Tools help tenants see themselves in apartment
When looking at a new apartment, it can be difficult to imagine yourself living within the bare walls and empty rooms.
By: Jennifer Brown Homes
When looking at a new apartment, it can be difficult to imagine yourself living within the bare walls and empty rooms. Will your furniture fit? Is it too big? How much space will be left for entertaining once everything is in place?
For some property management companies, reaching a specific demographic means employing tools that engage prospective renters to help them visualize themselves living in the building, especially if it’s a higher-end property demanding a higher-than-market monthly rent.
Some property management firms have discovered that it helps to create an online presence that provides information and interactive tools, but they also know they need to marry that with onsite opportunities for potential tenants to see for themselves what they will get for the price and whether the unit is a good “fit” for them.
Two years ago, Realstar Management in Toronto incorporated an interactive tool on their website ( www.realstar.ca) to help individuals get a better idea of how their furniture would fit in the units.
By selecting the floor plan option at the top navigation area of one of their sites, a box appears to the right containing a “library” of different furniture icons such as beds, bookcases, dining tables, loveseats, chairs, several sizes of sofas, end tables, bar stools and a seemingly endless supply of other furniture items that can be clicked on and dropped onto the unit floor plan and manipulated in different angles. The measurements of the rooms are indicated on the floor plan.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from people about the tool,” says Lucy Correia, marketing manager with Realstar. “A lot of the online apartment seekers are always looking for something different. It sets the building apart from a property manager who might just print off a floor plan and have a drawing you can look at. It gives people the capability of getting a tangible feel for the unit.
“I think they like it because it’s closer to reality for them — they can visualize what the suite can look like and set up their suite in terms of their own furnishings and what they can do with it.”
In addition to 2D interactive floor plans, some sites, such as RentSeeker.ca, have developed 3D-like plans for prospective renters so they can visualize a space.
“The 3D floor plans include the standard plans, and rather than being online and interactive, ours are PDF’s which can be used on handouts to prospective renters, on outside signage and online,” says RentSeeker.ca’s CEO Chaim Rivlin.
Grabbing the attention of the high-end market poses a challenge for companies like Realstar, especially when they are trying to attract seniors at a higher income level, which they are right now with one of their buildings in Etobicoke, Widdicombe Place, which offers luxury apartments and primarily targets a senior demographic.
There are four penthouse units coming up for lease. Recently Realstar also created a video showcasing the building, illustrating the various amenities including a golf simulator, the laundry room and video viewing room. The video demonstrates that the building is clearly being marketed to the senior demographic.
“What really sells the building are the amenities. By combining our online presence with open houses it helps get attention, but it’s important for us to launch an open house to really promote the senior living component,” Correia says.
The company is planning to stage one of the penthouses and invite artists to help decorate it with an open house being planned for January. They hope that by combining all of the tools in place they will attract the right tenants.