WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — Now that rental property and multi-family mortgages are easier to obtain more people are choosing to become landlords. However, owning a rental unit is a completely different experience than owning your own home. Many people make the mistake of approaching a rental property as if it were a personal residence.
As a landlord you have to balance the cost of improvements with return on investment and make decisions based on mass appeal rather than your own. From energy efficient refrigerators to updated décor, here are cost-effective ways to make your income property highly desirable.
Fully Functional Refrigerator
Refrigerators are an item that varies from one rental property to the next. Many rental units don’t include a refrigerator, but that could decrease desirability. For some renters, the cost of buying a refrigerator is an extra expense that they don’t want to take on. Those applicants will simply bypass properties without one.
A refrigerator is a good investment because it increases your pool of applicants, and it can be deducted on your taxes. Energy-efficient refrigerators may also come with rebates that reduce the cost. With a refrigerator in place, you have the flexibility to increase the monthly rate slightly to cover appliance payments.
Fresh Coat of Paint
Adding a fresh coat of paint is by far the easiest and most affordable improvement that can be made. It’s also something that is expected by most renters. A few things to keep in mind are:
- It’s best to choose a neutral color palette. Neutral colors have broad appeal and are easy to incorporate into different types of décor.
- The paint finish is also an important factor. You may want to select different finishes for different areas of the home. High gloss and semi-gloss are excellent options for kitchens and around trim because they are extremely durable and easy to clean. Satin is a good choice for the walls of living spaces because it’s still easy to clean and has an appealing appearance.
- Stick to white around the trim. White is a universal color so it’s easy to do touch ups only where needed.
People spend a lot of time in bathrooms so it’s often a place where renters would like to see updates. Simply changing out the fixtures in bathrooms will instantly update the appearance. Brushed nickel finish is always a safe bet, but the biggest concern is making sure everything matches. Fixture finishes that don’t match the doorknobs, shower surround, etc. will look out of place.
You may not want to invest in new cabinets and countertops, but adding a new kitchen faucet is usually worth the time, effort and money. Like bathrooms, kitchens are a big selling point. Among the features in the kitchen, the sink will get used the most. Potential renters that tour the home will notice you spent a little extra money on a new, highly functional faucet.
Paint Worn or Dated Kitchen Cabinets
New kitchen cabinets will cost thousands of dollars, and it will take you years to see a return. An easy fix to improve their appearance is simply painting them. Like the walls, you’ll want to keep the paint color neutral. Black and white are typically the best options. If your kitchen is small or doesn’t have a lot of natural lighting white is the better choice.
After you’re done painting consider adding simple handles that match the finish of the new kitchen faucet. Between the paint and the handles, the cabinets will look brand new.
Convenient Washer and Dryer Connections
If you don’t already have washer and dryer connections available in a convenient location it’s something worth considering. It’s a little more costly than some updates, but it can significantly boost the rental price.
Updated Lighting Fixtures
As soon as the light gets turned on the lighting fixture becomes a focal point. Many income property owners state that updated lighting features are a good investment. You can possibly save money and improve the overall décor by purchasing contractor packs with several of the same lighting features that can be used throughout the home.
Renters often equate cleanliness with the general condition of the property. No matter what renovations you make, if the rental unit isn’t spotlessly clean it will be difficult to get top dollar.
A professional cleaning service that will clean everything from top to bottom isn’t cheap, but it’s usually worth the cost. If you have carpets, find a cleaning company that can clean the flooring as well. Odors can get trapped in the carpeting, which is an instant deal breaker for some renters.