Cooped-up renters search market for amenities

New Yorker Yisel Taveras is about to leave her Hell's Kitchen apartment to become a New Jersey resident. After so many months of working from home, she and her boyfriend, Alex, are ready for more space and more amenities. They just signed a two-year lease in Jersey City in a building that advertises its unique facilities on Instagram.

"There's a bowling alley, there's a movie theater, there's a gym, we share amenities with the building next door so there's a rooftop pool there," Taveras said. "We can use their gym and there's a game room, a golf simulator. They have so many cool things."

Software engineer Reeve Barthelme has also left Manhattan to find more space and amenities in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He had been living without air conditioning and without a washer or dryer in his building. Now, that's all changed.

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"We have a roof, we have a terrace, we even grill," Barthelme said. "There were projectors and everything so you can watch movies and stuff outside so there are a lot more options here."

Taveras and Barthelme are right on trend, according to a StreetEasy report, which found in 2020, nearly a third of all searches on StreetEasy included an amenity filter. That's up about 10% from the year prior. "In-unit washer/dryer" was the top request in searches, followed by "pets allowed," "elevator," and "doorman."

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Real estate expert Jonathan Miller said this could be a short-term trend.

"In the sense that people have been cooped up for a long period of time and they are very particular now about what they don't like and what they really want for their next apartment," said Miller, the president and CEO of Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal and market analysis firm.

He predicted the concern over being cooped up will ease as the COVID-19 vaccination becomes more widespread.