Keeping your apartment complex current with market trends means looking at the building and grounds with new eyes. Putting an investment into updating your apartment building will help retain good residents and attract new potential residents.

Have you ever been in an older person’s home in which all of the furniture is 30 years old? Yes, you know what that feels like. Would you want to live there? It might be fine for that older person but no one else wants to live in a time capsule.

Start outside

First look at the outside of your building with a critical eye. What jumps out at you? Brown patches in the lawn? An uneven gutter? Fading paint? Naturally, your tenants would prefer a green lawn leading up to beautiful flowerpots next to the entryway.

If the building needs cosmetic work, then you know that everyone else has noticed the issues as well. People assume that if the outside of a building is unkept, then the inside of the building must be neglected as well. Get the outside of your building in shape. Take care of the basics.

The psychology of arrival

LandscapingNetwork breaks the psychology of arrival into 3 elements. The first one is the vehicular experience. Where do your residents pull their car in to park? Are the parking spots clearly marked? Do the parking spots have standard parking dimensions? Are the residents cursing you every time they pull in because of bumper damage? These are all elements that create their experience coming home to your apartment building. You want to make it a positive experience.

The pedestrian experience is the transition from the car to the apartment building. Is the parking lot well-lit in the evening? Are hedges trimmed for safety? Is there a well defined walkway from the parking lot to the building? If there are steps, are they well illuminated? This should be an easy navigation, even in the dark.

The last part of the arrival experience is the entryway or lobby. This area is critical. Focus on providing an environment where your residents are proud to have their friends and family visit your community.

Your lobby

For a full house of residents, you must make residents feel good the minute they walk into your lobby. Even if your lobby is small, you can make a positive impression. Use your lobby as a showcase for the rest of your building.

You only get one chance to make first impression. Is your lobby clean? Free of odor, trash, junk mail and packages? Are there signs of deferred maintenance or of wear and tear? Can your colors be updated? Have you posted a clear way for prospective residents to contact your leasing agent?

Think about the lobbies of boutique hotels creating a private, intimate feeling. For reference, visit a boutique hotel or take a look at a few lobbies online. Note the floors, walls and arrangement of the furniture. Consider how you can recreate that feeling in your building.

Flooring is one of the easiest ways to make a statement. Consider hardwood or laminate hardwood, porcelain tiles that can resemble wood or luxury vinyls. For wall colors use warm, soft, neutral colors, like grays and browns, which appeal to the largest audience and wear well. You can add a dash of color for a smart accent.

Safety First

Safety should always be a concern in the lobby and is noted by the residents. Obviously positioned video cameras can record traffic at all points of entry. There should be a buzzer system for visitors at the outer door. Make sure all entry doors shut and lock securely. Good outdoor lighting is invaluable, keeping residents safe in their comings and goings.

In addition, a corner of the lobby would be a perfect place to have lock boxes for resident mail and packages. Leaving packages out in hallways is a cause for concern for residents. All mail and packages should be secured.

The exterior of the apartment building and lobby is where you want to focus improvements. You are advertising all day with your building. Let your building and lobby sell itself.

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Theresa Bradley-Banta writes about investing in real estate while avoiding the pitfalls that plague many new investors. She is a 2017 PropTech Top 100 Influencer and winner of 14 American and International real estate awards for her website and real estate investing programs. As featured on: The Equifax Finance Blog, AOL’s Daily Finance, Scotsman Guide, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, Stevie Awards Blog, Rental Housing Journal, and Investors Beat among others.

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