Appliances

6 Replies

Hi BP Community,

I'm working on rehabbing a property I just purchased and I am trying to decide what to do about appliances. The property was built in '74, and is in a solid blue collar neighborhood south of Seattle. It's 4 bedrooms and should rent for $1900+. The city is Federal Way (98023) and it is in the Twin Lakes neighborhood. The issue: I have a 1974 fridge that seems like its going to give out soon (White color); a dishwasher that I would prefer to replace because it looks about 20 years old and would have concerns about how much life is left (Black color); and a newer electric range and hood (White color). What would you all do in relation to colors? Get a new fridge and dishwasher that is black (and have mismatched with range/hood) or buy all white to match? I'm leaning to all white to avoid mismatch but I just don't like the idea of all white as rentals I've seen are black or stainless steel (have seen some white so could be okay). What do all think? Thanks.

I personally like white appliances, just because it's keeps kitchens brighter, but it depends on the rest of your kitchen, like flooring and cabinetry. I feel like a high quality tenant might want matching appliances, but that's just based on my personal preferences for matching appliances vs matching décor.

One thing you could look at is getting a stainless steel conversion kits for the range, I think it's just a sheet of stainless that sticks to the front, and you can replace the handle with a black one. A stainless range hood is $100. Then if you bought a stainless fridge and dishwasher, all of the appliances would match.

Overall, I think you're making the right choice replace the fridge and dishwasher, because replacing them once you have a renter in will be more of a pain.

I think the answer depends on if you manage the property yourself or not.  When I first started with rentals, I bought at scratch and dent places and also kept some old existing appliances in place that still worked.  That is, I went with the low up-front cost approach.  I use property management, and I realized really quickly that appliance services calls/repairs add up quickly.  I'm fairly certain I paid for a stove 3 times over early on in my investing.  If I was managing the properties myself and had the time required, it would certainly be somewhat cost effective (ignoring the cost of time), for me to replace stove coils, fix a compressor on a fridge, etc.  However, appliance repair service adds up quickly.  I started asking myself, why am I spending $150 to repair a 7 year old stove that could be replaced for $500.  You will eventually pay for old appliances...this is why most investors have a capital reserve component in their cash flow/profit analysis...we know that we will have to replace the fridge every 13-15 years.  Just like the roof will need to be replaced every 20-30 years. 

My suggestion is to keep a record of all appliances and their associated age (I do this for other capital expense items also - roofs, exterior paint, etc.).  There are plenty of sites out there then can tell you the normal useful life of an appliance.  My property management company knows that appliance services calls need to be cleared with me (barring emergency).  That way I can check the age of the appliance and make the judgement call on whether to repair or replace.  

So to answer your question - colors are neighborhood specific...what are the other rentals in your area doing?  I think white is generally fine in most parts of Federal Way (ask your property management company what they think - if you use one).  White appliances are also cheaper; no need to pay for stainless steel if it doesn't increase rent or shorten the vacancy period.  I think the key thing is to know that appliances will break at some point so maintaining their life cycle and knowing when to replace is very important.  I'm not sure how old your stove is; but that is important to figure out.  Also, look for fridge energy rebates from your power company - PSE used to have a good one - not sure if that is still active.

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Without knowing your neighborhood, I will say that I try to stick to white in all of my rentals. White hides damage the easiest, can be touched up with some paint the easiest, and goes with more or less everything. Colors sometimes evoke visceral responses, while white is usually palatable to most people. As for matching, it is almost always best if all appliances match. Mismatches screams "Hey, I'm a leftover the landlord dug up from another property!" regardless of how nice the appliance is. 

@Lauren Burkert - thank you for your input. Glad to hear your opinion on all white. I'll plan to go with all white. I appreciate your input.

@John Bankson - thank you for your thoughts as well. So, I do manage my 2 rentals and it hasn't been too time consuming. I would like to keep it that way especially as I work to acquire additional properties and balance a full-time career. WIth that said, thank you for your thoughts about managing time and the potential impact with older appliances.