This is part two of a two-part series looking at the rising demand for luxury rental housing. Click here for part one.
More high-earning Americans are renting luxury properties than ever before and apartment operators are learning how to best cater to them, with features like high-end appliances, the latest smart home technology and over-the-top amenities.
But wealthy residents are also enticed by the flexibility afforded by renting compared to owning. Mobility has become more important in terms of a life strategy, said Arturo Pena, vice president of development for Miami-based The Related Group, which offers luxury rentals throughout the United States.
“Younger renters, especially, don’t want to be locked down in a certain place,” he told Multifamily Dive. “They want to have the ability to relocate quickly.”
Location is often a residential development’s most important amenity, said Pena, and Related works hard to make the most of its properties’ positions near oceans, mountains and golf courses. Icon Marina Village in West Palm Beach, Related’s newest luxury rental property with 399 units (including 22 penthouses with private rooftop pools that rent for upwards of $10,000 per month), takes full advantage of its location on the Intracoastal Waterway with an oceanside pool, a private beach and a members-only beach club.
“It’s approachable by boat,” Pena said. “So, your friends can come and meet you in their Center Consoles.”
Related has two art directors on staff who focus on finding and commissioning art that ties its properties to place, Pena said, citing a piece by Cuban artist Glenda León that mirrors Marina Village’s location on a street flanked by oaks on one side and the ocean on the other. Several pieces from Related CEO Jorge Perez’s collection are hung in Marina Village’s corridors — “another thing that differentiates us, that you can’t get if you buy,” Pena said.
Affluent renters also expect the same level of impeccable service that they get when they stay at the finest hotels. At 61 Banks Street, a boutique luxury rental community in Chicago’s Gold Coast developed and managed by Draper and Kramer, where two-bedrooms start at $9,400, this includes above-and-beyond ministrations such as pet care, 24-hour valet parking and house sitters who not only water plants and deal with packages but also stock residents’ kitchens for their return.
Residents are encouraged to mingle at holiday parties where steak and lobster are served, book massages during “wellness days” and attend wine tastings with certified sommeliers.
“There’s definitely an expectation of a high level of customer service from all members of our team,” said Katherine Feehan, property manager for 61 Banks Street. “That relationship with our team really is a huge part of why people rent at 61 Banks.”
Affluent tenants expect larger rents to translate into larger units, and they’ll never settle for the same vinyl plank flooring and granite tile countertops found in lesser apartments down the street. Ovens had better be Gaggenau, Ilve or Wolf; custom European kitchen cabinets should close softly and slowly. Protected, covered terraces need to be generous enough for entertaining. To accommodate all this luxury, size matters.
“Renters at this income level have many housing options to choose from, so every detail needs to feel elevated and intentional,” said Elizabeth Pilgard, director of leasing at Related Management Co. “This growing pool of renters includes those who want something even more special and differentiated.”
Related Midwest, the Chicago office of The Related Cos., will soon open The Row Fulton Market, a 43-story, 300-unit luxury apartment building in Chicago’s West Loop that includes six penthouses with 12-foot ceilings; eat-in kitchens with Caesarstone countertops, Bosch steam ovens and Thermador beverage centers; and large private terraces with panoramic views. Rents range from $14,395 to $23,275 per month; one penthouse was leased sight unseen a few days after pre-leasing began in March.
Pena said “furnishable bedrooms,” where residents can have king-size beds and large dressers and still have plenty of room to walk around, are another key differentiator at Related’s luxury properties, where units are about 30% larger than typical apartments.
“That’s a significant investment for a developer,” Pena said. “But what the wealthy often want is a house in the sky.”