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.
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.
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.
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.
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.