The Do’s and Don’ts of Rehabbing Your Rental Property

Whether you’ve only just purchased a rental property, or you feel like your property has untapped potential, it could be time for rehab. Not all rehabs are created equal, so it’s important to focus on improvements that will enhance your bottom line. When you’re deciding which upgrades to make, just keep in mind that you aren’t going to be living there, so this isn’t about reflecting your tastes. Focus on value adds that will appeal to as many people as possible. So first, let’s look at some upgrades that will improve your return on investment:

Landscaping

This is a little counterintuitive. After all, landscaping is mainly about aesthetics, but with real estate, curb appeal is everything. Improved landscaping will make your property stand out to passersby and give potential renters a good feeling when they visit.

Replace the front door

This goes hand-in-hand with landscaping: first impressions are everything. Is the front door bruised or distressed? Does the screen door have a tear? Then give them both a refresh. A lot of times, people will make unconscious choices based on externals like the front door. You don’t want to lose a prospective tenant over an easy fix.

Add a fresh coat of paint

Always make sure to paint your property’s interior a soothing shade of white. It’s easy for paint jobs to look old, so paint the interior of your property between each tenant. You won’t need to paint the exterior as often, but make sure to give it an honest appraisal. If it’s starting to look worse for wear, then it’s probably a good time to add a fresh coat.

Upgrade your appliances

If the appliances aren’t energy-efficient, it’s time to replace them. While replacing the dishwasher or washer and dryer may sound expensive, it is an investment that will pay for itself. If your property doesn’t have an in-unit washer and dryer, consider adding them. You will be able to charge higher rent and the new appliances will pay for themselves over time. One way to cut costs on appliances is to shop around for slightly used ones. Also, if your property has an air conditioner, an energy-efficient A/C can cut down your cooling costs by as much as twenty percent compared to an older model. Another money-saving appliance is a low-flow, high-efficiency toilet, which can result in $2,000 of savings over its lifespan.

Windows 

If the windows in your property have any damage, such as rot around their frames, you need to replace them. Consider upgrading to vinyl windows as opposed to wooden ones. Vinyl windows offer better insulation, which will cut down on energy costs.

Floors

Hardwood floors are expensive, but they can change the whole feel of a space. At the very least, replace the carpet after someone moves out. If you only have a little money to spend on flooring, focus on one room instead of the entire apartment. The kitchen or the bathroom are good places to start.

WHAT TO AVOID

Some upgrades are impractical or will only appeal to a narrow demographic. When you’re rehabbing your apartment, always err on the side of simplicity.

Doing It Yourself

There are some less technical improvements you can make yourself, such as re-painting the walls. But when it comes to any renovations involving plumbing or electricity, if you aren’t experienced, hire a professional.

Faux Finishes for Walls

The walls and ceilings should all be painted white. Walls are a prominent feature, and some people may be turned off by wallpaper or a faux marble or faux wood finish. You want people who check out your property to be able to see themselves in it, and add-ons that only some people will like can turn people off.

Embracing Trends

A few years ago, everyone was using hooks to hang their pots and pans from the ceiling. That looks good in a home décor magazine, but it’s impractical in a small kitchen. Interior designers love trends because they don’t have to live with them long-term. Don’t commit to something that tenants will get sick of in a few years or will look dated. The more your property feels like a blank canvas, the easier it will be to find long-term tenants.

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