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6 Low-Cost Upgrades Every Multi-Family Should Have

The Top 6 Low-Cost Upgrades Every Multi-Family Should Have  

Traditionally, amenities mean a high-cost upgrade that get passed along to tenants with higher rental costs or condo board fees.  But with advancements in technology and a shift in what people value in the places they call home, not all amenities have to break the bank.

As the boom in multi-family housing continues across the country, more Americans will be moving to urban centers and shopping for a new apartment or condo. Factors they consider include fast internet, concierge services, parking, smart home features, and more. Fortunately, there are many little things you can do to have a big impact on your ability to attract and retain prospective tenants.

Here is our list of the top 6 upgrades you can make to the units in your building that will complement and add value to any living space.

1. Starry Internet

Cost: Free!

Function: innovative full-service wireless internet provider that creates a better user experience and is simple to set up

Happy Interneting

If you’re a property manager, the first thing you should do is request Starry Internet for your building. If you’re a resident, you can check if your building already has Starry. Starry Internet is a high-speed wireless internet service that gives residents 200 Mbps service, 24/7 customer care, and a touch-screen WiFi router to monitor speeds, control connected devices and more. Installation costs building management nothing, and monthly cost for residents is only $50/month all-in. Starry is the first company to commercially deploy pre-standard 5G, point-to-multipoint fixed wireless technology. Setup is simple and Starry experts will work with you to make sure installation goes smoothly. Starry Internet is currently available in the Boston metro and is expanding to several other markets in 2018, including LA, Washington, DC and New York.

2. Nest Thermostat

Cost: $169 per unit

Approximate yearly savings: $145

Function: Smart thermostat that optimizes heating and cooling of homes to conserve energy

Big savings in a small package

Originally released in 2011, the Nest thermostat is a smart device that self-learns tendencies to optimize heating and cooling while conserving energy. The newest model of the thermostat is only $169, however, can be purchased for less with rebates from different electric companies. It has become commonplace in many apartments and homes around the country and can save tenants up to $145 a year on heating and cooling bills. It also has a great app that is easy to use and allows users to control the temperature in their living space from anywhere.

3. Sonos One

Cost: $199 per unit

Function: Smart speaker that sounds great and integrates with your home

The Smartest Speaker

Over the past few years, Sonos has blossomed into one of the leaders in the smart speaker market. Their wireless speaker systems can be found in any setting,  from dorm rooms to living rooms, from restaurants to retail stores. But the Sonos One is much more than a great-sounding speaker; it is the connection to a smart-home. With the Sonos One, tenants can control all of their devices via Amazon Alexa. In 2018, Sonos will add Google Assistant, and Apple AirPlay 2 support is coming too. Whether it is to turn up the music, turn down the air conditioning, or simply dim the lights, all is possible with this powerful device.  At only $199, it is a small and useful investment to attract tenants, especially the millennial market.

4. Philips Hue Ambiance Light Bulbs

Cost: $50 for a pair

Function: personal wireless lighting for every moment, easily controlled from your device

All of the lights

Lighting is a key component to any occupied dwelling. Mood and health can also be impacted by the lighting environment that tenants live in. Philips Hue Ambiance Light Bulbs are the solution to creating the perfect setting for your tenants for every moment. The smart bulbs use color recipes to create different light temperatures to promote specific moods.  The lights can be adjusted based on time, geolocation, or pre-programmed scheduling. Although the bulbs are fairly expensive ($50 for a pair), installing them in your tenants’ bedrooms is a simple way to promote wellness for your tenants to give your building an edge. . All of these features are conveniently adjustable from the easy-to-use Philips Hue app and hundreds of third-party apps.

5. Belkin Wemo Insight Switch

Cost: $50 per unit

Function: automation to control and protect your smart home

Wireless Power

The standard of dealing with switches and extension cords are a thing of the past. The Wemo Insight Switch smart wall outlet from Belkin turns any plug into a WiFi-controlled port. While plugged in, occupants will be able to control any home appliance or other connected devices via Amazon Alexa or from the Wemo app. These smart plugs give tenants a convenient way to save on energy costs, monitor connected devices throughout their unit, and schedule lights and appliances to respond to different triggers. It also pairs with Nest for automatic home-away control. Each plug will cost you about $50, a small price to pay to increase the IQ and safety of your residences.

6. Kevo Smart Lock

Cost: $229 per unit

Function: touch-to-open smart lock for your home

What keys?

Being locked out is the worst feeling. Thankfully, Kwikset has essentially solved the world’s problems with their Kevo Smart Lock. The smart lock is powered by your smartphone and Bluetooth. What is great about this device is the ability to lock and unlock doors with the touch of a finger. With the Kevo app, enabled tenants can grant access to friends or family who are trying to enter their unit but have no key. They do also provide a physical backup key in case your tenants’ phone is dead or can’t get in touch with you. At $229, the Kevo Smart Lock is not exactly cheap, but it’s a worthwhile price to pay to never have to worry about lost keys and replacement. You will save a lot of time: no more mailing, exchanging, or hiding your rental keys.


As new condos and apartments continue to be built each year, the importance of attracting prospective tenants is key. Every new living space constructed will need to offer differentiated value to appease current and future occupants. To stand out from the rest of the pack, small investments in amenities can create a desirable atmosphere while improving safety and efficiency in your building. These 6 upgrades are a cost-effective way to convert tenants and keep them happy.

Contributor Bio

Starry is a radical, new internet service – made for the future and beamed wirelessly through the air. By using advanced millimeter wave technology they’re able to leapfrog outdated internet infrastructure and deliver brilliantly fast, gigabit-capable internet, at a fraction of the cost. For building owners and managers, this means hassle-free setup at zero cost to the property. For residents, it’s simply a faster, better way to get online. That’s what they call Happy Interneting. And it’s live in Boston.

 Give your residents internet they’ll brag about. Contact Starry today.

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