This article about what Brisbane tenants really want has been provided by Rob Honeycombe, Bees Nees City Realty.
What 3 things do you think Brisbane tenants really want in a home? Make a note of them – and no peeking below! Did you have something like city or river views? A swimming pool or an ensuite in the main bedroom maybe? Well, surprisingly, none of those even made the top 10 on their wish list!
Our team survey Brisbane’s inner-city tenants every two years, asking how they choose their rental homes. We’ve been doing this report since 2011 and the changes in demand make for interesting reading. This year’s survey had more than 300 replies and is again a great insight on how investors can best maximise demand for their properties.
The Top 3 “Must Haves”
1. At Least One Off Street Car Park
Forget all the creature comforts you might imagine, inner Brisbane’s tenants want at least one off-street carpark! Rating this their number one feature every survey since 2013, it’s evidence our city is short on car parking supply. Those of you buying studios or one-bedroom apartments with no allocated car space will find a small tenant market for them. But the vast majority of tenants insist on having at least one.
2. Storage Space
Collecting ‘stuff’ seems to be a growing trend, so it mightn’t surprise that storage space has been in our top 5 on every survey we’ve ever done. Tenants want a place for boxes and bikes and golf clubs and old furniture – and who knows what else! If you have a storage cage or other dedicated area please make sure your property manager mentions this in your ads.
If your garage is a separate lock-up then that’s seen as an extra opportunity for ‘stuff’ as well. Is there room for a storage locker in your apartment building’s basement? Even extra cupboards inside your property are important to tenants.
3. Outdoor Living Space
And 3rd on the list is outdoor living space. This has always rated very highly in our tenant surveys and shows Brisbanites like to spend time outside. It’s an entertainment space, a place to relax and, usually in an apartment, the only secondary living space where you can escape your flatmates or family! We’ve seen a number of new apartment towers built without external balconies, and we know these shiny glass towers can look very clean-lined and sexy. But our results show many locals will not choose that lifestyle.
Balconies, decks and courtyards are a bit hard to retro-fit in your rental property but it’s food for thought when you’re buying your next one. And it follows that improvements you make to those outdoor areas, for example adding a roof over a deck or even some simple privacy screening, would add value for your tenants.
What’s Changed Most Over the Years?
So what of the big trends in tenant demand? Having a home that’s modern has slipped 8 spots since our 2011 survey. Brisbane’s inner-city tenants aren’t convinced they need new homes. It’s great news for many of us who own older properties, but our property managers’ on the ground experience shows poorly maintained homes will sit vacant longer. Tenant’s expectations have shifted higher as so many new apartments have been completed.
So while they might not nominate “modern” as important, they will skip past any place with worn carpets or bumped and marked paintwork. Says one tenant: “Age of the home is not important but good condition is essential.” Another made comment: “I always look at the kitchen and bathroom. These often need to be updated.”
The item that more and more tenants are wanting might surprise you. This appliance was first invented in the 1800s and is one of the most affordable features a landlord can add to their property. It’s risen fastest through our surveys – and it’s the simple ceiling fan! Rating even higher than airconditioning in bedrooms, we’d suggest it’s more economical tenants (the ones who like a lower power bill!) that are seeking out fans. Many of us also prefer fresh air if we can get it, especially for sleeping, and we often have positive feedback where a home also has cross-ventilation.
Airconditioning is increasingly popular however and there’s a definite price point where a home simply struggles to rent without it. Keep in mind our survey is always carried out in May/June but with a vacancy, at other times of the year, this will be even more of a talking point for your tenants. One tenant noted: “I think in qld air con is essential for me. Since moving here I’ve lived in a couple of places without it and it’s been rough through summer.”
The “No Thanks” List…
And what about the features a tenant won’t pay more to have? We might be a fitter generation but tenants don’t have much time for the poorly-equipped gyms in many apartment buildings. Together with pools these two items have been at the bottom of every tenant survey we’ve done. Not a great result when you consider the costs to maintain these in your body corp levies….
Where Do Brisbane Tenants Want to Live?
So what about location? Many of us choose suburbs we know when we invest, places we’d like to call home ourselves. But that mightn’t always tick the location boxes for tenants. We know access to work (and study) is hugely important to inner Brisbane’s tenants and with our CBD the state’s largest workplace, many want to stay close to the city centre. But it’s not quite that simple and our survey shows tenants rank access to public transport higher than being right next to their work. Says one tenant: “Like to be near the city, but not necessarily in the city… a short walk or ride is fine”.
Remember this survey sample are converted city-dwellers so some of their answers are as expected: “Suburbs don’t offer anything but quietness, Units near CBD are great for access and livability.” But while many said lifestyle and things to do outside work were important, (“I prefer the vibe of the inner city”), tenants actually rated proximity to shopping far higher than entertainment options like bars and restaurants. Mostly they’re seeking convenience – “get me quickly to and from work and my everyday needs”.
Working every day in leasing, our Brisbane property management team have a great insight into what tenants really want in a home. If you’re looking to buy an investment or would like our advice on maximising tenant demand for your current rental property, we’d love to help!
Have a question about what Brisbane tenants want or something to add to the article based on your own experieces? Leave a comment below.
This post appears in Strata News #291
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This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
This article has been republished with permission from the author and first appeared on the Bees Nees City Realty website.