NEW: BP Podcast 66: Flips, Apartments, & Protecting Yourself From Professional Tenants with Michael Blank

Hide this

From the BiggerPockets Blog

 BiggerPockets Blog »

Jump to Forum View All

Click a category below to view different forum categories.

BiggerPockets

General Info

BiggerPockets Q&A, Site Questions, & Announcements

1511 topics, 14387 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:08PM

BiggerPockets Exclusive PRO Area

117 topics, 839 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 05:47AM

New Member Introductions

10879 topics, 85535 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:10PM

Real Estate Success Stories

394 topics, 6132 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:18PM

General Real Estate

General Real Estate

Buying & Selling Real Estate

5932 topics, 46749 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:22PM

Renters

643 topics, 5820 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 08:38AM

Get Foreclosure Help - Help Stop Foreclosure Forum

316 topics, 2557 posts — Last Post 04/16/14, 03:58AM

Home Owner Association (HOA) Issues & Problems Forum

237 topics, 1609 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 08:53AM

Do it Yourself

654 topics, 6263 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 10:24AM

Reviews & Feedback

Real Estate Deal Analysis and Advice

3671 topics, 29434 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 12:50PM

Real Estate Guru, Book & Course Reviews and Discussions

1132 topics, 11551 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 10:12AM

Ask About A Real Estate Company

740 topics, 7318 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 11:52AM

Real Estate Investing

Real Estate Strategies

Wholesaling

5597 topics, 43708 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 12:50PM

Rehabbing and House Flipping

3329 topics, 30967 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:42PM

Real Estate Development & New Home Construction

552 topics, 4681 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:34PM

Innovative Strategies

703 topics, 6027 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 08:48AM

Tax Liens, Notes, Paper, & Cash Flows Discussion

866 topics, 6670 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:41PM

Rent to Own a.k.a. Lease Purchase, Lease Options

692 topics, 4873 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:42PM

1031 Exchanges

143 topics, 1054 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 08:41AM

Foreclosure Investing

General Foreclosure & Pre-Foreclosure Forums

1687 topics, 11286 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:32PM

HUD, VA, and Tax Sales

414 topics, 3089 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 12:05PM

REOs

1214 topics, 10570 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 02:28PM

Short Sales

1534 topics, 13120 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 04:44PM

Landlord & Tenant Forums

Landlord & Rental Property Questions

7197 topics, 70687 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:23PM

Mobile Homes & Mobile Home Park Investing

638 topics, 5139 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 06:11AM

Investor Basics

Starting Out

7696 topics, 60408 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:26PM

Investor Psychology

430 topics, 6098 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 10:35AM

General Real Estate Investing

4713 topics, 37169 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:44PM

Real Estate Investor Marketing

1730 topics, 14092 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:03PM

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate Investing Forum

1409 topics, 8983 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 06:13PM

Multi-Family and Apartment Investing

1106 topics, 9206 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:28PM

The Business of Real Estate

Real Estate Technology and the Internet

Real Estate Technology, Social Media & Blogging

638 topics, 4884 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 02:08PM

Business Basics

Goals, Business Plans & Entities

831 topics, 7561 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 12:21PM

Real Estate Finance & Legal

Financial, Tax, and Legal

Tax, Legal Issues, Contracts, Self-Directed IRA

2784 topics, 19998 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 08:30AM

Property Insurance

309 topics, 2045 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 07:41PM

Personal Finance Discussion

328 topics, 2730 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 04:56PM

Loans, Mortgages, Credit Lines

Private & Conventional Lending Discussion

2832 topics, 19688 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:10PM

Creative Real Estate Financing

1208 topics, 8764 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 11:02AM

Crowdfunding Real Estate

35 topics, 460 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 12:02PM

Real Estate Professionals

Real Estate Professionals

Real Estate Agents

1208 topics, 7976 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:31PM

Bankers, Lenders, and Mortgage Brokers

441 topics, 1922 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 09:39AM

Contractors

267 topics, 1676 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 07:43AM

Local Real Estate

Local Real Estate

Local Real Estate Networking & Recommendations

1986 topics, 11599 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 08:46AM

Americans & International Real Estate

161 topics, 566 posts — Last Post 04/14/14, 11:19AM

Foreigners Buying in the USA

62 topics, 409 posts — Last Post 04/10/14, 06:27AM

Canadian Real Estate

64 topics, 428 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 04:22AM

Marketplace

Real Estate Marketplace

Real Estate Marketplace

15011 topics, 53933 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:40PM

Real Estate Events and Happenings

163 topics, 2492 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 01:23PM

Off-Topic

Off Topic

Off-Topic

2904 topics, 32406 posts — Last Post 04/18/14, 12:08PM

Housing News & Real Estate Market

914 topics, 8351 posts — Last Post 04/17/14, 08:41AM

BiggerPockets Real Estate Investing Summit

97 topics, 1751 posts — Last Post 04/10/14, 02:27PM

BiggerPockets Resources

Forums » Landlord & Rental Property Questions » How Much Do You Improve Your Rentals?

How Much Do You Improve Your Rentals?

11 posts by 10 users

Signup

Real Estate Investor · Montesano, Washington


I'm working on a blog post for the BiggerPockets Blog and I'm curious:

How nice do you make your rentals before putting a tenant in?

Specifically, I'm writing about turning a primary residence into a rental, but this question could apply to tenant turn-over as well.

I'll be taking some answers from this thread to pepper in quotes for my upcoming blog - so please, share your opinions!


Small_bp-squareBrandon Turner, BiggerPockets
E-Mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.BiggerPockets.com
VP of Marketing and Communication - BiggerPockets.com Follow me on Twitter! @BrandonAtBP


Real Estate Lender · Los Angeles , California


Brandon,

I'll qualify this with the fact that there may be MANY correct answers for this. Here's the one that has developed over the decades for me:

On deciding how nice to make a rental in preparing it for rent, I have two primary areas I consider:

1) What kind of return will I get from the improvements I'm considering?

For this, I have to compare my condition or projected condition to competing rentals, how long an improvement will last, (Granite counter-tops versus an upgraded toilet paper holder) the trends in the market place, such as what tenants appear to be trending toward liking, how popular a particular item is, and wether I might get only the same rent as I would have, but possibly just get a better tenant.

Those are all bottom-line, figuring out the net dollars concerns.

2) How much time and aggravation it saves me:

Here, I go beyond just how many net dollars in extra rent I'll collect, versus the cost of improving, and I consider how much extra time it takes me to wait another week to rent it, or possibly how much time I waste dealing with a "b" quality tenant, when for an extra $1,000 worth of upgrades, I might have attracted an "a." (I make decent $ in my regular business, so more time saved can be converted into $$, when I'm not busy posting on BP.)

Also, (and this is maybe part of point 1) I consider how much more quickly I'll get it rented. Obviously, if the rent is $2,000 per month (remember, I'm in Southern California) and I rent it 15 days earlier, $1,000 that I spent is more than recovered since I don't have to pay the light bill on a vacant place, or incur more cost of marketing a vacancy.

Another item I've been running into lately is thinking way ahead, and wondering when the tenant gives their notice to terminate the tenancy, how will the unit or house look if I'm going to show it to prospects while they're still there? (which I often do) I LOVE to get those "back-to-back" rentals, where tenant A moves out on the 4th, and we're fixing up fast and tenant B moves in on the 10th. That's almost as exciting as as, well..........it's not that exciting, but I sure like it!

So if the unit is fixed up better, then when I do go to show it to new prospects, I'm more likely to get one of my quick turnarounds.

Brandon, was this what you were looking for? Hope this helped!

Joffrey Long


No_company_avatar_smallJoffrey Long, Joffrey Long
Telephone: 818.366.5200
Website: http://www.HowtoBuyTrustDeeds.com
Joffrey Long Southwest Mortgage Southern California


Residential Real Estate Agent · Verona, Wisconsin


It depends on the rental. I've got one duplex that is nicer, newer, in a great neighborhood, and attracts good quality tenants. This one I try to keep in top notch condition. I feel like if I make it as nice as possible before they move in they maintain it that way.

I have another duplex that is in a less desirable neighborhood (but not bad), and it attracts so-so tenants. This property I try to have as clean as possible, and try to make it so the tenants respect it. However, the property is rather out dated (built in the 70's). I've done typical things like paint, flooring, and opened up one wall to make a better layout. However, I haven't updated cabinetry or bathrooms. I feel like I wouldn't get the return on the investment to modernize the place. I also feel like the tenants I attract there wouldn't take care of things like I'd prefer if I were to sink money into a quality remodel/update.

Keith



· Buford, Georgia


I rehabbed two homes this year for rentals. I overdid it a little on the first. I used two variables: 1) will this action garner more rent, better tenants or faster time off market; 2) will this action cause less needs, repairs and concerns while it is rented.

Not sure my example fits your request. These were not my initial home and I rent in Class C neighborhoods.



· Bismarck, North Dakota


The two things I look at are:

1. What is my competition doing? Is my rental being out classed by similar priced rentals and what is the market for the rental

2. How well the rental is functioning? I almost always go with more durable amenities over style. Usually they are one in the same but the most important things for me when I upgrade a rental are will this upgrade be safe & durable and what is my return on the money Im spending. I would much rather add a bedroom or bathroom rather than get more stylish carpet. I try to give the tenants a blank canvass to customize with their furniture, ect.

I basically try to have my rentals be versatile, efficient, safe, and durable because its what my market responds to.



Residential Real Estate Agent · Rochester Hills, Michigan


I try to have competitive advantages that aren't easily destroyed. Vacancy is the devil, and if little things like a garbage disposal will create less problems and give me an advantage, for not that much money, to me it's a no brainer.



Real Estate Investor · Manteno, Illinois


Here's a quick checklist that I try to follow when I rehab my rentals. I see that other people have put some of the reasoning behind their rehab effort but I thought it would be good to have some responses at the detail level as well:

1) No gold in the light fixtures. Even if its perfect, gold is all replaced.
2) Replace all the electric outlet devices unless they look mostly new (and always replace all the lightswitch/outlet plates). New devices and covers along with a paint job go along way in making the house seem like new construction. Don't ask me why. But it just seems to work that way.
3) New appliances - black
4) When flooring is needed: Medium grade frieze for carpet in living areas, ceramic in kitchens and bathrooms although sometimes I do laminate in kitchen depending on the height/surface in connecting rooms.
5) Replace countertops if dated or damaged.
6) Paint all walls - but only paint ceiling if really bad.
7) Certifiy HVAC
8) Replace kitchen faucet but not bathroom unless really bad.
9) An upgraded ceiling fan in living room and master bedroom.

Thats typically my list and then I do what most of the others have mentioned above. What is my return if I want to do more? Will it help me get more tenants if I do something else? How am I doing on my budget? How much is the rental? (big difference in whether I will budge on an upgrade if the rent is 1,400 vs 1,100).

There are some rehabs where I end up doing more because I have extra money left in my budget (i.e. I had no surprises) so I don't mind spending that to upgrade the living room from carpet to laminate. Or to put in a new bathroom vanity where the existing one was still functional.



Multi-family Investor · Milford, Connecticut


As others indicated it depends on the market. Our rentals are all located in blue collar markets. Usually between tenants we thoroughly clean the unit, paint ceilings and walls, replace all mini blinds, electrical plates and outlets/switches. If floors need replacing we do laminate/tile in bath/kitchen. We strive to offer a clean and better looking unit compared to the competition and we rent them competitively as well. Everything is done with a cost/benefit approach and to minimize repair and service calls. We don't put granite or stainless steel in any apartment as its just a waste of money. Like a lot of my friends say "Paint and Carpets"



· Grand Rapids, Michigan


To @Joffrey Long's point, any/all improvements that we ever make to our rental units will ultimately boil down to cash flow. If making an improvement (or paying more for a particular property) isn't completely justified by an improvement to our annual cash flow (to the point that it allows us to charge more in rent OR improve our vacancy rate), we don't do it.

Of course, this is easier said than done. It's not always easy to know exactly why one property sits vacant longer than another. And it's not always easy to know when a landlord is completely maximizing their revenue by charging as much rent as possible... but to the extent that we can reasonably predict this, we only make improvements to the point that they make financial sense.

I think it's also important to understand the demographic that you're marketing your property to. Just because YOU wouldn't want to live in a lower quality residence, doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of people in that market who would be more than happy to. Your standards may not (and probably doesn't) reflect the exact standards of the customers in your market. It's very easy to mistake our perceptions for what the market thinks, but it frankly doesn't matter if I would want to live my properties or not - it only matters whether or not my market considers the property to be in acceptable condition.

All of my rental units have extremely strong cash flow - and it's not because they're the nicest properties in the neighborhood. It's because I bought them at the right price, I understood each market reasonably well and because of that understanding, I don't go overboard with improvements, ever.



· New York City, New York


Does anyone have a formula you use when calculating how much you renovate a unit? You don't want to go overboard and not be able to recoup the costs.



· Grand Rapids, Michigan


I've got a rental property ROI calculator that I use. I'm happy to send it to you if you think it would help. I use it to input all the variables and determine what the projected cash on cash, monthly cash flow and ROI will be.

Having the calculator is helpful, but what REALLY matters is plugging in the most accurate data. Your projections will only be as accurate as the numbers you use in your calculations. It is VERY easy (and very dangerous) to just "shoot from the hip" and pull numbers out of thin air without verifying them. I always have to do a lot of homework to verify my inputs before I know I've got a solid deal on my hands.





Sign up