Changing the name of a property

12 Replies

How do you change the name of a property at or after closing?

It is called Branding.  You can start with the sign in the front, the website, any digital advertising, your brochure, and on the the leases.  Change anything that has the name on it.  Since a property name is not a legal name, nothing official needs to be changed.  This is all about marketing and branding.

@Jeff Greenberg so I don't have to let the county recorder's office know or have it written in the final purchase and sales agreement, or anything like that?

@Gulliver R. no one needs to be notified, Like Jeff said, it has nothing to do with the legal description. They only thing you may have to do with the city is get a sign permit. Depending on the property, we wait to change the sign until at least some of the work is starting. The most important thing to changing the name is changing the image/feel of the property as well, so be sure that when you make the switch that positive things are happening. That will get the tenants and area excited.

@Gulliver R. I doubt if the county even knows the name of your property.  The county knows your address and tax information.  People in the community, especially the police,  fire department, and code enforcement might know the name if it has been a problem property.  The property could have no name as far as the city or county is concerned.  As @Todd Dexheimer mentioned, the city or county may require a permit for replacing the sign, but that has nothing to do with the name.  You change the name to change the image, the community.  We had to do this with our Georgia property.  We wanted everyone to know that there was a new owner and new policies.  We had the tenants submit suggestions on the name and the new logo.  We made it a contest with prizes.  Then we had a big open house showcasing the improvements to the property, the new management, the new name, the new community.  We created a video of the new community with testimonials from the tenants and put it on the website.  The name change is just one step in changing the community.

The above advice is accurate, but there might be an additional step. In many jurisdictions you have to file a fictitious business name statement (also known as a DBA) whenever you use a fictitious business name. So if you are renaming the property to Marvin Gardens Apartments, you would file a statement for that name. If a fictitious name statement was filed for the previous name you would also file an abandonment of fictitious business name statement for the old name.

You might also search the county’s fictitious business name database for the name you intend to use to see if anyone else is already using the name. 

thank you all for the information! I appreciate it. 

@Gulliver R.   In Texas we have to follow @Brian Burke 's advice and file a DBA. We just did this for a property we closed in November. We rebrand all of our assets--I recently wrote an article about why we do it.  We typically do it from Day 1 rather than wait, just to streamline operations and let the community know things are changing. 

Good luck!

@Andrew Campbell this is in Indiana. Any idea if I should call the county recorders office and ask if I need to do that DBA thing? I will for sure change the sign and all the community flyers to the new name from day 1.

My company provides third-party management to large (200+ unit) apartments. We change property names all the time. Not sure of the size of your property so some of this may be irrelevant, but you'll want to pay attention to your online re-branding across your SEO, Google My Business (and other similar products), ILS like Apartments.com (if you use any), and other similar locations.

@Andrew Campbell the article on re-branding was dead on.  Leaving behind all the bad reviews online alone can be worth the price of the re-rebrand! 

This is very timely.  I haven't done this for any of my apartment communities yet but I just closed on one that has had a bad rap for years.  I'm doing a full-scale interior and exterior renovation to the community, and have been planning a brand update.  I just can't think of a new name that doesn't sound cheesy to me!  

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