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6711 Forest Lawn Dr., Suite 107
Los Angeles, CA 90068

(323) 882-6606


Stay current on the latest articles from Kari Negri and SKY Properties.

How can my apartment building compete with the new complexes?

Dear Kari, I have a small apartment building. Do you have any suggestions on how I can compete with the new complexes that offer everything?

Dear Marci,

Amenities in apartment buildings have tremendous appeal, much like cars with added features. However, supped up cars and apartments also turn off people who want something reliable, comfortable and quiet. The trick to marketing apartments in smaller buildings is recognizing the type of renter for whom they would be perfect.

New “luxury” units are going up in many neighborhoods, but not everyone wants to spend extra to live in a building with a number of amenities they will rarely use. Wellmanaged and well-maintained older, smaller properties offer desirable alternatives.

There are lots of renters who do not want to be in a bustling 300-unit apartment complex where they would feel less safe. These people are willing to sacrifice nice-tohave amenities for a necessary sense of community and safety. They want the most value for their money, and that means an attractive and updated apartment that can quickly be turned into a home.

Amenities smaller buildings offer

The top things people consider before looking at the bedrooms, appliances and view are the building’s location and price. Many tenants will value a building that is affordable and situated near freeways, public transportation, grocery stores, restaurants and other conveniences over a large complex on a main drag.

The amenities cherished most depend upon tenant’s’ age groups and lifestyles. Different populations, like families, college students and retirees, have different needs. For example, a smaller building typically offers a quieter setting. For people who work a nontraditional schedule, that is a prime perquisite.

Buildings with fewer units also offer less turnover and typically less drama. In a large complex, there are moving vans at the beginning of each month and on every weekend.

Realistically, a smaller building is not going to feature some of the amenities that larger facilities have. However, some changes make sense. Consider the following:

  • Clean energy-efficient appliances, fixtures, lighting and fittings can make a difference in a property’s appeal.
  • Simple upgrades like a pull-down faucet, stainless steel sink and new drawer pulls can instantly modernize a kitchen and make people visualize the unit as their new home.
  • The most popular amenity nowadays is high-speed internet throughout a building, which is an expectation today for any market but seniors - and many of them want it too.
  • Creative extras like a discount for a recommended maid service or discount at a local gym can make up not having those amenities regularly available onsite.
  • Being pet friendly is also an amenity that not every building offers and will help attract tenants.
  • Online ability to pay rent and request maintenance will appeal to busy people who operate on a 24/7 basis.

Marketing the difference

The number of bedrooms, baths and monthly rent are key marketing elements, but highlighting the aspects that make a smaller building desirable (and a better value) is important in competing against larger complexes. If appropriate, emphasize old-fashioned charm, convenience, thicker walls, and any upgrades to indicate that the building, if not new, is kept up to date. If laundry amenities are not included, indicate how close a reliable facility is.

If targeting a particular demographic, emphasize qualities that will appeal to them. For example, point out area features like coffee houses, parks, or bike paths.

Lastly, the marketing, the application process and other interactions should be professional. People may want to feel comfortable with an on-site manager, but they really want to feel the building is well run. Upkeep, competitive pricing and a sense that the manager (and management company) want the potential tenant to feel at home are amenities that everyone values.

If you have a question please email me at