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March 30, 2017

As a new property manager, there’s a lot to think about: marketing your property to find tenants, making necessary upgrades without spending too much money, and much more. While the experience can feel overwhelming, take a step back. Focus on the most important things first to avoid expensive upgrades and costly mistakes, ultimately allowing you to find tenants sooner than later.

As you embark on managing your first property, keep these tips in mind.

1. Curb Appeal: Find a Balance

The idea of “curb appeal” isn’t new or revolutionary. It’s common sense that a potential renter will form an important first impression about your property based on their first glimpse of it—from the outside:

“Rental properties that are maintained well on the outside could lead prospective tenants to request more information about a specific property. Many renters may be inclined to believe that properties that show well on the outside will probably look nice on the inside too,” according to experts at First Team, a southern California real estate company.

Your first inclination as a new property manager may be to go all-in, planting lush bushes and flowers, installing sprinklers, etc. Yet, it’s important to create an aesthetic that doesn’t intimidate. A heavily landscaped front yard might look incredible, but potential renters may worry about upkeep.

Instead, take it slow and make upgrades that look great without requiring extra work from yourself or your tenants. Start with a fresh coat of paint, clean the siding, and mow the lawn. Put in a cute rock-lined walkway and put a bench in the front yard, both of which look nice without needing upkeep.

Find a balance between looks and labor. Or better yet, offer your tenants “add-on” services like landscaping for an extra monthly fee.

2. Clean It Up

It may seem obvious, but many property owners lose points on cleanliness. Whenever you show your property to potential tenants, the property should be sparkling—both outside and in.

Scrubbing grout and polishing mirrors may seem unimportant, but they’ll go a long way in making a good impression. Your goal should be to make potential tenants feel comfortable in your property, envisioning themselves living there; an old bathroom that clearly needs work, for example, will have the opposite affect.

To get your property in great shape, add the following to your to-do list:

  • Shampoo the carpets
  • Re-paint rooms
  • Wash the walls
  • Re-calk the bathtub (if necessary)
  • Mop and scrub all floors
  • Clean window frames and floor boards (where dust easily collects)

Many first-time property managers will simply hire a cleaning crew, which may be worth the cost, depending on your cash flow and schedule. Remember to do this before taking any photos for listings, too. No one will be interested in seeing a place that’s clearly a mess in photos.

3. Fix it Up

Tenants expect that your property will not just be clean, but in good working order. Think about your own home. What standards do you hold it to? Your renters will have the same standards, if not higher.

This doesn’t mean you need to re-do the entire kitchen and bathroom, knock down walls and install all new appliances. Rather, do a walk-through inspection and make a list of areas and items that could use a facelift, along with anything that’s broken. Then consider how you can freshen up anything that’s not broken.

For example, adding new cabinet handles, re-staining the cupboards, and bringing in a new light fixture would go a long way without the high price tag.

4. Efficiency is Key

You may be most concerned with your monthly rent, but your tenants have a lot of other costs to consider. Utility costs play a huge role in a family’s budget, and can make or break a decision when it comes to which home to rent. That’s why it’s imperative to make your property as energy-efficient as you possibly can. Potential renters will look for efficiency in appliances, heating and cooling, and windows.

Windows deserve special attention, according to Empire Siding and Windows. Apart from playing a major role in a property’s overall energy efficiency, they contribute to the property’s aesthetic value. Plus, since they’re constantly being opened and closed, they’re prone to wear and tear. Regularly maintain your property’s windows, and consider upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient models so tenants don’t pay more for air conditioning or heat because the air is escaping.

5. Upgrade Your Security

Security upgrades are a great way to attract tenants to your property. Everyone wants the peace of mind that they’re safe in their home, and new security features will give them exactly that. Not to mention, much of the new security technology makes it easy for you be a property manager, especially with new smart locks.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on an expensive, state of the art system. These two small installations will go a long way:

Smart locks: This will make your life easier. Install smart locks, rather than using regular key locks. Most offer remote unlocking features and make it easier to change the locks when you change tenants.

Motion sensor security lights: This inexpensive purchase will go a long way for you and your tenants because they work: “Lighting that is triggered by motion offers you a great chance to startle a burglar—if you’ve ever gotten caught in a motion-sensor floodlight, you’ve probably experienced that ‘deer in headlights’ feeling,” explains Dave Artman, CEO at The Home Security Super Store. The best part: This saves on electricity because the lights only turn on when motion is detected.

6. You’re a Professional - Act the Part!

Potential tenants won’t just have high expectations for their property; they’ll have high expectations of you. Renters want a landlord to be professional, courteous, and helpful. They don’t want to worry about their requests being unanswered or their complaints going ignored.

Make a great first impression on potential tenants by arriving at showings early, dressing professionally, and being as helpful as possible. If an interested person asks a question you can’t answer, write it down and get back to them as soon as possible. Give tenants a phone number and be available to answer it.

Author Bio: Maile Proctor is a blogger and freelance editor. She writes about health and fitness, lifestyle, family and finance. She’s written for real estate sites like Lodgify, ApartmentGuide, ThinkRealty and more. Proctor earned her bachelor’s in broadcast journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, California.

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