The busy real estate buying season is now in full swing with the start of the summer, which means that many multifamily property owners are looking to enhance their current listings to take advantage of the selling opportunity. At the same time, property management companies or owners may simply be looking to take their rental properties to the next level. Either way, it can be difficult to decide which areas to spruce up and which belong further down the priority list. I’ve been managing many multifamily properties in Houston for more years than I like to admit — the result is a set of consistently effective strategies for making multihousing properties more appealing for both the tenants as well as prospective buyers.
If you are looking to make a major impact quickly, the best bang for your buck is usually in landscaping. Although there are always exceptions to this, the importance of curb appeal is paramount to the success of an apartment community. Think about it: If prospective tenants are driving to look at rental properties and the first community they pull up to is surrounded by dirt patches, no trees or sidewalks and no foliage, they are not likely to have high hopes for the inside. Bland yards and lack of color create a sense of blandness for a home shopper, which means that your property is facing challenges before prospective tenants or investors ever step foot outside their vehicle.
On the other hand, if you pull your car up to a property and are greeted by green, plush surroundings complete with manicured lawns and colorful flowers, you are likely to be enticed to see more. After all, if the outside is inviting, it’s clear that someone is not only properly managing the property — but they also obviously care. And that’s a priceless trait to radiate. Bright colors can trigger feelings of happiness and that is the type of first impression you want for your prospective tenant or multifamily property investor.
The business strategy is this: If you want people to come to your properties and share them with their friends and family, then you need to have curb appeal. Great landscaping will draw the passerby’s eye and increase the likelihood of a later follow-up. Be sure to budget ample money to landscaping when you are planning your renovations–– it will pay off.
Another essential element that people look for in an apartment home is security. It is vital for a tenant to feel safe in their home — and they will pay for that sense of comfort and security. As far as management goes, you have undoubtedly done your homework by purchasing a multifamily property in a fitting neighborhood that offers long-term growth opportunity. The next step is to put in place measures that will ensure the safety of all residents, as well as maintain steady profits for your property.
• Make sure that your security starts at the initial meeting of a new tenant. The screening process is key, so be sure to check the following essentials: rental history, criminal background and credit ratings. Also, one overlooked aspect is the listed references. Do not waste this opportunity to get a firsthand account of a tenant.
• Partner with the local police department and be sure to check on previous criminal activity in the area. You can usually obtain what is known as a crime statistics report, which will tell you of all issues within the past 30 days. It is better to have the knowledge now than later. Also, see if you can join what is often called a Crime-Free Housing Program in your area, as this will establish a relationship with the local authorities and show that you appreciate law enforcement’s efforts in the area.
• Spend some money on interior and exterior safety measures. Things like adequate lighting outside (parking lots, walkways, etc.) can go a long way in deterring crime. Thus, it is well worth the investment.
• Proper locks on all doors, especially those leading into the property, are another must-have for residents. Additionally, where applicable, 24/7 security guards monitoring are not only a welcomed amenity but a safeguard for your property in general. These preventative measures offer reassurance to potential buyers that their investment, as well as their tenants, are that much more likely to remain safe.
The price of peace of mind can often be high, and some management companies or owners can be reluctant to shell out the money and effort, but the benefits will usually far outweigh the risks of not having these security measures in place.
Tenants want the most amenities available for their money — and that includes the latest technology. It is especially important for property managers to realize the potential audience that is Generation Z. Members of this generation have begun to graduate college, and many are looking to strike out on their own for the first time. Having grown up in a vastly digital world and an on-demand service mentality, this new class of tenants often has high expectations for a rental property.
If you’re not ready or it doesn’t make sense to add super-advanced technical additions, you can start by trying some simple ease-of-use components for renters to enjoy, including online rent payments. Also, establishing an online communication board with your tenants is a valuable tool. This way, they can tell you about maintenance issues or ask questions, and you are able to communicate important messages in times of crisis or just general updates to your entire community. Whether you choose to include the higher-tech options or strive to master the simpler ones that make living easier, you cannot go wrong with a digital-forward approach to property management.
If you are looking for ways to turn around a property, these three tips should help jump-start the process and serve as a win-win for a property owner and its tenants.