Marketing your building upgrades

Nothing fills apartment suites faster than renovations
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Chaim Rivlin

Renovating a rental property is more than an investment; it’s one that pays dividends. Aside from boosting the property’s value, it demonstrates a commitment to superior quality and gives tenants confidence that the property manager truly cares.

According to a study by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, essential work (i.e. repairs and maintenance) is much more common than desirable upgrades (i.e. additions, renovations/alterations and new installations). About four out of five rental units across Canada have undergone some level of repair and maintenance work, but only one in three have received additions, new installations or undergone complete renovations.

So, it stands to reason that if you are a property manager who understands the importance of renovating to attract interest and gain long-term tenants, you will want to do everything possible to get the word out about the upgrades you have made. Don’t let your advertisements get lost in the crowd—stand out with a few helpful hints.

Great graphics
Advertising on free listing sites such as Kijiji or Craigslist, means competing with a seemingly endless number of other property managers for the attention of the renter. To make your ad pop—and to tout the renovations you have made—you need more than just great copy. Invest in a high quality graphic that illustrates your suite upgrades. According to WishPond, advertisements containing visual elements receive 94 per cent more page visits than those without. Additionally, graphics are social media ready and can be used multiple times on a variety of platforms to generate as much interest as possible.

“When we have a property that we really want people to take notice of, we share HD photos and graphics on our Facebook and Twitter pages,” says Renee Bourgon, Strategic Marketing Consultant. “Combined with a few targeted hashtags, we are able to reach people that may not have known about us.”

Scope out the competition
Read what other property managers in your area are saying about their properties and then determine what makes your property unique. Use that information to highlight your renovations and other added value features to grab the attention of renters. Craft creative titles for your ads that will make someone scrolling through the page stop and click.

“While you don’t want to overwhelm a potential tenant with stuffy wording, you do want them to see what makes you different,” says Tanya Fine of Akelius. “When we advertise our renovated properties, the number one thing we include in the ad title is the word ‘Renovated’. We want people to see right away that we care about our buildings and the comfort of the people who call them home.”

Encourage positive word-of-mouth
A common complaint among renters is when the units around them get renovated, but not the unit they live in. While it can be difficult (if not impossible) to do a complete overhaul of a unit that is occupied, it’s important to find ways to include your current tenants in the renovation process. Upgrade their lighting fixtures, kitchen countertops or even provide them with a new stove or refrigerator to replace aging ones. Not only will this help to convert them into long-term tenants, but they will create a positive buzz for your property on their own. “If they have a friend or co-worker who is looking for a new place to live, they will want to tell them about your building,” says Bourgon. “Essentially, this is free advertising for your property. It will create a chain of great word-of-mouth reviews that will soon have your unoccupied units filling up in no time.” That is advertising that money truly cannot buy.

Renovations can be costly, but the end result is well worth it. “By using the right marketing tactics, you will be alerting renters that you are an owner that truly cares about the residents who call your property their home” says Fine. “Renovations are one of the top requests from renters, and you need to let them know you are ready and willing to make that investment in your building—and in them.”

Chaim Rivlin is the founder and CEO of RentSeeker.

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