Whether you’re a long-time property manager or the first-time owner of a rental property, attracting high-quality, long-term renters can be a challenge. In many communities across the United States, rental inventory is high and online tools allow prospective renters to shop around and compare rental properties against one another. If you’re looking for ways to make your rental stand out and be more attractive this coming year, you’ll need to focus on the essentials, make some strategic upgrades, and take steps to ensure that your property is presented in a way that attracts great tenants.
Start with the property’s basic upkeep and maintenance needs
This might feel like a boring place to start, but you need to take care of the property’s essential needs before moving onto the upgrades. After all, it doesn’t matter how nice the kitchen or bathrooms are if the property doesn’t have a working heater or if it has a leaking roof. These issues can be significant deal breakers for prospective or current tenants, so we recommend dealing with them first before moving on to upgrades or new features for the property.
Here are just a few ways to ensure your property stays in great shape:
- Schedule HVAC Maintenance: In the winter, a working heater is a necessity. No matter how old the heating system in your rental property is, have an HVAC professional out at least once-per-year to inspect and maintain it. A tune-up not only helps prevent breakdowns, but it also makes the system operate more efficiently—something your renter will appreciate during the colder months of the year.
- Care for the water heater: The property’s water heater requires an annual flush and safety inspection to ensure that it will continue providing sufficient hot water to the property. We recommend that you have a plumber inspect and maintain the water heater every year. During this inspection, they’ll check the anode rod, confirm that the pressure-relief valve is working, and flush sediment out of the tank.
- Check on the roof: A roof leak is a major issue that can lead to costly damage to your property and a headache for both you and your renter. Have a roofer out to inspect the roof and confirm that all shingles, flashing, and protective material is in place. You should also clean out the gutters and downspouts after the end of autumn to ensure that snow, ice, and water doesn’t become trapped on top of the roof.
Upgrade the bathrooms and kitchen
Now that you’ve taken care of the home maintenance essentials, you can move on to making value-adding improvements to the property. The natural place to start is with a kitchen and bathroom remodel. Not only are these the home remodels with the best long-term return-on-investment for the property’s value, but they also greatly increase the attractiveness of your rental to prospective tenants.
If you’re remodeling the kitchen, new quartz or granite countertops are a good starting point. You’ll also want to consider having the cabinets replaced or refaced. Pair those new counters and cabinets with a fresh backsplash for an attractive finish to your kitchen. Contrary to the popular home remodeling trend of the moment, you may not need to “open up” the kitchen by removing interior walls. This can add significantly to your remodeling costs and may not be feasible in every apartment, condo, or home.
You can save money on a bathroom remodel by keeping the same layout, but upgrading the shower, tub, toilet, and bathroom vanity. In the shower, consider changing out the faucet, fixtures, tile, and glass door for a modern look. You may not need to replace the toilet, but you may choose to do so if you feel a water-conserving toilet would be a better fit for the space. Finally, replacing the faucets and fixtures of your bathroom sinks is a low-cost way to modernize the bathroom.
Focus on small, impactful changes
Not every upgrade to the property needs to be as significant as a full kitchen or bathroom remodel. In fact, small changes can make all the difference to prospective renters. Here are a few low-cost upgrades you should consider making to the property:
- Change out lighting: There’s a strong correlation between lighting and how a space is perceived. By swapping out outdated, yellow lights for bright, attractive ones, you can completely shift how the kitchen, bathroom, or living room looks. For example, hanging pendant lights over a kitchen island or bar area can make that space much more appealing and usable. Putting sufficient ceiling lighting in the living room makes that room feel more inviting and cozy.
- Improve the landscaping: When a prospective renter first pulls up to the property, you want to make the best possible first impression. Overgrown, unkempt landscaping is not going to get the job done. One solution is to have a landscaping professional do a yard cleanup to make everything more attractive. However, you should also consider the long-term benefits of removing certain bushes or trees to make the property less maintenance-heavy.
Put your property in the best possible light
Our final note about improving the attractiveness of your property has nothing to do with the actual property itself. Once you’re ready to put it on the market for renters, we recommend that you have a professional photographer take photos and walkthrough videos of the property. This ensures that prospective renters see the best side of the place, which means more of them will end up touring it and applying to live there.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but all good renters appreciate a property owner who puts the time, money, and effort into making their property attractive and a great place to live.