In the late 1940s, the white picket fence became synonymous with the American Dream and a symbol of idyllic, family life. But today, the visual shorthand for modern-day living has shifted, instead favoring high-rise multifamily buildings and urban epicenters. By 2030, 4.6 million new apartments will be needed to keep up with the demand for multifamily living—proving that today’s generation has redefined their idea of their ideal home.
As the industry looks at various ways to meet future renters’ needs, buildings are forced to stand out in order to stay competitive. In the past, many buildings turned to high-end amenities like swimming pools and dog parks to draw in prospective renters. But as space becomes increasingly limited, multifamily owners and developers need to make each square foot count. As a result, building developers are taking more thoughtful approaches to amenity add-ons while considering the things that renters care about most.
When asked what they looked for in an apartment in a survey conducted by the National Multifamily Housing Council and Kingsley Associates, 91 percent of residents stressed an importance on convenience. This makes sense, as renters who pay premium rent prices also want to enjoy their time at home by reducing time dedicated to day-to-day tasks. Every week, the typical person spends nearly two hours every day on household activities like cleaning, food prep, and other routine errands.
More and more, residents are handing off these tasks to on-demand service providers—in fact, 42 percent—or 86.5 million Americans—said that they have used an on-demand service, according to a survey by Burson-Marsteller, the Aspen Institute and Time, Inc. The instant gratification and provisioning of goods and services is no doubt appealing, giving residents time back and the freedom to spend their time more intentionally.
Here, we take a look at which on-demand service offerings are among the most popular among residents and how building owners can make the experience even better.
E-commerce has been booming in recent years, with the growth of services like Amazon and other direct-to-consumer brands with an online-first mentality. As residents order at an increasing rate from online retailers, the volume has skyrocketed with 48 percent growth in 2016.
E-commerce’s contribution to total retail sales has been steadily growing. Forty-seven percent of people receive at least three packages a month, thanks to the added convenience of deliveries showing up right on their doorstep.
But residents aren’t just ordering small packages that are easily delivered. Seventy-six percent of people have had high-value items like jewelry delivered, and others have ordered oversized items like furniture or vital deliveries like prescriptions—all of which present challenges in many multifamily buildings when no one’s home. Without the right solution, it can result in cluttered lobbies, missed deliveries, or misplaced packages.
Food & Grocery Delivery
Companies like Instacart deliver groceries the same day from major chains like Whole Foods and Target. Other services, like FreshDirect, Peapod, and AmazonFresh also deliver perishable groceries—fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, and much more—while companies like Blue Apron or HelloFresh curate ready-to-prepare meal kits and ingredients right to customers’ doorsteps.
These food and grocery delivery services are a priority for residents for a couple of reasons: time savings and the desire to eat healthier without having to prepare an entire meal from scratch. By eliminating the need to make a list, visit the store, pick out your items, and return home, it’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to buy back time. That’s why 48 percent of U.S. grocery shoppers already purchase at least some of their groceries online—by 2023, digital grocery sales in the U.S. are estimated to reach $59.5 billion.
Grocery delivery presents another challenge in multifamily buildings: storage. Because many of these deliveries are perishable and need to be stored in a fridge or freezer. If residents aren’t home when a delivery arrives, it could mean coming home to spoiled food if the right facilities aren’t in place.
With more dual income households and steady economic growth, house cleaners have become a necessity rather than a luxury—in fact, 63 percent of renters said they want to make their hectic lives easier by using cleaning services. Adding a weekly or monthly cleaning is one of the easiest ways to alleviate one thing on their to-do list, and it is expected to help the industry grow to $80.50 billion by 2026.
With the added luxury of coming home to a clean apartment, on-demand cleaning services like Handy and Tidy have continued to grow. But it can pose a complicated problem for residents who want the services when they’re not home. Because these services need access to your apartment, it means either coordinating with building staff to give the provider a key or waiting around to let them in (instead of taking care of other to-do’s).
Pet ownership is on the rise—71.1 million households in the U.S. have pets, and the American Veterinary Association estimates that half of all renters have a dog. And people are willing to invest in their pets—they will opt for treats, walking, and daycare to ensure that their pets are cared for on a daily basis.
In fact, millenials’ spending on their pets reached an all-time high this year at over $75 billion. Things like fresh food, veterinary care, and accessories like pet tech products and toys all contribute to annual costs.
These numbers show that millennials clearly prioritize the happiness of their furry friends—which often means a mid-day walk or afternoon meal. But for residents who work during the day, errands like dog walking can be frustrating—they often involve leaving work or juggling schedules with friends or care-takers. Using an on-demand walking service like Wag or Rover, however, eliminates the need for complicated back-and-forth scheduling to help with both time-savings and simplicity.
Like with cleaning services, the logistics aren’t always easy, requiring pet owners to coordinate their schedules in advance with pet service providers to ensure that the animals get the attention they need.
These on-demand services all require one thing: easier building access. To complete their services successfully, service providers almost always need access to a resident’s building and apartment. One constant challenge for services is the logistical problems this presents—the resident either needs to be home to let the service in or rely on their property manager to be available to share a mechanical key.
But both of these options diminish the ease and appeal of on-demand services. As these services increase in popularity and demand skyrockets, multifamily buildings are looking to enable them in convenient, flexible, and secure ways.
That’s where smart access comes in. By allowing residents to remotely share access to both building common spaces and individual units, smart access makes it easier than ever to pass off daily to-dos to on-demand service providers. By also providing a visual access history at every door, smart access systems like Latch are also ensuring that sharing access doesn’t compromise building security.
The on-demand economy is booming, but without a way to solve the access problem, the growth is unsustainable. Gone are the days of chasing the idyllic white picket fence, and in its place is something new: dreams of a more flexible, more convenient, and more secure lifestyle. As residents chase this modern dream, buildings and owners must evolve to keep up—and smart access lets them do just that.
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