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8 Cost-Effective Upgrades to Help Your Home Rent Faster

Wondering what updates are necessary for your rental home? You’re in the right place. Here is a list of the 8 most important things to consider updating before you rent out your property.

If you’re considering renting your property, you might take a look around and wonder if your home is ready to be rented. At Good Life Property Management, we are often asked what home improvements are a necessity when preparing to rent.

When investing in a property, you want to be sure that you’re spending your money on the right things. Renovations can be expensive and you don’t want to waste funds on projects that won’t increase the value of your home. Thankfully, we’ve put together a list to help you decide what should be a priority in your home.

1. Landscaping

The front yard is the first thing that prospective tenants are going to see. It’s what most people in the real estate industry call “curb appeal.” The front of the house gives prospective tenants their first impression and gives them an idea of what to expect on the inside. An unkempt front yard can not only detract from your home’s overall appearance, but from your asking price as well.

Start with the foliage. Any dying or damaged plants should be removed and replaced with new ones. Anything that appears overgrown should be tossed out as well. Shape any bushes or trees that require it. Owners often overlook the irrigation system, so make sure if you have one set up that it works as it should.

If you have a fence, it should be in good condition. Fix any boards that are falling off or flimsy. If it’s a painted fence, consider repainting or touching up to make it look fresh. Fences with gate should have functioning latches and shouldn’t be too rusted. Families with kids or pets will want to feel safe and a working gate latch will be a necessity for them.

Be aware of any large trees you might have in the yard. Bigger trees can sometimes flow into a neighbor’s yard so either have them trimmed or removed. Trim trees that lead up to your roof to avoid any rodent problems. They can climb the trees to access your roof/gutter. Trees also require a lot of water to maintain, so keep that in mind when setting up/repairing your irrigation system.

2. Front Door and Front Windows

When people first walk up to a house, they want the entryway to be inviting. Your front door is the first thing potential tenants will interact with. You don’t want it to be rusted, difficult to open, or worn down. An easy way to quickly improve the appearance of your door is to repaint it. Repainting the door is a quick, cost-effective way to boost your home’s curb appeal. A paint job will typically cost $100-$300 depending on materials used.

A sturdy front door can last decades, but make sure to inspect it’s function if your home is on the older side. An exterior door replacement can cost a couple thousand dollars depending on the material used. Steel, fiberglass, and wood are the most favored.

Additionally, the windows on the front exterior of the house should also be in pristine condition–from the glass on the outside to the curtains or blinds on the inside. This ties back to the curb appeal. Broken or foggy windows are noticed almost immediately when checking out a house. Don’t neglect the window screens, either. They should be secure in their frame and be free of holes and tears.

Light fixtures on the porch should be cleaned and work properly. Consider replacing them if they look dated. You should have adequate lighting there as well so change out light bulbs if needed.  While you’ll most likely be showing your home unfurnished, it doesn’t hurt to place a welcome mat outside for viewings. It helps potential renters view it as a home instead of an empty house.

3. Paint

Probably one of the most important as well as cost-efficient, the exterior paint can make a big impression on potential renters. A deteriorating paint job can make the entire house appear years older than it actually is. You want the outside to look clean and well-maintained.

Paint on the interior should be in good condition as well. Walls should be presentable–free of nails, scuffs, and scratches. Neutral colors such as whites, tans, and light greys tend to work best. Avoid gender-suggestive colors like bright pink, purple, and baby-blue. You’ll want to paint the trim, if there is any, in a slightly lighter or darker color than the walls.

There are a number of different finishes you can choose for your rooms. Some people prefer a semi-gloss because it is easier to clean and it resists mildew. Others like a matte finish because it’s easier when it comes to touch ups. Think about the location of your home and who might be living there.

Professional paint jobs should last around 7 years, but for rentals it’s usually closer to 3-5 years. You’ll have normal wear-and-tear, slight scuffing, and minor scratches likely after each tenant. You can determine whether you need to repaint the entire room or do a couple touch-ups once the place is vacated.

4. Appliances

The appliances in the home set a good example of what tenants can expect from you. You don’t need to have the latest model of microwave, but it should be clean and have all of its features working. The lights in the oven and microwave should be functional. Refrigerators should be of appropriate size and in a location that makes sense with the kitchen layout. Check the water filter in your fridge and replace when necessary.

If there’s a dishwasher, be sure to clean it and make sure the racks work as they should. Racks can be a pricey replacement depending on the model of dishwasher. If the racks aren’t in good condition, you might opt to replace the dishwasher instead. Dirty, grimy appliances are not only off-putting to your renters but are also a source of many maintenance orders. Your willingness to provide functional appliances shows your investment in your tenants.

If your home has washer and dryer hookups, it’s best to include the appliances as many renters may not have their own. Having to purchase these appliances will greatly increase their move in costs and will prevent many potential tenants from applying for your property. If the tenant does not have their own, and you can even negotiate a slightly higher rent if they were to be included.

Make sure your HVAC system is functional and the filters are cleaned. Clunky, old HVAC systems take away from the quality of you home. Routine maintenance on these machines can also prevent it from having any major issues or breakdowns in the future.

5. Blinds and Curtains

Blinds that are falling apart can make the entire property look dated. Old, worn-out blinds are very easy to spot and because they are an easy fix, prospective tenants might wonder why they were not replaced in the first place.

Over time blinds often become warped by heat or humidity damage, causing them to lose their straight shape. These will need to be replaced, possibly with a sturdier model that will hold up over time. Stay away from cellular shades. These are much harder to keep clean and break more easily than their alternatives.

Door blinds should be vertical and in good condition. Avoid material that feels flimsy and make sure the blinds are secure and won’t fall off when moved. For windows, Good Life typically recommends faux-wood. These are easier to clean and hold up better over time.

If you have curtains, make sure they are clean and coincide with the house interior. If the house is modern, you don’t want curtains that look like they belong in 1970s. Cohesion is key.

6. Light Fixtures and Fans

Nice lighting allows people to envision themselves living in your home. New fixtures and ceiling fans are an easy, inexpensive fix that make a big difference in a home viewing. Changing outdated fixtures can also make your home appear more modern.

Make sure all lights are working and at an appropriate brightness. Soft lighting is preferred in bedrooms and living rooms whereas brighter lighting is useful in the kitchen and the bathroom. It’s okay if they are not all brand new fixtures, but make sure they are clean and complement the home.

LED bulbs are highly preferred over incandescent bulbs. While the might cost a bit more at the initial purchases, they can save you some money when it comes time to pay the electric bill. You can even purchase ones that can be dimmed. For more on why LED lights are the best choice, check out this article

Opt for ceiling fans that are controlled by hanging strings as opposed to remotes, as remotes are more easily lost or broken. They should be clean and in appropriate areas. You don’t want a fan directly over the dining room table because it can cool down your food during dinnertime. Think about replacing it with a chandelier to keep the lighting and ditch the mild breeze.

7. Flooring

The kind of flooring you have in living areas can make or break your home. This is a tricky one because flooring can get expensive, but it can also significantly add to the value of your property. Tenants love hard surface flooring and prefer it in the kitchen and living areas, but less expensive alternatives are OK too (think vinyl or laminate). Hard floors are typically easier to clean and give the house a modern feel.

Carpet is okay in bedrooms but refrain from putting it in the bathrooms as they can be more prone to water damage. This is usually a negative for many prospective renters.

If there is carpet in the home, be sure to have it cleaned before any photos/marketing takes place. Well-maintained carpet is an easy thing to achieve and makes a big difference when it comes to photographing your home.

If your carpet has a lot of deep stains, pet damage, etc., you might want to consider replacing it. Carpet replacement can be relatively inexpensive you choose olefin or polyester. These fabrics are typically around $2 per square foot. If you opt for a more luxurious choice like wool, you could be paying upwards of $9 per square foot.

8. Kitchen & Bath Cabinets

Faulty cabinets might not seem like a big deal, but one of the first things a potential tenant does when they arrive to the kitchen is open a cabinet. If one is barely hanging onto the hinge or the paint/wood is chipping off, it detracts from the functionality of the kitchen. A new paint job and hinge replacements can make a big difference for a low cost.

The shelves inside the cabinets should also be clean. You might find water-damaged shelves under the kitchen sink where a faucet or garbage disposal once leaked. Depending on damage level, these might need to be replaced.

Drawers should also be in top-shape. They should be aligned correctly and not get stuck during use. If they are lined, make sure the inside is clean and replace the lining if needed. If you have extra money to invest, you can replace your current drawers with soft-close drawers. These minimize damage over time and add a level of sophistication to the home.

What to Remember

Overall, make sure everything works as expected. Prospective tenants will quickly notice something that is out of order. You want your house to be move-in ready and pleasing to the eye. If you think you might be ready to put your property up for rent, give Good Life a call today and we can help you through the process!

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Rental Property Repairs: Landlord vs. Tenant Responsibilities

When it comes to rental property repairs, the responsibility burden between landlord and tenant can quickly lead to a finger-pointing battle. In this blog post, we cover everything you need to know about landlord vs. tenant responsibilities for your rental. With proper understanding, repairs and maintenance issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently.  

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Hey guys, Dan from Good Life Property Management here. I want to tell you today about a few things you can do to your homes and increase the desirability to help it rent faster and for top dollar. First off, the curb appeal. Obviously you want the landscape to look nice. This property you can tell is a very low maintenance yard, which is great for rentals. Tenants often don’t want to have to deal with taking care of the lawn. Also it’s an added expense or a burden on your end as well. Also at the exterior of the home you can tell this home actually has new vinyl windows, brand new garage door. This house is actually being prepared also for sale so the owner went a little above and beyond. The overall theme is that he wanted to have it look clean and fresh. So remove all the cobwebs, murdering the leaves, clean up any mud splashes that come off from the roof. Also have a front door that’s cleaned and attracted. This one, the branding paint, is really an increased desirability. This is going to be one of the first things people see. It’s going to set the tone for the rest of the inside of the house. Great. Now that the outside looks great, let’s take a look at the inside. One of the biggest questions to give is what kind of flooring is great for a rental? So that I always say just maps the home. This house obviously has a higher build, so it has brand new lamin here living areas. In the bedrooms, if you follow me, carpets are usually the preferred flooring for bedrooms. This one actually has a slightly upgraded carpet, not much different than a apartment grade. It’s fresh, it’s clean, it looks nice. If it ever gets damaged, you’re able just to replace the carpet in this bedroom without having to go through the rest of the house. Also one of the biggest questions to get about paint. What color red paint, what do I need to paint and what kind of get away with? We always recommend painting the neutral colors. That’s going to be your off-wides, that’s your watch shadow, your Navajo, light gray. This is what you see here or even light pages as well. Neutral colors tend to attract more people. You definitely want to appeal to the white audience possible. You always want the walls to be presentable. It doesn’t mean you need to be painted in a corner at each time, but you want to make sure it’s pretty much large scratches and any nail holes. If you do go with the wall color, you do want to go with contrasting on the trim. Usually you don’t want to have gray walls or gray trim. That’s going to see here. This is actually the old original trim that didn’t have to replace it, but because it replaced the floors, we went ahead into new base floors in a bright white. Also when it comes to painting, people always ask which kind of scene should I use. For living areas, usually you want to go out to the flat, maybe in the eggshell, kitchen and baths, usually you want to go with the semi-gloss. This could be a lot easier to clean. Those are the areas you’re most likely going to have food damage and water splashing around. It’s a lot easier to clean. Most of your semi-glosses also include an anti-military side, especially in showers on the ceilings where you’re going to have a steam, it will help prevent microbial gray. Also when it comes to window coverings, you want to make sure it’s also as neutral and functional as possible. These two inch faux wood blinds are very popular and very inexpensive. Today, most mini blinds are kind of out of style. They’ll be surprised at how inexpensive these are of an upgrade. They also look great from the outside of the home as well. Also when it comes to kitchen and bathing cabinets, you also want to make sure they look clean and presentable. These are actually brand new cabinets in this house here. This is always time to be replaced with new semi-gloss cabinets. It can be refinished or even repainted for a third of the costs, sometimes even less than brand new cabinets. Countertops should also be clean. If there’s grout, you want to make sure those are cleaned up. Make sure areas in your water also are properly sealed with cotton. When it comes to appliances, they don’t all have to be related. It’s great to stay in the steel as well. Obviously if they’re all matching such as this one here, that’s great. But also not everyone can afford that. Which you want to make sure that they’re functional. They work as intended. Fish washers, especially older ones, have an issue where the racks start to rust out. It’s a common complaint we get from tenants. You’ll find that replacing these racks are generally about the same price as buying a new unit. If you do buy a new one, you may want to consider upgrading to stainless steel. Usually the cost of it is only about 30 or 40 bucks. When it comes to the oven, make sure all the burners are working. Make sure the inside of the oven is clean. You definitely don’t want any food remnants left in there from the last people living here. When it comes to the fridge, you want to make sure all the shelves are in place. This is obviously a brand new fridge. We often times come into properties where some of the glass is broken. Where the water filter needs to be replaced. You want to have everything to be moving right into the tent. Another quick and inexpensive upgrade you can do is new light fixtures in the house. This house is built in the 50s. So this is obviously not the original light fixture. But these flushed-mounted lights, you can be used to pick up a national hardware store for under 30 bucks. If the house doesn’t have air conditioning and if you have the correct wiring for it, I recommend replacing lights with ceiling fans. It’s a lot of extra value to the home. When choosing a ceiling fan, you want to make sure it’s the right size for the bedroom. If it’s for a rental, I usually recommend having one of the pole chains as a require less maintenance. One’s that are on remote control if the tenants are loose or damaged. Typically the entire fan needs to be taken down to replace the transmitter and it’s an expensive repair. Hey guys, so you’ve all heard the phrase and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Turn it out at home, you want to make sure all the home systems work, especially the major appliance such as a furnace. It’s been a long time and I recommend having a qualified HVAC technician take a look at it. The last thing you want is tenants to move in and not be able to operate the heat or the air. It’s a definite quick phone call and usually an expensive repair. Alright guys, that’s it. Hopefully you learned something here today. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. You can reach your office at 8-5-8-207-4595 or a website at www.goodlifemgmt.com.