A new tenant and an investor share the same first impression of a commercial building or an apartment property. That first impression is crucial. Before marketing the property, think about the outside appearance. The “look” affects both tenants and buyers.

The following is a checklist of first-impression items that a good property manager must use:

  • How does the entryway sign look? Are all signs in good shape? Do any need to be repaired or painted? Are they well lighted?
  • How is the landscaping? Does the ground cover have any bare spots? Do the shrubs need trimming or cultivating? Have animals fouled any areas? Are gravel-filled areas well maintained?
  • Are the walkways in good repair? Are they well lighted and free of cracks and debris?
  • How does the building look? Does it need painting? Do any windows need to be replaced? In what condition are the drains, gutters and awnings?
  • Is the parking lot well maintained? Is it kept clean and free of litter? In winter, are snow and ice quickly removed? Are there potholes? Is the lot well lighted?
  • Is the entrance clean, well lighted, and free of debris, dirt, etc.?  
  • Are tenant’s mailboxes well maintained? Uniform lettering on all boxes looks best.
  • Are the hallways clean, neat, and well lighted? Do any light bulbs need to be replaced? Are any carpets stained? Are the walls, ceilings, and doors clean and in good repair? Do all doors close properly? Are numbers or letters on the doors? Are there adequate locks on all doors in the building? Are hallway mirrors clean? Are elevators and stairwells clean and adequately lighted?
  • If there are garbage and trash disposal areas, are they clean and orderly? No litter should be lying around. 
  • Do any fire extinguishers or exit signs need to be replaced? 
  • How does the on-site manager’s office look? Is it neat and clean? Does it reflect an orderly run building?
  • Does the unit being shown look as if a willing tenant could move in immediately? If the unit has a kitchen area it should be neat and clean. Are the cupboards bare and spotless? Is the sink clean and stainless? Faucets should be shining.
  • Are there smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors?  Are they in good working order?
  • What is the condition of the bathroom? Are the sink and toilet clean and stain free? Are the faucets and other hardware polished and sparkling? Is the whole room scrubbed?
  • Do the walls and ceilings need repair or painting? What is the shape of the floors and floor coverings? Do all of the doors work well? Does the entire unit smell clean and fresh? Are all windows clean and clear? 
  • Do all lights and outlets work? Do bulbs need to be replaced? Do any light fixtures need to be replaced? 
  •  Is there anything that needs electrical or plumbing work?

If you are not getting the top dollar per square foot for your units, here are some things that can be done to improve the picture and first impression that your potential tenant sees at your building. The first impression that you get of anything or any product means a lot. It is the reason that packaging plays such a vital role in the marketing of everything that we buy. Real estate is no exception. If your tenant doesn’t get inside, there is no sale.