Transportation Trends Should Have You Rethinking Renter Parking
Disruption has come to claim your properties’ parking spaces. How are you responding?
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Reverberations from the ride-hailing revolution are captured in a new report from the National Apartment Association (NAA), which signals that it’s time for property developers, owners and managers to think differently about renters and their transportation needs. In fact, parking ratios in newly constructed buildings are at the lowest rate since the 1960s, reflecting recent urban revival, demographic shifts, millennial preferences, changes in car ownership rates, and the renewed importance of walkability. The race to attract renters now includes Multifamily companies offering new incentives and transportation amenities to win in today’s rental markets.
Live public transit updates in your lobby
TransitScreen is a real-time service that lists and updates public transit routes and arrival times live on a display, enabling residents to estimate their ETAs for work or school at a glance. The mobile version of the service makes transit information available on residents’ smartphones at all times. Residents who drive benefit from live traffic and road closure notices.
Recognizing that residents are looking for places to live that offer access to carless transportation, TransitScreen introduced MobilityScore — a tool that calculates how accessible your property is to public transit, ride-hailing, ridesharing, and bike sharing opportunities. Measures like MobilityScore will only become more prevalent in renters’ buying decisions.
Ridesharing incentives are one of most innovative amenities at work in modern multifamily. Parkmerced, one of the largest neighborhoods of apartment blocks west of the Mississippi has implemented a Car-Free Living program that gives participating residents a $100 monthly transportation credit per apartment to use with Getaround, Clipper and Uber. Plus, “any resident can also catch a ride in an UberPool from Parkmerced to nearby transit stations for a flat rate of $5.”
Such an arrangement adds utility and value for residents who may not consider living in an apartment community otherwise, especially if the closest grocery store is miles away. And properties that lack parking spaces but offer transportation credits can put themselves on a level playing field in the market. If you’re able to decrease vacancy rates and increase income by providing these credits, you’ll quickly make up for the cost of a car-free living program like Parkmerced’s.
Storage for bikes and scooters
Offering room and storage for bicycles and other types of human-powered transportation are another way to extend the range of car-free residents — and give them the flexibility to choose their mode of transportation based on preference. Besides being an increasingly popular and essential amenity, these spaces help promote the more health-conscious lifestyle today’s renters prioritize.
Recent initiatives by Lyft and Uber to join the market of human-powered ridesharing (bikes and scooters) provide an additional option for residents who may not have space for a bicycle of their own, or may not want to keep up with the maintenance. They’re also less expensive than traditional ridesharing. So whether you operate in high-density areas where free parking spots can be scarce, or in less concentrated areas where residents want a practical alternative to driving everywhere, providing storage for bikes, scooters and more can help you draw renters in.
Your walkability score
Key pieces of data like your properties’ Walk Score can help you determine which transportation amenities and incentives would be most valuable and attractive to residents in each specific market. The Walk Score measurement analyzes walking routes from a property to nearby amenities, awarding maximum points for amenities within a 5 minute walk and assigning fewer points as the distance between your property and neighborhood amenities grows. Interestingly, Walk Score also takes into account population density and road metrics, such as intersection density and block length to determine a score. Walk Score’s tools also include Transit and Bike Scores, so you can learn how to precisely meet the needs of your market(s) — whether through bike storage, ridesharing credits, or a TransitScreen setup — without spending money on services your residents aren’t likely to use.
Without careful monitoring of your parking areas, rideshare pickup zones, and bike storage areas, your legal liability can skyrocket. So it’s critical to regularly document conditions in these areas and get real-time visibility that allows you to address time-sensitive issues such as a nonfunctional security camera or broken lighting. San Francisco lawyer Matthew Whatley, who represents a number of property owners shares that “Plaintiffs show up with photos of their injuries and there isn’t a lot that defendants can offer in response unless they happen to have security camera footage. That’s why settlements are almost automatic – even when the owner isn’t at fault.”
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“Sometimes you come in to look at a camera feed and you realize your hard drive has been down for a little bit. Now, with HappyCo, we go through a process; it’s a simple process but it’s something that’s easy to forget. And the Happy App is good about reminding me of that.”
Property Manager, Park Edge Apartments
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It seems no industry is insulated from technology-wrought disruption, and this includes the world of property operations. Multifamily companies that have relied on pen-and-paper inspections for decades are now employing mobile inspections to ensure compliance, safety and security portfolio-wide, and give residents the best possible living experience.