10 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Rental Property
How do you make your rental appealing to renters without breaking the bank? It’s easier than you think — if you get a little creative.
Rental demand is already high in Colorado — and it looks to be trending steeply upwards. Average rents in much of Colorado currently sit far below the average mortgage payment. For example, in the red-hot Denver market, the average rent is just under $1,600 a month, while the average mortgage payment is just over $2,500.
That gap is going to raise demand for rentals. Investors are going to scour an already picked-over market for distressed properties to rehab, and a lot of houses that might have been flipped in past markets are now going to become buy-and-hold rentals.
So how do you make your rental appealing to renters without breaking the bank? It’s easier than you think — if you get a little creative. Here are 10 easy ways to upgrade your rental property.
Upgrade your paint job
Every eager home seller knows that the easiest way to boost a home’s appeal is to repaint the walls. But don’t make the obvious, lazy choice and go with basic white. Although it might seem appealing on paper, it’s not all that attractive in practice. Flat white can seem harsh and institutional, and it ages very poorly since it shows even the slightest amount of dirt in high contrast.
Consider subtler, more sophisticated shades like beige, gray, “greige,” eggshell, or something even more adventurous. These tones can make your property look softer and more inviting to potential renters.
Replace cabinet handles and doorknobs
Upgrading these small touches can have a huge effect on the look and feel of your property, and it’s something you can do yourself. Brass or porcelain doorknobs can upgrade the entire room, and more sophisticated cabinet handles can make the kitchen much more appealing while avoiding the more expensive and time-consuming task of completely replacing old cabinets.
New cabinet doors
Speaking of cabinets, outdated kitchen cabinets can bring down the appeal of the entire kitchen, even if the rest of it has been updated. But if you want to avoid putting in all new cabinets, replacing the doors can be a quick and easy fix. Alternately, you could sand down and repaint the old cabinet doors, and install new hinges and knobs to give them an inexpensive but impressive makeover.
Don’t forget the exterior
Making big changes to the exterior of your home can be very expensive — replacing siding, for example, can easily cost thousands of dollars. But upgrading your exterior isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Sometimes all you need is a good pressure wash to make that dingy exterior shine, and it can be done cheap in a single afternoon.
While you’re looking at your property’s exterior, consider some light landscaping. Adding features like hedges, shrubs, and flowers can instantly make your property seem warmer and more appealing. Small touches like installing flower boxes under your windows can be done yourself and will run you less than the cost of the average termite inspection.
Install new floors…
Sometimes less is more. If you have carpet in your new property, it’s a no-brainer that you should strip it out and refinish the wood underneath it. Next to a new coat of paint, attractive, refinished floors are one of the easiest ways to get a huge bump on your return on investment.
If the underlying floor isn’t salvageable, installing hardwood floors is never a bad idea. Hardwood is extremely durable, ages well, and there are some new snap-in hardwood flooring systems that are very affordable.
… Or make it seem like you did
If you don’t want to actually upgrade your floors, you can still refresh them. If you have blah-looking vinyl or tile floors, you can make them pop by using stick-on floor panels. You can replace the old floors entirely or install them in an alternating pattern to give the floor some visual flair.
Upgrade your kitchen surfaces
While we’re talking about stick-on options, you can use high-quality contact paper to quickly upgrade your kitchen counters and backsplash. While putting in a genuine marble countertop might be out of your budget, using marble-patterned contact paper can make a worn, cheap countertop look new. There are also some great options for stick-on backsplash tiles (0ne popular option right now is the subway tile look).
Replace the kitchen faucet
While you’re in the kitchen, why not replace the kitchen faucet? A graceful, brushed-steel faucet can be installed in minutes and costs less than $100.
Install a waterfall showerhead
A waterfall showerhead is a massive upgrade for a bathroom. It feels like a legitimate luxury feature, but you can get a quality one for under $100, and installation doesn’t even require a plumber. This is a big upgrade that won’t break the bank, even if you’re financing your renovation on a credit card.
Upgrade your light fixtures
The default light fixtures in most rental properties look cheap, but it’s easy to put in better ones. If you’re really getting into the property refresh, you can even shop thrift or antique stores to find vintage fixtures with tons of charm. If your property has dark corners or rooms, you could even consider pendant lights or wall sconces that aren’t hard-wired. It’s relatively easy to disguise or arrange cords so they’re not visually intrusive.
Luke Babich is the Co-Founder of Clever Real Estate, a real estate education platform committed to helping home buyers, sellers and investors make smarter financial decisions. Luke is also a licensed real estate agent in the State of Missouri and his research and insights have been featured on BiggerPockets, Inman, the LA Times, and more.