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Current Trends in Apartment Renting

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Apartment rentals are becoming increasingly popular--many major cities will anticipate 1.5 million new renters this year, according to Forbes Magazine. Due to this spike in rental pursuit, trends in the apartment market are shifting. Read on to find out what you can expect to find in rental properties in the coming years, and what it might mean for potential tenants.

Occupancy Up, Rent Growth Down

The growth of rent costs is down nationwide from 4.1 percent in 2012 to 3.2 percent in 2013, according to a report by Axiometrics Inc., a leading provider of apartment data and market research. This is the lowest rate since August 2010. However, though rental rates are down, occupancy rates are soaring--reaching a national average of 94.4 percent in March 2013. Thirty-eight of the top 88 metropolitan areas in the country are reporting occupancy rates above 95 percent, including Oakland, San Francisco, Houston, Denver, Nashville, San Jose and Seattle.

Communities Are Growing More Dense

Occupancy rates are increasing due to a growing demand for apartment living. Apartment communities are growing more densely populated--they are now averaging 200 units per acre, up from 150. So what has made renting suddenly so desirable?

According to U.S. News and World Report, baby boomers--around 75 million of them-- are following a downsizing trend to live a simpler lifestyle with more proximate access to amenities and family, opting to rent in urban areas rather than remain at their home in the country. Additionally, about 80 million "echo-boomers" (the offspring of baby boomers), ranging from 17 to 31 years old, are entering the market as renters, flocking to cities in droves in search of eco-friendly, urban lifestyles with ready access to public transit and a diverse job market.

Apartments Are Growing Smaller

To accommodate the increasing demand for rented living space, units are steadily decreasing in size. The average size of an apartment is now 700 square-feet, down from the previous 800 square-feet. Many cities are implementing a trend known as "micro-living"--strategically-constructed studio apartments no more than 300 square-feet that utilize 9-foot ceilings for vertical space and multi-purpose storage-turned-sleeping apparatus for low-cost, energy-efficient renting.

Shared Spaces and Social Living

To compensate for the shrinking size of apartment units, properties are offering more shared living areas, such as communal lounges, rooftop gardens, and patios. This way, tenants can relax and spend leisure time outside of their small unit space, and still enjoy the affordable rental rates. Access to outdoor amenities is also highly-welcomed and appreciated by renters in urban environments, and the sense of community that comes with common areas facilitates social interaction between tenants.

Green and Eco-Friendly is a Must

Being environmentally-friendly is becoming a top priority for many Americans, and apartment developers realize that. Sustainable design and construction, energy efficiency, and recycling capabilities are all essentials for greener apartment living. Many properties are even providing on-site plug-in stations for electric cars.

Niche Amenities

Unique amenities appealing to specific demographics are becoming trendy in the current rental market. While pet ownership used to be rather frowned-on in apartment communities, many properties are beginning to implement features catering to tenants' beloved furry friends. Some communities are offering not only pet exercise areas, but veterinary services, grooming and day care facilities on-site. Other specialized amenities include bike storage, fitness centers, and Zipcar lots--a car-sharing company optimum for an urban-dweller striving to be environmentally-friendly. With more and more people seeking apartment lifestyles, property owners are striving to accommodate all of their unique needs to snag their occupancy.

The American Dream Has Changed

The ultimate goal of success was once buying a home with a white picket fence --now young professionals and retired baby boomers alike are moving from the suburbs in favor of life in the big city. Echo-boomers (or "millennials") are getting married and starting families later in life, and focusing on their careers first. Moving to the city, snagging a dream job, and enjoying the single life surrounded by the exciting hustle and bustle of an urban lifestyle has replaced the quaint home in the country as the ideal American dream.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on June 11, 2013

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