Homes are no longer just another space among many places that we frequent. Rather, since the pandemic began, homes are still the place where many Americans have to make room for most of their life activities. And, in addition to turning their lives upside down more than a year ago, the pandemic is now forcing resident all around the country to reimagine their future as well, bringing concerns about wellbeing, space and functionality to the forefront.
These new challenges are especially hard-hitting for renters. That’s because historically, apartment living has come with more complications in terms of living space and practical layouts.
When analyzing the words and phrases used in the descriptions of homes for rent, it becomes clear how the pandemic-related lifestyle changes are playing out in the rental market. So, Point2 analysts examined 6.3 million words in nearly 85,000 rental descriptions from all major geographical areas and across various price ranges. The goal was to discover the most popular features and amenities for renters one year after the global health crisis started putting pressure on their home life.
Here are a few takeaways from the analysis:
- Surprisingly, the most popular feature in rental descriptions — no matter the geographical area or the price range — had nothing to do with living space: “Parking” was the most used keyword, which points to the vital importance of cars. Along the same lines, “garage” was also among the top 10 most used keywords in rental descriptions, proving that a convenient means to escape the home is likely just as important as the home itself.
- The phrase “washer/dryer” was the second-most used keyword in descriptions, indicating how access to cleaning services became essential during the pandemic.
- The phrase “fitness center“ — as well as more well-established features like “pet friendly” and “close to shopping/restaurants“ — made the top 10. This shows that residents are increasingly focused on health and wellbeing, gravitating toward apartments that promise the possibility of a well-rounded lifestyle.
- Homebuyers also have similar needs: The most popular amenities in descriptions of homes for sale were “garage,” “walk-in closet” and “full bath,” indicating an increasing need for more space and privacy. For more insights on the most used terms in descriptions of homes for sale, check out our separate analysis of The Most Popular Keywords in Home Descriptions.
Top 100 Most Popular Words in Rental Descriptions
When analyzing hundreds of thousands of listing words and isolating the terms and phrases that describe our humble abodes, it is only natural that keywords such as “home,” “room” and “apartment” are most often used. However, some of the words that occur less frequently speak even louder than the most common and expected real estate terms.
For example, “new” speaks volumes to renters’ need and appreciation for spaces that haven’t been lived in previously or that have updated or upgraded elements. This simple descriptor acquired additional meaning after the pandemic forced people to focus even more on home features that promote health and wellbeing.
Top 100 Most Popular Features & Amenities
As previously mentioned, the one amenity that immediately stands out is “parking.” Occupying the top spot among the most used keywords, the popularity of this home feature is undeniable — especially considering that the #5 keyword, “garage,” reiterates the idea. Clearly, having a car and a parking spot available was a lifeline to renters when social distancing meant that people could no longer go to nearby, crowded places, and instead had to choose more remote locations to get out of the house.
Just like homebuyers, renters greatly appreciate features such as “hardwood floors,” “stainless-steel appliances” and “granite countertops,” but none of these beat “washer/dryer.” Coming in second, just after “parking,” this must-have amenity showed that renters preferred practical home features that helped them simplify life during the pandemic. Likewise, the emphasis on hand-washing, disinfecting and other hygiene practices meant that easy access to laundry facilities became highly valued during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, bedroom descriptions mentioned “king-size” and “queen-size beds,” while the idea of more space in the living room was brought home by an abundance of vivid, expressive phrases — such as “open floor plan,” “high ceilings,” “large/spacious living room,” “floor-to-ceiling windows” and “vaulted ceilings.”
Moreover, certain keywords in the description of homes for rent stood out and truly demonstrated the reality of the rental life. For example, phrases like “pet-friendly,” “cat-friendly” and “dog-friendly” imply that renters who own pets — unlike home owners with pets — must ensure that their furry friends are welcome, as well.
Similarly, the abundance of location-related phrases — such as “conveniently located,” “easy access,” “within walking distance,” “located near” and “minutes away” — show that rental life is all about living close to everything that matters. Being in the heart of the city, near restaurants and shopping dipped in importance during the first months of the pandemic, but this perk of apartment living cannot be brushed off and will likely make a quick comeback.
Top 10 Most Used Keywords by Geographic Area
In keeping with the overall findings, “parking” and “garage” came out on top in results by region, as well. But, despite the fact that midwestern, northeastern and southern state rentals were content with one of these two words in the top three, western states really drove the point home — results for home descriptions in these states showed that cars were considered to be vital: not only did “parking” grab the first spot, but “garage” was hot on its heels.
In fact, having a car and being able to leave the confines of home while at the same time keeping a safe distance from other people has been the name of the game during these trying times. That’s why it’s no surprise that a parking space became the most coveted and implicitly most advertised apartment feature.
The Most Used Real Estate Keywords by Price Range
When analyzing keywords based on price ranges, mentions of access to a “swimming pool” and the inclusion of a “month free” lured renters. Regardless of price segment, “parking” also dominated the list of popular words, with the keyword “garage” among the top 10 features, as well.
And, although the top 10 features and amenities didn’t vary much between price segments, some less-frequent keywords denoted the move to higher-priced rentals that offered something extra. Phrases like “pool spa,” “ocean views,” “chef kitchen,” “full service,” “large/spacious bedroom,” “floor-to-ceiling windows” and “gourmet kitchen” paved the way into luxury territory.
Compelling Adjectives Reveal Renters’ Post-Pandemic Mindset
Adjectives — more than any other words used to describe a home — are necessary to create an experience and help renters envision their future lifestyle. Furthermore, given that renters might now be looking for larger and differently equipped living spaces, home descriptors have also changed to reflect the new, post-pandemic ethos.
In particular — and due to a more generalized focus on health and an emphasis on improving hygiene practices and overall well-being — apartments are slowly changing and with them, the words that describe the amenities they offer. “New,” “large” and “spacious” were the three most used adjectives in descriptions of homes for rent — showing that rentals on the market are attuned to renters’ needs.
Following a pandemic that took the world by storm, Americans across the country were suddenly forced to reassess the expectations they had of their homes. Now, with so many work- and lifestyle-related changes still occurring daily, home life seems to be going through a perpetual process of transformation and adaptation.
Whether the future of work will mean going back into the office, a hybrid arrangement or working from home, many of the changes that this period brought — including an even greater dependence on cars and more generous living spaces — are likely here to stay.
- For this study, we analyzed 6.3 million words from listings throughout the U.S. that were active in April 2021 on the Point2 website. We ranked the keywords according to the number of times they appeared in the available home descriptions.
- We excluded prepositions and linking words, as well as words that were spelled incorrectly.
- All rankings and bar charts were based on the number of times a certain keyword appeared in all of the home descriptions analyzed.
- Keyword lists in all price segments were based on listings from that specific price range. For easier readability, all numbers were rounded. The price ranges were as follows:
- < $1,000
- > $4,000
- Keyword lists for all of the U.S. regions in the study were based on listings from each of those specific regions.
- For comparison, check out our analysis of the most-used keywords in descriptions of homes for sale and discover the key findings for that segment, as well.
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