Luxury amenities are coming to a home near you

Property management firms expand hospitality and wellness perks beyond luxury properties

Wellness and hospitality amenities, no longer reserved for the ultra-rich, are becoming standard across property management offerings (Getty; Illustration by The Real Deal)
(Getty; Illustration by The Real Deal)

Property management firms are upping their amenities game, raising the standard for residents across the country with services that once seemed reserved for the ultra-wealthy.

“Property management emerged as this industry where if you were mediocre and you didn’t steal from your clients you were terrific,” said Michael Rogoff, president of management firm AKAM Living Services. “It’s now ‘who can provide the most service?’”

Often running residents a few extra bucks, more companies are providing a slew of wellness and hospitality amenities in a trickle-down from the offerings at branded luxury buildings.

More tenants in condo buildings and renters in single-family neighborhoods have access to an app to schedule grocery deliveries, cleaning services, reserve space in fitness sessions and keep track of entertainment events hosted by their property management company.

The trend has been a long time coming, but the timing couldn’t be better for property managers: borrowing costs and home prices reached historic highs this year, icing renters out of the housing market.

Hello Alfred’s Marcela Sapone

“It’s a departure from all the traditional ideas that your landlord has to suck, that people will actually seek out branded landlords that provide a better experience,” said Marcela Sapone, CEO of property management company Hello Alfred.

In markets like New York City, the proliferation of once-novel amenities have even raised the standard for developments catering to luxury clientele.

“It’s more than it raises the price per square foot — it’s expected that in a luxury building you’re going to get a whole suite of amenities, that’s become the standard,” Rogoff said. “And then it’s how do you stand out beyond that.”

The RXO Home app lets residents at RXR’s Brooklyn development Magnolia Dumbo book shared amenity space, instant message with an on-site property management liaison for repairs and RSVP for events in the building, like a whiskey tasting by Kings County Distillery.

Christopher Wendel, a Douglas Elliman broker with the building, said the app has made a difference in drawing new residents.

“That’s proven to be very effective in our leasing process,” said Wendel. “They’re coming from other buildings that did not have this.”

Rents at Magnolia Dumbo start at over $4,100 for a studio, according to a list of available apartments on its website. Wendel said the building launched sales in February and was about 85 percent full in August.

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The demand for more services has started another trend within the management industry: a series of mergers and acquisitions in recent years as companies look to create scale in order to expand their service offerings without breaking the bank.

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Evernest, a Richmond-based property management company, completed its largest merger to date in June with Dodson Property Management, a move that brought 3,500 single-family units under its supervision. It was one of five mergers Evernest completed in the second quarter and the 21st such deal made in recent years for the company, which now manages 15,000 units.

Alfred, which bills itself as a consumer-first management firm, is able to offer an expansive amenities package thanks in part to two recent mergers: it bought Charlotte-based manager RKM earlier this year and a tech-enabled amenities provider called HOM last year.

The company, which manages 180,000 homes across the country, offers wellness and hospitality services like daycare, yoga classes and fitness classes. It also offers discounted groceries, cleaning services and allows residents to pay rent at various points through the month, giving cashback rewards to those that do.

The extended suite of offerings include insurance, concierge services, direct shipping of home appliances and offering portals where residents can pay rent and put in maintenance requests from their smartphones.

Evernest said its new-wave services stop at in-house maintenance for now, but could expand to other perks like gym memberships.

The old guard remains in the form of mom and pop property management shops, particularly in the single-family world. But the industry has room to modernize, executives say, and the rise in mergers is only likely to continue.

Top firms will continue to up their offerings in more markets as big players keep buying up the small fish, muscling them out or offering to buy them at prices they can’t refuse.

Evernest CEO Matthew Whitaker

Evernest CEO Matthew Whitaker

“If you took the top 10 property managers in the country that do what we do, right now we make up less than 2 percent of the market, and the largest owners make up less than 3 percent,” Evernest CEO Matthew Whitaker said. “So you’re talking about a huge opportunity, a huge greenfield.”