Friday, November 29
Two of the largest factors for effective property management include how to cope with tenant vacancies and how to fill these vacancies quickly. Having a professional website is simply not enough. The rental properties must be displayed in a way that attracts future renters to these newly available listings like a magnet, helping the renters to imagine these properties as their pristine, new home. It is equally important that the actual property truly reflects the advertisement as well, in both quality and value once the potential prospect comes to review the unit. Here are 7 suggestions that will help make your rental properties infinitely more attractive to prospective tenants.
For owners of multiple properties, consider using the same colors of interior paints for the rooms. This allows you to save time and money by always having the right color on-hand for renovations and touch ups. This is what the professionals do. It is a cost effective method for rehabbing your individual units more wisely.
One such property owner in Austin, Texas, Pablo Soloman, honed his sense of interior design very early. His family owns many rental properties in the area, some in more upscale communities and other in more modest neighborhoods. Their early assessments determined that different property classifications require different materials and varying levels of renovations. Careful options were chosen for each type of property, always paying attention to safety, functionality, cost, and local codes.
By consulting with area experts in kitchen and bath design, Soloman was able to locate very affordable design elements that have the look and feel of a more luxurious selection. Other simple and inexpensive finishing touches are also included, such as rocker switches and grab bars to further enhance the interiors while also offering a more internally friendly environment for a wider range of potential renters.
Grace Keister is a real estate marketing specialist in Southern California who always tells new property owners that simple renovations will always be more cost effective than a complete remodel. Simple improvements such as providing a fresh coat of paint will make the unit appear completely refurbished in many cases. She likes neutrals and tans with perhaps a splash of blue for traditional interiors while she sometimes leans towards greys and black for more urban dwellings.
1. Focus on Curb Appeal
If the outside of the property does not make a good first impression, then your potential tenants might simply drive right past. Always pay careful attention to the exterior of your rental properties, including paint and siding color and condition. Choose colors that enhance the original design elements of the structure, repair flaking paint, straighten crooked shutters, and replace bad siding. Make sure that cracks in the sidewalks and driveway are repaired as well in order to welcome new renters to the property.
Don’t forget landscaping. Make sure that it is attractive yet is also cost effective to maintain. Determine in advance whether its maintenance will be the responsibility of you or the tenant. A well-manicured lawn will not only attract new tenants but will also enhance the overall value of your property. Consider consulting with a professional landscape architect who might offer suggestions that are very inexpensive. As long as you purchase a few of their alternatives, the consultation fees are usually provided free of charge.
Landscaping includes more than just lawn and foliage. You should also consider the outdoor lighting, pathways, rock features, fences, and all other aspects of the exterior. Don’t forget about the backyard, decks, and patios.
2. Layout Improvement
On the inside, consider the layout of the overall home. Small, confined spaces are not attractive to the average tenant. Consider opening them up by knocking down walls to improve the internal flow. Open floor plans of combined kitchen, dining, and living spaces create the illusion of increased square footage, especially with the addition of increased natural light. However, if tearing down walls is not an option, consider widening doorways by 6 to 12 inches to make a noticeable improvement.
Room additions will also increase your rental revenues, especially in cases of older properties with much smaller room areas. Adding a master suite or a second bathroom might attract more prospective renters while also increasing the value of your property. Consider creating half bathrooms out of small closets or under staircases. Always adhere to the original period design of the architecture, making sure that the new additions match the existing aesthetics of the current home.
3. Kitchen Refurbishments
Remodeling the kitchen or bathroom is going to be a more expensive and difficult challenge than modernizing a bedroom or living room, for example. Kitchens need to be safe and functional, and the materials and equipment involved in these types of remodels can easily add up. Consider hiring an architectural designer who specializes in kitchen spaces.
Review the countertops for damage, replacing them with more durable choices such as Corian or quartz. Professional designers of rental properties rarely recommend the use of granite countertops due to its higher maintenance. Granite requires a special type of sealant and usually attracts more frequent stains. Postform laminate tops are considered good choices for lower budgeted rental properties and can be found in your traditional home remodeling stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Some of the more professional property management companies often use a quartz countertop in the standardized kitchen improvements of all their properties because this outlasts laminate and looks infinitely more luxurious. Laminate countertops, on the other hand, often need to be replaced even before the end of the lease term.
As long as the kitchen appliances are in good working order and without visible damage, replacement is usually not needed. Simple dings and dents can be hidden with a simple coat of appliance paint. Older appliances might need to be replaced, especially if you take into consideration the extra amount of money that is needed to operate them. New design advancements in everything from low energy consumption refrigerators to garbage disposals and dishwashers might be well worth the investment.
For those whose budget is rather limited, consider repainting old cabinetry rather than replacing it altogether. Or perhaps consider simply replacing the cabinet fronts. Pay attention to cabinetry color, sticking to deeper, richer tones of perhaps espresso or coffee rather than whites and beiges. Darker colors look more luxurious and simply hides stains better.
The most important aspect regarding kitchens is to always keep them spotless and pristine, especially when potential tenants are touring the property. A dirty kitchen is a deal-breaker for most renters.
4. Bathroom Refurbishments
Dirty and unattractive bathrooms speak volumes to prospective tenants. Pay attention to your cabinetry and fixtures. Shower and bathtub tiles, glass doors, and shower curtains should be pristine and immaculate. If the toilet or commode is dirty, cracked, or outdated, consider replacing them.
Bathroom cabinetry tends to see a lot of abuse throughout the years. Consider alternative options of refacing the drawer and cabinet doors. This will provide your vanity with a fresh, modern look at a very cost affordable cost.
You can easily create the look of a whole new bathroom remodel by simply installing new flooring. Some of the most cost affordable options include ceramic tile, porcelain tile, or natural stone. Never use linoleum, hardwood, or carpet in your bathrooms because these choices can be easily damaged by water. And make sure that your flooring choice is water resistant. Another way to keep renovation costs lower is to provide simpler designs in tiling. Stay away from inlays and mosaics.
New tenants will be attracted to simple upgrades, such as rain shower heads which are very inexpensive yet provide a more luxurious spa appeal. If you are replacing the toilet or sink, consider a more stylish option, something fun, innovative, and more luxurious. Very often these choices are only a fraction of the cost of the standard fixture. Simple touches such as a brand-new shiny chrome water faucet will not go unnoticed by the prospective tenants.
Especially in cases of master suites, bathroom renovations or additions will not only attract new tenants in huge numbers but will significantly increase the property value of the home. Better bathrooms make the property easier to rent. For high end rentals, consider a master suite with dual sinks, plenty of storage space, and spacious showers.
5. Don’t Skimp on Flooring
Nothing will show the age of the property more than smelly and outdated carpeting. Many potential tenants are well aware that professional property management companies traditionally replace carpeting on a regular basis. Therefore, this is the common expectation. However, when it comes to other types of flooring, the choices for possible refurbishment can be more difficult to select.
Many property managers prefer carpeting to hardwood floors because carpeting offers a cozier ambience and costs about a third of the price. However, others go for other options, such as laminate flooring or vinyl wood alternatives which are very easy to install as well as inexpensive in the long term.
In cases of peeling or cracked vinyl flooring, consider replacing this with a type of standard porcelain tile with mechanically finished edges which allow for tighter joints. This helps to minimize the appearance of stains and mildew in the grout. Always take into consideration the price point of the rental property and the type of owner that you are trying to attract.
6. Consider Tenants with Disabilities
If you really want to widen the range of prospective tenants, consider the overall accessibility of your property from people with disabilities and older renters. A universal design of all interior spaces that is friendly to all types of people regardless of size, age, or physical disabilities, especially the kitchens and bathrooms, will enhance your renting options significantly.
This is another reason why many professional property management companies consider widening doors and creating more open floor plans by knocking down walls. In some cases, it can be very beneficial to increase the doors to a minimum of 36 inches. Other universal design alternatives include the installation of grab bars in the bathtub and near the toilet to help the tenants with balance. The installation of handrails on both sides of the stairway, for both interior and exterior stairs if at all possible, is also a great feature, helping these special tenants with balance and mobility issues.
Your choice of flooring is another important universal design factor. Choose options that are as smooth as possible. Renters with physical disabilities and older renters with arthritis and other joint disorders tend to find rocker switches, single lever faucets that are ADA compliant, toilets of a slightly increased height, stoves with control mechanisms located on the front panel rather than on the rear, and even overhead lighting in individual rooms that limits glare and shadow to be very appealing and hard-to-find rental unit features. Pay attention to outdoor lighting that provides improved safety. Consider motion sensor lighting to enhance the feeling of greater security. These simple modification to your design choices will never detract from younger renters, but they are increasingly attractive to older tenants who are perhaps considering downsizing after selling their primary residence.
7. Keep Maintenance a Priority
Instead of thinking as “maintenance” and “renovation” as two separate entities of property management, consider incorporating them into one, singular factor. Where many property managers fail is in thinking that maintenance is something that only occurs after the property has been rented. This is why we suggest considering the purchase of energy efficient kitchen appliances during your renovations. Older appliances are more difficult to repair, harder to locate parts for, and also increase utility bills.
When planning your renovation project, always keep in mind the potential future time management concerns of your maintenance staff, if you have one. Many landlords are forced to repair their properties themselves. Always take this into consideration. Labor costs of these types of repairs can significantly vary depending on the various markets where your properties are located. Also, travel time and distance may be another significant factor. Several types of renovations and repairs can only be provided by qualified professionals, resulting in an added expense of the required permit and following inspections. However, most rental property repairs can easily be completed by the landlords themselves as a way to save money. Stockpiling of standard supplies, such as paint, bathroom tile, and carpeting can save money long-term as well.
Examples of Renovations that Do Not Add Property Value
Swimming Pools: Believe it or not, many prospective tenants and buyers of commercial rental properties tend to view swimming pools as rather dangerous and expensive amenities. They are costly to install and to maintain. And for families with children, they can be viewed as unsafe. Renovations of swimming pools is money that is rarely recovered by the property owner.
Elaborate Landscaping: While a certain amount of focus should be placed on the exterior of the property in order to extract potential renters, excessive expenses in elaborate landscaping is not going to increase the per unit price of your apartments. Renters will not want to pay more for pretty plants. Also, most renters are not willing to maintain the lawn and outdoor greenery that you provide. Failure to do so, if you are unable or unwilling to do it yourself, may result in the landscaping becoming an ugly eyesore, which is simply a waste of money.
Invisible Improvements: Keeping the roof in good working order, maintaining heating and air-conditioning units, and keeping the plumbing system in excellent condition are considered basic essentials by renters. Spending extreme amounts of money on upgraded plumbing, heating, cooling, and roofing systems is not going to get you a higher per unit price.