If you have a rental home that is currently wanting for a tenant, winter is the perfect time to start sprucing up the place to make it more appealing when the next peak rental season rolls around in spring. It can be tempting to think that a home will be fine without updates and touch-ups but in reality, times and tastes in home design change and savvy landlords know how to keep up. If you want your property to be in high demand in the spring, now is your ideal opportunity to make the house shine. Your goal is to make sure the home is in top maintenance condition, is spotlessly clean, and appealingly decorated to make your new potential tenants feel like home the moment they step over the threshold.
1. Complete Maintenance Check-Up
Your first duty is to ensure that the home is still solid, in good condition, and likely to stay that way for at least a full year after new tenants move in. This means that you’ll want a complete maintenance checkup now. You’ll want to check everything from the roof to the foundation which means inviting a small variety of professionals to your home or, possibly, one multi-talented service who can cover the whole inspection. Should anything come up, repair or replace it. This is also the right time to change the locks if you haven’t already.
Be Sure to Check
Appliances and HVAC
Signs of Moisture
Tiles, Caulk, and Grout
Windows and Doors
2. The Deep Clean
The next step is to make sure the home is spotlessly clean, and not just on the surface. Your goal is to get even the dust from the last tenant out of the house and that will take just some thought and effort. Start by dusting everything, including the ceilings, walls, and the space between upper cabinets and the ceiling. Clean your air ducts or have them professionally cleaned and clear out the vent behind the dryer of any lingering dryer lint.
Now that all that dust is freed up and much of it has been thrown away, vacuum everything to suck up dust that has re-settled and then steam clean the carpets. With all that done, you’re now ready for a normal deep clean of wiping everything down, scrubbing the bathrooms and sinks, and power-washing the driveway and front walk.
3. Fresh Paint in Blue and Gray
With the house clean and free of lingering particulates from previous owners, it’s time to paint. This year’s colors for what sells a house fast are blue-tinted grays combined with soft or dark blues as an accent. Blue in a home can make it feel more spacious and relaxed and blue in the kitchen has become especially appealing. The most popular kitchens often feature a cool combination of blue-gray paint, stainless steel appliances and frosted glass cabinet doors and decor.
4. Redesign the Landscaping
While the inside of a house matters, the landscaping will always be the first thing your potential tenants see. While it’s still cold and barren outside, now is the perfect time to rething the landscape to have it enacted as the snow melts and green starts to return. If you’re eager to get renting, you might even consider a little winter landscaping with cold-blooming flowers and shrubs.
5. Update Older Appliances and Fixtures
There’s nothing quite so discouraging in a rental property like old appliances. The appliances contribute significantly to how pleasant it is to live in your rental so think carefully about when to replace them. Most modern tenants are looking for stainless steel models that are less than 5 years old and are still in great working condition.
Houses also come with a variety of little details that subtly mark how old and outdated the home is. Sink fixtures, light fixtures, and the handles on drawers and cabinets can all be replaced quite affordably in a way that can completely update the look of your rental. You may also consider repainting the cabinets and redesigning the cabinet doors to something trendy. Glass inserts are very in right now.
6. Consider Smart Home Features
While you’re thinking about upgrades and investments that could raise your reasonable asking rent, have you considered the smart home? Automated home features are incredibly popular and are a high-tech upgrade that renters value. You can start with responsive light bulbs but the best installations are smart locks, thermostats, video doorbells, and security systems.
7. Take Pictures
Once your rental home is completely upgraded, updated, and repaired, it’s time to take pictures. These can serve as a reference for the condition the home is in before you bring on new renters. If there are still cracks, scuffs, or small signs of wear and tear, be sure to document them so you know exactly what the differences are when your next tenant moves on.
Finally, you are ready to stage. Staging is the art of making a rental or for-sale property look appealing to people who might want to live there. It usually involves a few pieces of furniture and a few pots and potholders in the kitchen to show how the place would look if occupied. If you don’t want to bother with staging, just put up a few inexpensive curtains to make sure the place feels welcoming rather than vacant.
Finally, you and your property are ready for the new rental season! For more tips and tricks on managing your rental property or to find someone who will do happily do all this rigamarole for you, contact us today!
Welcome back to the second half of our two-part series on what to consider when you’re looking for your very first investment property. Buying an extra home is a big decision, and one you want to make carefully. Last time we talked about being financially prepared and choosing a structurally sound home that can be rented quickly after you purchase it. Let’s continue by talking about how to ensure your choice attracts the right sort of renter.
5. Is the Home In a Desirable Neighborhood?
There is a major housing crunch in Australia but that doesn’t mean that just any home will find a renter immediately. Most renters prefer to live in the city but wherever your investment property is, it’s important that the home be in a desirable location. In a nice neighborhood, near a school, or within walking distance of appealing shops and public locations are all great selling points but each neighborhood will have specific considerations to think about.
6. Who Will Want to Live in the Home?
The style and location of the home you choose will influence the kind of tenant you bring in. If you buy a first-floor flat on the quieter edge of a city, you’re more likely to see downsizing aged tenants while a three bedroom house with a yard will be more appealing to parents with children and a trendy loft near a college or shopping center will probably draw a younger crowd. Consider who you will enjoy renting to when choosing your property.
7. Landlord or Property Manager?
One of the biggest questions to ask yourself is whether or not you will be the acting landlord. The answer is almost more of a checklist, though the final decision is always yours to make. If you live near the investment property, are great at performing repairs, and have time to respond to renter problems when they arise, you could have some of fun serving as a landlord for a few years. However, the investment property is far away, you’re not great at repairs, or you don’t have time to deal with renters, hiring a property manager instead often pays for itself in saved fees, regular maintenance, well-managed tenants.
8. What is Your Maintenance Schedule and Costs?
Every home has a maintenance schedule and a number of things that need to be kept up every year in order to keep the home in top condition. Flushing the water heater, inspecting the roof, clearing the gutters, and so on are all officially your responsibility. Make a maintenance calendar with reminders and calculate the approximate costs of each maintenance task or talk to your property manager about their maintenance policies so you know that everything will be taken care of.
9. What is Your Estimated Overhead and Profit Margin?
Now balance the income of a reasonable rent for the property against the costs of the mortgage, regular maintenance, a repairs budget, and possibly a property manager’s salary. This will tell you what your overhead is (all the costs) and your final profit margin, which is what’s left when you subtract all the costs from the rent. If there’s not a lot left, don’t sweat it. You’ll find better quotes and get more efficient over time. Then, when the mortgage is paid off, that entire chunk of costs automatically transfers to profits for a great retirement plan.
10. Are You Prepared for the Responsibility?
Owning an investment property and renting to tenants is, admittedly, a big responsibility. You’re in charge of keeping someone else’s home safe, supportive, and protective. You need to respond if your tenants call for help or repairs and be ready to act immediately if the home somehow becomes unsafe. Not to mention your responsibility to properly maintain your own financial investments. If all of this still sounds wonderful and exciting, then you are in the right mindset to find your first investment property.
For more great tips and tricks on how to be a great investment property owner, contact us today!