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12 Multifamily Trends to Look For in 2022 and Beyond

Since 2020, the multifamily building sector has been evolving in ways we haven’t seen in years, fueled by changes in the way that residents work, the way that they learn, and the way that they choose to live their lives, all due, in part, to life in a post-pandemic world. Many multifamily industry experts say that the year 2020 represented a pivotal moment in the multifamily housing industry, arguing that the pandemic merely served as an accelerant for a pre-existing fire that was burning just below the surface.

Long before March 2020, work-from-home flexibility, sustainable features, healthy home environments, and unique community amenities were already piquing the interest of multifamily residents throughout the country. However, it took a devastating, worldwide pandemic to move those specific characteristics to the top of their want lists, which has quickly pushed these multifamily trends to the multifamily industry’s forefront. In response, the industry has been shifting in an effort to oblige.

This article will outline the twelve multifamily trends expected in 2022 and beyond. These industry trends build upon the last few years’ expectations, including continued attention to remote work capabilities, health, and wellness. Other trends include characteristics that have dominated the industry in the last decade, such as developing larger individual units and creating better and better outdoor spaces for multifamily residents.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #1: The Rise of the Hybrid Work Schedule

Hybrid work schedules have become commonplace throughout most professional industries, and these remote work hybrids are thought to be here to stay for years to come.

According to Gallup, a recent survey found that 42% of the Americans surveyed were working on a hybrid schedule, which meant they worked at least part of the time remotely, while 39% were working entirely from home. In fact, the findings of a study published by Upwork found that by 2025, roughly 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, representing an 87% percent increase over pre-pandemic levels.

What started as a way to keep people healthy while maintaining workforce production has become the future of work, and multifamily trends are shifting in response.

Co-work lounges and business centers inside multifamily buildings will incorporate multi-functional spaces to provide workstations, breakout rooms, group meeting spaces, and private offices to appeal to the modern American worker.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #2: Embracing the Family Pet

Finding a pet-friendly building was already high on the priority list of those searching for homes in the multifamily market, particularly among Millennials and Gen-Zers. However, according to the American Pet Products Association, the pandemic pushed pet ownership to record heights, and the association projects another historic increase in pet ownership this year. In response, many multifamily communities are becoming more and more pet friendly.

Existing multifamily buildings are reconsidering their less-than-friendly pet policies and welcoming four-legged residents with open arms. New multifamily buildings are taking it to the next level and are being thoughtfully designed to offer great pet amenities like washing areas, feeding stations, and napping spaces. While dog parks were already commonplace in some multifamily communities, it’s rare to find a new multifamily property that doesn’t feature at least one dog park, if not two. Some multifamily communities have even opened on-site doggie day spas, offering dog walking, pet boarding, and grooming services.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #3: Modernizing the Mail Room

Another pandemic-era trend that has spread like wildfire across the nation is online-shopping.

Like many other trends on this list, delivery-based consumerism had already taken hold of the country when Corona was just a beer. Even as pandemic restrictions are loosened and more people go back to in-person shopping, package deliveries aren’t letting up. That has directly impacted multifamily design and the need to create spaces that can accommodate packages in various shapes and sizes.

Spacious, multifunction mailrooms will be one of the major multifamily trends moving forward. Gone are the days when the mailroom was just an afterthought. Today, they have become a significant amenity in multifamily communities. Look for mailrooms with spacious layouts, various storage options, and more functional pickup areas with more calming and eye-catching designs.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #4: Living in the Lap of Luxury

One of the most curious trends to emerge this decade is the migration of residents from major cities like New York and Los Angeles to growing mid-sized multifamily housing markets.

Along with that pandemic-induced migration, those residents bring a certain set of standards, looking for and expecting the amenities they enjoyed back in the big city markets.

While some of these luxury amenities may not fit the budgets of multifamily communities in smaller markets, there has been a shift to meet at least some of the needs of this particular demographic.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #5: Communing With Nature Through Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is not new to the commercial and residential construction industries, nor is it a new concept in multifamily design. However, there has been a growing awareness and interest in biophilic design in recent years, and multifamily trends are shifting to accommodate.

The biophilic design increases occupants’ connection with nature through the way in which the building and its landscapes are designed and constructed. Biophilic design practices use direct and indirect nature, as well as place and space conditions to achieve this goal.

Biophilia principles like increased outdoor space inclusion, incorporating natural elements such as terrace gardens, more natural light, and scenic views of nature are all finding their way into current multifamily designs. Even interior designers recognize this shift, choosing blue and green hues as their colors of the year in response to this trend.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #6: Walkability Scores Will Make or Break Occupancy

With the rise of the hybrid work schedule and the remote work environment, as outlined in trend one, residents working from home are obviously spending more of their daytime hours in and around their neighborhoods. Whether taking a break to connect with nature, stepping out for a coffee, or picking up some groceries, residents in work-at-home situations will always be looking for any reason to get themselves out of their homes.

Although walkability has always been a priority, it is now top of mind for most potential residents. Neighborhood safety, a community’s proximity to stores, service businesses, social opportunities, and, of course, public transit are important characteristics of a walkable multifamily community.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #7: Providing an Outdoor Escape

Although biophilic design got its own mention in trend five and trend six reinforces the need for residents to have the opportunity to step outside of their buildings, it cannot be stressed enough how important the need for outdoor space is in multifamily design.

Whether it’s a roof deck, a balcony, a terrace, or a public courtyard, developers of multifamily spaces are putting more and more thought into how they design outdoor spaces in multifamily environments.

After nearly two years of being homebound, living within the small condo and apartment footprints has certainly brought increased attention to the design and the availability of a multifamily community’s outdoor amenities.

This pandemic era shift has seen multifamily trends go from simply making terraces and roof space available to residents to creating the adequate build-out of infrastructure to transform these outdoor spaces into environments where residents can live, work, and play.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #8: Offer More Space and Separation With Additional Rooms

Yet another adjustment that developers have had to make as they contend with pandemic-driven multifamily trends is the need to provide residents with increased space. As residents increasingly spend more time at home, they crave additional space and separation.

Many marketers in the multifamily housing industry have a seen a shift in demand for studio apartments as potential residents search for more separation between their work and personal lives. While open layouts once dominated the multifamily market, the trend has shifted to residential floorplans that feature separate rooms.

From remote working and exercising to caring for children and finding peace in their own space, people want to shut the door once in a while.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #9: Residents Want Smart Buildings with the Latest Technologies

Whether it comes to how they interact with building management, how they operate within their own space, or how they enter their building, residents want their multifamily community to use the latest smart technologies.

Multifamily property managers hang up their old office phones and opt for more high-tech tools to create efficient workflows, utilizing live chat for customer service. From a marketing perspective, more multifamily communities are using the latest innovations in self-guided tour platforms to give potential renters virtual tours of their properties. In fact, the younger generation of renters is demanding it.

Inside their units, residents continue to look for smart technologies like video intercom systems, smart outlets, smart lights, smart thermostats, and smart blinds. Also, in today’s live-work environment, multifamily buildings must offer the fastest and most reliable internet possible to meet residents’ demands.

These technologies were already trending pre-pandemic, but the demand for contactless smart building technologies has increased since the world has been living with the uncertainty of a new virus.

Whether it’s a keyless entry or intelligent elevator design, smart building management systems dominate multifamily trends and are the likely future of development. Increasingly, developers have been incorporating hands-free entry systems for ingress and egress from buildings and common spaces, at the very least. Though, many residents prefer the technologies to get in and out of their personal living spaces as well. Traditional keys are being replaced with key fobs and cards. The bottom line is that post-pandemic, contactless access will be a standard multifamily design element moving forward.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #10: Residents Are Increasingly Concerned with Their Health and Wellness

While it’s easy to throw around terms like “post-pandemic” and believe that the worst of the COVID-19 virus is behind us, the truth is that even our most trusted medical professionals don’t know what the future holds. Because the COVID-19 virus is ever-evolving, people continue to focus on the overall health and well-being of themselves and their families. Nowhere is this more evident than in the multifamily communities across the country.

As those in the industry continue to look toward the future, it will become increasingly important to follow the multifamily trends of creating environments where residents can feel safe, be productive, and believe that they are well supported.

Beyond physical well-being, which has long been a driver in multifamily design, the desire for additional emotional support is a trend beginning to take hold in the industry. Emotional, mental, and financial health are top priorities for residents, and multifamily communities are answering the call by offering amenities such as meditation rooms, child care services, virtual therapy options, and even financial counseling.

Of course, the additional attention given to biophilic design, thoughtful outdoor offerings, and shifting interior spaces, as outlined in trends five, seven, and eight, helps address residents’ mental and emotional well-being.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #11: Multifamily Residences are in High Demand

According to Fannie Mae, rents within the multifamily housing market have continued to rise since 2020, and that trend is expected to continue. Furthermore, sale prices and occupancy rates continue to increase as well.

Since many of the restrictions that had impacted potential home buyers and renters during the height of the pandemic have now been lifted, and unemployment is seeing historically low rates, more and more individuals are entering the multifamily market.

That means that now is the best time to be a manager, owner, or developer in the multifamily market.

Multifamily Trends: Trend #12: Multifamily Residents are Younger Than Ever Before

While nearly every trend on this list is driven, in part, by the rise of a global pandemic, another main driver is the movement of younger generations into the housing market, as evidenced by the characteristics of these new generations of multifamily residents.

But it is also true that the Senior Living Trend is not over.

Take, for example, the characteristics of Millennials (individuals born between the years 1981 and 1996) in the multifamily housing market:

  • Millennials are tech-savvy
  • Millennials are environmentally conscious
  • Millennials are pet lovers
  • Millennials are gig workers and job hoppers

It is important to recognize that Millennials are not the only ones influencing multifamily trends. Coming up behind them fast are members of Generation Z (individuals born between the years 1997 and 2012), representing the youngest and the newest crop of multifamily residents.

Here are some of the characteristics of Generation Z  in the multifamily housing market:

  • Generation Z members are smart with their money
  • Generation Z members are incredibly tech-savvy
  • Generation Z members are Skype users
  • Generation Z members are animal lovers

Perhaps the most influential characteristic of Millennials is that they desire flexibility, not only in their careers but also in their living environment. As a result, they tend to be more mobile, which is why they are drawn into the multifamily rental market.

An influencing characteristic of Gen-Zers is that most opt for high-paying jobs over ones that they might have a deep passion for. Also, their tech-savvy nature has resulted in a collective shying away from face-to-face contact, which is why they are one of the main drivers behind trend nine.

But a good aspect is that they like to travel and as the traveling trend has developed among them.

Overall, younger generations prefer to rent, especially as home prices continue to rise and the housing options for young people become more limited. For most Millennials and GenZers, buying a home is outside their reach. Those who can afford to buy are purchasing homes in multifamily communities, drawn to the value and long-term savings when compared to traditional homeownership.

In Conclusion: Following Multifamily Trends Into Tomorrow

Some of the multifamily trends expected to dominate the housing industry are built on expectations related to pandemic life, such as a continued focus on health, wellness, and remote work environments. Others expand upon trends that were already emerging long before the pandemic hit, such as a focus on creating larger residential units and more functional outdoor spaces.

While plenty of other trends are expected to emerge as the new normal continues to evolve, the twelve trends listed above are undoubtedly already changing the landscape of the existing multifamily housing industry.

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