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All the "Do's" You Need to Perfect Your Model Home

Current trends in marketing might lean toward the digital side of things, but the basics never go out of style—unless, of course, your model home needs modernizing. 

“For some time now, the trend in marketing has been focused on technology and other impersonal subjects that broadcast our message. But when someone comes to a community, how are those messages translated to touch points for the customer? What are we doing to make those personal touches help sell and position our communities and assist in closing the lease?” says Eric Clark, Director of Marketing, for Altman Companies. 

While not all communities use model apartment homes, they are essential for lease-ups or newly renovated and repositioned communities, says Heather Blume, of Behind the Leasing Desk. 

“When you’re looking at an empty unit it looks temporary, but a model looks like a home and a home is permanent,” she says.

Despite the potential ROI of a good model home, Clark, Blume and Dana Pate, Marketing Director, of Matrix Residential, have seen their fair share of poorly executed models over the course of their careers. 

To help save yours, here are some of their biggest “do’s” to optimize this part of the marketing process and help close the sale. 

Remember That Your Model is a Sales Opportunity

“One of the things I’ve seen many communities do is install a model in their best floor plan. But, if something is the best, it’s probably going to sell pretty well anyway. What about creating a model in the most challenging floor plan, or the one you have the most of?” says Clark. 

Likewise, Blume suggests taking that a step further within specific floor plans. If there’s a particular corner or area of the floor plan that tends to turn-off prospective residents, try putting some care and attention into that area. 

“Whatever you do in a hated spot in a floor plan should really bring the attention back to what’s awesome about it,” Blume says. 

Remember Your Target Demographic

One of the most important things to remember while decorating your model home is your target demographic, says Pate. 

“Your model home should directly correlate to your audience. If your community is targeting students, make a trip to the local bookstore and promote the university. Family oriented? Stage a play area in a secondary bedroom,” says Pate. 

Blume says once that target audience has been determined, take it a step further and make sure you’re staging a potential lifestyle for that group. 

“People think that if they go to the store and get a bunch of stuff to put in a unit that it makes it a model unit,” Blume says. “That’s not it. It shouldn’t look like someone is living in it, but that someone could live in it.”

Clark advises owners and managers to remember that when it comes to the “stuff” that fills a model, to remember that, “Less is more.”

Remember Budgets Aren’t an Excuse for a Bad Model

Just because you’re on a small budget doesn’t mean you have to forego a model unit completely. 

Clark suggests creating what he calls a “mini-unit.”

“What’s the most unique selling point of the apartment?” Clark says. “At my company, we spend a lot of time developing great kitchens and great bathrooms. So, you might not be able to do the whole apartment but you can get some great accessories in the kitchen and people will be more responsive to that cue.”

Pate says that another strategy in catering to a more cost sensitive budget is to mix high-end pieces with affordable finds. Or, consider finding a décor partner in your neighborhood that is willing to trade furnishings for the advertisement opportunity, she suggests.