There’s an old saying, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression,’ and that holds very true for multifamily buildings. Large or small, deluxe or modest, a building's lobby serves as a snapshot for the rest of the building.
Once residents and potential buyers walk through the door—and there are many of them on a given day tracking dirt and contributing to its overall wear and tear—the foyer tells them everything they need to know about what’s upstairs. People interpret a shabby, deteriorated or just plain out-of-fashion lobby as a reflection of what they’ll find on the rest of the property, and how much the building staff and owners care about its condition. The lobby will either welcome them or deter them from coming back.
The First Look Counts
Bill Becker has been on all sides of the multifamily industry—from property manager to condo board member and finally, current president of New York Corridors, a Manhattan-based firm that provides a complete line of general contracting services, specializing in the renovation of hallways and lobbies in cooperatives and condominiums. He knows first-hand the benefits of a well-kept lobby. He remembers when he entered the lobby of an older New York City building and wasn’t impressed. Deliveries were piled up in the corner, and the lobby seemed chaotic and run-down. “I couldn’t find a concierge because I think he was hidden behind the boxes,” says Becker, the company president. “An owner coming home wants to come into a nice lobby.”
“Potential buyers survey the lobby, and it has a dramatic effect on real estate sales,” Becker says. “A nice lobby is not only going to sell apartments faster but the building is going to operate more efficiently. Sometimes when the lobby is rearranged it also allows more services to be provided to the residents and provides a nice seating area for their guests.”
If shabby, deteriorated and out-of-fashion describes your building’s lobby, it just might be time to do something about it. “Every building is very budget conscious, but the more money they spend on the lobby, the more money they’ll get back,” says Becker. “It can add 10% to 15% to the value of the existing apartments.”