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  • Writer's pictureChristy Murdock

The Future Is Now: The National Multifamily Housing Council presents Disruption and shows us how we’

NMHC's Disruption: Apartment of the future

This article republished at Inman.

If you’re tired of seeing the same old-same old when you preview homes, you’ll love the National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) Disruption: How Demographics, Psychographics, and Technology Are Bringing Multifamily To the Brink of a Design Revolution. According to the report, multifamily rental is the future, with 4.6 mill

ion newly built apartments predicted in just the next twelve years. And those apartments will bear little resemblance to the plain white boxes we are used to seeing.

The emphasis on rentals is part of a larger generational and housing shift, as the two largest demographic groups -- Millennials and Baby Boomers -- create changes in the housing market simultaneously. While Millennials are getting their first “grownup” apartments after college, Baby Boomers are increasingly downsizing and, in many cases, choosing to retire in urban and exurban areas because of their proximity to medical facilities, transportation, and amenities.

Statistics in the study reflect these demographics, as 83% of respondents believe “it is important to have a space that evolves with different stages of your life,” and 78% believe “it is important to have a space that can transform to meet different needs.

What will the future look like?

In keeping with these trends, NMHC identified a number of elements that will inform the apartment (and home) of the future: technology, the marketplace, people, employment, transportation, shopping, health, and spaces. These elements led them to eight key takeaways:

  1. Given the coming advances in AI and robotics, technology will be at the core of living experiences and will be embedded in newly built residences -- not just for the sake of innovation, but to enhance the resident’s experience. (Interestingly, almost 70% of respondents also emphasized the need for places to socialize face-to-face in real life.)

  2. As real-time and personalized purchasing experiences become the norm, a flexible and highly personalized space will be as important to residents as location and layout.

  3. Adaptability of layout will become necessary as the variety of households and housing needs pull builders away from static floorplans.

  4. Increasing technology will provide a variety of workstyles, thus residents will favor close proximity to the office or options that allow them to work within their community.

  5. Parking needs will be in flux, as technology and the gig economy allows residents a variety of transportation options beyond personal vehicle ownership.

  6. As traditional retail continues to experience significant upheaval, apartment communities will integrate retail options onsite, with an emphasis on the experiential.

  7. Continuing emphasis on wellness will result in environments that contribute to the physical, social, and emotional health of residents. This does not mean the traditional fitness center. The study found that 41% of residents never use their apartment’s fitness center. Respondents were looking for an experiential wellness center, and one that contributes to a more holistic view of health. (93% of respondents craved a place to unwind and unplug, while 57% wanted an environment designed to promote better sleep.)

  8. Apartments will have a greater emphasis on community integration as well as common areas for neighborhood sharing.

Picturing the future

In order to bring to life the apartment of the future, international architectural firm KTGY provided renderings based on the findings of the NMHC study. The depictions emphasize the modular and adjustable elements within the units, the use of technology to bring the outdoor world in, the integration of technology, and the integration of communal space and wellness space to provide a greater emphasis on recreation and wellness, rather than traditional fitness, for increased engagement and opportunities for socialization

The question, of course, is how these futuristic spaces will relate to older styles in single family homes and older multi-family complexes. These amenities and the integration of technology in particular may create spaces that are hard to compete with, especially if costs are managed making them available to a broad swath of the market.

For agents and brokers who want to compete, especially in high-density markets, it will be important to move away from the emphasis on Buyers or Sellers and bring Renters into your business model. Consider integrating a Renter to First Time Homebuyer Package or Seller to Renter Path into your marketing in order to maximize the profit potential of both.

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