5 Affordable Ways to Add Value to Your Rental Property

by | BiggerPockets.com

As a real estate investor, you want to cut down your costs to make the most money from your properties. However, stripping back spending to a point where your space is no longer a desirable rental isn’t worth your frugality.

The following five ideas will marry your allegiance to smart spending with the need to attract renters. In other words, these are projects that will boost the value of your property without breaking the bank.

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1. Paint

The simplest projects can make the biggest differences, and paint proves that. Smudged, dingy walls won’t sell your place. But a fresh, neutral hue will. Just don’t fall into the trap that catches so many real estate investors — your local paint or hardware store will sell deeply discounted gallons of paint that are not well mixed. The color might look okay, but purchasing a pail for touch-ups will be impossible — the hue you have won’t be replicable because it was never properly prepared.

If you have a handful of properties to brush up on, try saving money by buying your supplies in bulk. Keep an eye on the color you choose, too, since the right shade will sell a home to potential buyers and renters. A neutral taupe works in the living room, while a soft blue bedroom exudes the kind of serenity people yearn for.

2. Update the Kitchen

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and in no realm is this truer than in real estate. Buyers and renters look for the must-have appliances and a design that’s fresh and clean looking. Although this might seem like an expensive task, there are plenty of simple ways to update a kitchen without breaking the bank.

For example, old cabinets will look even more outdated if they’re outfitted with old-school knobs and pulls. In a few hours, though, you can swap gold handles for modern stainless steel. You can make the cabinets look even better by repainting them or replacing the doors, which might be necessary if they feature an ornate design that dates them.

Related: 13 Proactive Ways to Increase Rent & Add Value to Your Rental Property

3. Add a Washer And Dryer

Appliances are a sizeable investment, so you might not be able to purchase a brand new washer-dryer for your rental property. However, scoping one out on Craigslist, or from another secondhand vendor, could cut the cost in half.

More importantly, though, renters want this convenience in a potential living space. And they’ll pay top dollar to get it. Some landlords have been able to increase their rental price tag by $80 per month, just by adding a washer-dryer. If you do the same, you could pay off your investment — even if it’s a new piece of machinery — in just over a year. After that, the extra money will go right into your pocket.

Related: 3 Affordable Ways to Add Value to Your Multifamily Property [Video!]

4. Spruce Up the Exterior

So much focus goes into the inside of the home, but, without any curb appeal, potential buyers or renters won’t even walk in to see the work you’ve done. You don’t have to shell out the big bucks for landscaping or repainting, either (although those certainly do help make a home look more presentable). Something as simple as power-washing your property’s exterior, driveway, sidewalk, and any other dingy-looking surface can amplify your prospects.

Consider a front door makeover if you’re looking for another quick project to increase curb appeal. If you have a sturdy door in place already, repaint it and add accents like a kick plate or new house numbers. Replacing an old door will also boost the value of your property while enhancing its curb appeal at the same time.

5. Replace Carpet Flooring

There’s no bigger mistake a property owner can make than renting out a space with carpeted flooring. For one thing, in most cases, potential tenants don’t want carpets, so you might have a hard time finding someone to move in. Plus, this type of flooring holds onto stains and scents, which means you may have to pay to have it professionally cleaned, or even replaced after each new person moves in.

To avoid that type of long-term financial strain, invest now in universally liked flooring. In most cases, the go-to is wood flooring — especially in a lighter color that doesn’t show nicks and scratches easily. This could cost thousands of dollars, though, so you may also consider a cost-effective alternative such as bamboo, which has a similar look and level of durability.

Watch the Rent Pour In!

Every property is different. Yours might already have nice floors but needs a fresh coat of paint on its walls. Whatever the case may be, it’s worth looking at your rental with a critical eye and pinpointing what needs work, and which projects will make the biggest difference to your bottom line. Those are the DIYs worth pursuing — and both you and your tenants will be glad you made the effort when the rent checks start pouring in.

How about you?

What tips do you have for making rentals more enticing? Share them below!

About Author

Anum Yoon

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of the millennial money blog, Current on Currency.


  1. jorge vazquez

    Great article Anum, If you just purchased a home in less than optimal condition to flip or rent as an investment, you’re probably ready to start swinging the hammer. FREEZE!

    Even if you don’t plan to sell the home for a profit, they’ll hurt your chances of getting the home rented out sooner rather than later…

    A Bad Coat of Paint:
    Fresh paint is a must, but not bold paint. Bold color choices are suited for certain personality types and will limit your audience of potential tenants. Not everyone loves a bright yellow kitchen! Stick to neutrals, as tenants will more easily be able to match their furniture and belongings.
    Cheap Fixtures:
    Installing low-quality or cheap fixtures that become a permanent part of the house (shower heads and sink faucets) can really hurt you. We know that it’s going to be a few dollars more for the next grade of quality, but it will make your home look much more luxurious and durable.
    “Luxury” Headaches:
    Pools, hot tubs and extravagant landscapes are considered things of luxury, but they come along with maintenance – something many renters aren’t interested in investing in or keeping up with. After all, it’s not their home.
    Overly Specialized Spaces:
    Don’t turn the garage into a four-season sun room. When you are upgrading spaces, think “functionality” above all else. Renters need to be able to envision their life (and their daily tasks and needs) easily occurring in your home.
    Over-the-Top Kitchens and Baths:
    Kitchens or baths that are too taste-specific will not appeal to every tenant. As with paint, think neutral and as with specialized spaces, think functional. No need for extensive tile work or bright red appliances.
    Okay, now you are ready to begin renovations!

  2. One problem I have with this is that I’ve supplied appliances — the tenants just steal them when they leave, then claim they “already had appliances” and just “put them outside.” Scumbags.

    • Kara C.

      My leases always specify which appliances are included with the unit. That way, if a tenant moves out and an appliance is missing, there is documentation in the signed lease that the appliance was provided at move-in, and I can take the cost to replace the appliance out of the deposit.

    • Dave Rav

      I agree with @Kara C. Easy work-around on that problem. In addition to writing it in the lease, I put that my claim is backed by photo evidence. Snap a pic of the appliances *pre-movein*

      And if you’re really concerned, you can always take an extra deposit for these appliances – say $100 each (they would likely go for it, since $100 is still cheaper than if they had to purchase these appliances). People hate losing money, so they will work to get that $ back. finally, if in a very low-end rental, I would advise NOT providing these appliances as the chance they are taken may increase.

  3. Dave Rav

    Thank you for the pointers. I must say, these tips are fairly known, common methods of enhancing value in your rental.

    I will also say another consideration is space conversion. In other words, converting an area of the home to serve as another bedroom. Most commonly, this is seen with a garage-conversion. But that can be expensive (adding drywall, potential additional wiring, HVAC setup, and flooring just to name a few). This applies to RENTAL properties…If you have a sunroom or FROG these are less expensive options, I highly recommend making this area a 4th or 5th BR. It will fetch you considerably more rent. Depends on the market, location, and size of the home, but I would say this increase could range from $60-200/month in extra rent. Maybe more!

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