Improve Your Rental Property Without Breaking The Bank

Landlords are constantly looking for ways to improve their bottom line. Even in high demand markets, a rent increase is not always possible. One of the ways to justify a higher rent is by adding value to your property. High ticket upgrades to the roof, windows, electricals and even appliances are nice, but may not do much to increase rents in the short-term. Fortunately, there are many minor upgrades you can do that will add real value. You don’t need to do all of them at once, but if you tackle one item with every new lease, you will start to see the impact. Here are a few cost effective updates you can do to you rental property:

1. Focus on living area: While kitchens and bathrooms are the focus when selling a home, the living area is a big attraction with renters. This isn’t to say that those areas aren’t important, but most renters have short-term needs. They want to live in a place that feels as much like home as possible. One of the ways to do this is by improving the appeal of the living area. Start by adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls. Something as small as changing the color from a basic white to an eggshell can change the feel of the room. Next, look at any empty wall space and try to add something appropriate; a large mirror near the entry or assorted picture frames adds a nice touch. If there is molding, take a look at the condition and see if it can use touching up. If you furnish the property, consider a new TV stand or updated couches. Most of these will cost well under $1,000; but can completely change how a prospective renter view your property.

2. Flooring: The condition of the flooring is one of the most noticeable items. Regardless if you have carpeting or hardwood flooring; if it’s old and outdated you will lose demand. There has been a recent shift to hardwood flooring in recent years. This doesn’t mean you need to change from carpet, but it needs to be clean and fresh looking. Start by giving your carpet a good steam clean. If you don’t want to pay to get this done, you can rent a steamer and tackle it yourself. Depending on how it comes out, hardwood floors may be the best option. Linoleum flooring can be a comparable, cost efficient substitute to actual hardwood floors. Hardwood floors will have a longer life, but will also come at a much higher price tag. Whatever you decide to do with the floors, they should look as new as possible.

3. Appliances: While appliances typically aren’t a deal breaker in a rental property, you may lose more people than you think if they are outdated. You need to toe the line between price and quality. Stainless steel appliances are nice, but may not work for every type of property. There should be a happy medium between stainless steel and a 10 year old dishwasher. Older appliances may work just fine, but it gives the renter a feeling like they may break at any time.

A large segment of renters have dealt with landlords who are unresponsive. You may be the best landlord they have had, but they don’t know that as of yet. They may not want to risk finding out. Another benefit of updating the appliances is that it contributes to the feeling of home. Renters don’t want to feel as if they are renting. They want to feel like they own the house they will live in. Newer appliances give this feeling.

4. Curb appeal: The exterior of a rental property is often neglected. There are many things you can do to the outside that will increase rental appeal. You can focus on the yard, shrubs and landscaping, but don’t forget about the actual property. Look at the condition of the front door. Painting it with a high gloss color can completely change the perception. If painting won’t do the trick, consider replacing it all together. A new front door is an item that is often overlooked, but is one of the first things people see. If you replace the door this year, you may not have to change it again for years. Also take a look at the shutters and the condition of the exterior. If you haven’t power washed the exterior in years, it can be like giving it a fresh coat of paint. Old, rusting gutters are an eyesore, but an easy fix. Pull up to your property and take a look at the first thing you notice. This is what prospective renters will do as well. A bad first impression can be difficult to overcome.