Portland’s pandemic-era apartment buildings: Tenants win with rent incentives, but gyms may go away – OregonLive

Portland’s pandemic-era apartment buildings: Tenants win with rent incentives, but gyms may go away  OregonLive

The coronavirus pandemic has rocked some of the sturdiest traditions. Home design’s open floor plan has lost appeal in favor of smaller rooms behind privacy-granting doors. More employers are accepting the once-revolutionary idea of people working remotely, and landlords are bearing the brunt of empty offices and out-of-work tenants.

About 15% of Portland area apartment renters were late paying or requested rent delays in June, according to research released by HFO Investment Real Estate.

Oregon’s unemployment rate in May – 14.2% – was higher than the national unemployment rate, which fell from 14.7% in April, the highest since the Great Depression, to 13.3% in May due to a limited resumption of economic activity, according to the Department of Labor.

High unemployment amounts to vacancies, especially one-bedroom units, said Portland-based HFO broker Greg Frick, who has specialized in multifamily investment sales in Oregon and Southwest Washington for three decades.

Tenants who still have a source of income are finding that rents are flattening, to their benefit. And some apartment managers, hoping to fill units in a market that had a recent flood of new buildings, are offering incentives and move-in specials.

Broadstone Reveal at 1411 N.W. Quimby St. is advertising eight weeks free and up to a $1,000 gift card for tenants ready to move in within 45 days. The Grand Belmont at 514 S.E. Belmont St. also has an eight-week-free incentive.

Harrison Tower near Portland State University, which is beginning its gradual return to campus, will deduct up to $1,200 plus charge a $100 security deposit, waived a pet deposit and application fees for new leases.Sequoia Equities

Apartments marketed to young adults are discounting security deposits and promoting other perks.

Harrison Tower near Portland State University, which is beginning its gradual reopening, will deduct up to $1,200, waived a pet deposit and application fees, and charge a $100 security deposit for new leases.

The real estate database Zillow found that 13% of Portland’s renters are 18 to 25 years old, and those who moved home in March and April after college campuses and businesses closed due to COVID-19 represent $6.9 million in monthly rent payments at risk or 1.4% of the market.

What else is in flux: Long-accepted apartment amenities.

Physical distancing practiced around a pool, gym, barbecue and other shared spaces limits social interactions. Apartment experts predict more emphasis will be placed on private balconies and outdoor spaces.

The clubhouse might be divided into smaller, separate rooms.

Like the pandemic’s impact on housing design, apartment layouts and features will be modified.

More people may prefer a low-rise building with exterior corridors and stairs to avoid elevators.

Gaining interest: A powder room close to the entry so visitors can wash their hands and a sink and shelves near the kitchen to sanitize delivered or store-bought items.

After complaints from tenants spending months of living, working and homeschooling in one place, apartments might be upgraded with dedicated workstations offering privacy, soundproofing, storage and better WiFi for video conferencing.

The virus is also pushing the desire for easy-to-clean polished concrete, tile or antimicrobial materials.

Other predicted changes: Motion-sensor, touch-less faucets, especially at the kitchen sink will be installed as will self-cleaning, wall-mounted toilets and voice-controlled ovens, lights and devices.

Landlords will also boast about improved fresh air systems.

Frick said owners are trying to figure out how apartments will permanently change due to the pandemic.

“Will we look back in five years and try to remember the common workout room and the push toward better WiFi as more people started to work at home?” he said. “The changes will be interesting to see.”

Other experts predict an increase in contactless entries, virtual tours and signing a lease without walking through the place.

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072 

jeastman@oregonian.com @janeteastman

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