Over the last decade, few real estate sectors have skyrocketed like the self-storage market. The growth in this industry can be explained by increased urbanization and an improved economic outlook.

With less space and more stuff, people are looking to put some belongings in storage. Construction levels of self-storage facilities increased in many markets, but despite the powerful demand, developers remain cautious because of the risk of overbuilding. According to the National Self-Storage Report conducted by Yardi Matrix in August 2019, the amount of storage space that is in the planning stage or under construction is currently 9.5% of the total inventory.

Annual street rate performance was negative in 89% of the top metros tracked by Yardi Matrix. In comparison with July 2018, street rates have declined even in markets with strong demand and limited new supply. Concessions are one way that investors can attract new customers but there’s another method that can prove more profitable in the long run: adding some features that most renters seek and would pay extra for when choosing storage space. Let’s find out which are the top 5 storage add-ons that might be worth the investment, as highlighted in a Demand Study carried out by the Self Storage Association, which storage providers should consider.

1. Better security with electronic gates

According to data from the Demand Study, electronic gates that only allow authorized people to enter the facility are the top feature that renters would be most willing to pay extra for. Electronic gates offer greater security, with sophisticated access control, and managers can also easily monitor who enters and exits the facility.

These gates act as a deterrent as well. Burglars may choose to try their luck at other facilities instead of yours because breaking in is difficult and the risk of setting off an alarm is too high. Moreover, electronic gates offer extra convenience especially in bad weather conditions as renters don’t need to get out of their vehicles to gain access to the premises.

Breaking the data down by age-ranges, we notice that this is the most important feature for Boomers (59%) and the Greatest Generation (49%). Of all the generations, Millennials and Boomers would be the most willing to pay more for electronic gates. Taking into account the regions in which the renters live, it turns out that electronic gates are the most important feature for those who live in the South (64%), with 55% of renters in the West also prioritizing it. For people in the Midwest and the West, it is at the top of the list of features they would pay extra for.

2. Pest control for a bug-free experience

Pest control comes in second place regarding the renters’ willingness to pay extra for a feature.  It’s not a surprise that people don’t want to deal with pests in their units, and if you’ve ever had to handle an infestation, you certainly know how frustrating it is. Storage units stocked with a bunch of items for a long time are an open invitation for bugs and rodents if you don’t perform regular pest control. And they can cause a lot of damage to the renters’ belongings, so you might consider pest control to be an important option for your facility. Besides this, you can tell your renters not to store food or any stuff that has a smell that is attractive to vermin.

Looking at the generational and regional criteria, the study shows that pest control is the most valuable feature for Millennials (58%) but that Gen-Xers are the ones more likely to pay extra for this feature. Among all regions, South renters (54%) most prefer the option of pest control and they are also willing to pay more for it.

A Plus Mini Storage 8395 SW 67th Avenue Miami FL
Photo courtesy of Yardi Matrix

3. Anytime access to the unit

Being able to access the storage facility whenever you want can be a great help, especially in a business situation. The benefit of having 24-hour access could be a lifesaver. Imagine that one of your renters immediately needs a specific item from his storage unit, something he depends on for an important event. If the unit is closed, the renter will be quite disappointed, right? This will not be a good outcome for you. But with anytime access to the storage facility, renters who work early in the morning or late into the night will appreciate this feature.

Using the same data, we can ascertain that anytime access to the self-storage unit is the most popular option for Millennials (61%) and Gen-Xers (58%). Millenials’ rank this feature in third place regarding whether it is worth paying extra for. More than 6 in 10 renters in the South of the country say that anytime access to the unit is very important to them. Those who live in the Northeast are the most willing to pay a higher monthly rate for this feature.

4. Controlled humidity

High humidity can be a huge problem in self-storage facilities, and renters rely on your storage space to keep their stuff in good condition. There are more and more luxury pieces being put in storage that need to be kept in high-quality units, so humidity control systems are essential. It is recommended that the humidity level should be kept at about 50%.

Of all the generations, Millennials (51%) consider this feature the most important, and along with the Gen-Xers, they are the most willing to pay more money for controlled humidity. Renters in the Northeast and the South are substantially more likely to consider this feature important, and the latter are also more willing to pay extra for it.

5. Air-conditioned unit

Air-conditioning is a feature that is linked to the previous one, and it wraps up the list of the top 5 storage add-ons that are worth the investment. There are many places in the country where temperatures can reach above 100 degrees. Therefore, if your storage facility is in such a location, you may want to keep it at a moderate temperature and protect your renters’ belongings from the damaging effects of extreme weather.

Of all the generations, Millennials (46%) are so far the most interested in self-storage units that feature air-conditioning systems, but Gen-Xers are more willing to pay extra for them. Those who live in the Northeast and South are more likely to say that air-conditioning is important to them. Renters in the South are more willing than others to pay extra for this feature.

2 external air conditioning unit

There are also other features that might be worth having such as security guards, flexible contracts, dedicated security alarms on storage units and many more.

Which feature would you choose? All those listed here can be easily added by storage facility operators and they represent a good way to differentiate your facility from the competition, all the while attracting and retaining customers. Head over to StorageCafe and get your facility listed.


Francis Chantree is a writer and editor for Yardi, focusing on real estate and lifestyle content. He is a former programmer and researcher who exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he can be found gardening and reading.

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