Normally, you only hear about curb appeal in the context of homeownership or home sales. But curb appeal is just as important when you have a commercial building or a multifamily unit.

Curb appeal can:

  • Help you fill vacancies more quickly
  • Improve the reputation of your properties
  • Allow you to charge more for your units.

If your building looks boring and drab, you will definitely lose some potential tenants. With that in mind, here are some tips to help investors improve the curb appeal of commercial and multifamily properties.

1. Freshen up the paint and replace shabby siding

This is our number-one tip for a reason! Too many apartment buildings and commercial buildings have peeling paint, broken siding, or other exterior blemishes that can greatly reduce the attractiveness of a property. If you can only do one thing, do this. Fresh paint or new siding makes a world of difference. If your building looks especially drab, consider painting it a different color. While light colors are nice, they’re prone to looking dingy after a while. Dark grey is a great color that hides dirt well, and it’s on-trend right now. Pick a color that coordinates nicely with the other buildings in the vicinity.

2. Add attractive, easy-to-read building numbers

Tenants and their guests will really appreciate it if they can tell which unit is which. Building numbers are not only functional, but they can be beautiful too. They are a great, low-cost, practical design feature that every building should have. Any home improvement store should have options to choose from. You can also a stencil to neatly paint the numbers onto doors or buildings.

3. Add a few low-maintenance plants

There’s nothing sadder than an apartment building surrounded by dirt and rocks, with nary a green thing in sight. Low-maintenance shrubs and grasses are an excellent way to make a property look nice, but you don’t want to get something that will cause more work than it’s worth. A local nursery or even your home improvement store can help you out when you’re deciding what to buy, but if it’s in your budget, we highly recommend hiring a good landscaping company and telling them exactly what you require in terms of budget, maintenance, and appearance. You can also look at other commercial buildings in your area and get landscaping ideas from them.

4. Keep your walkways neat and maintained

Often, this can be as simple as pulling the weeds in between the cracks of the sidewalk. This is one of those minor maintenance tasks that is often overlooked, but it’s easy to accomplish and makes a big difference in your curb appeal.

5. Keep the lawn looking nice

You probably already have a lawn care system in place. Maybe you hire someone to mow the lawn and fertilize it occasionally. But depending on your lawn care guy and how much you’re paying them, they might just be doing the bare minimum. Make sure your lawn actually looks nice! If there are patchy spots, reseed them. You can consider bringing in sod if it’s really bad. Green lawns really go a long way in improving your curb appeal.

6. Install attractive and safe outdoor lighting

Lighting can add to the attractiveness of your property while also increasing safety at night. Plus, it doesn’t have to cost a lot! If your lighting is inadequate, you’re risking the safety of your tenants. If you have lighting in place but it just looks old and shabby, you can improve the look of your exterior by updating it to something newer and more modern. You can find stylish new outdoor light fixtures at home improvement stores for under $50.

7. Keep parking lots painted and pothole-free

This is especially important if the lot is in front of your building. Wear and tear is inevitable, but try to stay on top of the maintenance. Boost your curb appeal in a big way by hiring someone to restripe the lines on your parking lot. Depending on the size of your parking lot, it will probably only cost a few hundred dollars to repaint the stripes and it should last quite awhile.

8. Add some contrast with shutters, doors, or trim

Boring buildings can get a major boost with some contrasting paint. If the building is light colored, try a dark grey, brown, or black contrast color to make the shutters, doors, and trim “pop.” White and black both look great with red brick buildings. You can find tons of inspiration just by surfing the web or driving through your city, and your painter can also suggest changes that will make your building look great!

9. Have readily-accessible trash cans outside

Trash on the sidewalk and scattered around the yard is a huge detractor from the beauty of your property. But trash cans aren’t exactly beautiful, either. Shop around for some good-looking outdoor trash cans that blend in with the style of the property, and place one where it’s easy accessible to anyone looking to throw trash away, but not too conspicuous.

10. Remove or replace anything that is past its prime

It’s better to have nothing at all than to have something that looks old and worn. This goes for outdoor items like benches, decorations, fire pits, etc. If your apartment building has a lobby, it’s better for it to have no furnishings than shabby, outdated ones. Of course, if it’s in the budget to replace these things, go ahead and do that.

11. Add a few seasonal touches

To really make your multifamily unit look homey, consider adding some seasonal touches here and there. That might be an evergreen wreath on the door in the winter, some Christmas lights around the entrance, or colorful flowers in the spring. You don’t have to go overboard, but it’s not hard to hang a wreath once a year. Small seasonal decorations can really boost the satisfaction of your tenants and demonstrate that you care about the property.

As you can see, there are plenty of small, cost-effective ways to create better curb appeal. Take a good look at each of your properties and see if they can benefit from any of these ideas.