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Not every market can handle a rapid influx of new apartments. San Francisco and Boston, however can. These markets are projected to fair well given pent-up demand. Even older properties are fetching sky-high rents. But in cities like Nashville and Charlotte, new construction is at risk of outpacing demand. Even since last fall, Nashville’s vacancy rates have increased. This is considered a second-tier market and it could become especially challenging for property managers with older buildings to compete for tenants.

There is a term used frequently by urban planners and it’s “Differentiate or Die”. This phrase is used to help communities rethink downtown development strategy, but the same line of thinking should be used by landlords and property managers who want their buildings to compete with the glitz and glamour of new construction. The question then remains how. Below are a few suggestions:

Play up your property’s best features. This is obvious. Ask yourself questions like does my complex have an incredible skyline view? Do my units have high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows or are they chock full of historical charm? Whatever the best features are, asses them and take them for granted. It’s easy to forget the fantastic features your property contains. Try asking a trusted friend to walk through a unit with you and ask them what stands out the most.

Remember that not everyone wants the same type of lifestyle. The new highrise apartment downtown may have a rooftop pool, however this might not appeal to some tenants. Many tenants such as baby boomers, for example, might be looking to spend their weekends in a much quieter setting. Maybe your building offers a private backyard that’s great for entertaining. Or raised garden beds that someone can plant seeds in.

Make small gestures to show tenants you appreciate them. Many people are moving into of one the thousands of newly constructed apartments feel like a cog in the wheel because their apartment is nothing special and they’re just one of the many renters in the building. Try by creating an emotional connection with existing tenants by bringing them freshly-baked cookies during the holidays. Or, you could offer them a professional cleaning service once a year. Get to know them and their family. It costs less to retain a current tenant than it does try to find a new one.