They Do Judge a Property by Its Cover
April 1, 2011
Do you see what they see? Do you see the dirty front walk? How about the untrimmed yard? What about the trash-strewn front entrance? Or are you so focused on why you are at your properties and what you need to do that the rest is just a blur? If it’s all a blur, the next time you go by, over or around, spend a few seconds looking at what prospective tenants see.
The US Census Bureau asked tenants why they chose the home they are living in. One in eight, 12 percent, admitted that his or her choice was based on exterior appearance in some respect or other. That was the main reason. Still more cited exterior appearance as a contributing reason for their selections. On the flip side, many prospective tenants rejected homes because their exterior appearance didn’t meet their standards for one reason or another.
But just being conservative, are you willing to lose one out of every eight of your prospective customers just because your property looks sloppy, unkempt, unpainted or ill-maintained?
Many times we aren’t much of a judge of how one of our properties looks. After all, we’ve seen them so many times that we don’t think much about it. If you believe it couldn’t hurt to run a quick test, here’s a trick to show your properties to you in an entirely different light. Take a picture.
Actually, take several pictures. Take two or three from across the street so you see the first thing a prospective tenant sees. Now get out of your car and take pictures as you walk up to the property.
Next, find on your digital camera where you can change the pictures to black and white. Look at the pictures you took in color, and then change them to black and white. Is your first response, “Oh, no!”? If so, maybe it’s time to make your properties more marketable.
It just makes good marketing sense. When you walk into a grocery store and look up the aisles, are they neat and tidy? Is the floor mopped and shiny? Look at the items on the shelves. They are all different colors and designs. Do you know why?
Manufacturers spend millions of dollars marketing their products. Part of the marketing goes to designing their packaging so it is most appealing to their prospective customers. They study people’s buying habits, why they buy, and what attracts them psychologically to a package. As landlords, we don’t need to spend several thousand dollars to have some marketing magician tell us how to make our properties’ packaging look appealing. We already know what qualities attract the best tenants: neat, tidy and clean.
A good tenant will run for her life when she drives up in front of a property that shows little or no pride of ownership. Possibly it is too bad that many landlords simply don’t pay much attention to how their properties look. Or maybe not. That gives an edge to the landlords who do pay attention, but that’s a story for another day.
My point is this. We all need to be constantly marketing our properties to prospective tenants even if we don’t have any vacancies now. You see, we also market to our current tenants by showing pride of ownership and making their homes look the way that encourages them to continue to live there. People do judge a property by its cover, even the ones currently living inside that cover.
Do you see what they see? Get your camera out and drive by a property or two. Take pictures. Does what your photos show make you beam with pride? If so, great. You have done an important part of your marketing and that one tenant out of eight who chose her current home because of its exterior appearance might well be your next phone call.