Apartments.com survey results also reveal that half of renters need to rent for various financial reasons, while more than one-third of renters choose to rent because they enjoy maintenance-free living. Only 13 percent of renters surveyed said the main reason they rent is because they need to be mobile.
While financial necessity is the main reason 50 percent of survey respondents said they are currently renting, 56 percent of renters who plan to move within the next year said it is for a change of scenery, and 13 percent said they need to relocate for a new job. These reasons for moving could indicate an improving U.S. economy. Also, 42 percent of current renters said they don't plan to buy a house or condo in the future. Of that 42 percent, nearly half gave reasons unrelated to finances as their main motivation: 31 percent said there's too much maintenance involved in owning a house (e.g. repairs, lawn, snow shoveling, etc.), while 18 percent enjoy the simplicity of renting.
Regardless of their future moving plans, current renters were fairly split when asked about the single most important factor they consider when choosing an apartment or rental home. The top five responses are:
1. Affordability/low monthly rent: 36 percent
2. Living in a safe area with a low crime rate: 23 percent
3. Living near their job or school: 12 percent
4. Must allow pets: 8 percent
5. Amenities (e.g. Air conditioning or a washer/dryer in unit): 8 percent
"Renters today place high importance on affordability, safety and convenience when making decisions about where to live," said Brad Long, president of Apartments.com. "While so much buzz in the rental industry centers around reinvigorated big cities and hot urban areas, our survey reveals that living in a cool neighborhood or city does not seem to play a significant role in why renters choose their apartments or rental homes."
When asked to choose from a list of all of the factors that play a significant role in their choice of apartment or rental home, only 21 percent of survey respondents indicated that a cool neighborhood or city is very important. More popular responses among renters include:
Affordability: 71 percent
Safe Area / Low Crime Rate: 57 percent
Convenient Utilities / Amenities: 50 percent
Large Apartment Size: 48 percent
Near Job or School: 38 percent
Parking: 33 percent
Allows Pets: 26 percent
Rental Incentives: 23 percent