Best Low Cost Upgrades for a Rental Property

5 Replies

I inherited a lot of real estate (with a ton of equity and in prime locations in Pittsburgh) and it took quite a while for me to figure out what to do with it.  After some thought, I will rent it out but it needs quite a bit of work.  My biggest concerns:

1. The kitchen is straight out of the 70s but I feel that I can somehow save money by refinishing the cabinets (any suggestions are welcome), adding new stainless steel appliances, and changing the floorings (there's that outdated linoleum there currently).  Also, there's a drop ceiling that needs to go.  It also has one of those crazy looking countertops that probably needs to be replaced (any ideas on this would be welcome). 

2. The upper bathroom will need to be retiled (probably with cheap subway tiles), new toilets, sinks, and potentially getting rid of the old school tub, and having a shower kit and new lighting.  

Question: Are there are special brands that you find are not super expensive yet would work well for a rental property?? Countertops, bathroom tiles, toilets, sinks, flooring, etc. 

Any special advice as I begin this process is always appreciated.   Thanks so much.

@Kenneth Peagler If cabinets are in decent shape I'd just paint them rather than replacing. I'm a fan of vinyl plank flooring in kitchen and baths as you can get it for around $2/square (home decorators brand at home depot) and it's waterproof/durable. For all the more granite/quartz costs to install anymore it isn't really THAT much more than laminate that I usually just opt for stone counters. Often times you can refinish the tub to save it rather than having to replace it. Vanity/fixtures/tile for bathroom are all relatively cheap usually just find something decent looking that's on sale at one of the box stores. 

Before deciding to upgrade anything (vs making it serviceable) you need to know the specific market and what would be expected in those properties. Sometimes property owners do to a rental what they would do to their own home and wind up investing money that provides no return. No matter what "decorating" one does, someone's going to like and some not. Just because it's "dated" doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be changed for a rental.

@Kenneth Peagler labor will be your biggest expense by far so don’t focus on low cost, focus on durability and timeless appeal. You don’t want the labor expense again soon. Plus, if you decide to sell you will benefit from durable finishes that still look good. Solid core vinyl flooring, even in the bathrooms. Subway tile is cheap but why not do large format porcelain tile in white to reduce grout lines, for example. Labor is the same.

Keep in mind labour costs that can make up to half of total refurbishment. Plus remember about short-term durability of cheap materials. Later you may end up spending much more on repairing all this stuff. Decent materials not only last long but also will be a good help if you decide to sell the property - good look will attract more potential buyers.