Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Residential Appeal

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Residential Appeal

Article excerpt

Tips to Maximize Profits G at Your Apartment Communities

[EXCERPTED FROM THE IREM PUBLICATION, PRACTICAL APARTMENT MANAGEMENT, 6TH EDITION]

Most things lose some of their luster and value with each passing year, and rental apartments are no exception. Real estate managers, and owners especially, must recognize their properties are not frozen in time. What satisfied renters in years past will come up lacking in the future? As this year draws to a close, take the time to explore changes and challenges to improve your property, its appeal and its value for the dollar. Some can be involved and pricey, but many more are within most properties' means.

A comparison benchmark is a place to start. How does your property stack up with the neighboring competition? Some people would have us believe that Web site listings are the end-all in apartment marketing. That's really only the beginning. Online advertising and listings can trigger interest and add some direction, but the neighborhood, the actual property and the sales team, are what ultimately deliver new residents. Failing to impress prospects from the outside means there won't be a chance to show off what's inside. With this in mind, consider the following method of evaluating your property's initial appeal.

Begin by choosing five competing properties for comparison and assign each of these properties an initial rating of 50. Using a form similar to the "Property Comparisons & Impressions" example shown here, have four to six property staff members independently (this is very important) visit these neighboring properties. This basically is a drive-through inspection, one that simulates what so many rental prospects do.

Have the reviewers consider the seven categories listed across the top of the form. If one or more are typical of what is found in the marketplace, no adjustment is necessary. If a category is better than the norm, it should be rewarded with an appropriate, positive adjustment using a whole number. If a category doesn't meet the norm, a negative adjustment should be inserted. Repeat this for each of the listed properties. Finally, based upon what has been seen in the marketplace, have the reviewers rate their own property. Caution reviewers not to sugarcoat this part of the evaluation. Then, tally the scores and have an open discussion about what your staff members have observed and what prompted their scoring. This will give staff members a better idea of the competition, and will provide a roadmap of what needs to be improved to better attract an increased share of prospect traffic.

ENHANCE & UPGRADE

Evaluating the neighboring properties provides a start, but this evaluation most likely won't reveal the many changes being implemented throughout the rental industry. Changes in the past two years, in addition to what can be seen on the drawing boards, point to a much enhanced living experience residents are seeking. Let's look at a short list of the more expensive and involved offerings followed by some rather affordable upgrade examples that are becoming more and more commonplace.

High-Priced Improvements

Relaxation Garden Many properties are saying goodbye to the swimming pool as the centerpiece amenity, and are turning instead to the relaxation garden. This is a carefully designed and landscaped area with an evolving, seasonal flower display. The cloistered area is equipped with a variety of seating, fountains/waterscapes and, very often, a large outdoor stone fireplace. The garden is a place for just sitting and enjoying the outdoors, reading and socializing. It enjoys a much longer season-of-use than the pool, is less noisy, and commands premium rents from the units that overlook it. It is proving to be a very strong "selling" feature.

Car Care Center This is not a hose coiled on the asphalt. When done right, this is a poured concrete slab with a drain system often positioned under an awning canopy and equipped with a heavy-duty hose and nozzle, vacuum system, trash container, stepstool, plus fighting and a power source. …

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