Cameron Cowan | Knowledge Steward
It's no secret that dozens of new buildings are going up here in Seattle. In fact, we have the most cranes of any city in the country. You can see them dotting the skyline around the city, and in other areas like Tacoma, Yakima, Everett, Bellevue. So what does that mean for someone that owns a small building? How can the small building owner compete? It's easier than you might think and some of the solutions are right at your fingertips.
In a world where we have to differentiate or die let's think about how you can turn an older property into a hot commodity.
Upsell your best features
Do you have great views of mountains or water? Are you convenient to transit? Near a major employer? These are all reasons to woo potential tenants away from a shiny new building and towards your building.
Is there any historical charm? Near a cozy pocket neighborhood? Don't take these for granted either. These are all things you can promote to bring in people who are ready to rent. As another aspect of marketing, it may be time to update your listing pictures and make sure that they are well-lit and show off your building's best features!
People want different things
Not everyone wants to live in a glittery glass tower with a rooftop pool that goes by a letter with a flat font! Sometimes people just want something simple, convenient and without fuss. You building may be ideal! Perhaps your yard is perfect for a community garden or you have parking for both tenants and their guests for entertaining. Often, those things outstrip the espresso bar at the glittery tower.
Keep the tenants you have by connecting with them
You can keep people in your building (and generate great online reviews) by building a relationship. Some people offer a rent discount during the holidays. Others host a building party or bring cookies and sweets around from time to time. Learn who your tenants are, understand them and their stories. If people feel connected to you then they will feel connected to the property. It's cheaper to keep tenants in place than to find new ones.
Give incentive to potential tenants
If you're stuck looking for a new tenant no matter what then sometimes incentives can be key. Offering a first month of free rent may be helpful. Reducing the security deposit or waiving the last month rent requirement can get people to choose you over other properties. Maybe it's time to offer a gift card to the local grocery store or home products store. Perhaps offer to pay their internet bill, whatever incentive you may come up with can get people in the door and renting your units.
Maybe it's just time to upgrade
Are your cabinets and counters stuck in the Ford administration? When was the last time you updated carpets and appliances? Money is cheap right now and building values have gone up. Leverage that equity to pay for a building refresh. Sometimes refreshing the exterior and updating the empty units can bring in new people. It's a great way to compete with the newer buildings. Stainless steel appliances and granite counters are standard finishes at price points above $1,800. If your counters are formica and your kitchen floors are linoleum, it may be time to upgrade to inexpensive bamboo floors throughout the unit and new appliances. It will give the building and attractive and modern look that will woo potential tenants.
Housing is not going away and you will be able to find renters. Cast a wide net in your marketing (we have great blog posts about that here at RHAWA) and freshen things up a bit to get people wanting to live in your building!