Value Difference in New Kitchen VS. Air Conditioning

10 Replies

Hello All,

My duplex rental property is located in Buffalo, NY. The summers get muggy warm but very rarely does it reach temperatures of 90 or higher. I have been debating on what a tenant would value more between a new nice kitchen or central air conditioning.

The current kitchen is not bad and is perfectly functional but it could be much more appealing with a light to medium renovation/upgrade.

Price points between the two differ by about $2,000-$3,000 but I am trying to determine and prioritize for what a tenant would find more appealing and valuable which in return would allow me to hike rent up a higher percentage.

Thanks for all your help!!

Go Bills! :)

@Joseph Schriever

My vote is neither. Sounds like the kitchen is fine and you don't need new air. 

$5000 on a kitchen.. $50+/rent a month = 100 months before you see positive benefits. Compounded with the fact that a tenant could trash a new kitchen. 

Get it occupied. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

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I have been in upstate NY and it can get down right miserable during the summer with no AC. With that being said, I think you will get a lot more bang for you buck out of a kitchen update. Nothing gives that wow factor like walking in and seeing a nice shiny new kitchen.

In your area it is not uncommon for older houses to not have AC, so I don't think people will be totally put off by the lack of it.  Also window units are very common in that area as well. If you really feel you need AC though, you would probably be better off getting a couple of nice window units and having them permanently installed professionally, which you can do for a fraction of the price of putting central AC in.

Just my 2 cents. 

A friend from Buffalo says it is really only uncomfortable there about 2-3 months a year. The humidity more than the heat. Are window units an option? They are far less expensive than central AC. A quick Home Depot search shows $129 - $599 units. One in the main room and one in the bedroom should cool things down.

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I agree with @Mark Gallagher, your renting not selling.  I would leave it as is. Your situation isn't cost effective. 

You might just want to survey your tenants and applicants.  I've asked tenants would they be willing to pay a little more if I provided a significant upgrade (new floor tiles, central air.  The result was, I raised rent and they paid without complaints because they had a choice. 

You know your area better than anyone else. Where I am, lack of central heat & air is a huge competitive disadvantage, despite the fact that the mountains regulate the temperature and we have few, if any, 90+ degree days, nor few days below 30 degrees in the winter. People do not mind old kitchens or old bathrooms here, as long as they are clean, but central heat and air will give a huge jump on anyone else.

One of the reasons some people choose apartments over single family homes is because of central heat & air. I think it depends how long you plan to keep this unit, whether it makes sense, and how much equity it adds to the value of the house. 

Sounds like you'd rather do the kitchen. Buy them a window unit or two along with that and you'll be landlord-of-the-century.

There's two factors you have to consider. The first is the A/C won't increase the value for the Rent and the second if Long Term costs for the maintenance and care for the A/C which alot of Tenants don't do. Trust me. In the past I threw second hand Central A/C units in alot of my renovated properties b/c of a family connection. The units worked fine, but in alot of cases the tenants abused them and also assumed in was a requirement for me as the landlord to maintain, which by the way wasn't. A/C is a luxury and not a requirement by law. Just an FYI. 

Have you looked at the ductless AC systems? They are much less expensive than central air and much better than a window unit.

Hey Everyone,

Thank you very much for the responses, each one has great points that I didnt fully consider.

@Mark Gallagher - $5000 on a kitchen.. $50+/rent a month = 100 months before you see positive benefits - I did not look at the kitchen renovation this way and I am very glad you pointed this out because this is exactly how I need to be thinking about these things. So thank you!

After further thought I dont think the AC is necessary mainly becuase its not something most apartments have in Buffalo, it will only be used for 3 months out of the entire year really, tenants will only abuse it and expect me to maintain it and it does not seem like a cost effective investment. Its a luxury, not a necessity.

As for the Kitchen, like I said, its not in bad condition and its more than functional. I will upload a pic to show when I get home but the cupboards and the massive porcelain sink are straight eye soars and its the first thing you walk into the aprtment and see.   Hence why it always makes me thinnk to renovate.