3 Low-Cost, High-Impact Real Estate Improvements

Value-add real estate investors identify opportunities for improvement that can increase a property’s value over time. This begins with the biggest revenue generator – rental prices. When first evaluating a property, investors will determine which unit updates and property amenities will enhance tenant satisfaction to maintain low vacancy rates and provide leverage for future rent increases. Such improvements can increase property revenue and positively impact the Net Operating Income (NOI), a key metric used to analyze the value of a multifamily asset.

There are other opportunities to drive revenue growth on a multifamily property aside from raising rents that often go overlooked. Ancillary income opportunities provide added value, convenience, and services to tenants that they are willing to pay for and can boost the rental profit margin.

Savvy investors actively establish and maintain relationships with third parties that will provide products and services to tenants while driving bottom line revenue. The spectrum of potential partners is just as wide as it is deep and can include telephone and cable companies, trash valet services, washer and dryer vendors, cell phone companies…the list goes on. 

In this blog post, we will share three non-traditional value-add improvements that can drive additional revenue and impact the value of an asset.

Trash Valet Service

Trash valet service is a top amenity and luxury that many tenants will pay for and is particularly valuable to millennial tenants who weigh apartment amenities heavily when deciding where to rent. It is also a service designed to help investors monetize trash collection. Here is how it works in our 300-unit apartment complex example:

The property manager would hire a trash valet company to collect each tenant’s trash for a fixed monthly fee of $10/month per unit. Next, the property manager would charge each tenant $30/month for the amenity. The $20 profit per unit would generate an additional $6,000 per month or $72,000 per year in income, ultimately increasing the value of the property at the time of sale. 

Cell Tower & Billboard Placement

The addition of a cell tower or billboard on the roof of a property is a clever way to turn otherwise unused space into an additional income stream. Here’s an example:

The property owner would approach a well-known, local billboard company to see if the asset’s location is ideal for billboard placement. Assuming the billboard company is interested, the company would build and maintain the billboard tower at its own expense and pay the property owner rent to occupy the asset’s roof. Let’s say that the billboard company would pay $10,000 per month for the placement of the billboard on the property’s roof. The additional $120,000 in annual income would add real value to the property at the time of sale, and if done correctly, would not affect tenants’ experience.

Dog Park Development

Building a dog park takes advantage of underutilized land and can serve a dual purpose: (1) it provides a very popular amenity to tenants, and (2) it produces an additional income stream for the asset. Here’s an example:

In this example, the property owner would build a dog park for $20,000 and offer it as a perk to tenants. Then he or she would charge an upfront $300 pet fee with a $25/month recurring fee to utilize the facility. Assuming a conservative 15% adoption rate within the first year at a 100-unit property, this would result in annual income of $18,000 and generate a 90% Return on Investment (ROI) during the first year. After three years, assuming no change to the adoption rate, the investor will achieve a 270% ROI while the tenants and their pets enjoy the dog park amenity. 


Ancillary revenue shouldn’t be overlooked. It can translate into higher property values at the time of sale. Savvy real estate investors understand the importance of identifying alternative revenue sources in the assets they own. These untapped revenue streams can significantly impact the investment returns and, just as importantly, help insulate an asset from absorbing losses when units are unoccupied or when a major repair is required. Just as importantly, these perks can maintain tenant satisfaction and create a stronger potential for lease renewals.