Renters Are Hungry for Balconies During Pandemic

Amy Erixon, the president of global investment management at Avison Young, didn’t have to go too far out on a ledge to figure out the coronavirus might be driving demand for balconies.

“The things that you would not rent without or are essential and you must have really reflect the reality of a COVID period where you spend a lot more hours in your unit than previously,” Erixon said.

In a new preferences survey of 24,000 tenants across Canada, soundproof walls were tied with a balcony as a top 10 essential listed by 95% of respondents. The survey is presented annually by Avison Young in partnership with Yardi, the real estate data collection company.

“This is really a change from prior years where people just wanted washers and dryers in their building first,” said Erixon, adding renters now want laundry facilities in their actual units and will pay extra for it. She spoke at an online presentation for the Canadian Apartment Investment Conference put on by Canadian Real Estate Forums.

People want balconies more than shared space in a building, even if it’s luxury, according to the survey.

Erixon said amenities are now attracting people to condominium rentals and purpose-built rental buildings.

The survey found 69% of respondents said condo amenities attracted them to rent their unit, versus 65% in 2018.

“Spending time in units has made people appreciate” any features in their condo, said Erixon, noting 45% of renters will not consider a place without outdoor space.

She said the results also show growing demand for locker storage for packages.

The survey found 43% of tenants get packages dropped at their front door, but only 35% want that. About 40% of tenants are looking for a concierge or locker situation, but only 21% have that now.

Overall, the pandemic is having an impact on the finances on renters with the survey finding that 20% of Canada’s renters had lost their job due to the pandemic.

“The percentage of full-time employed [renters] had already been dropping,” said Erixon, noting 36% of respondents said they saw some drop in income because of COVID-19. “We are going to the repercussions of this employment dislocation for the months ahead and into next year for sure.”

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