Improve the Curb Appeal of Your Income Property

Improve the curb appeal of your income property and get better tenants, higher occupancy, and higher rents. There aren’t too many ways to find easy money in real estate, but we should use all the tools at our disposal. One of the easiest ways to increase the NOI of an income property is to improve its curb appeal. Here are six areas you may want to consider.

Entry – As you approach and drive into the property, how does the approach look? Is there an entry sign? Is it professionally designed, painted, and installed? Does it look fresh and include colors in addition to black and white? Has it been kept in good condition? If it’s constructed of brick or wood, are any pieces missing, rotted, or broken? Is the sign surrounded by seasonally colored flowers or plantings? Is it lighted? If so, has anyone checked to see if the lights work at night? If not, should it be? Is the surrounding landscaping under control enough that you can read all of the words and numbers on the sign?

Signage – As you drive into the property, is it easy to tell how to find what you may be looking for? Is the address as well as the name of the building or property clearly positioned? Are there directional signs showing the way to any leasing or management office? Is there a directory, a map, and/or arrows showing where tenants and buildings are on the property? Are the buildings or entrances numbered clearly to help not only customers, visitors, and delivery drivers, but also emergency personnel? Is the handicapped parking labeled appropriately? Do these spaces have paint not only on the asphalt or concrete, but also on a sign at eye level in front of each space? Have all these signs been repainted recently? Are they crisp looking, or do they look tired?

Paint – In addition to the signs, how do the buildings, fences, retaining walls, mailboxes, fire extinguisher boxes, utility sheds, curbs, stairs, and railings look? If you can’t afford to paint right now, perhaps pressure washing would do the trick. Or maybe just repaint the curbs for now. In addition to the paint, what is the condition of all of these?

Landscaping – Is the grass cut, are the shrubs and trees trimmed, and has the trash been picked up? Are there bare spots that need attention? Are there any holes that need to be filled? Is drainage appropriate? Have drives, parking, and sidewalk areas been cleaned of dust, dirt, leaves, clippings, trash, and debris? Are brightly colored flowers strategically planted and maintained? Are the beds weeded? Is grass growing in the cracks in the sidewalk or parking lot? These are usually not too hard to manage, but are basic to any operation of income property.

Roofs – Roofs are an expensive item. Sometimes shingled roofs look old and tired, but still keep the rain out. Try having them chemically washed if they don’t yet need to be replaced or you can’t justify the cost to replace them right now. I’ve seen some amazing results that cost very little but provided an incredible improvement in the way the roofs looked afterward.

Drives, Parking, Sidewalks – Are there potholes on the property? Cracks? Have sidewalks settled or buckled over time? Add a little concrete to provide a safe, level walk for everyone, fix the potholes, and have asphalt seal-coated and re-striped if it looks tired.

If you do all of these, it could be really expensive. The point is you don’t usually need to do all of these. You can pick and choose, based on what’s best for your property and budget. But at least be aware of what could be done. Paying attention is the first step. Good luck.

Ernie M. Eden, S.E.C., is president of Eden Realty Services, Inc., in Atlanta, GA, and is an investment broker specializing in the apartment market.

One Comment »

  1. Good thoughts. I have found that many property managers and owners get lost on the inside of properties and forget about “first impressions”.