Making your investment property more valuable
How desirable is your rental property? Have you recently taken an outsider’s honest look at it, the way a prospective new tenant does? It’s imperative you take periodic assessments of each investment property you own to see if you continue to offer a quality product to your potential “buyers” – your tenants. The key here is “honest.” Sometimes it’s best to look at other similar rental buildings in your neighborhood and see how they stack up against yours. Especially the ones that you find truly appealing from the curb. With a thorough overview of the rental housing stock in your neighborhood, you’ll be better able to evaluate your own rental investments more honestly.
The honest assessment
As you look at your competitors’ properties and compare them with yours, ask yourself what they have that your buildings do not. Are their walkways in excellent shape? Or are there many chips and cracks, making it unsafe for tenants? Is their landscaping up to snuff? Are there lots of neat plantings surrounding the building, making the entire property appear like a great place to live? Would you feel comfortable living there? Are there ripped awnings or rotted wood soffits or fascia boards that make the building look unattractive? (And more importantly, convey the feeling that there is plenty wrong on the inside as well!) These are the types of questions an honest assessment will yield about your own properties.
Upgrade, and the best tenants will find you…
Armed with this knowledge and honest assessment results, you should now begin to apply basic, inexpensive fixes to your properties to make them more attractive to tenants. This in turn will make your buildings more valuable, since you’ll be able to charge market rents for your units once you’ve made your upgrades. Consider making some of these relatively inexpensive fixes to upgrade and maintain your property. Once completed, they will allow you to find the best tenants for your properties. This will help keep turnover and vacancy rates low, as well as help you to obtain the highest possible market rents for your units.
Fix maintenance items
Get a handyman to make simple maintenance repairs on your building on a regular basis. Broken hinges, or doors that stick, glass windows that need replacing due to cracks, burned out exterior bulbs – these are all simple fixes a handyman can take care of, amongst many other items. Don’t forget torn screens and ripped awnings among the myriad of small items that should be on the regular inspection checklist. Develop this regular inspection checklist if you haven’t already, then have at it! Your current tenants will appreciate your attention to the small details of daily living. And happy tenants will mean good-paying tenants.
Be sure to address the overall curb appeal of your properties. Each one should have its own unique identity. Paying for the services of a landscaper with vision (who should also be part of your overall team of property advisors/workers) is very important. Let their professional eyes determine a unified look for the front of your property. Give them a budget to work within – and let them work their magic. They know best what shrubs will work for your area, for every season. Their eyes know proper color combinations – and when certain plants will flower at different times of year. Use their expertise. Most property investors I know certainly lack this type of knowledge, unless they just happen to be garden experts themselves – a rarity. Your landscaper will know where to get the best discounted prices on shrubs, trees and plantings. Use them to take advantage of these prices.
Walkways and driveways
Next to landscaping, having an appealing walkway up to your building (as well as around it in many instances) is imperative. It not only will look good , but it will make it more difficult for your tenants to have little accidents – that can turn into big headache lawsuits for you. Slip and fall lawsuits against landlords is a major type of tenant-landlord issue…make sure you head them off at the pass by maintaining your walkways – especially if you’re in a cold weather climate. Every Spring, do that maintenance checklist assessment for cracks and chips in your walkways. Also consider resurfacing warn or uneven driveways as well at that time. Too many property investors have very litigious tenants, and those slip and fall lawsuits are too easy when walkways and driveways remain unattended – and dangerous.
Most property investors are used to having a painter come in and repaint the interior of a unit after a tenant finishes their lease. This is especially true with tenants who have done a lot of “wear and tear” on their individual unit. But it is also important to periodically review the look of the exterior paint job on your investment property as well. Having an experienced pro painter as part of your crew for fix-up work on all your buildings is essential. They will offer you the best prices, especially with a large exterior job. Make sure they offer you a warranty on their work for a period of time (from peeling), and you should be able to have a good paint job last for many years.
Why these inexpensive fixes are crucial
Follow these simple fixes and maintenance items, and your investment properties should do more than retain their value. They will optimize their current market valuations by appealing to the large segment of good tenants available in your area. With the addition of good tenants over bad ones, you’ll find less turnover, a much greater rate of rent paid on time, as well as a decrease in your vacancy rate. In addition, you’ll stay away from deadbeats that could place you in the court system when it’s time to try to have them evicted. It all starts with maintaining each one of your properties. In this way you will increase your overall cash flow per building, as well as maximize each one’s inherent value.
photos courtesy of houstonmortgagetexas.com, hdoundationrepair.com, lawofficewalterjennings.com, tenantscreeningblog.com, ortak.com, zillow.com