A depressed market is the perfect time to look at ways to maximize the value and return of your current investments.
Making smart investments into home upgrades can reduce how much time your investment property spends unoccupied, increase the rental premium your unit commands, and even decrease maintenance costs.
In this post, we break down the three affordable ways to improve curb appeal and tenant satisfaction in your rental property.
Start Small: Trim & Paint
Make no mistake: a paint job is not a small undertaking, especially if you are going to do it properly. However, a new coat of paint is the least expensive way to seriously upgrade your rental’s appearance.
New paint and trim offers a significant visual boost, especially for older rental units. Paint is, of course, a wear item, and door/window/floor trim will eventually show their life story in the nicks, dents, and chips that they accumulate over the years.
To get started, carefully remove any trim pieces and take 120 grit sandpaper and sand any bumps. Use drywall mud to fill in any holes/dents, let it set per the instructions on the package, and sand away!
Repaint, replace, or refinish and make your rental look young again!
Start With Paint: Choose a Warm, Neutral Colour
When it comes to a rental unit, you want a colour scheme that will help a new tenant feel comfortable while at the same time avoiding being polarizing.
When purchasing paint, we recommend investing in a premium matt or eggshell interior paint. You want a paint that will maintain its colour and finish for as long as possible (especially if you intend on hanging on to the rental unit for a while).
If you’re going to use colour, follow a few simple rules.
With Paint Complete, Take on The Trim
Repainted, refinished, or replaced trim is a low-cost way to make a room look new. Beat up or out of style baseboards, window, and door trim can date a home. Once you’ve completed the repaint, it’s time to tackle the trim.
It’s a fairly simple task to remove trim pieces, repaint/refinish (be sure to paint them a neutral colour.), and then put them back on. However, if you’ve opted to replace all the trim, we recommend you leave that to the pros.
Choose a style of baseboard (and other trim pieces) that compliments the space but does not call attention to itself.
Next: Upgrade Fixtures
With a fresh coat of paint all around, your rental unit is already looking better! Next, let’s look at updating fixtures.
Fixtures can be expensive, but there are also affordable options that are contemporarily styled and made well. However, we aren’t the experts on fixtures- so we recommend you pay a visit to your local hardware store and chat with one!
There’s no time like the present to replace a leaky faucet, and if you’re looking for ways to update your rental without a major reno, faucets are a great way to do it.
The kitchen faucet is likely the most used in the house, so make an investment and get a quality unit for this area. You will appreciate something that is robust (replacing faucets every year isn’t fun), and your tenants will appreciate a quality piece of hardware.
This one’s a bit tougher, but in many cases, a viable option. Old, grimy, or dated-looking sinks bring down whatever space they’re in.
As a combo, upgrading the faucet and sink is a relatively inexpensive way to improve the look of the room. Modern fixtures are more visually appealing, and they don’t have years of buildup and wear-marks.
Out with the old, in with the new: time to invest in LED.
First, LED bulbs last nearly forever. The fixtures that use them can also be found affordably from a variety of sources. Compared to less-efficient incandescent light bulbs, LED bulbs use anywhere between 20% – 80% less energy and last up to 25 times longer (according to the U.S. Department of Energy).
If you have an executive rental, upgrading to LED light fixtures/bulbs will bring down your utility costs and improve profitability.
Handles & Doors
Details help tie a home together, and in that area, it doesn’t take much to get a good handle on things.
Nobody wants to use a handle that’s wobbly, or one with a broken lock mechanism, and certainly not one with finish that’s wearing off. This is especially true if the handle is attached to a door that looks like it was milled in the 50’s, painted seven times, and given a few slams (with a kick or two for good measure).
If you’ve just invested in paint and trim, complete the update with new doors (if the existing doors need replacement) and door handles. These commonly-overlooked details will help make your update feel complete.
Lastly: Carpets & Floors
Compared to upgrading light fixtures or repainting a few walls, ripping out and replacing carpet is an expensive proposition.
The floors are not only the largest and most visible surface in a home, but also subject to the most amount of wear and use. If there’s anywhere that ensures a good return on your investment, it’s in quality, durable flooring.
Tenants Get Turned Off by Old Carpet
If you have carpet that is nearing the 10-year old mark, replacement should be something that is on your mind. Not only does carpet colour and pile quality change over time, but layers of packed direct, dust, allergens, and other debris build up over the years.
When it comes to replacing carpet, there are two schools of thought:
- Replace with as similar style, type, and colour of carpet.
- Skip the carpet entirely and instead replace the old carpet with an engineered hardwood or ceramic tile.
Properly Installed Engineered Hardwood & Ceramic Tile Can Last For Years
And look great doing it, too.
Upgrading to a nice engineered hardwood with a modern but timeless finish will really look great.
In addition to good looks, engineered hardwood and ceramic tile floors require minimal maintenance and will last for years. Not only that, but it’s a heck of alot easier to clean pet stains, red wine, and other types of spills from ceramic tile or engineered hardwood than it is from carpet!
You Don’t Need a Big Budget to Enjoy a Big Payoff
Taking pride in your rental property, maintaining it regularly, and keeping its interior up to date offers a lot of benefits.Tenants love to see recent renos, and a home that looks modern will be more appealing than one that isn’t.
All of the upgrades we discussed in this post are individually inexpensive- especially if you do most of the labour yourself. It can cost between $2,500 and $4,000 to paint the inside of a home, for example, or three or four days of concentrated time and effort.
If you aren’t too handy, we recommend leaving more complicated tasks to the pros. There’s no shame in knowing when to call in an expert!
If you’d like us to check out your rental property and assess its market value, get in touch. We managed hundreds of rental properties in Calgary and Edmonton and would love to add you to our list of satisfied clients.