Multifamily companies literally need to get ahead of themselves in order to keep pace with the disruptive forces at work across most if not all sectors, the National Multifamily Housing Council said Thursday. Historically slow to change, the apartment industry is especially at risk from disruption, according to a trends report the council released on the final day of its annual meeting, held in Orlando.
“The multifamily industry needs to catch up with the revolutions that are already well underway in everything from transportation and retail to demographics and psychographics,” says Rick Haughey, NMHC’s VP for industry technology initiatives. “With a population that is aging and growing more diverse, which is impacting household composition, now is the time for our industry to adapt and build to meet the needs of the future.”
Just to keep up with the pace of demand, the industry will need to add at least 4.6 million apartment units by 2030. “However, anything being designed today won’t see its first resident until the early 2020s, forcing the industry to become even more anticipatory, progressive and innovative when it comes to serving the next generation of renters’ needs,” according to NMHC’s report, titled Disruption: How Demographics, Psychographics, and Technology are Bringing Multifamily to the Brink of a Design Revolution. Twelve years from now, when those 4.6 million new units are presumably open for occupancy, “the world’s likely going to be a much different place.”
At this point, the report says, “It’s later in the game than most people think, and multifamily may already be behind the power curve. Just 17% percent of Americans say ‘innovative’ describes apartments very well, according to results of NMHC’s 2018 Consumer Housing Insights Survey,” released concurrently with the trends report.
That being said, the survey, conducted for NMHC by Beck Research, also found that consumers don’t have a clear definition of what “innovative” looks like when it comes to apartments. “Americans have difficulty describing the apartment of the future and describing a space beyond the status quo,” according to the survey. “Instead, Americans advocate for improvements to current services and amenities.” Convenience was a must for 92% of the 1,000 adults polled by Beck, while 78% said they valued having a convertible space that could transform to meet different needs.
“In the here and now, the multifamily industry largely knows what their customers want—and that connective technology is increasingly important,” says the trend report. It notes that NMHC recently published the results of the largest-ever survey of apartment renters ever, and found that the 272,000-plus survey respondents ranked amenities and features such as parking, pools and fitness centers, along with in-unit washers and dryers and dishwashers, as secondary to reliable cell reception and hi-speed Internet. Connectivity as well as creature comforts are standard fare for the current generation of class A properties.
“However, anticipating our residents’ needs for tomorrow is more challenging,” the report states. There’s no doubt that technology will continue to be a big determinant in the future value of apartment living.”
With that in mind, NMHC worked with KTGY Architecture + Planning to develop eight videos that showcase futuristic living spaces, including both private living areas and shared amenity spaces. Among the features these apartments of the future offer are moveable walls, interactive fitness and wellness amenities and 3D printers.