What DC apartment dwellers want: Key fobs

WASHINGTON — D.C. renters value key fob access more than apartment dwellers in other U.S. cities, according to a National Apartment Association survey.

The association, based in Ballston, surveyed apartment renters in 12 big cities to find out what amenities they were willing to pay more for when choosing an apartment. And the District was the only city on the list where “key fob access” made the Top 10.

The association said that keyless entry as a building amenity adds an average of $57.30 to the monthly rent and that 5 percent of the District’s current rental buildings have the feature.

The survey doesn’t say exactly why key fobs make the list in D.C. But it is an increasingly available amenity as newly constructed apartments come online in the District.

“In newer buildings, you can have everything from keyless entry to the building to keyless entry to your unit. And that’s attractive from the standpoint of security and also just not having to have those extra things in your pocket,” National Apartment Association CEO Robert Pinnegar told WTOP.

Floor to ceiling windows are another amenity on the list that D.C. renters are willing to pay extra for. The apartment association estimates that the feature adds $72.23 to the monthly rent, the highest rent premium on the Top 10 list. Only about 8 percent of D.C. rental buildings have them.

However, “view” did not make the Top 10 in D.C., suggesting that big windows may be more about light and aesthetics for District renters. Considering the trend toward rental units with less square footage, the preference for big windows might also be about making apartments feel larger.

Bike storage also ranks among the Top 10 amenities DC renters are willing to pay more for, but not just any bike storage.

“There is regular bike storage, and then there is premium bike storage for those people who have bikes that are very, very expensive. And so those are special lockers just for those bikes,” Pinnegar said.

Online shopping habits also make “concierge,” or a staffed lobby desk, an another amenity that D.C. renters are willing to pay more for. It’s also a surprisingly common option found in 36 percent of D.C. rental buildings.

The most common amenity DC renters are willing to pay more for is “stainless steel appliances,” found in 58 percent of all D.C. rental buildings.

The least expensive amenity is the fitness center, which adds an average of $51.97 to an apartment’s monthly rent.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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