The #1 Demanded Tenant Amenity (That They Don’t Even Tell You About)

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NMHC conducted their annual resident preference assessment with some surprising results. The report is centered around the new advancements in multifamily living, along with a deep dive into residents preference.

As you might expect, multifamily management and development teams are focused on technology that makes living and working all in the same space easier and more seamless. There are new & improved apps for smart home controls, better package delivery, improved processed for reserving rooms, and even pet perks that have been elevated. However-

The number one thing people look for in their building?

Cell Coverage.

Connectivity ranked as the single most important deciding factor for residents in MDU spaces.

For developers and asset teams that handle MDU projects, there has long been a struggle to uncover the true ROI for solving cell coverage within a property. It’s been an uphill battle, which makes sense when you contexualize cell coverage as a “luxury utility” instead of a standard amenity.

  1. The ROI of a utility is harder to define as tenants have a base level expectation that it’s available at the property.
  2. Tenants often don’t report issues with cell coverage to management as they assume nothing can be done about it.
  3. Poor cellular connectivity can either directly or (more commonly) indirectly lead to tenants finding a new building.

My primary role is to solve issues in multifamily projects when cellular signal is deficient. As part of that role, we have developed a dedicated service team that spends their time analyzing, heatmapping, and diagnosing building coverage.

Over the past 50 surveys we have completed, 24 of the buildings had moderate issues with coverage, and 15 of the buildings were majorly deficient (phones were non-functional in a majority of the building).

Said another way- More than 30% of multifamily buildings do not provide the #1 requested amenity for their tenants.

We are undergoing a major shift.

In the past, apartment building owners would recognize an issue with cell coverage, call in a team to fix it, and hope no one noticed how severely lacking the coverage had been. Systems were thrown together at the 11th hour and destroyed development budgets, and usually worked as intended.

Savvy development teams are now approaching this problem differently.

There are two major shifts that are happening as it relates to cell coverage within the projects:

– They are being planned earlier using predictive modeling to anticipate gaps in coverage

– The buildings that install a solution and provide their tenants with excellent coverage are bragging about coverage in their marketing materials

As we continue to help teams retrofit their properties and install in new developments, more often we are helping to develop marketing materials to evangelize the new technology in the building. It’s no longer a problem that’s solved and then kept in the dark- rather, it has become a critical piece of marketing leverage for developers in competitive markets. Smart buildings require connectivity, and residents demand cell coverage as table stakes.