Ten Unit Building need reapir

8 Replies

I have owned an apartment building with 10 one-bedroom, one-bath apartments for a number of years. It was not in great shape when I bought it and, to be honest, I have not done a good job of helping it out. Now it is about half occupied and I am struggling to get new renters. Property manager has one unit listed at below-market rent and have had no takers. The building looks run down. My question for you all is this - What can I do for the biggest bang for my buck to make the place look nicer? I am going to paint the doors this month. Any general suggestions for improving 1/1 apartments in middle range neighborhoods? 

Put some shutters on to make it a little more residential looking and not like a motel.  Some landscaping or hardscaping.  How's the siding?  Hard to tell in the photo.  You can do just the front if you want to keep costs down.  What feedback/complaints have you gotten from tenants or prospective renters?  What do the multi families in your area have that you don't?

There are many things you can do, new floor, new kitchen counter top, bathroom upgrade, or put wifi into the building. All update takes money up-front. But if you have half the building vacant, you're losing lots of money every month. It's hard to suggest with only picture of the building exterior. Have you asked your property manager is there anything you can do to get it rented? Experienced property manager should know the area and the market, they could suggest you what to do, and you can decide where to invest your money to get it ready for rent.

If there is no viewing at all, maybe it's time to check the advertising of your property manager and ask them why. 

It took me a while to see the benefits of updating the apartments to get it rented. I used to look at the money spent when updating the apartment and think if I can lease the apartment as it is, it would be great. But then I cannot get the tenants we want, and the apartment being vacant for months, at the end we had to update the apartment in order to get rid of the loss in rent.

We have one multi-apartments building, in one year, when old tenants move out, we update most of the apartments, get better rent and good tenants, and the appraisal value of the building was increased by 100k+. When I look back now, I think updating the apartment is good investment of your money in long-term.

Thanks Minna! I've often wondered how worthwhile it would be to update the kitchen and bathroom. Do you remember what you spent on each bathroom or kitchen to get them leveled up? 

I have a similar building of 15 units. And would agree that from the outside some quick things to do as you mentioned painting the doors and as shutters a little [email protected] Lentini mentioned would certainly help. Additionally seal coating and striping the parking lot would make the building pop as well as help prolong the life of the asphalt. We just had to invest $10K to repave one this spring. As for interiors with out seeing them hard to tell, but outside of kitchens and baths (which can be expensive but do have the biggest positive impact on prospective tenants) we have found that fresh paint and new flooring makes a huge difference. We often struggle in the same way over the years however we found as soon as one is vacant our best return on investment has been to spend the money immediately to get it up to par. Hopefully that's helpful.

Hi Bryan,

While I'm not the most qualified person to dispense any advice, I do own a number of apartment buildings, including a 12 unit, and I often wonder just like you where it's best to spend money to attract good residents. From my combined experience, it seems that a little exterior work can go a long way, as well as some interior.

First, consider hiring a pro photographer and get some good photos. Maybe pay them a little extra to retouch photos for you. I normally pay photographers $200 per session. Some of them can provide you with aerial photography and even video. Some candidates would be happy to view videos of the place.

Second, it pays to keep the place clean. Whether you, your manager or one of the residents can keep the place clean, it would be a boon.

Third, for exterior updating, painting the place could be expensive, so perhaps touch-ups would be a first step to start, and continue it as a work in progress. Maybe a little bit of landscaping. You may be able to get someone on Craigslist who needs a little extra money and can make the place a bit nicer. See if anything stands out, like broken windows, broken handrails, staircase etc, that may need attention. People may get a bad vibe if they see a place looking to run down.

Fourth, since you have multiple vacancies, start in small steps. Consider starting with the best vacant unit you currently have and see what you can afford to update. Replacing a vanity isn't all that expensive. Refinishing a bathtub shouldn't be either. See what needs updating in the kitchen. Fix holes in walls and dents in flooring. Give it a nice new coat of paint and pick some nice colors. Another option you may consider, if you have an occupied unit in great shape, offer the resident a discount to downgrade. They will move to a unit in lesser condition for a reduction in rent and you will have a unit in much better shape ready to go.

Over time, keep making improvements. In a year or two, if you keep at it, you'll come a long way. If on the other and you see that this building is not performing, perhaps consider selling. Would be much easier to sell if the building is not entirely distressed.