Most Desirable Apartment Amenity is Not What You Think

Learn about the number one home feature clients request when looking for a home and why it's so rare in NYC

When you think about the most desired amenities in an apartment, you may picture a roof-top terrace or a home gym. However, the number one most requested home feature new customers always ask for is an in-unit washer and dryer.

Residences with a washing machine and clothes dryer are very rare in New York City. Yet everyone needs to do their laundry, which makes the units with these exclusive appliances all the more valuable.

But why are homes with an in-unit washer and dryer so rare in New York, and what should you do if you fall in love with a residence that doesn't have one? Follow along to learn everything you need to know about these exclusive amenities.

Washer and dryer all in one unit

How Many Homes in NYC Have an In-Unit Washer-Dryer?

New York City has over 1 million buildings, but only about 10% of residential homes have a washing machine and clothes dryer in unit. In fact, some residential buildings have a ban on installing in-unit washers and dryers for individual residences. 

For some, it's a case-by-case policy, while for others, it's a blanket ban. But at any given time, you may only find a handful of available listings with a washer and dryer in one unit. It’s not because there isn’t a demand. According to Zillow, “in-unit laundry” is the second most popular search filter, after “pets allowed”.

But if they’re so sought-after, why are washers and dryers so rare in homes in NYC? There are actually plenty of logical reasons for the lack of on-site laundry in the city that never sleeps.

Why Do So Few NYC Apartments Have a Washer Dryer?

The main reason there are so few apartments with washers and dryers in units in NYC is because it's a vertical city, with hundreds of thousands of homes stacked on top of each other. Many buildings in New York were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century when in-home laundry was uncommon. 

So, these buildings were made to accommodate bathing and cooking but not much else. Even if the building allows renovations, it often doesn't make logistical sense to equip every residence with a washer and dryer. Plus certain laws and building codes may prevent it. Here are a few common reasons why installing a washer dryer in an NYC apartment can be challenging:

Lack of Space

You can't just stick a washer-dryer in the hallway and call it a day. You need to find a room (or at least a closet) to house the appliances. Plus, that space needs to be equipped with the proper hookups and electrical outlets. If the home wasn't originally constructed with a washer-dryer in mind, it may be challenging to find an appropriate space without renovating the entire apartment.

Plus, square footage in NYC is very valuable. Even though an in-unit washer dryer can attract a higher price, it may not make sense if you must sacrifice a bedroom or additional closet space to install it.

The Wet Over Dry Rule

The wet over dry rule in NYC states that wet rooms (such as bathrooms and kitchens) must go above other wet rooms and vice versa for dry rooms (bedrooms, living rooms, etc.). That way, if there are ever overflow issues or water damage, the moisture is hypothetically isolated to the rooms that are already at risk of getting wet.

It makes sense, right? If you just bought a brand new TV for your living room, the last thing you would want is for the bathtub in the apartment above you to overflow and ruin it.

But the wet over-dry rule makes finding space for a washer-dryer even more challenging. Not only do you need to find a place where the appliances are contained and out of the way, but you also have to make sure it's in a designated wet area. In some older buildings, this is next to impossible.

Drainage Issues

Some buildings ban washers and dryers in-unit because it may cause drainage issues. Washing machines use a lot of water. The average household washing machine uses about 20 to 25 gallons of water per load. 

So, if the building already has some drainage problems, an all-in-one washer and dryer unit will only make the situation worse. The building needs to have pipes that can handle that amount of water, and not all of them do.

Washing machine in the kitchen

What Can You Do If You Don't Have an Apartment With a Washer and Dryer In Unit?

So, what are your options if you can't find the perfect home with an in-unit washer and dryer in NYC? Luckily, you're not alone; millions of other New Yorkers are struggling with the same issue. You have a few different options if you can't do laundry from the comfort of your own home.

  • Find an apartment with laundry facilities in the building: Many buildings offer on-site laundry rooms to compensate for the lack of in-home washers and dryers. It's often in the basement or some other common space and shared by everyone in the building. Some offer complimentary laundry for residents, while in others you have to pay. But at least you won't have to leave the building!
  • Go to a laundromat: If the building does not have on-site laundry, you can always carry your laundry bag down to the local laundromat. There are over 2600 licensed laundromats in NYC. So if you live in a populated part of the city, chances are there is a laundromat within a few blocks. Just make sure to stock up on quarters and invest in a heavy-duty laundry bag.

Use a laundry service: For those who don't want to waste a Sunday afternoon sitting in a laundromat, you may consider using a laundry service. Many laundromats in NYC offer a wash and fold service, where you pay a fee to drop off your dirty clothes and return later to pick them up clean and folded. Some even offer pickup and delivery, so you don't even have to leave the apartment. Laundry service is more expensive than doing it yourself, but the added convenience may be worth it if you don't have an in-home washer and dryer.

How Much Are People Willing to Pay for NYC Apartments with a Washer and Dryer in Unit?

Despite the abundance of alternative options, many homeowners still prefer to have a washer and dryer in the unit. Most people would rather be able to throw in a load of laundry while relaxing or performing some other household chores, rather than carrying a heavy bag down to the basement or local laundromat. So, apartments with a washer and dryer in one unit are highly sought after and tend to be priced higher than those without.

According to Mukul Lalchandani, founder of Undivided, "These days, almost all new builds are now constructed with a washer and dryer in unit, because developers know that it will garner more interest and potentially a higher sale price. By not having it, you may be losing out on a large pool of potential buyers."

How much extra buyers are willing to pay for the added convenience of in-home laundry depends on a range of factors, but the difference is not insignificant. According to Streeteasy, a popular property search website, having an in-unit washer and dryer resulted in a 14.1% premium for all condos sold for under $2.5 million. So, spending a few thousand dollars on an appliance can potentially add many more thousands of dollars to the value of your home. 

Type of Washers and Dryers Found in NYC Apartments

It's also important to note that not all washer-dryers are made equal. When we talk about washer-dryers, most of us picture the bulky appliances often found in single-family homes. But there are a range of appliances out there that perform the same job yet are better suited for tight environments like an NYC apartment.

  • Compact: Compact washer dryers operate the same way as the standard model but feature a space-efficient design that makes them easier to fit into cramped spaces.
  • Stackable: Stackable washers and dryers allow you to position one appliance on top of the other and not inhibit usage so that you can fit them into a closet or other close quarters.
  • Ventless: Ventless dryers dry your clothes by circulating air within the drum, eliminating the need for a vent. That means you don't have to make holes in your wall to accommodate the airflow, which is beneficial in units with restrictions on modifications.

Bottom line: If you are planning to buy a home in NYC, be prepared to pay a bit extra for the luxury of having an in-unit washer and dryer or be willing to look for an alternative. 

Are there any other highly desirable things you want in a home that we may have missed? We'd love to hear from you.

If you need help finding apartments with a washer and dryer in a unit near you, we're here to help you. Join our NewBuildClubTM and we will gladly show you all the best homes with an in-unit washer and dryer. In fact, it's the first home feature on our list.

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