CURB APPEAL: First Impressions, Impact on the Bottom Line
Submitted by B. Duchano
It’s curb appeal that lures new residents, and makes it difficult for existing ones to leave. Curb appeal is an essential element that property managers cannot let slide in an economic downturn and also as important under a more stable economy. Curb appeal will boost your bottom line, reduce marketing costs and improve NOI. You get a higher quality resident who stays longer.
Curb appeal is everything from your landscape, well maintained parking surfaces, signage and the cleanliness of your property. People make up their minds within 10 seconds of entering the property whether or not they want to live there. If you don’t have good curb appeal you won’t have customers. Eye catching landscaping, effective site lighting, the use of classic soft colors, and even the look of the unit numbers are all crucial elements that stick in prospect’s minds.
Search engines may be the most frequently used source for finding apartments but mostly a gateway for prospects to begin their search. Drive-bys are still considered by all age demographics to be an essential aspect of the apartment hunt. Street presence and signage are a key element to attracting walk-ins. Keep in mind that retirees are bringing their house sensibility to an apartment. They are coming from the nicer suburbs where they have spent a fair amount of money making the outside of their home look nice. That’s the lens through which they look at your properties. By contrast, the younger people with active lifestyles want access to exercise equipment and trails for recreation.
Curb appeal is especially important with renovated properties. When you fix up the outside of a building, you signal perspective residents, or buyers, or existing residents, that something new is at foot. It is also a way to meet the changing needs of today’s market, which demands plenty of unobtrusive parking, well lighted common areas, jogging or walking trails and other outdoor amenities.
Even a square brick building with very few redeemable features may easily be improved upon. Introduce a new entrance bed and add a splash of perennial color. Improve the building lighting and maintain a clean common area. Keep the door clean of fingerprints and the hardware polished. Make sure that the door operates with ease and secures itself when it closes. Keep your mailboxes clean of advertisements and make sure that address labels are consistent. Keep your flooring clean and free of odor. Add a very light scent if necessary. Clean, clean, clean, it’s the small things that prospects notice.
Curb appeal works on so many levels and should be studied very closely. Improved curb appeal will provide an opportunity to increase rental income. Curb appeal is an essential component to resident retention and turn over cost. Effective curb appeal will reduce marketing efforts and increase traffic. If budgets constraints are an issue, spread out the investment over time, starting with the property entrance and the main roadways. Provide your lawn care contractors with a concise and improved specification for maintaining your grass, beds, weeds and edges. Do not settle for mediocrity. Curb appeal will improve your bottom line.