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In July 2015 Bees Nees City Realty conducted a survey of tenants living in Brisbane’s inner city, asking them to tell us how they chose their rental home.

The surveyed tenants mostly live in apartments in our city’s inner suburbs so the findings below should be read in that context. We’ve been doing these surveys since the year 2000 and now do them every two years, so we’re also able to watch the trends. This 2015 study received 505 responses so this is likely to be one of the largest surveys of this type ever carried out in Brisbane, and it gives landlords a better insight into buying and improving their investment properties.

Tenants were asked to rate 21 features of a rental home. They were reminded that each would cost them more in rent, so the survey responses are a collective ‘shopping list’ – the items they’d like to have as their budget affords. They were asked to rate them as “essential”, “good to have” or “not important” and the weighted results are shown in the graph below.

Here's what our tenants had to say:

  • Parking.

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    Where you’d expect modern creature comforts to top their wish list, inner-Brisbane’s tenants are most concerned for their cars! Room for at least one car to park off-street has always ranked highly in our surveys and reflects the lack of street parking across the city. Interestingly in our 2011 survey parking was rated 4th most important and by 2013 it topped our list. This preference is clearly on the increase as our city evolves. Storage space ranked 4th on this year’s survey and the garage is often looked to for putting all the ‘stuff’ we cart around as tenants.  Says one tenant, Storage space is so often not considered for apartments, and is a real selling point for me.”

    Can you squeeze another car space onto your property somehow? Is there room for a storage locker in your apartment building’s basement? Both would add to your property’s appeal.

  • Outdoor living space.

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    Coming in second, tenants say they want an area to get outside (even allowing for the winter season during the survey). Balconies, decks and courtyards are a bit hard to retro-fit in your rental property but it’s food for thought when you’re buying your next one. And it follows that improvements you make to those outdoor areas, for example adding a roof over a deck or even some simple privacy screening, would be welcomed by your tenants. This features has ranked in our top 3 for the past 15 years so it’s a well-established demand. One tenants summed it up, “This is Queensland after all!”

  • High speed internet.

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    We added this to the 2013 survey for the first time as we’d been fielding questions from tenants, many feeling the supply of a simple phone line (and ADSL) is no longer good enough. And the surveys confirm the demand, with cabling to enable high speed access ranking 3rd. New media services like Netflix are adding to the demand, with tenants wanting reliable and high capacity downloads.

    What can you do to warp-speed web connections at your rental property? If your neighbourhood has been cabled for fibre-optics (for example much of 4101 has) there may already be a solution. Savvy landlords should be exploring their options to make their rental homes stand out of the crowd.

    And importantly, if your vacant property has this feature, make sure your advertising has it right up high! Too often rental ads are way too light on details. Says one tenant, “It’s great when this information is in the blurb on the rental ad.”

     

  • Modern or in good condition.

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    You’d expect tenants to want a modern home and they do – this ranked 5th. We regularly hear tenant feedback that rental homes need fresh paint, new carpets and other simple updates. As a landlord it can be hard to keep an eye on these things but they have a clear impact on your rental return.  With a large increase in the supply of rental housing coming to inner-Brisbane the time is right to consider freshening up your property.

 

One last thought-starter for you: Writing ads for rental homes is often given short attention in real estate agencies. Tenants do shop on features and they do want easy to read and useful info in the ads. If the property’s close to a bus stop have your agent measure the distance (they can do it on www.translink.com.au). As one tenant said in our survey, “It’s great when this information is in the blurb on the rental ad”. It’s not rocket science but this simple marketing step may be overlooked by your property manager.

Please contact Nathaniel Smith  from our Property Management team on bdm@beesnees.com.au or 07 3214 6899. We’d love to help!