How to Make an Aged Apartment Complex Competitive with the Newest Properties


The New York Times declared 2017 “Year of the Renter,” which means you need to up your game if you own and manage a multi-family housing complex. It also means you might face more competitors in the future when new apartments start going up around your property.

How do you stay competitive with older buildings when the new guys are right next door? Here are some strategies to be the best place in the area.

Start with the low hanging fruit (paint the exterior, interior and replace flooring)

Give your property a facelift. It is the insides that really count, so paint the interior with earthy tones and gray neutrals because avoiding the typical whitewash walls will give your units a home feel and a quality look. Install new cabinets, door knobs, light fixtures and showerheads. Each of these features brings a modern look to the space.

Curb appeal is also important. A fresh and clean exterior can make the property feel more modern even though it is older. Consider adding new siding and renovating the balconies. Bring in professional landscapers to plant colorful flowers and shrubs. Then, trim the trees and fix or install sidewalks.

Upgrade your amenities to compete with surrounding properties  

Just because the property is older, doesn’t mean it can’t have the newest perks. The best part about living in an apartment is convenient amenities like pools, parks, gyms and lounging areas. Create a designated wifi area for tenants who don’t pay for internet or who don’t have it installed in their apartment.

Invest in new and robust gym equipment, because residents will find value in not needing to pay for a gym membership elsewhere.

Make the property pet-friendly with no leash dog parks, plenty of outdoor walking space and build trashcan stations with dog waste bags for resident’s convenience. Build grilling stations with picnic tables, and keep the pool (if you have one) pristine.

Taut energy efficiency

A resident’s biggest concern with an older unit is whether or not it offers similar energy efficient features as a newer unit. Nobody likes overspending on electric bills because of bad heating and cooling units and old appliances.

Upgrade the ovens, refrigerators, microwaves, washers and dryers to newer models that use less electricity. Install LED lighting, and make sure the windows are sealed.

Use Smart Meters in all of the units so residents can decide when to run the heater or air conditioning in their unit on an hourly schedule.

Accentuate the property’s unique charm

Maybe it is mature trees or one-of-kind architecture, whatever it is that makes your property different from the newest complexes, make sure potential tenants know about it. Don’t hide that old charm, just make it fresh and appealing.

Some older complexes are built with high-quality materials compared to the new properties. Explain to residents why this level of quality is unique and valuable. This could be wood flooring or durable countertops. Share the history of the building, or it’s long-term connection with the community.

Train your staff on new technology

If your property is 20-years-old, and so is your website, then it is time for an upgrade. An interactive and responsive website that allows tenants to make their rent payments online is valuable to younger residents. They don’t want the hassle of walking to the front office with a check or money order every month. An online platform can also give them access to their rental agreements and property policies. You can also create a space for residents to file complaints or work orders online.

Engage with residents on social media. Post about upcoming events, tips to keep their energy bills low and ask for them to review the complex so future tenants can know just how awesome it is to live in one of your apartments.

Hire a professional photographer

The first place a prospective renter looks is online. Photos are now the first impression. A bad photo or clunky website will result in lost leads. Hire a professional to photograph the best features of your property.

If it is out of your budget to hire a photographer,  then use a new smartphone or rent  a DSLR camera. Take photos in natural lighting, stage the areas and make sure the image is relevant. This means you should photograph the  gym, community areas, parks and take several shots of different units.

Keep your current residents from leaving for your competitor

The best way to compete with a new multi-family housing properties near you is to keep your current tenants happy. They may love the new renovations, but they won’t love rent increases. Offer residents the opportunity to lock in their current rate if they do not move when their lease is up, even if new tenants are charged more for a similar space. Keep up with maintenance requests, and respond quickly to any complaints or concerns.

We can help you maintain your competitive edge in a growing market. At NorthStar Properties we make increasing your property’s value a top priority. We offer management services and consulting. If you contact us, we would be happy to start a conversation about the future of your property.