Home Improvements That Pay: The Professional’s Approach

By | Leasing

Home Improvements That Pay: The Professional’s Approach

More power? I don’t think so, Tim. But seriously, if you are a newcomer to the world of property leasing or just looking for some foolproof tips to rent out your property faster and for the best price possible, this is the post for you. As one of the leading property management companies in Chicago, our goal is to help you rent your property quicker, at the best possible price. We have years of professional experience and hope to help you save time and boost profitability.

Flooring: Sensible and competent but never cheap

Cheaper isn’t always best and it’s often better to pay that little extra for something you know not only looks great, but is going to stand the test of time. This is especially true when it comes to flooring.

Beautiful Wood Flooring

The true key is ensuring you choose material that is not only hardwearing, but also easy for your tenants to clean and maintain. Wood floors are often the simplest option, long lasting and easy to clean. Even laminate, “snap together”, wood flooring is a great option, especially if the subfloor is in a challenging condition.

If you’re set on carpet, it may not be in the best interest of your pocket book, long term, to just choose the cheapest option. Picking a carpet that is thicker and more durable will save you a lot of money in the long run and will also be much more appealing to renters. Remember the phrase “buy cheap, buy twice!”

Wallcovering: Paint it neutral

Presentation is key, as you may have learned from our previous entry on leasing tips for owners, managers and new agents. Whether or not the home will be staged, furnished, or just cleaned up and looking its best, paint color is arguably the most important feature in presentation to a prospective renter. They will consider themselves in the spaces so neutral colors are the safe bet. Based on the name, neutral colors can pair or fit-in with almost any furniture or decor a renter may already own. Neutral colors will also ensure that your property has a sense of openness and feels spacy and airy. These are key features that will draw renters into your property.

Off-whites or light grays can be a good choice as they avoid the troubles associated with whites: they look great for the first few weeks but can become scuffed and marked easily. It can be challenging to please everyone but colors like lime green will likely please fewer renters than something neutral. When you choose a color or colors, buy some excess paint and keep it in storage. It can come in handy when the time comes for touch ups. Just remember that paint can “go bad” so consult your manufacturers on storage best practices.

Doors: Safety meets statement

The front door can be a great starting point or an immediate hurdle when it comes to prospective renters. There are plenty of options for attractive and safe entry/exit points.

property leasing door

Door handles are also important and another instance where cheap isn’t always best. In some places, special kinds of locks or handles may be required by law. Again, there are simply tons of options. At Lofty, we like to think of the front door as able to be anything from a subtle statement about the modern home behind it, to a bright and flashy accent on a traditional and elegant space. Of course, the priority is safety so please check your local laws to make sure you are compliant.

Outdoors: Make it simple and clean

If your property has an outdoor space or a garden, think simple. You may be tempted to try making your garden or yard as pretty as possible, but there are a myriad of reasons. All that really matters is that the yard or garden is tidy. Once the grass is cut and weeded you are probably good to go—simple and low maintenance is the key here.

Bathrooms: The first and last room most people see every day

From a presentation perspective, a bathroom can make or break a potential renter. There isn’t very much personalization a renter can do to a bathroom so it needs to be tip-top from the get go. The saying, “a little goes a long way” is very applicable in reference to bathroom space. If your tub is chipped or looking its age, refinishing it is a simple and inexpensive improvement that will literally make it look brand new. Grout and tiles should be sparkling, whatever their age.

property leasing bath

Storage space is a huge area, even in the smallest bathrooms. Instead of a flat mirror, install a mirrored medicine cabinet. Shower cut-outs provide shelving and bathroom wall cut-outs can be used to store extra towels. Finally, little touches such as a handheld shower head will really swing it for potential applicants during their showings. Not only will it make the shower easier to clean, but people will feel confident that every small detail was accounted for!

Tile: Kitchen, bathroom and subterranean advantages

Tile flooring in your rental property is a solid option for kitchens and bathrooms, especially for a below ground living space. Tile is ideal for tackling the dampness and moisture that can often plague these rooms. Dark tiles and grout won’t show dirt as quickly as light tiles and grout. Tiles also make for easy cleaning which both you and your tenants will definitely appreciate!

In-Unit Appliances: Just makes lives easier

If space allows for the installation of a dishwasher and washer/dryer, take advantage! A dishwasher and laundry in the unit saves huge amounts of time and headaches no matter who is renting.

Lofty Property Management

These appliances are becoming essentials for renters during their new home search. They may even be willing to pay extra. And remember to leave the user manuals in a drawer for easy access.

Stainless steel: Worth its weight in gold

The small decision to spend a touch more for stainless steel appliances will provide another ‘Wow’ factor during your showings and set your place apart from every other unit with average, ho-hum, white appliances. They may even pay extra for the perceived value of a fancier place.

Storage: Even a little more can make a huge difference

Another often overlooked ‘Wow’ factor and exciting talking point during showings is closet space and additional storage in general. Find ways to add storage space under stairs or in hollowed walls as every little bit helps! If you have access to an additional storage unit, be sure to promote it – possibly even charge extra for it. The goal is for your tenants to have the opportunity to grow into your space and become long-term residents.

Decor/Staging: Don’t take it personally

This is the golden rule when it comes to decorating your rental unit: declutter and depersonalize! It is important to remember that you will not be living in the property. While your favorite color might be pink or maybe you love Victorian themed decorations, these selections may not appeal to the masses. We are all unique, especially when it comes down to how we want to decorate our homes. What you might consider to be a beautiful touch to a home might be a major deterrent to someone else.

With this in mind, it is best to think simple and objective when it comes to decorating your rental property. Your new tenants will be much happier transforming a blank canvas into their home rather than transforming someone else’s home into theirs.

Via our property management services throughout a large portion of the Chicagoland area, we recently took over management of a property in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood that was having trouble renting. Following our on-site client meeting, we realized that walking through their home was an engaging look into their life’s history. Though it made for interesting conversation, it was evident that prospective applicants would have a challenging time focusing on seeing this home for themselves. Upon depersonalizing their place, their condo rented a week later and this simple, easy step made a made a huge difference!

We provide property management services in Albany Park , Andersonville, Bucktown, Buena Park, Edgewater, Gold Coast, Greek Town, Humboldt Park, Irving Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Little Italy, Logan Square, Noble Square, Old Irving Park, Old Town, Printers Row, Ravenswood, River North, River West, Roscoe Village, Rogers Park, South Loop, The Loop, Ukranian Village, Uptown, West Loop, West Town, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville and the Chicagoland area. If you are interested in getting help managing your properties don’t hesitate to let us know. We are committed to helping you save time and boost profitability. We provide free market analysis and free professional photography.

Get in touch with us today!

Leasing Your property in Chicago?

By | Leasing

Leasing Your Property in Chicago?

Discover How You Can Dramatically Improve Your Chances of Finding a Renter With Lofty’s 19 Perfect Showing Tips!

leasing in chicagoIf you are a landlord and need to rent or lease your property, there are several things you need to know that will improve your chances of landing a tenant. Although the market for prospective tenants for apartments in Chicago is in full force, many offers vanish into thin air because potential renters were simply turned off with poor landlord behavior!

So, before you conduct any viewings, make sure that you are prepared and professional. Simply use this step-by-step checklist of tips that’ll show you the right way to present your property!

A Few Hours Before the Viewing Begins

  • Preparation is important before the viewing begins. Here’s what you do need to do before the potential tenants arrive:
  • Always dress to impress. You’re going to want to dress one step above what you think the potential tenants will be wearing. Let’s say the dress code is casual, then dress business casual. If the dress code is business casual, one up them and dress business professional (men can go with or without tie). It’s better to look overdressed because you can always remove layers if they are dressed casually.
  • Before you head on over to the unit, make sure you review the details of the unit you are about to show. This boosts your confidence when you know the highlights of the property.
  • Make sure you have all keys for all areas of the property such as the garage and storage units. There’s nothing worse than not having entry to an area the renter wants to see!

Etiquette & BehaviorEtiquette Right before the Viewing Begins

Right before the potential tenants arrive, make sure you’re on your best behavior and practice these practical tips on etiquette:

  • Arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before the scheduled viewing begins. Even if you arrive on-time, you may not have enough time to prepare the place.
  • Don’t park your car in the main parking spot. Instead, opt for street parking and, if possible, allow them to park in the closest spot to the property. You never want your potential renter or leaser to park too far. It is important for them to know how it feels to park like they would if they lived there.
  • Once you arrive at the unit, open all the window coverings (unless the view is unwelcoming).
    Make sure you clear the path before the viewing begins.
    Bad breath is unprofessional, but gum is just as distracting! Have a breath mint beforehand, but avoid chewing gum at all costs.
  • Switch your phone off or to silent and wait until after the viewing is over to reply to missed calls and text messages. Anything else is a potential distraction, offense or annoyance and could easily tarnish an otherwise promising professional relationship.

Here’s to Having a Great Viewing

Once the potential tenants have arrived, here are some tips to make it a successful and impressive viewing.

  • Be congenial and greet the viewers with a happy smile and friendly, firm handshake.
  • Get a feel of their pace by asking if they have another meeting right after the viewing. If they are in a hurry, speed up the viewing.
  • When showing the rooms of the unit, don’t stand in the middle of the rooms because it makes the rooms look smaller. You want to make the rooms look bigger than they appear. Avoid standing in front of windows, it blocks natural light.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t resort to lying. Instead say, “Good question! I don’t know the right answer at the moment, but will look into it right after the viewing and get back to you.” The important thing is to follow through on unanswered questions.
  • Point out the positive highlights of the unit by saying, “The kitchen’s appliances are all new” or “You can see the sunrise in this room, giving it a whole heap of natural light.”

beautiful kitchenClosing the Viewing on the Right Note

Once the viewing is about to end, you want to end it on a good note. Here’s some tips on how to successfully close the viewing:

  • Finish the viewing in the nicest room of the property such as the kitchen or living room. It helps to close the viewing in a room where there is a table and chairs. Make sure to have final conversation there, just in case the potential tenants want to make an offer and write down some notes.
  • If they are interested in placing an offer, talk about the next step: the application process.
  • Close with a sincere ‘thank you’ and tell them that you’ll be in touch. Clarify that both parties have each other’s contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers.
  • Turn off the lights, close all the shades, and lock all the doors. Don’t leave anything behind.

Remember, in order to get your potential renter to want to rent from you, it’s important to come prepared and look and act professional. Potential tenants are obviously looking for a new place to call home, but they also want to start a fruitful relationship with their landlord, so that’s why being professional is so important. In order to make a lasting impression and, eventually, have new tenants seal the deal with you, just follow these steps and we can guarantee that you will greatly increase your chances of signing tenants.

Do you have a property in Chicago that you want to lease or sell? Get in touch with our experts here at Lofty to see how we can help.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

6 Tips To Wow Prospective Renters!

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6 Tips To Wow Prospective Renters!

You’ve only got three seconds to make a lasting impression! This is a simple truth that applies to everything from making new friends in school when you’re a kid, to attracting the ideal tenant to lease. Providing impressive apartment leasing services in Chicago requires a pretty simple approach: surprise potential tenants by making them say ‘WOW!’ with these six tips that will surely have the applications rolling in with no delay.

The real estate leasing landscape in Chicago shows no shortage of prospective renters, but there are a few easy steps you can take to guarantee your property achieves the WOW factor that attracts in droves and earns you a great reputation!

WOW Tip #1: It’s Attractive on the Outside (How cute!)flowers

When it comes to first impressions, prospective applicants are already forming an opinion by looking at the building’s exterior and outside spaces—so make sure your front area is in order at first glance.

  • Cut the lawn and keep the gardens maintained.
  • If located on a main street or major intersection, make sure all sidewalks and walkways are well kept and free of damage or debris—especially snow and ice in winter months.
  • Clean and remove any litter lying around on the front of your property, especially, on busy streets and corners.

You’d be surprised at how a fresh cut lawn and a maintained exterior can wow potential renters even before the viewing begins!

WOW Tip #2: It’s the Paint that Makes it Great

Colors influence moods and evoke emotions in people. Consider what your potential tenant might feel when they walk into a room painted fire-engine red… The color red evokes a range of moods and emotions from energetic to passionate to anger and even aggression. While a few people may appreciate it,  going the bold route will likely work against you. When deciding on colors to paint the interior walls, opt for neutral tones throughout. It’s also easier for tenants to match furniture and decorations with neutral tones. The best neutral tones for painting walls are:

  • Gray blues
  • Beiges
  • Grays
  • Aqua blues
  • Light, subtle browns

Once prospective applicants step foot into a room and smell the scent of fresh paint, it signals a clean and appealing look to the property. Ultimately, the smell of fresh paint goes a long way and definitely sets your property apart. In fact, some of your future tenants may already own the furniture that fits in perfectly with your newly chosen paint colors!

clean room for leasingWOW Tip #3: It’s Super Clean (…does Mr. Clean, like, LIVE here?)

In order to WOW prospective tenants, every aspect of every room must be sparkling clean. They do not want to see dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, dusty floors, and, the worst of it all, rings around the bathtub or toilet. Every room that you are presenting for viewings, must go through a vigorous deep clean. Here’s a list of what you need to do:

  • If you have hardwood floors, make sure you wax them or Swiffer them. They should be spotless.
  • Dust all the window sills, paintings, corners, fan blades, and shelves.
  • Clean and shine kitchen counters and appliances such as refrigerators, stove tops, and cupboards.
  • Deep cleanse the washroom mirrors, toilets, bathtubs, and faucets. Get rid of old shower curtains and replace with a new set.
  • If you have curtains, make sure they are washed. You’d be surprised that curtains smell funny after months of not being washed.

When you’re done cleaning, do an inspection and use your own finger to see if you pick up any leftover dust or dirt. The point of deep cleansing every room is to ensure not one speck of dust can be seen anywhere. Once you’re done shining everything, the best way to find out if its super clean is to see if you can see your own reflection in it.

WOW Tip #4: It’s Very Spacious

“Less is more” is so true: rooms simply look larger when empty. It’s an optical illusion that works for everyone. The key to making your properties look their most spacious is to declutter; maybe put some things back in the closet or storage. To declutter, here’s a list of frequently occurring items to remove and help free up space:

  • Books, magazines, piles of loose papers
  • Blankets, pillows, and towels
  • Candles and candle holders
  • Small kitchen appliances such as toasters, blenders, cookie jars, and coffee and tea makers
  • Small lamps
  • Trinkets on side tables
  • Electronics such as DVD players, stereos, landline phones, and alarm clocks
  • Shoes and clothes
  • Office supplies
  • Toiletries, perfumes, aerosol cans
  • Toys

WOW Tip #5: It smells delightful! (follow your nose!)

Another way to wow prospective tenants is to tickle their senses with delightful smells. A successful real estate leasing service in Chicago would often go so far as baking chocolate chip cookies in their model homes, creating that “just like home” smell. Plus, it was a nice icebreaker to offer future renters a fresh, warm cookie! Even if baking isn’t your thing, you can easily add ‘WOW’ to your property by:

  • Adding a bowl of potpourri in each room
  • Disposable plugins in the hallways and bathrooms
  • Spray air freshener in the bedrooms
  • A bouquet of flowers in a vase in the living room

WOW Tip #6: It’s Depersonalized (Nothing personal)

Probably the most important ‘WOW!’ factor that you’ve got to do is depersonalize the space. It’s important for renters to picture themselves living in the home, so here are some important items to take down before showings begin:

  • Take down all photo frames of family photos placed on bookshelves, desks, walls, and the refrigerator.
  • Pack away framed certificates, diplomas, and wall-mounted plaques
  • Store exercise equipment such as elliptical and treadmills away
  • Tuck away personal care products such as shavers and hair dryers

The Bottom Line to Wow Prospective Tenants

In order to wow potential renters, remember to appeal to their senses. To showcase the best landlord services in Chicago, make sure you present aesthetics that leave a lasting impression on prospective tenants. You want to wow them by having a beautiful and well-kept exterior, along with new coats of neutral paint on the interior walls. And, most importantly, you want to present a clean, decluttered, and depersonalized space that smells great. Once you implement these wow factors into your properties, you’re sure to attract new tenants happy to sign a rental lease with you!