Policy and Innovation

House Hunters: Fiber Edition

_Ed. Note: Today, we have a guest post from Heather Burnett Gold, President of the Fiber to the Home Council Americas, and Michael Render, Principal and Founder of RVA, LLC. They are sharing the findings of a new research report on how access to ultrafast Internet can boost the value of multi-family homes. _

There are a slew of successful TV shows that follow people who are searching for a new home. Each show follows the same formula: seekers must decide between a few properties, debating the merits of various amenities, neighborhoods, and price points. Savvy producers have discovered we love to see people navigate the complex process of deciding where to live.

One factor that is increasingly having an impact on those decisions: access to ultra-high speed, reliable broadband. We have concrete data that shows access to fiber increases the value of single family homes. But what about the almost 30 percent of people in the US, both renters and owners, who live in multifamily housing?

In a new study the Fiber to the Home Council is releasing today, we find fast and reliable broadband is now rated the single most important amenity for multiple dwelling units (MDUs). In addition to finding ultra-high speed broadband to be more important than a pool, 24-hour security monitoring, covered parking, gym access and even cable TV, these results also show that MDU residents believe fiber-based broadband is significantly faster and more reliable than other technologies.

Our research also shows that MDU residents are willing to pay more to live where there’s fiber. People were willing to pay 2.8 percent more to purchase a condo or apartment with access to fiber optic service (based on a $300,000 home). For renters, it’s even more important. Respondents were willing to pay a premium of 8 percent (based on a $1000 monthly rent) for access to fiber. People who live in MDUs also want access to multiple providers, ranking provider choice as 6 out of 12 possible amenities.

While these numbers are based on all types of fiber-to-the-home, based on our other research and anecdotal evidence, values could be even higher for gigabit fiber service.

What do higher rental and sales values mean to MDU owners and operators? A better bottom line. Using data from the National Apartment Association, we estimate fiber can add 11 percent in net income per average apartment unit. And our findings show that fiber access increases resident satisfaction and appears to reduce churn, helping building owners and operators maintain high levels of occupancy and provide a quality living environment.

We’re excited about this study, which adds to the mounting evidence that fiber improves our communities. And we’re looking forward to continuing to work with MDU owners and operators in different ways in the quest to connect:
* Marketing: Fiber providers throughout the country—including Google Fiber—should continue to work with MDUs to advertise fiber to attract new residents. (Our findings show fiber is a word of mouth technology that can attract residents to properties.) * Access: MDU owners can assist by making buildings accessible while the fiber industry continues to make advancements in deployment methods and technologies that reduce any potential disruptions to residents. * Education: We at the Council will continue to work with our partners to promote the value of a future-proof technology that increases the attractiveness of properties in an increasingly competitive housing market.

Heather Burnett Gold is President & CEO of the FTTH Council Americas and Michael Render is Principal & Founder of RVA, LLC, Market Research and Consulting

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