Company News

Renovations and Amenity Upgrades- Budget Edition

by Christin D. on 7/22/2019 3:22:20 PM

 To renovate or not to renovate, that is a common question quite often pondered by operators and investors in the multi-family arena. Many attractive benefits can exist when contemplating an interior or exterior renovation, and amenity upgrades. Renovations may yield higher returns, improve aesthetic appeal, facilitate resident retention, and freshen up aging communities to better compete with modern trends. If you are planning on renovating, analysis of the local market, testing the product, and calculating costs vs. returns are all recommended steps to help forecast potential returns. Amenity upgrades should be comparable to the competition and allow a community to closely compete with surrounding properties. Below we will look at types of renovations, steps to take before the process begins, and what amenity upgrades have prospects and residents interested today.

Before you Start Renovating

According to Darren Williams of Portico Property Management, testing your product against current market conditions and projected future trends is key prior to starting any renovation project. Understanding the demographic nature of your property, along with local consumer tastes and preferences is imperative when choosing design and scope. Surveying current residents on the improvements and their additional expense toleration is critical in deciding on potential upgrades. Renovating and pricing a project’s needed return not based on current market conditions is not recommended. Taking these initial steps are important to anyone trying to achieve superior returns, and to avoid vacancies due to over inflated rents. Investors typically can realize a return of 10%-30% in rent growth post-renovations.

Choosing Interior Renovations

Visiting submarket competitors, both new construction and renovated product can provide information as to what upgraded characteristics yield the highest returns when comparing quality, age, pricing and occupancy. “Owners report that replacing carpeting with vinyl, tile, or wood flooring promises the greatest return on their investment” says Caufield for MultifamilyExecutive.com. Upgrading interior lighting is another desirable improvement due to its ability to brighten and refresh living spaces, especially those with limited natural light. Kitchen and bath upgrades such as wrapping cabinets with new finishes, replacing hardware, as well as upgrading appliances are also remodel activities that may yield superior returns.

Choosing Amenity Additions and Upgrades

The standard amenity package offering for multifamily communities use to include a couple of grilling areas around the property, a workout center, tennis courts, and maybe a business center. It was not unusual for on-site laundry services to be offered if residents didn’t have their own machines or did not have hookups available to them. Fast forward to today, the amenity package desired by renters has shifted substantially.
Today renter wants communal space for gatherings and can inspire other social benefits. Areas where residents and their friends can watch popular sporting events and shoot pool is becoming more attractive, as the sense of community can propel itself into an amenity category all its own. Other examples of communal amenity spaces encouraging residents’ creative capacities are painting and art galleries, pottery and crafting workshops, music studios, and co-working spaces. The offerings of these creative spaces tap into a desire for a lifestyle that is appealing.
Wellness and offerings geared towards healthy lifestyles are another category ranked highly on the desired amenity lists. Offering community cooking classes, nutrition seminars, and other engaging and educational sessions allows residents to bond with one another while engaging in positive initiative to benefit their overall lifestyle. From these gatherings, residents will often form their own relationships inspiring further community building in the form of running clubs, painting and art evenings, and pet play dates. This, creates an organic, thriving community that will help attract new residents through word of mouth and retain current residents that see the value in the relationships built by these offerings.

Upgrading Dated Amenity Spaces

Taking an existing business center with basic office equipment and transforming it into a coffee bar and lounge with free Wi-Fi would likely be more attractive to today’s renter. Multifamily fitness center amenities use to include only basic cardio equipment and a multi-purpose weight machine or two. Now, upgrading the space to include a yoga studio with virtual fitness instruction is highly attractive to those seeking a healthy lifestyle. Using any additional square footage to house free weights and functional fitness equipment can help an older community stand out. Upgrades to amenity areas can allow older properties to better compete with newer assets by looking and feeling the same.
Off leash pet parks are also a common amenity being included with newer developments. If a community has extra outdoor space, converting it into an off-leash pet park or a community garden can appeal to today’s renter who wants to be able to utilize outdoor space as if it was their own backyard. Community gardens are very attractive to renters who have previously resided in single-family homes and enjoy nurturing gardens and harvesting fresh produce. Offering an option that allows residents to enjoy outdoor space in a personal way can make the community feel even more like home, and encourage further social interaction between residents.

Ready for Renovations?

Renovating and upgrading may be a realistic and economical way to generate improved returns, particularly for older communities with dated interiors and amenity spaces. Renters are leaning more towards an overall experience, personalized space, and functional offerings when deciding on their next home. To stay competitive, older communities can upgrade existing spaces allowing them to realize returns faster than a new build. For more information about how Buyers Access can help your team with interior and exterior renovations, contact sales@buyersaccess.com, and we will be glad to offer you a comprehensive solution in every phase of your project using the best materials at competitive pricing.