When I get in discussions about buying rental properties I’m usually asked about amenities. “Do you provide window coverings? How about throw rugs, shower curtains? Do you use two-tone paint and decorator colors?”
My answer to these questions is always the same. It depends on the neighborhood. First and foremost, this is not YOUR home in YOUR neighborhood! Don’t overdo it on the rehab and amenities. I’ve seen investors make this mistake again and again. And they never recoup that money they spent in crown molding, granite countertops, etc. Your rental has to measure up to those in the surrounding area. Period.
I rehab my places to fit the nieghborhood. As for the small amenities prior to renting them out, this is what I do. For all of my rentals, I supply exterior and interior door mats, to protect my flooring. My friends save their gently used bath and other rugs so I can use them in my low-income rentals. They add a homey feel to my units. I also hang mini-blinds or curtains, at all of my rentals. These can be bought cheaply at Wal-Mart or Target and they really improve the ambience of the home.
Paint is an entirely different story. For my lower-income rentals, I started out using one color — a creamy beige — throughout. But a few years ago I began using dark brown on the trim.
I realized that using this dark color saved me tons of time on repainting when people moved out. After all, the doorways, baseboards, cabinets take the brunt of it in nicks, fingerprints and other dirt. The dark paint allows me to wipe down these areas with a damp rag and Krud Kutter (for the most part) instead of repainting — a great time saver! And, people like it.
(By the way, Kilz Casual Colors is the best deal going. I use latex satin. It covers amazingly well, doesn’t splatter, and compares to brands that are twice as expensive. It runs about $23/gallon, and Consumer Reports touts it.) For my middle- or upper-middle income places, I use current colors for the walls and trim, of course.
If you’re unsure of what the neighborhood holds, you can always check it out for yourself. Schedule a showing at a nearby rental . . . you could be looking on behalf of your son or daughter, right? . . . and see what you’re up against.
Remember, you’re in this to make money, and whatever low-cost perks you can add to your rental to improve its appeal will result in higher rent. And, higher rent means more money in your pocket. We like that . . . 🙂