September 1, 2009

Multifamily Apartments: Get Higher Rents and Lower Your Vacancy

In keeping with the article on walkability and the recent survey showing how convenience can increase home value, I thought that checking out what renters value now would help owners rent faster. All in the name of know your market. Renters today are looking for apartment living that can encompass all their lifestyle needs.

Some of the new developments are competing with single family homes, in that they are providing the space and amenities of a single family home without the maintenance. The idea is to combine family style living with apartment community and to bring lifestyle choices into the living community.

On Site Services
Many of us are either telecommuting or tethered to some digital other words we are always working. Its become part of our lifestyle. Multifamily is tuned into this change in our behavior and is bringing business related facilities into the home space. The highest rents and lowest vacancy rates are going to multifamilies that are responding by building:

1.Business centers or private meeting rooms, so that groups can meet at a members home facility rather than a coffee shop. These conference rooms are plugged! They have video feeds and big plasma screens
2.Small gym facilities. I have seen smaller rooms built out with some weights and a handful of Nautilus machines really do the trick
3.Billiards and games tables
4. ATMs on site will also yield a revenue, but may be a safety issue
5. A public internet network for all tenants
6. A communal space, perhaps a garden area for neighbors to get together.
7. Get wired! As units become vacant, add cable, more phone lines and high speed internet connections
8. Go Green: As units become vacant install low flow shower heads, energy efficient lighting and low flow toilets. The water savings to the owner is well worth it and good Eco citizenship is desirable. Programmable thermostats can save as much as $160 annually per unit. Its a tenant savings, but worth mentioning to new renters, it will be appreciated.

Re-purpose Existing Space to Increase Income
1. Revenue Sharing Arrangements. Consider leasing your washer dryer machines for a revenue share. The company will maintain the machines and share income with you.
2. Consider fencing off some basement for bicycle storage or other storage for a monthly fee.
3. Vending Machines and other ancillary services. You can affiliate with local dry cleaners etc to provide a service for a small fee.

Get Tenant Centric
Keeping it simple for the renter is good business. It generally means it will be simpler for management too.
1. A good web site template with slide shows and online apartment applications for new rentals. Add the ability for maintenance issues to save phone time and have the paper trail you need to stay on top.
2. Online rent payments include tenant accounts with individual passwords. Train your tenants to go there before calling for any rent discrepancies.
3. Building wide on line calendar for all events and whatever you can think of that creates a go to place for communications. Its a good idea to have important phone numbers such as fire and gas and electric on line. The more information you can put on line reduces nuisance phone calls

The idea is to create a sense of community. Taking a page from the retirement community, apartment living is being reimagined to include more and more lifestyle living. This kind of community bond can reduce churn. In these tough times tenant retention is just good business.

Related Articles
Apartment Buildings as Investment Property
Rent Control, Managing Rents And The GRM
Remodel for Extra Income
Increase Your Rental Income

Thanks for Reading

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