Becoming a landlord may seem scary at first, but it’s undeniable how successful you can become if you take the right steps.
At MerGo, we work with tons of Boston clients (some who own several units in multi-story buildings, and others who are just starting to rent out their properties for an extra cash flow). Regardless, they are all working to increase the ROI of their investment property. We often get asked, what are some “quick fixes” they can do to increase the value of their home, especially as they are looking to put it back on the market for new tenants.
Here are our 5 tips for getting the best ROI for your investment property, giving you the competitive edge to win renters over, without breaking the bank!
1. Make your front entrance “pop”
Prospective renters will be walking into plenty of homes/apartments before they commit to signing a lease. An easy way to set yourself apart from your competition is through simple curb appeal upgrades. Looking at your investment property or properties now, what could you improve on?
Landscaping. In Boston, properties outsides can look, well, less than desired after a brutal winter. Take advantage of the first few weeks of spring (and those weeks of rain) and start to spruce up the outside of the apartment building and/or house. With just a few bags of mulch and climate appropriate shrubs/flowers, you can make a big difference in just a few hours. And, if you’re willing to tackle the project all on your own, you’ll only be paying a relatively inexpensive Home Depot bill – roughly $200.
Entrance Way. Is your entrance’s pathway and/or stairs trip-free and safe for people to be walking on every day? If there are breaks in the pavement, make sure to fill them in. Do your stairs or railings seems to be uneasy? Take the time to rebuild it… if you can use the same materials – great! These few changes can make a huge difference later on in the year.
Beyond safety hazards, how does the pathway/stairway look? Is it clean and bright, without any signs of harsh weather or obvious neglect? If not, take the time each spring to pressure wash your sidewalk/stairs to get that fresh, new feel to your rental property. And hey, while you have a pressure washer handy, don’t be afraid to wash the building/house’s siding either!
Front Door. Does your front door look newly painted? Does it have a working doorbell or buzzer/call system? Does it make people feel welcomed, excited to come inside? A fresh coat of paint or upgraded hardware can make a world of a difference when changing your front entrance. To help you with some ideas, check out the DIY Network’s gallery of inviting front door colors. They’ll go more in-depth in color theory and how color can really change your perspective!
These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself as you plan to upgrade your investment property in order to give it that competitive edge.
2. Breath new life into your space with fresh paint
A fresh coat of paint on your walls makes all the difference when it comes to making your investment property appealing to tenants and potential tenants. But before you get to painting, make sure you prep the area well. Wipe down all the walls with a wet cloth (we recommend just using water). This way, you’ll avoid any dust mixing in with your fresh paint.
And now that you know painting can increase the value of an investment property, be smart with what colors you choose. You are trying to make your property appealing to a wide variety of people. Here are our tips:
■ Choose a color palette. Check out Benjamin Moore’s Color Collections to help you come up with new color combinations. We love “A Fresh Look at Monochromatic” by Benjamin Moore.
■ With small spaces, keep it light. If you are working with a studio apartment, or cramped kitchens and bathrooms, keep the paint selection to lighter tones. This will the room seem bigger and cleaner.
■ Don’t forget the trim! A freshly-painted room only looks like a million bucks if it has the clean, white trim to match. Don’t forget this small but incremental part of the painting process.
3. Deep Clean (gloves recommended)
We always hear the classic stories of old tenants moving out of their apartment and leaving the space absolutely filthy. Here’s how you can take a few steps in the right direction…
■ Rent a carpet cleaner. You can either have a professional team come in, or personally rent a carpet cleaner from your local supermarket or Home Depot – you can check out the availability of a carpet cleaner online here. Pro Tip: Always remember to move as much furniture off the floor as possible, if there is any.
■ Dust all the windows and blinds. Renters, for the most part, don’t put in as much effort as homeowners when it comes to the daily maintenance and upkeep of their home. So you might notice after tenants move out, the windows have never been Windexed or the blinds have accumulated 3+ years worth of dust, and the clean white surface is now covered in a veneer of gray dust. The easiest way to go about it? Take all the blinds off at once and dedicate an entire afternoon to cleaning them up. By the end of the day, it will look like you bought completely new blinds for the entire space (without spending a leg and an arm).
■ Make a checklist for yourself, separate it by room. When a tenant moves out, it can be overwhelming to organize the entire space (especially on a deadline – like if you have someone moving in shortly after). So make a checklist for yourself based on each room in the house. Consider all the appliances or specifics per room. Like in the kitchen, you’ll want to make sure the oven has been fully wiped down and in the bathroom, you’ll want to make sure the drain has been thoroughly cleaned and water is draining effectively. House Beautiful has an awesome (plus already made) checklist that you can go through to make sure you’re not missing anything important!
4. Declutter where you can
So let’s say you have a larger building, maybe it has 6 units or so in it. What does your lobby look like? Is it clean and spotless? Or does it have old mail and magazines piling up in the corner of the mail room?
Take the time to declutter your common areas! When people are walking through units, looking for their next home, they want to make sure the people who share that same space respect it. And this is just as true with the management team, managing the building. Make sure you have a team that is going in at least twice a month, vacuuming or mopping the common spaces and cleaning up areas that can easily get cluttered, like the laundry area, mailroom, or basement storage.
5. Upgrade your hardware
This is such a simple but often overlooked step when trying to increase the value of your property. Take a look around your home, could the kitchen cabinets use updated knobs or handles? What do the bathroom lights look like? Bad hardware can instantly date your space. Small upgrades like replacing your hardware have proved to offer an 83% return on investment – unlike to expensive kitchen remodels!
Start with the kitchen and bath first, as this is where you’ll see the best ROI. Cabinet knobs and lighting fixtures are a gray place to begin. Always think about fixtures that will work well with your space, and compliments it rather than compete with it.
Pro Tip: Don’t get overwhelmed by whats in style now – think about what will work long term. For instance, while copper is a very trendy metal right now, it might not be five years down the road. Opt for something that will last you at least ten years. Steel is always a great option that’s forgiving as years go by. This is our favorite cabinet pull at the moment.