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Who could have predicted the challenges of 2020? COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our bodies, minds, wallets and even our living circumstances. Some Americans took the leap to purchase their first homes because they wanted more space for living and working during the lockdowns. Others had to move in with friends or family members because they lost their jobs and could no longer afford to pay rent.  

Considering the rough-and-tumble nature of 2020, many experts aren’t rushing to predict exactly what renters want, and more specifically will keep long-term renters around in 2021. However, there are some clear long-term rental market trends that have already begun to emerge. And it could inform how you attract and retain tenants. 

Virtual Walk-Throughs That Don’t Require In-Person Visits

With vaccine distributions ramping up, many Americans are feeling hopeful about the coming year, but it’s still going to be several months before a significant percentage of Americans receive their vaccines. Potential long-term renters may remain shy to attend in-person showings for social distancing reasons – and property managers might not want to attend showings for the same reason. This creates an opportunity for intrepid property owners who are willing to publish floor plans, video tours and 360-degree images of their properties on the internet.

Even before COVID conditions, Americans were struggling to find enough time to do an in-person walk-through. As we wrote in late 2019: “Over 40% of U.S. adults have searched for an apartment in the last two years, yet 4 out of 10 have passed on it because they couldn’t find time to see it.” 

Ultimately this creates an opportunity for intrepid property owners who are willing to use the internet to publish floor plans, video tours and 360-degree images of their properties. Property owners can also use the Unattended Showing feature from PointCentral. Prospective renters can schedule a self-guided tour of your property. This allows them to view your property in-person, on their own schedule, and without a personalized meeting with you or your staff.

As for the long-term renters who already have leases, property owners are likely to provide renters with options for renewing their leases online. This will make it easier than ever for renters to continue living in a property while helping them honor social distancing recommendations. 

It’s Not So Much About the Location Anymore

“Location, location, location” used to apply – especially in the long-term rental market. These days, the trend toward remote teams and remote working has made location less of a priority. Fewer job seekers need to relocate across the nation for a new job, and renters aren’t worried about long commutes because they don’t have to drive to work anymore. In fact, a lot of renters are prioritizing outdoor areas, gardens and more living space over the location. 

According to, “although many renters like amenities, such as a pool with a cabana and a fitness/yoga studio (like many apartment complexes have), what even more renters prefer is outdoor space – a fenced-in yard, patio, deck, or balcony are all desirable to renters. When it comes to outdoor spaces, something is better than nothing.”

Experts project that remote working trends will continue deep into 2021 – and probably beyond – so rental property owners might not be able to charge the same premiums based on geographic location in 2021. According to Forbes, “by 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month.” In this respect, property owners may eventually need to lower the prices of their downtown apartments or add tech-forward amenities to attract the same level of interest.

Smart Home Amenities 

With families spending more time in their homes as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, renters have been interested in amenities that make their apartments more comfortable and enjoyable to be in. Smart home technology amenities are one aspect of this. Long-term renters in 2021 will be increasingly interested to enjoy amenities like the following: 

  • Keyless locks: Smart, keyless entry systems allow renters to remotely grant access control and eliminate the inconvenience of losing keys. 
  • Smart home assistants and smart home hubs: Smart home assistants allow renters to call out different commands to control lighting, fans, thermostats, music, heating/cooling, and more. These devices work through an integrated smart home hub to put control of an entire home at the renter’s fingertips. 
  • Smart thermostats: Smart thermostats monitor heating/cooling habits to save money on, heating and air conditioning. Smart HVAC systems also help to heat and cool units more efficiently. 
  • Smart doorbells and other smart home security amenities: With video monitoring via smart doorbells, smart home integrated security systems, and smart locks, renters feel more secure. explains smart home amenities as a major bonus, particularly for millennial renters who love technology. “Temperature controls that allow homes to heat up before you come home, a place to plug in your electric car, and lights that go on as you enter the room are all examples of what smart devices can offer,” they write.

Property owners can start small by simply installing smart locks and smart thermostats in their units. However, property owners who really want to impress prospective tenants may want to consider speaking with the PointCentral team to design a complete smart property conversion for all of their units.

Smart Rental Property Automation: Get the Most Out of 2021 with PointCentral

A final consideration for 2021 long-term rental property trends is the fact that rental property owners will continue to face business stresses related to vacant units and tenants who are suffering economically and unable to pay their rent. It’s more important than ever to run a long-term rental property business as smoothly as possible. 

One way to increase revenue and operational efficiency is to invest in integrated long-term property automation systems. Whether it’s a small business with just a few rental units or a large, enterprise-scale operation, PointCentral can create rental property automation and property management systems that suit each use-case.