Competition from new properties? An energy efficiency retrofit can differentiate your property.

Northern California continues to produce steady job and population growth, and construction of new apartments and condos are following suit. In the City of San Francisco alone, there are 63,000 units slated for new construction. In downtown Sacramento, there are 13,000 units planned or in development. How do older properties compete with newly construction properties such as these? Performing some basic research and positioning your marketing messaging around environmentally friendly amenities can help set you apart from the competition.

Research

While you can purchase market research from real estate and industry associations, there are many free tools you may use to conduct own investigation. Sites like Craigslist, Zillow, and Pad Mapper have location-based searches for rental properties, allowing you to quickly and easily identify the competition’s offerings. Sites like Rent Jungle show rent trends by region and has a rent comparison tool that you to compare your offering to those in the immediate vicinity.

When conducting research, make sure you identify these three crucial points:

Rent: You should have a solid grasp of what the competition is charging for rent so you can price your units accordingly. Remember, market rent can change very quickly, so it’s a good idea to check in periodically.

Amenities: Pools and spas, gyms, new appliances, and common spaces can be a strong differentiator for properties. Study the competition, and think of how you can add amenities without expending a lot of capital. For example, can you convert an unused patch of lawn into a dog park? Or perhaps, add computer stations and workspaces to common areas to create a business lounge?

Also, do your competitors tout the green features of properties such as new LED lighting or ENERGY STAR® rated appliances? Talk to MUP today and we can help identify opportunities for your unique property needs.

Concessions: Promotions such as first month rent free or no-deposit to move in can be a strong recruiting tool for properties. Don’t get caught flat footed—check in periodically and make sure your property’s offering is competitive.

Marketing

At a minimum, you should advertise on free websites such as Craigslist, Trulia, or Apartments.com. Remember these best practices when creating your ad:

Photos: Include wide-angle shots of furnished living spaces in all your ads. Furnished spaces invite the prospective resident to imagine themselves in the unit; bare spaces look generic and uninviting. Include all the spaces of the unit: living room, bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, and patio area.

Location: Emphasize the local amenities including proximity to transit, local destinations such as beaches or hiking trails, restaurants, and nightlife. Providing the neighborhood’s walkability score adds value, especially to younger renters.

Amenities: Emphasize property amenities such as pools and spas, ENERGY STAR rated appliances, bike storage, dog parks, and whatever unique features your property offers.

Energy efficiency

Now that we’ve covered the basics of research and marketing, how does energy efficiency fit in? Performing an energy efficiency upgrade at your property helps reduce energy spending and increase property value. Amenities like ENERGY STAR® rated appliances, new windows, and state-of-the-art LED lighting and sensors can attract tenants looking for stylish, yet energy efficient properties, allowing you to directly market to younger, more environmentally conscious renters. A final benefit, performing a retrofit can allow you to charge higher rents!