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To Capture or Not to Capture: Decoding the Significance of Exterior Rendering

When starting a new development project, especially in the realm of student housing and multifamily housing, the question of whether to invest in an exterior rendering often arises. As thought partners in real-estate leasing and marketing, we understand the importance of this decision. So, should you opt for an exterior rendering or not? Our answer is twofold. Yes, if you’re seeking a grand marketing and brand moment while impressing potential stakeholders and prospects. However, if you’re working within a specific budget and aiming for cost savings, the answer may lean towards no. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge the significance of exterior renderings, primarily in terms of your internal team’s perspective. But when it comes to prospective residents, strategic integration of renderings into your leasing and marketing plan can make all the difference. 

Why you should capture the exterior rendering:

  1. Visual Appeal and Conceptualization: Exterior renderings provide a realistic visualization of the project’s appearance, aiding prospects in envisioning their future living or working space. They showcase the project’s scale, layout, and overall design, giving a clear idea of the final build. Additionally, these shots present an opportunity to display appealing exterior features, such as landscaping, seamlessly blending the development into its surrounding environment. This visual appeal generates interest, leaving a positive first impression.
  2. Differentiation from Competitors: In the highly competitive student and multifamily housing market, remarkable exterior rendering can set your project apart from the rest. By emphasizing unique design aspects like innovative architecture, sustainable features, or luxurious amenities, you position your development as unparalleled, attracting potential prospects to choose your community over others.
  3. Building Trust and Confidence: Investing in professional exterior renderings showcases your commitment to quality and meticulous attention to detail. This, in turn, instills confidence in prospects, conveying your pride in the project and willingness to go the extra mile to present it in the best possible light. Trust and credibility are pivotal in the real estate industry, especially when facing stiff competition.
  4. Presentation to Stakeholders: Exterior renderings prove invaluable for presentations to stakeholders, including lenders, partners, the project team, and local authorities. By visually communicating your project’s vision, scope, and potential impact, these renderings facilitate discussions, negotiations, and decision-making processes.

Otto Student Housing College Station TX Exterior 1If you do decide to invest in an exterior rendering, we have a tip to get you the biggest impact! Earlier this year, we conducted a survey involving 500 individuals aged 18-24 from various regions across the United States. We presented them with alternative versions of our renderings, showcasing different lighting, staging levels, and the number of people present. The results were conclusive: 78% of respondents preferred the Sunrise-Sunset lighting compared to Midday. This preference was consistent across all regions and among both male and female respondents. You can see more insights like this in our free report: Designing for the Future: Insights & Trends from Developers & Students 2023. 

When you should avoid capturing the exterior rendering:

  1. Early Development Stage: If your project is still in its early stages, where the design and architecture have yet to be finalized, investing in an exterior rendering might not be cost-effective. Given the potential for significant changes in design, renderings can quickly become outdated. It’s advisable to wait until the design is more concrete before investing in renderings.
  2. Smaller Market: In smaller markets with less competition, the significance of exterior renderings may be diminished. Your project may not require that monumental brand moment to distinguish itself from competitors. Instead, prospects in such markets tend to prioritize community details like amenities and apartment features over exterior appearance.
  3. Limited Budget: Budget constraints necessitate strategic resource allocation. While exterior renderings can make an impact, there may be other critical areas that demand immediate financial attention, such as luxury amenities, apartment features, and virtual tours or rendered videos. Evaluating your budget and determining the most effective use of funds for your specific project is crucial.


Investing in an exterior rendering of your new student or multifamily housing project brings forth a multitude of advantages, enhancing your marketing efforts, differentiation from competitors, visualization, trust-building, and effective communication with stakeholders. It serves as a valuable tool for developers to present their projects in the most appealing and professional manner possible.

If you’re still uncertain about the decision, feel free to reach out to us. We would love to discuss your upcoming project and determine the best approach to maximize its impact. Visit our Contact Us page to get started.