Edging Out The Competition—Using Outdoor Amenities To Secure More Leases
As a leasing professional, it’s your job to assist prospective residents when they’re shopping for a new apartment to call home. From time to time, you’ll make a follow up call, hoping to secure the lease. Your prospect tells you they’ve whittled their list down to the final two—one being your property and the other is a neighboring community. Both are meticulously maintained and, in your potential new resident’s eyes, appear to have caring, conscientious management teams. The floor plans are similar with comparable square footage and interior features.
With all things being pretty much “equal”, it’s time to play your trump card. Since you’ve done your research on the communities vying for the same leasing dollar you’re going after, you know the amenities your property provides—and how to use them to close the sale.
In case you were curious about some of today’s most sought-after outdoor amenities, here’s a list (in no particular order), based on feedback we’ve received from a recent in-house survey:
Dog Parks: Providing an area specifically designed for residents and their dogs to interact has become extremely popular.Ideally, the designated park is constructed away from the main hub of activity of your community. The park should be a double-gated, fenced-in space with separate play areas for large and small dogs. Enlisting the help of a dog park designer who will work with you on features such equipment, shade structures and benches as well as water stations is optimal.
Outdoor Kitchens: Although we’re currently living in a period of observing social distancing, (it won’t always be this way), nothing lends itself to a sense of community more than gathering people together. Since most cities have ordinances restricting barbecue grills on apartment balconies, creating an area (or areas) where your residents can hang out and grill is the perfect solution for safety and fun. Add a couple of picnic tables and even an attractive pergola structure overhead make these areas even more inviting.
Work Out Stations: With more people into fitness right now, consider providing your residents with a work out system that features multiple stations with outlined fitness tasks. Each stop along the route should have the equipment necessary to complete the task and instructions on how to perform them. (example, pull-up bar, parallel bars, step-up platforms, etc.)
Splash Pads: There’s nothing more fun than watching children play in the water! Splash pads are one of the most practical play solutions for hot summer days. Since there’s no standing water, lifeguards are unnecessary (although supervision is always advised). Another great plus is that unlike a swimming pool, there’s no additional liability insurance required with a splash pad. As with every amenity, a list of rules should also be posted. Providing benches for spectators around the play area is definitely recommended.
Playgrounds: Over the years, outdoor playground equipment (and the area’s surface) has come a long way in regard to safety and durability. The addition of a shade structure over all or part of the playground will help to make this amenity functional, even on the hottest summer day.
Tennis and Sports Courts: While many property managers are re-purposing old tennis courts into everything from dog parks to gaming areas (think corn hole), there’s still a demand for tennis and basketball courts. It may be time to resurface and re-stripe your courts, replace old nets and replace the windscreens. You might also consider hiring a tennis instructor and offer free lessons to your residents as a leasing incentive.
With budget season upon us, now is an excellent time for your management company to factor in the addition of one or more new outdoor amenities. Working with a professional contractor who understands the unique nuances of your property as well as your budget will insure that this investment continues to pay off for years to come. And, while it’s hard to project the overall return on investment in providing your residents with the best outdoor amenities, a little planning now could make the difference in securing more leases and renewals in the future.