What does the apartment of the future look like?

8 key takeaways from the National Multifamily Housing Council’s disruption report


If you’re tired of seeing the same old, same old when you preview homes, you’ll love the National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) apartment of the future according to its report Disruption: How Demographics, Psychographics, and Technology Are Bringing Multifamily To the Brink of a Design Revolution.

According to the report, multifamily rental is the future, with 4.6 million newly built apartments predicted in just the next 12 years. And those apartments will bear little resemblance to the plain white boxes we are used to seeing.

The emphasis on rentals is part of a larger generational and housing shift, as the two largest demographic groups — millennials and baby boomers — create changes in the housing market simultaneously.

While millennials are getting their first “grown-up” apartments after college, baby boomers are increasingly downsizing, and in many cases, choosing to retire in urban and exurban areas because of their proximity to medical facilities, transportation and amenities.

Statistics in the study reflect these demographics, as 83 percent of respondents believe it is important to have a space that evolves with different stages of your life, and 78 percent believe it is important to have a space that can transform to meet different needs.


In keeping with these trends, NMHC identified a number of elements that will inform the apartment (and home) of the future: technology, the marketplace, people, employment, transportation, shopping, health and spaces.

These elements led them to eight key takeaways:

    1. Given the coming advances in AI and robotics, technology will be at the core of living experiences, and it will be embedded in newly built residences — not just for the sake of innovation, but to enhance the resident’s experience. Interestingly, almost 70 percent of respondents also emphasized the need for places to socialize face-to-face in real life.
    2. As real-time and individualized buying experiences become the norm, a flexible and highly personalized space will be as important to residents as location and layout.
    3. Adaptability of layout will become necessary as the variety of households and housing needs pull builders away from static floor plans.
    4. Increasing technology will provide a variety of work styles, thus residents will favor close proximity to the office or options that allow them to work within their community.
    5. Parking needs will be in flux, as technology and the gig economy allows residents a variety of transportation options beyond personal vehicle ownership.
    6. As traditional retail continues to experience significant upheaval, apartment communities will integrate retail options onsite, with an emphasis on the experiential.
    7. Continuing emphasis on wellness will result in environments that contribute to the physical, social and emotional health of residents. This does not mean the traditional fitness center. The study found that 41 percent of residents never use their apartment’s fitness center. Respondents were looking for an experiential wellness center, and one that contributes to a more holistic view of health including a place to unwind and unplug; 57 percent wanted an environment designed to promote better sleep.
    8. Apartments will have a greater emphasis on community integration as well as common areas for neighborhood sharing.


Rather than larger spaces, new apartments will make better use of the space available with adjustable elements for better space utilization.




To bring to life the apartment of the future, international architectural firm KTGY provided renderings based on the findings of the NMHC study.

The depictions (above) emphasize the modular and adjustable elements within the units, the use of technology to bring the outdoor world in, the integration of technology and the integration of communal and wellness space to provide a greater emphasis on recreation and wellness, rather than traditional fitness, for increased engagement and opportunities for socialization

The question, of course, is how these futuristic spaces will relate to older styles in single family homes and older multi-family complexes. These amenities and the integration of technology in particular may create spaces that are hard to compete with, especially if costs are managed, making them available to a broad swath of the market.

For real estate agents and brokers who want to compete, especially in high-density markets, it will be important to move away from the emphasis on buyers or sellers and bring renters into your business model.

Consider integrating a renter-to-first-time-homebuyer package or seller-to-renter path into your marketing to maximize the profit potential of both.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook or Twitter

Article image credited to KTGY Architecture + Planning


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