Flipping Houses

8 Expert Tips for Rehabbing Buy & Holds for Maximum Rentability

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses, Business Management, Personal Development, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary
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I am a buy and hold landlord. And most of the properties I buy to hold are in some sort of distress. They are foreclosures. They have been trashed by tenants. They have sat vacant for years because the owner passed away and the family could not make a decision. There are a host of other reasons why properties become distressed. Distress does not bother me; I actually look for it because that is where the deals are.

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Buying all these distressed properties means I have done a few rehabs over the years. I used to do a lot of these rehabs myself thinking I was saving money with all of my sweat equity. I have since wised up and today hire all of that work out (so I can focus on buying more properties). Either way, though, I have learned a thing or two about doing a rehab for a buy and hold property. Here are eight tips I have learned over the years.

Related: How to NOT Over-Improve Your Properties: 3 Key Levels of Rehab Finish

8 Expert Tips for Rehabbing Buy & Holds for Maximum Rentability

Fix it Up Better Than Your Competition

Landlords who fix up their properties to a higher level will get rewarded with higher rents and longer term tenants. There are a lot more renters out there these days since the housing crash in 2008, but there are also a lot more properties available on the rental market. Make your property stands out by spending a little extra money. Don’t cheap things out, and use some of the tips below to make your property stand out.

Use Standard Paint Colors

You need to have a set of standard paint colors that you generally use throughout your properties. I personally like Sherwin William’s Navajo White for walls and pure white for trim. Sure, there are some circumstances where a unique color may be needed or wanted, but in general having only one of two colors can really save time down the road when it comes time to touch things up a bit after a tenant moves out.

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Use a Satin Finish

Speaking of paint, don’t use a flat finish anywhere. Instead use a satin finish. A satin finish has a bit of washability to it while not being overly shiny like a semi-gloss finish. A flat finish has no washability and simply has to be repainted when stained. A satin finish can thus save a bit of money down the road, as minor blemishes can be scrubbed away.

Use Hard Surfaces on the Floors

I hate carpet. It always ends up being dirty, ugly and in need of replacing. That is why I always try to go with a hard floor, such as ceramic tile or hardwood. It simply is going to last longer, plus it looks better to tenants and is a nice upgrade. As with paint, you should pick a standard type of ceramic tile and have a standard stain color for the hardwood. Finally, two coats of high gloss polyurethane on the hardwood is the way to go.

Add Appliances

In my market, I cannot rent my properties without appliances included. Knowing that, I step up the game a bit and add amenities. I like to install dishwashers and put in washers and dryers. Tenants really like these amenities and will pay higher rents for them.

Install Central Heat and Air

This is a great amenity that good tenants will seek out and pay for. They like the convenience, and they usually save on the utility bills (meaning they can pay you rent). Plus it will save you money in the long run. Window AC units always seem to break after a year or two, and they always destroy your windows and sills. Eliminate those problems with central heat and air.

Make the Kitchen and Bath Pop

Granite prices have really come down lately. In some cases it is just a couple hundred dollars more to install granite counter tops over formica, so why not go with granite? It is one of those things that will make you stand out from the competition, plus it is harder to destroy. I also like to install a tile black splash for additional beauty. In the bath, clean and simple is the way to go. Never use plastic faucet knobs.

Related: The One Task Every Investor Needs To Do To Save Big Money On Your Rehabs

Keep the Designs Simple

Don’t go overboard with some of these new tile designs out there. Sure, they look good today, but in a few years they will likely look dated and need replacement. Go with classic designs. I like black and white subway tiles for example. Always looks good and is a timeless design.

These tips may perhaps seem a bit pricy on the front end, but as a buy and hold investor, you have to look at the big picture. You need to rehab your properties so you will attract a higher quality and longer term tenant. The amenities and upgrades I describe above will do that, thus saving you money and time over the long term. Plus, you want to make things harder to break and easier to repair as this will also save you time and money down the road.

If you cheap things out at the beginning, trust me, you will only pay for it later. So, keep it simple, keep it nice and classic, and you will be rewarded with higher rents, tenant longevity and fewer headaches.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out the newer members of BiggerPockets.]

Is there anything you would add to the list? Is there anything different about your particular market?

Please let us know with your comments.

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in ...
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    Brett Lee from Portland, Oregon
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Awesome advice. Not many people doing this and then complain because they get bad tenants. You get what you attract.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Brett, Very true. Thanks for reading and for the kind words, Kevin
    Doris Dobson from Washington, District of Columbia
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Very informative and detailed advice for an absolute scared newbie. I was surprised to find out about the satin wall paint. I always assumed it would show imperfections more readily, especially with an older house. But I can see how it could be wiped/scrubbed clean more easily.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Doris, It does just a little bit, but the extra durability is worth it and tenants do not seem to mind. I was scared of this stuff one too. Your fear will go away as you learn more and DO more. Be sure your fear does not keep you from getting started. If you need advice or help, many of us here on BP are more than willing. Just ask, Good luck and thanks for commenting, Kevin
    Nancy Wheaton from Nampa, Idaho
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great points! I have put either hardwood or ceramic tile through-out many of my properties. While its tempting to “go cheap” with carpet and vinyl, I havn’t needed to replace my flooring at all, in any of my properties. I have also found that it is cheaper to put 2cm granite than Formica and renters think I spent a boat load in it! Great article, thank you.
    Ivan Shao from UNION CITY , NJ
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hello Kevin! I recently purchase a 2 families house. Doing house hacking. I will renovate 1 st fl and basement. Debating whether we should install central air. Basement will be remodel for air bnb business. So i thought central air will give convent to our guess. For long run,. If we rent out the 1st fl and basement as duplex, not sure how central air can benefit to boost the rent . My area is a class b/b+ area. Someone told me to install central air for basement and 1st fl would be around 15k . Floor plan is about 1100 sqf. Could you please give some advise 🙂
    Todd Hayes Investor from Katy, Texas
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Kevin, Excellent post! I have been a landlord for 15 years and I liked a lot of what you said. I diverge on the paint. I have gone to flat white interior wall paint. Touching up interiors is always a must and anything but flat is visible… I am also a big fan of the vinyl plank flooring mentioned here. Very durable and water resistant. I will never use laminate wood flooring again. Sounds like your business is going well. Congrats! Todd
    Casey Murray Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Bookmarking this article. Great job, Kevin!
    Jake Thompson Rental Property Investor from Albany, OR
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Awesome article Kevin! I like the idea of the standard paint colors. We are taking it one step further and creating a standard list of materials for our properties. One question about installing central heat and air: Do you recommend ALWAYS installing? Or do you look at your market to decide? I am worried if everyone else either doesn’t have central or they all use window units that I may be over improving and unable to charge the extra rent for having central heat and air.