The 2024 Renter Preferences Survey Report by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Grace Hill reveals the evolving priorities of renters across the country. Featuring responses from 172,703 renters living in 4,220 communities, the report sheds light on the demographics, lifestyle, connectivity needs, and more for the renters of today.
Included in the research are renter preferences for apartment features and amenities. At the top of this list—the amenity/feature that respondents are “interested in” or “won't rent without”—is air conditioning. While 93% of renters fall into this category (a two percent increase from the 2022 report), there is one region of the U.S. where renters feel the change the most.
Where is apartment air conditioning demand increasing most?
The Pacific Northwest (PNW) region, characterized mostly by various mountain ranges within the states of Oregon and Washington, has seen some of the largest changes in air conditioning interest since 2022:
- A 3% increase in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore-Wash, area, from 87% in 2022 to 90% in 2024
- A 5% increase in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., area, from 77% in 2022 to 82% in 2024
- A 10% increase in the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, Wash., area, from 79% in 2022 to 89% in 2024
According to NMHC/Grace Hill, these three markets saw some of the largest changes in the air conditioning category in the past two years. As a region that historically has had little need for A/C even in its warmest seasons, the amenity is becoming increasingly crucial for rental communities. Across the U.S., extreme heat was the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in 2022, according to the National Weather Service. With temperatures rising each year, PNW metros like Portland and Seattle are shifting gears.
The number of Seattle rental units with A/C has nearly doubled in the last six years alone. Just 21% included primary air conditioning in 2015, while 41% of units had A/C in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Some other apartment features that respondents across the country indicated an interest in include in-unit washer/dryers (93%), high-speed internet access (90%), soundproof walls (88%), and walk-in closets (87%).