When it comes to common-knowledge approaches to curb appeal, first impressions are lasting impressions, and property managers can build on that axiom to boost love-at-first-sight interest in rental properties .
"You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. No matter how great the service is, or how great the programs are, if the property doesn't look good, you'll never get the chance to go further with," a potential tenant, says Cris Sullivan, senior vice president and executive director of operations at Gables Residential, a Atlanta, GA-based real estate acquisition, development and management company for multifamily properties and mixed-use communities.
Potential tenants expect a manicured property, a tamed yard, fresh paint and an overall neat presentation, but, as niche or more unique properties become more popular, a creative curb appeal strategy with a personal touch can add value.
Jared Meadors, owner of Medusa Properties in Houston, TX says property owners should expect to make an investment that enhances the appeal of the property from the outside in because the effort will pay for itself over time.
"That's the thing about improvements in general. They pay for themselves five to 10 times over," says Meadors who specializes in resorted, older properties.
"It took me a decade before I learned that competing on price alone is a race to the bottom. Apple products are the most expensive in every category where they compete, but they dominate those categories, and make more money than everyone else while doing it," he added.
Meadors also says curb appeal investments allow him to charge slightly higher rent and they reduce vacancy periods because nicer looking properties rent faster than their less appealing competitors.
Meadors' first addresses a property's character to add curb appeal.
He often selects properties that may appear to look "boring," because the property was built in the 1920s or 1930s and may have been stripped of its character over time due to shifting attitudes about style. These architecturally-stripped properties are like a blank canvas. He selects the most appealing qualities of an era and restores them to the property. This often means modifying the facade with renewed architectural detail.
"The style of the building itself is really important. From an architectural approach, I take the coolest elements of an era and apply them to a building," Meadors says.
Meadors also says fencing can serve as a multi-functional addition to a property. Fencing frames a property's boundaries, it's a friendly bonus for pet owners, it acts as a backdrop for landscaping and it acts as a buffer between the front door and the street a major benefit in high traffic areas.
"In a really dense urban environment, any kind of buffer you can give your tenants from the street is really nice. Rather than having a big, open yard, add a cool fence or wall and a private patio. Now they have a buffer from the street and private space," Meadors said.
Meadors also encourages creative landscaping.
Appealing foliage is an eye-catching addition to a property, but it doesn't have to be high-maintenance or an expensive addition. Climbers, for example, require little attention and they add a colorful flair to a rental property and the benefit of added privacy.
Do you have suggestions for improving a property's curb appeal? Share your efforts - successes and failures - as insight for others planning to boost a property's first impression.