Residents commuting home to one recently updated apartment building in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC, can now easily unlock their doors, turn on the lights and crank up the heat before they even step foot inside.
“We’re at a big inflection point right now. In the last few years, we’ve gone from a landlord’s market to a renter’s market in a big way,” said Jim McInerney, property manager and landlord at Watassa Management, a Chase Commercial Term Lending client.
He understands that the nearly 100-year-old midrise is one of many charming older buildings in the area, so it’s important for the building to stand out.
"We have to do as much as possible to amenitize our small buildings to compete with the new, bigger buildings."
-Jim McInerney, property manager and landlord at Watassa Management
Adding smart-home features is just one way to differentiate your multifamily building in a tight market. In McInerney’s other rental properties, he has also installed bike racks, implemented online rental payments and built outdoor spaces. McInerney said his properties with dining and grilling areas have better retention rates.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade an older high-rise or a five-unit market-rate apartment building, many of these updates can be a cost-effective investment to help you attract and retain tenants.
Smart-home technology—including locks, thermostats and lighting—is an especially attractive feature in higher-end rental properties, and installation requirements are often minimal. Educating your tenants about these less visible features can often be just as important as the enhancements themselves.
Even less sophisticated tech updates can help distinguish your property, such as providing free Wi-Fi in common areas or updating laundry rooms to accept credit cards and mobile payments.
Tenants often don’t know their neighbors but may want to meet them. Consider introducing policies and events that help create a sense of community. For example, you can implement smoke-free and pet-friendly apartment policies. The latter may involve extra tenant fees, such as pet deposits, pet inspection charges and monthly pet rent.
Smaller buildings, like the ones McInerney owns in DC, don’t always have extra space for certain perks. But there are ways to make every square inch count.
Keep in mind that top amenities vary based on your building’s location and price point. And not all upgrades are successful, even from property to property. Rather, implementing amenities is a process of trial and error. What’s most important is differentiating your property so it stands out from the pack.