By Isabella Cormier
When you sell your home, you only have to make appealing upgrades once ahead of sale, and then you’re done. As long-time property managers and landlords know, the calculus is much different for a rental property: you need to impress new prospective renters on a regular basis and make the case that your rental is both worth the monthly cost and better than others in the area.
This means that property upgrades aren’t just a luxury; they’re a necessity. In this article, we will review the four property improvement projects you should plan on tackling first, as well as the reasons why you should renovate your rental property.
Focus on the Make-and-Break Items First
Whether you are a full-time property manager or a part-time landlord of one property, you don’t have the luxury of an unlimited repair and upgrade budget. If you are going to see a return on your investment, you need to set limits for what you spend on the property and determine what to prioritize. This means taking care of the essential make-or-break items first. These are aspects of the property:
These essential make-or-break items include structural repairs, AC system repair or replacement, or major plumbing problems. These will be deal breakers for prospective renters and recourse to get out of the lease for current ones. In this way, all of these items could be a double-whammy for your property: not only will you have to pay the upfront cost of fixing the problem, but you could lose out on months of rental revenue.
Our recommendation is that you prioritize any needed repairs before moving onto projects that would be classified as upgrades or value-added additions.
Upgrade the Kitchen
If you have the budget this summer to upgrade one room of your rental, make it the kitchen. Today’s renters are looking for modern kitchens—complete with new or refurbished cabinets, stone countertops, and updated appliances—that fit their lifestyle and home life needs. A new kitchen makes your property more appealing to a wider group of renters, which means you can raise your monthly rent while still attracting plenty of prospective leases.
If you are so inclined, you can complete much of a kitchen remodel on your own, including finding, purchasing, and installing appliances; installing tile, laminate, or vinyl flooring; and adding a backsplash. You will probably want to have a professional handle the installation of new cabinets and countertops—installation mistakes here could result in a kitchen that looks low-quality or shoddy, which would negate the positive effects you’re seeking from the project.
Replace the Worn Flooring
More and more property managers are opting to replace carpeting with hard floor surfaces. While initially cheaper, carpeting is less resistant to the high wear-and-tear that renters put the apartment, condo, or home through on an annual basis. From pet messes to spilled drinks, renters can do a number on carpets, and the cost and hassle of cleaning may not be worth it for you—even with a deposit involved. Many landlords and property managers are starting to opt for the following types of flooring:
Get More ROI Out of the Small Upgrades
So far, we’ve described some relatively big-ticket upgrades—new HVAC systems, new kitchens, new floors, etc. However, if you are working on a tighter upgrade budget, you still have options for sprucing up the rental and making it more appealing to renters. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Find the Intersection of Cost and Quality
Whether you are planning on tackling a big project, some small upgrades, or all of the above this summer, be sure to set a budget and stick to it. For the best-possible ROI, insist on quality work: hire only the best remodeling professionals in your area, and make sure that projects you take on personally are done right and done safely. With a lot of planning and even more elbow grease, your rental property will be looking great—just in time for your next renters to tour it.
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