By now you’ve probably heard the latest news from government figures showing that rental prices nationwide have increased upwards of 7% higher this year compared to last year at this time. So if you already have an investment property or you’re already considering purchasing one, this is one of the best times to be a landlord. And as part of making your job as a landlord easier, you’ll want to attract the highest quality tenants possible.
Landscaping – one of the highest returns on your investment dollar
In this article on investment property information, we’ll look at landscaping as part of the fixing up series, designed specifically to help you acquire the best, most qualified tenants at the highest possible market rents. Landscaping is one of the highest returns on investment of all the improvements you can make to an investment property. It is the first item that people see when they pull up to your property, and is the first impression that you’re going to make on your prospective tenants, who are obviously going to be your customers. So naturally, you’ll want to attract only the best customers.
Landscaping is not simply hiring a landscaper to do ornamental planting work in front of your investment property. Rather, landscaping is all about neatness to the eye, as well as safety for your tenants. You’ll want to show off your “product,” the home you’ll be supplying your tenants with, in the most presentable way possible, from the outset. Walkways, steps and railings are all a part of the landscaper’s milieu. If you’re in colder climates with lots of snow and ice falling on those steps and walkways, you don’t want cracked or chipped areas where tenants can fall down and start suing you (and believe me they will).
You’ll also want to have an appealing walkway to the eye of the tenant. While concrete is the least expensive way of going, you could upgrade to flagstone or some other type of interlocking paving stones. When it comes to railings, simple treated wood is durable and looks clean. Iron railings can tend to look a little institutional if painted black, but are very durable as well. Just be sure you don’t go overboard with very ornately-styled railings. Likewise, make sure any steps leading to the front door have railings that are in proper condition. Nothing loose or rotting to be sure…Make sure any concrete steps don’t have chips. That would just be an invitation for a tenant to fall. Also make sure the front door area is well-lit in order to prevent accidents from occurring.
Choosing the right landscaper
The first impression is everything. When you select a landscaper you have not worked with before, be sure to have them provide you with several referrals. Talk to these past customers before hiring him. Remember, you’re not just looking for the least expensive landscaper, but also someone that has a creative flair, is trustworthy and comes in on budget for any project. You should drive by his previous work to get an idea of his competence.
Checking his references
When speaking with his references, be sure to ask about how long it took for him to complete their project. It’s very common for landscapers to juggle many different jobs at a time, so you want to make sure that not only is he putting you first, but that he’s only using your down payment money to buy your project’s materials, and not using that money to help him complete some other job. It’s always good to check with the Better Business Bureau in your area to be on the lookout for any bad write-ups on your potential landscaper.
Before signing any contract…
You’ll also want to make sure that you sign a contract with the landscaper that will show exactly what your payment schedule will be. Do not deal with landscapers that require full payment of the project up front. Rather, make sure that no more than 50% is given as a down payment. Preferably, it should be closer to 25 to 33% at best. Then, based on his schedule of getting work done, you can pay him in installments for his completed work. Of course if it’s a small job, you’ll want to be able to pay him in two installments – one before he starts and the final payment upon satisfactory completion.
Make it appropriate to your area
Any plantings your landscaper recommends putting in should not only look great, but should also be appropriate for the area. As an example, if your investment property is located in the suburbs where there may be a lot of deer, you’ll want to make sure your landscaper’s recommending deer-resistant plantings. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your money in short order, as the deer chew off your investment dollars…
Your landscaper should be pointing out as a matter of course all those things that you’re not necessarily seeing. These include pointing out dead trees or limbs that pose potential threats to the property, which may be close to or overhang the house. A good-sized storm could bring them down and do severe damage to your investment.
Who makes for the right landscaper?
Ultimately, you’ll want to make sure you choose the landscaper that will come in on your budget, will continuously make many good suggestions about how to fix up your investment property, as well as keep it safe for your tenants (thus protecting you from the litigious ones). In the end, a good landscaper will create an overall look for your investment that will appeal to only the top quality tenants. He’ll be someone you’re going to use over and over again as you continue to acquire properties.
photos courtesy of thederlawnservice.com, agbeat.com, creditcheckforlandlords.org, rockislandpreservation.org, stonehengemasonry.ca, webitect.net, cantleyservices.net