Until the time is right to put some money back into the property, you can make small, inexpensive improvements to the building.
Improving your property is never a bad idea. An updated look often lures in new tenants, while current tenants appreciate seeing maintenance staff around fixing pieces in public areas. The challenge of property improvement is mostly cost. The time spent fixing something up and the cost of the materials can really cut into a budget if not properly considered. Picking the right time for extensive renovations is part art, part science.
Changing up your window treatments can give your building a whole new look and feel. Shades keep your tenants rooms darker and cooler which cuts down on energy costs in the summer. Blinds allow tenants to adjust room light to their specifics but can be costlier to maintain and replace. Treatments can change the feel and look of a room just as much as a new paintjob without the messy time and effort. Rather than worry about repainting a room, just take a moment to change the available light.
The little things can also add up. Replacing fixtures, like knobs and drawer pulls updates kitchens and other rooms that feature lots of storage space. Move on up to doorknobs, toilet seats and other pieces that can be replaced with just a few moments of your maintenance staff’s time. Fixing fixtures also lets your staff take a look at the general condition of the furniture in your building to see if bigger work orders are needed. Fixing a drawer pull might reveal a water leak in the kitchen, or may prompt a tenant to bring up other issues they might be having. Happy tenants are better advertising for a property than any newspaper ad.
Scent memory is the strongest memory people have. Connect a scent to an experience, and the memory will be strong. Make this biological fact play to your advantage by setting up some scented candles in your lobby or rental office. Find a pleasant scent that reminds potential renters of home and they will think of your building fondly. What scent is the best to use? Here’s a hint: everybody likes cookies. The scent of freshly baked cookies connects to the nostalgic part of nearly everyone’s brain.
Well-maintained grounds go a long way towards catching the eye of potential renters. Make sure your grass is cut, your external fixtures are in good states of repair and that any trash gets picked up on a constant basis. Every season has its trash, be it grass clippings, leaves, or waste buried by the snow. Timely removal of this waste lets the tenants know you’re working to provide them with a clean space to live and it lets you adjust to the needs of the property.
Once you’re done keeping it clean, start keeping it green. Replacing your external lights with more eco-friendly bulbs is easier than ever. Big box stores often have big bulk sales of long-lasting bulbs. Take advantage of one of these bulb sales and replace the lights in your external spaces as well as your hallways and common areas. Besides saving you money, these bulbs can be a sales point for your rental. The distinctive shape of many of these bulbs will clue in those potential tenants who put a priority on environmental friendliness that you care too. That attention to detail can be the difference between a sale and a pass.
The old saying says there’s never a second chance to make a first impression. Your front door says a lot about your property. Replacing your door puts a fresh face for new tenants. The new door doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive. A door without scratches and dents makes the place feel new, or at least, newly renovated. Replacing doors on rentals can also add a fresh feeling, but make sure you get replacements done quickly.
A Stitch in Time…
Many of these suggestions fall under the heading of preventative maintenance. Taking time to fix small things now means it’s less likely to need a big repair down the road. Putting your maintenance staff on a regular rotation of small repairs lets them catch problems before they become disasters. Fixing a fuse now is just a buck or two. If that fuse causes a short which damages your electrical grid that might require an electrician to come out on a weekend and keep your tenants without power for a few hours. Keeping costs low means being proactive and keeping an eye on the small details.
Improving properties can seem like an endless drain on your money and time. Small improvements can make a big difference, not just to new tenants but to current ones as well. New window treatments can make rooms look like they’ve just been repainted without going anywhere near a brush. Replacing fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom bring the feel of a fresh renovation without the headaches. A pleasant scented candle can make any apartment feel like home. Keeping your grounds clean, updating to eco-friendly bulbs and a new front door make excellent impressions with potential renters. All of these small steps can be taken in the name of preventative maintenance. The small things add up and hopefully, if you take the time to do the math, you’ll reap some big profits in the end.
Image “Gordon’s Lawn Care” courtesy of Flickr user Neal Scroggins;
Image “For Rent” courtesy of Flickr user David Amsler liscensed under CC by 2.0.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Moyan Brenn liscensed under CC by 2.0.