Getting your investment property ready for the rental market is one of the most important steps you can take in ensuring you get a good return on your investment. If a property hits the market unprepared, it can quickly earn a bad reputation — especially in areas with relatively smaller populations. Homes that are leased while still in need of repairs or cleaning often lead to unhappy tenants and a host of other problems. Here are some crucial items to address whether you’re putting your property on the rental market for the first time or doing turnover work between tenants.
One of the biggest complaints new tenants can have is that the home they have just moved into is not clean enough. Though it may seem like an easy task to take on yourself, having your investment home professionally cleaned before someone moves in is imperative. Not only do professionals carefully clean everything from top to bottom, they ensure that items in the home are properly sanitized. This minor expense will make a world of difference to your new tenants and help make your property stand out as the best product on the block.
This is another task that may not seem like a big deal — why not just rent a steam cleaner yourself? However, it is essential to have carpet cleaning done by trained professionals. The equipment that professional companies have is much more powerful, does a superior job to equipment you can rent yourself and makes carpet look and smell much cleaner as well as does a better job of sanitizing. When hiring a professional carpet cleaning company, be sure to check references. If a company is unskilled, they can potentially cause damage to the carpet and the property itself. Also, always be sure that the electricity is on in the property in order to allow for air flow to give the carpet a chance to properly dry.
The lifetime of carpeting in rental properties is typically around seven years, but this is highly dependent on several factors such as how many turnovers you've had, if there have been pets in the home and how well your tenants have cared for the property. If carpet is stained, worn, unravelling and/or has an odor that hasn’t dissipated with cleaning, it is probably time to replace it. Attempting to mask or continually repair issues with carpet that is past its prime can turn out to be a waste of money and lead to unhappy tenants. Plus, bigger projects like carpet replacement can often be considered tax write-offs when a property is being used as a rental (always be sure to consult with your accountant or other tax professional).
A common misconception is that rental properties must be painted between every tenant — this is not the case in North Carolina. However, you do want your property to stand out from the others and be attractive to potential renters. Paint in rental properties is expected to last around three years — of course depending a few factors, mainly on how well your tenants have cared for the property. But if it is time to repaint, it is better to go ahead, and have it done versus presenting new renters with scratched, scuffed or stained walls.
Other Items to Consider
There are a few additional things an investor can have done to make sure their property stands out from other area rentals. Having the lawn mowed, edged and cleaned of debris, the bushes trimmed, and beds mulched is an excellent way to draw prospective renters' eyes to your home. When your new tenant moves in this will become their responsibility (unless otherwise agreed upon), but you want to make the good-will gesture of starting them out with a freshly manicured lawn.
If the siding on your home is green and covered in mildew, it is time to have it pressure washed. This is another minor expense that can have your home looking ten times better than those around it. Another thing to take care of before new tenants is to have your home treated for pests and insects. Just like lawn care, this often becomes a tenant responsibility once the lease begins, but it is a good idea to have it done during the turnover period — nothing is worse than moving into a new home and seeing bugs!
Overall, the more care you put into your property during turnover or before you ever put it on the rental market for the first time, the more likely you are to end up with happy, quality tenants. These days, the demographic of renters is increasingly becoming young professionals and families who are looking for a higher-quality product. If you can make your investment property stand out from the competition, you will ultimately end up with a smaller vacancy period and procure tenant who is satisfied with the product they've received and who feels that the owner of their property has taken steps to put the home in the best condition possible. If renters see you have put care and consideration into the quality of your home, they are that much more likely to do the same.
Sweyer Property Management has exhibited continuous growth throughout the Wilmington, Leland and Hampstead areas while maintaining an excellent Google+ rating for customer service. To inquire about the company’s full-service management services or to take a tour of homes for rent in the area, visit them online at WilmingtonForRent.com.
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