A new kind of marketing service to help boost rents and residential property values in well-run established apartment buildings has been launched.
Developed by apartment block marketing specialist Portako (www.portako.com), the service promises flat owners a permanent marketing communications programme that is as sophisticated and effective as those typically deployed by property developers to sell apartments in newly-built blocks.
Benefits for flat owners of one of Portako’s programmes include:
• Higher flat values*
• Higher rents for private landlords*
• Fostering a greater sense of community pride in the building
*Portako aims to increase both sale and rental values of client flats by up to 15% more than they otherwise would be within a year of setting up one of its permanent marketing programmes.
“We want to level the playing field so that ordinary flat owners in established apartment buildings can benefit from the same extra premium that developers selling flats in newly-built properties so often enjoy,” said Portako managing director Rupert Darrington.
“Many home-buyers don’t fully appreciate the fantastic advantage of owning a flat in an existing building that is well-run, where there is an established community, and where there is already a service charge history, said Mr Darrington.
Mr Darrington emphasises the high risks involved for anyone contemplating buying a ‘new-build’ flat.
“When you buy a flat in a newly-built building you are buying risk. You typically don’t own a share of freehold, and you often don’t find out who your neighbours are until after you have signed up and handed over your cash to the developer.
“What is more, buyers of new-build flats often have no idea either who will be running their building further down the line. It is like a playing a game of Russian roulette which often sadly turns into a total nightmare for some apartment owners,” said Mr Darrington.
“Our aim at Portako is to explain why, by comparison, well-run established apartment block communities are such brilliant places to live.”
Mr Darrington said flat owners and private landlords will benefit from his company’s service because “tenants and home buyers are always willing to pay a little bit extra to live in a more prestigious, well-run building”.
Bespoke client programmes – Portako’s permanent marketing programmes can be tailored to meet the individual needs of apartment block communities.
Mr Darrington said a typical Portako marketing programme would include a professionally designed and written website covering all aspects of living and owning a flat in the building, high quality photography, and online marketing and PR. Other options include printed brochures and newsletters distributed on-site, and strategic management advice to boards of management on how to capitalise on the unique selling points of their building.
“Flat owners often don’t realise just how many ‘plus points’ their own building actually has,” said Mr Darrington. It’s a fantastically valuable exercise for owners to sit down and think a little about all the things that are so unique and special about their own building and their own community.”
Portako helps flat owners by bringing to an invaluable ‘outsider’s view’ to an apartment block, and then creating a permanent professional marketing communications programme to increase the value and rents of all the flats in a building in a sustainable and cost-effective way. Such marketing programmes also benefit existing residents by helping to foster a greater sense of community pride.
Enhancing shareholder value
Mr Darrington is targetting Portako’s services at both residential flat management company boards of directors where there is a share of the freehold, as well as ordinary flat owners planning to sell or rent out their apartments.
“Under company law, directors of companies have a duty to enhance shareholder value. If you run a building with 20 to 30 units, developing a permanent marketing programme that will increase the value all your shareholders’ flats by 10% is extremely cost-effective,” he said.
Keeping flat owners’ options open: “In these times of falling asset prices and negative equity looming for so many, home owners need to think laterally about how they can give their property an extra edge in the market,” said Mr Darrington.
Mr Darrington strongly believes home owners and property investors should act prudently to keep their options open because “none of us – if we’re really honest – know for certain when we might need to sell our property. And when we do, we will want to get the best possible price for it.”
Closing the information gap: He adds: “If you own a flat in an attractive, well-run building with great facilities and services, then it is in your interests to tell the world about it. It is crazy to hide your light under a bushel.”
Information that Portako believes prospective flat buyers will find interesting and useful includes:
• Lots of good quality pictures of all aspects of the apartment building, the garden (if there is one), and the surrounding locality
• Details of services available to residents (e.g. satellite TV, on-site porter, gardening, and security arrangements for residents)
• Description of the facilities in the building and estate
• History of the estate
• Famous former residents
• Service charge history
• Details about how the building is run (e.g. who is ultimately in charge, the opportunities for flat owners to have a say, and the transparency of the management arrangements.)
• Social activities within the building
• News about the latest developments in the building.
• Detailed information about the facilities and attractions in the local area, including a ‘locals’ guide’ to great places to eat and drink, sports facilities, and transport connections.
• Rules for residents
• Annual report and accounts
• Articles of association
For an example of Portako’s work, see www.lauderdalelife.co.uk
Rupert Darrington: “Tenants and home buyers are always willing to pay a little bit extra to live in a more prestigious, well-run building.”