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7 Ways to Modernize Older Communities

With all the new apartment construction taking place nationwide, some owners and management companies are struggling for ways to make their older properties appeal to renters. While it’s true there are a fair share of renters who just want ‘new’, there are a plethora of ways to compete that don’t necessarily involve adding flashy amenities like a zero entry design saltwater pool or a climbing wall. Reinventing resident amenity packages can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the good news is that many smart owners and managers are finding ways to compete on a more reasonable scale. Here are a couple of easy ways you can modernize older communities and make them stand out to prospective renters.


As each apartment comes up for renewal or is vacated by the current resident, update the appliances. Most renters today favor a look of all stainless, which can be pricey. But you can get the look and feel of stainless with a combination of black and stainless for less money. Over the years, I’ve found that the average prospective resident is perfectly fine with a mix of black and stainless if the stainless is on the microwave and the refrigerator. And it only needs to be on the front; it doesn’t have to be the entire appliance. Why is this? It seems that prospects remember the finish of the appliances that are at eye level, so having stainless or clean steel fronts on your microwaves and refrigerators can essential solve the issue. Make sure you advertise ‘black and stainless’ appliances and you’ll look much newer than you did when you have black or almond appliances.

Snazzy Paint Colors 

A surefire way to give your properties a facelift is to paint, paint, paint. Go for a variety of colors. The old rule of ‘no interior painting’ is long gone. You don’t have to go completely crazy; an accent wall or two in the apartment is probably enough. But make sure your apartments prove to your prospects that they can paint and individualize their living space. Better yet, some paint vendors, like Behr Paints will create a custom color palette just for your company and offer a choice of colors to new residents upon move in.


One of the easiest ways to change the feel of an apartment is by changing up the light fixtures, both in individual units and in common areas within the community. Visit your new construction competitors and see what they are offering in the way of bathroom and kitchen lighting. Then head to the hardware store and find something either similar or better, and start installing it on your turns.


All of the newer apartments are offering outlets that include USB ports. And this is a very easy change to make. Your maintenance teams can easily install these in your apartments. The average cost for an outlet with two USB ports is $20. If you’re limited on your budget, residents overwhelmingly prefer to have one of these installed in the master bedroom. Choice #2 for location is the kitchen. These are great renewal incentives as well!

Property-Wide WiFi

Offering a next-generation amenity like adaptive WiFi makes your community stand out to tech-forward residents. Not only does it create a friction-less experience by allowing them to stay connected throughout the community, but it gives them the freedom to ditch cable. Even better, property owners can begin seeing positive cash flow from day one, as all upfront costs are covered through subscriber collections.

Cellphone Signal Boosters

It’s a harsh reality, but an apartment community with less than four bars of cellphone reception is a community that is going to suffer. This is one feature you HAVE to have to stay competitive. Luckily, it’s an easy and inexpensive fix. Take a tour of your properties while examining your cell phone reception. If you have areas with poor service, install signal boosters.


Let’s face it. Older communities simply won’t have all the bells and whistles of new construction. So to make your community stand out, it’s really important to offer services that will make life easier on your resident. Some great examples include giving your residents access to cleaning services or an on-site concierge.

From a technology standpoint, allow your residents to make service requests through your website and directly contact your staff either via text or email. Combining rent and utilities into one comprehensive bill that residents can pay online is a must too, and is now being offered by PayLease and Ocius. Even better, these services will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars a year in administrative and processing costs. That’s money you can put right back into updating your properties!

This is just a small sampling of ideas to help you keep new, prospective residents coming through the doors and maintaining a lower turnover. Make regular visits to new properties in the area for ideas on services and décor you can add to stay competitive.

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