Spring has sprung! Winter is behind us, and the COVID pandemic is fading fast (fingers crossed on that one!). This is the time of year when you might be thinking about making some improvements to your rental property.
As landlords, we know that we have to keep our properties in good working order. But beyond the basics, our “must do” agenda, what upgrades give us the biggest bang for the buck in terms of property valuation and rental rates?
Here are my top five choices for single-family property upgrades that add value.
Does it make sense to tear up an existing yard and spend thousands creating a showcase setting? Probably not.
What does make sense are doing things like:
- Adding a new sidewalk
- Repairing damaged concrete
- Fixing a broken or old fence
- Pruning trees and shrubs
- Planting new trees and shrubs
- Adding decorative touches like hanging baskets and potted plants
- Hiring a yard maintenance service
The idea is to make your yard attractive without spending a fortune. A potential new tenant’s first impression is what she sees when she pulls up to the house. It’s wise to invest some money to ensure that your yard’s appearance says, “This is a great home.”
Exterior painting (unless you do it yourself) can be pricey. The average cost of painting a home in the U.S. is about $2,500, but that varies widely by the size of the house and where you live.
Should you wait until your rental property’s exterior paint is peeling and dilapidated before giving it a new cost of stain or paint? No, that’s a mistake. Every few years, take a close look at your exterior. If you can see the beginning of chips and peels and the color is fading, it’s time to take action.
Interior painting is far less expensive and possibly the best value you have for upgrades. For a few hundred dollars, you can brighten up your kitchen, hallways, or bedrooms, making them look clean and fresh. Go for neutral tones that allow tenants to bring their own color into the home.
New Shutters Or Curtains
Many rental homes have curtains and shutters that are, well, ancient. It’s tempting not to spend money replacing an item that is still functional. That said, if your window coverings could be props on the That 70’s Show, it’s time for them to visit the dumpster.
Installing new windows can be pricey, but new shutters and curtains are usually affordable upgrades. Even if your old shutters and curtains are still functional, odds are they have deteriorated over time.
New flooring can be a significant investment, whether that’s carpeting, tile, wood, or a composite flooring product. However, replacing old flooring makes a room look bright, clean, and attractive.
Restoring old flooring, versus replacing it, is often an option. If you have hardwood floors, refinishing them is almost always the way to go. When is the last your carpets were professionally cleaned? Before you spend the money to lay down new carpet, if the existing carpet isn’t torn and damaged, trying cleaning it first.
If you want to focus on single rooms, the kitchen and the bathroom are the places to start with flooring upgrades.
Upgrade Your Appliances
Here is where you need to go beyond the maxim, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Not that this is bad advice in general, but if your rental property’s kitchen has a “perfectly good” almond green electric stove that was manufactured when Ronald Reagan was President, it’s gotta go.
Especially when you are seeking new tenants, the appearance and quality of your appliances matter. It’s probably not a good idea to upgrade your appliances to keep up with the latest trends every year, but it’s also not a smart move to have a kitchen full of energy inefficient, 25-year-old relics that send the message to your tenants that you are not interested in improving your property beyond the bare minimum.
While it’s not an upgrade, the cheapest and best improvement you can make to your rental property is simply cleaning it up. Don’t skip on the cleaning expense when an old tenant moves out. Your property should be thoroughly cleaned, not just vacuumed and superficially dusted.
It’s tempting to “cruise” as a landlord. By that I mean, you’ve got good tenants who pay their rent on time, and you are spending little on maintenance. Don’t let this lull you into complacency.
Spring is a good time of year to take a closer look at your rental property investment. A little analysis and thought will ensure that you’re not neglecting upgrades that you should be doing now rather than later.
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