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What 3 things do you think Brisbane tenants really want in a home? Make a note of them – and no peeking below! Did you have something like city or river views? A swimming pool or an ensuite in the main bedroom maybe?  Well, surprisingly, none of those even made the top 10 on their wish list!

Our team survey Brisbane’s inner-city tenants every two years, asking how they choose their rental homes. We’ve been doing this report since 2011 and the changes in demand make for interesting reading.  This year’s survey had more than 230 replies and is again a great insight on how investors can best maximise demand for their properties.

Forget all the creature comforts you might imagine, inner-Brisbane’s tenants want at least one off-street carpark! Rating this their number one feature every survey since 2013, it’s evidence our city is short on carparking supply. Those of you buying studios or one bedroom apartments with no allocated carspace will find a small tenant market for them. But the vast majority of tenants insist on having at least one.

In second spot is outdoor living space. This has been a top 3 item in our tenant surveys since we started them a decade ago, and shows Brisbanites like to spend time outside. It’s an entertainment space, a place to relax and, usually in an apartment, the only secondary living space where you can escape your flatmates or family! We’ve seen a number of new apartment towers built without external balconies, and we know these shiny glass towers can look very clean-lined and sexy. But our results show many locals will not choose that lifestyle.

what tenants really wantBalconies, 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 add value for your tenants.

And 3rd on the list of features tenants really want? It’s high speed internet access. Whether it’s streaming their favourite Netflix binge or spending more time working from home, tenants want to know they can plug in and put their buffering days behind them. If your vacant property is NBN connected make sure your ads mention this! Says one survey respondent: “The type of internet connection (e.g. fiber to the premise, fiber to the node, ADSL2+, satellite, etc) should be included on all property descriptions!”

So what of the big trends in tenant demand? Having a home that’s modern has slipped 8 spots since our 2011 survey – Brisbane’s inner-city tenants aren’t convinced they need new homes. It’s great news for many of us who own older properties, but our property managers’ on the ground experience shows poorly maintained homes will sit vacant longer – tenant’s expectations have shifted higher as so many new apartments have been completed.

So while they might not nominate “modern” as important, they will skip past any place with worn carpets or bumped and marked paintwork. Says one tenant: “Age of the home is not important but good condition is essential.” Another made comment: “Condition of kitchen and bathroom a big factor.”

what tenants really want

The item that more and more tenants are wanting might surprise you. This appliance was first invented in the 1800’s and is one of the most affordable features a landlord can add to their property. It’s risen fastest through our surveys – and it’s the simple ceiling fan! Rating even higher than airconditioning in bedrooms, we’d suggest it’s more economical tenants (the ones who like a lower power bill!) that are seeking out fans. Many of us also prefer fresh air if we can get it, especially for sleeping, and we often have positive feedback where a home also has cross-ventilation.

Airconditioning is increasingly popular however (with a big preference for living areas before bedrooms) and there’s a definite price point where a home simply struggles to rent without it. Keep in mind our survey is always carried out in May/June but with a vacancy at other times of the year this will be even more of a talking point for your tenants. One tenant noted: “Air-conditioning should be considered compulsory in Brisbane!”

what tenants really wantAnd what about the features a tenant won’t pay more to have? We might be a fitter generation but tenants don’t have much time for the poorly-equipped gyms in many apartment buildings. Together with pools these two items have been at the bottom of every tenant survey we’ve done since 2011. Not a great result when you consider the costs to maintain these in your body corp levies…

So what about location? Many of us choose suburbs we know when we invest, places we’d like to call home ourselves. But that mightn’t always tick the location boxes for tenants. We know access to work (and study) is hugely important to inner-Brisbane’s tenants, and with our CBD the state’s largest workplace, many want to stay close to the city centre. But it’s not quite that simple and our survey shows tenants rank access to public transport slightly higher than being right next to their work. Says one tenant: “Most people work/study 5 days a week, but shop and socialise once or twice. So my preference is to reduce travel time on those 5 days.”

Remember this survey sample are converted city-dwellers so some of their answers are as expected: “Suburbs don’t offer anything but quietness, Units near CBD are great for access and livability.” But while many said lifestyle and things to do outside work were important, (“I prefer the vibe of the inner city”), tenants actually rated proximity to shopping far higher than entertainment options like bars and restaurants. Mostly they’re seeking convenience – “Being close to services and amenities makes it easier to enjoy time spent at home.”

what tenants really want
Working every day in leasing, our Brisbane property management team have a great insight into what tenants really want in a home. If you’re looking to buy an investment, or would like our advice on maximising tenant demand for your current rental property, we’d love to help! Please call us on 07 3214 6899 or email ncm@beesnees.com.au