Curb appeal is more than just the appearance of a home, it is a valuable marketing tool that can help you fill a vacant property quickly. You should try to envision your property from the viewpoint of a prospective tenant, and make every effort to make sure your property is always market ready. Prospective tenants are more likely to want to view the interior of a rental, if they like what they see on the outside. Curb appeal sets expectations and can often times equate to higher rental prices. As a landlord, the last thing you want is for your property to be vacant for long. Vacancy leads to a loss of rental income. First impressions are crucial, and although improving the curb appeal of a property might not be as exciting as renovating the interior, it plays a critical role in keeping tenants in your home.
You probably love your property and feel it is perfect for anyone that wants to live there. However, this is not always the case for someone viewing your property for the first time.
If you take a look at the exterior of your rental property and find yourself noticing things that would prevent you from signing a lease agreement and moving in, it is time to take action. Before you begin to renovate your rental property, you need to identify the areas that need improvement. Otherwise, you might end up spending huge amounts of money, and your property will still look unappealing. With an objective mind, take note of the things that immediately grab your attention, as well as those that bother you. Take pictures of all the areas you seek to improve.
It’s the Little Things
A cost-effective way to add curb appeal is to pay attention to the little details. These may be small things that you may not notice right away, but will add tons of curb appeal. Doing things such as installing a new mailbox, changing the hardware on the front door, and replacing house numbers. If these items are dingy and old, they are definitely taking away from your rental investment’s overall curb appeal. Here are a few other things to consider as you thoroughly evaluate the curb appeal of your property.
- Windows & Gutters: Gutters play an important role in the overall well-being of your property. Check to see if they need to be replaced, cleaned or added. Check windows for proper seal and make sure that they are clean and mildew free.
- Lighting: Curb appeal applies to night time hours as well. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to make sure the home is just as attractive at night as it is during the day. String low-voltage lighting along your driveway, sidewalks and near important landscaping elements. Feel free to add a decorative lamp to your front porch. Simply light up your home at night with attractive lighting and your efforts will be rewarded.
- Front Door: Change or paint the front door. If the door shows obvious signs of damage or weakness, replace the door. If it has a few damaged spots, correct these areas. Consider painting the door a different color to give it a “pop” and help your property look distinguished. You can also replace all of the hardware; including the door knob, deadbolt, and knocker if applicable. Many residents often like feeling secure within their new rental, perhaps installing a ring doorbell system will give them an added sense of safety and help your home stand out from other rentals in the area.
- Replace Old Shutters: If your property has window shutters, be sure that they are clean and not worn. If needed, a fresh coat of paint can really create a “wow” factor and help the home look fresh and modern. This affordable and small step can create a huge impact on the overall curb appeal.
Keep It Clean
One way to turn away a prospective tenant away is to have a dirty rental property. Since first impressions are so crucial in maintaining tenant vacancy in your rental investment, it is imperative that you keep the outside of your property clean and debris free. It isn’t enough just to keep the lawn mowed, you need to take the time to keep the hedges trimmed, regularly sculpt overgrown bushes and keep the yard and any beds and gardens weed free. Be sure to get rid of any fallen leaves, twigs, and branches. A clean yard communicates to your tenants that you are a landlord that genuinely cares about the property’s well-being and the theirs as well. Often times it can be challenging to regularly maintain a property and the landscaping, so many landlords decide to use a property management company to take care of the regular maintenance.
A dirty exterior of a property can definitely takes away from curb appeal. A pressure washer is a great way to make turn what looks dingy into brand new looking. Use the pressure to make the driveway, gutters, walkways, patio and any other surfaces that have dirt or debris, spotless. If you worry about the high cost of a pressure washer, you could rent one for the time that you need it. If you don’t feel qualified to use one, you can reap this benefit from a quality property management company who can utilize a licensed professional to perform this service for you.
Invest in Landscaping
Landscaping may not always be the most thrilling thing to do to maintain your rental investment, but is it is crucial to do so. Neglected landscaping can create the assumption that the property itself is also neglected. You could have a pristine mansion that is turn-key, but poor landscaping and failure to maintain the grounds could make the property look dingy, dated, and run-down even if that is not the case.
That said, there are several things you can do to make the front and back yards look inviting to prospective tenants that will not require too much work on your part.
If your rental’s yard has overgrown shrubs, bushes, flowers, trees and weeds- not only is this unsightly, it is a haven for pests and rodents, and will make any tenant interested in your property concerned that they might become burdened with handling the overgrown mess once they move in.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Make sure to prune your yard seasonally to avoid overgrowth and dead parts of the vegetation in your yard. Doing this will also keep everything looking nice and well-manicured.
- Always cut branches at their bases to create new growth and avoid damaging or killing the plant or bush.
- Spray for weeds and consider laying weed barriers in flower beds and garden areas.
- Consider using mulch or pine straw for ground cover and to make beds look clean.
- Consider adding flowers and trees on your property. Be careful though, and choose low maintenance perennials, which do not require constant care or attention. If you choose to plant trees, also choose lower maintenance trees. Keep them at a safe distance from buildings, structures, driveways, and pathways where damage from roots could become an issue.
- If it suits the property, consider adding window boxes. Window boxes are easy to maintain and can give your tenant a sense of feeling like the rental truly is a home to them. They can plant simple annuals that require little maintenance. It can add a beautiful pop of color.
Many people today love the idea of having a garden in their yard to grown their own foods and flowers. Typically, as long as the garden is easy to maintain for the tenant, they will get quite a bit of enjoyment from it. Besides making your rental look beautiful, garden areas have the potential to make the property more appealing to prospective tenants. For added value and beauty, you can use bricks and paving stones to define these areas, or even create planter beds. Consider the type of property you own, and the price point for the rent that you will charge and use the information to determine how you should invest in a gardening area.
If you plan to maintain the lawn and grounds yourself, be sure to keep all tools and equipment needed stored and put away as to not create an “eye-sore” to the home. Or if you are able, you can bring the equipment along with you when you come for you routine maintenance visits. Keep a trash receptacle or have a burn bin area to clear the area of all debris.
And, if you really don’t want to do it yourself, a qualified property management company works with licensed and insured contractors that can help maintain the grounds on a regular basis. This can be quite beneficial to you as you won’t be spending countless hours maintaining the grounds of your property, leaving you with more free time to invest in other properties or indulge in leisurely activities.
A fresh paint job, or damage-free and clean siding are essential with maintaining your rental investment. Chipped paint, dirty walls, or dingy and sun-damaged paint can make your property look like a disaster. Take time to seriously evaluate the paint job on the outside of the home. Repair damaged/chipped areas as needed and determine if a thorough pressure washing would do the trick into making the walls look refreshed and new again. Sometimes, pressure washing simply won’t cut it. Take a look at the homes in the neighborhood, and see how the property compares. If you decide to repaint the walls yourself, be sure to prepare the surface properly so that you can achieve a professional finish. If not, the ending results may look cheaply done. Often times, the best thing to do is to hire a professional. If you work with a property management company, reach out to them to see who they may recommend. Often times they work with many licensed contractors and can help you determine the best contractor to use and where the best deals may be. Likewise, if your property has damaged vinyl siding or bricks, you will need to take the necessary steps to repair or replace.
Roof of The House
In addition to the other improvements you are making, you should also look at the physical condition of the roof. While not typically deemed as a home’s most aesthetic characteristic, an old roof can create a lot of issues and wreak havoc on your income. If the roof is outdated and has only a couple of years left, you should replace it. The last thing you want to deal with is issues with leaks from wear and tear on an old roof. Often times, the home owner’s insurance policy you carry can help in replacing the roof if there has ever been damage caused by a storm.
Another feature that is often overlooked is the driveway. Unless it is in very poor shape, you don’t need to worry about replacing it or resealing it. However, you don’t want it to look run-down or like it is falling apart either. Driveways full of weeds or cracks won’t present your property well. Fixing this can be an affordable by purchasing a bottle of weed spray and putting in the labor to get rid of all the weeds. This is another area that you should consider pressure washing to give it new life.
Final Thoughts on Curb Appeal
There are so many things that you can do to improve the curb appeal of your rental income property. There are somethings that will be more costly than other, but the overall impact it will have in the long run on your ROI is invaluable. Spending time and money investing in the exterior of your property is just as important as the interior. If you only invest in making upgrades, repairs, and improvements on the interior of the home yet ignore the exterior, the money you invested will cost you in the long run. It’s a known fact that curb appeal sells homes, but it also helps homes to be rented. It will not only attract long-term tenants, but will could lower the amount of time between tenants that your property is vacant. This will only add to your overall investment. In conclusion, hiring a quality property management service is worth it as these things will be an important part of the many services they will provide.