If you own a rental, you are a part of a marketplace. That marketplace competes over customers constantly. Obviously the customers in the rental marketplace are called tenants, but the principal still remains; you are competing with all of the other landlords in your area to get the best tenants possible in order to insure the health of your investment. Isn’t that the way it should be?
Tenants are extremely well informed customers and as savvy as ever. This is especially true in Charleston. With more and more people moving to the greatest city on earth, I frequently talk to tenants that are looking at dozens of rental houses before making a decision. Through the process of looking for a rental they become miniature experts on what they are looking for. Often while showing them some of Bridgepoint’s available units, I pick their brain about what they are seeing in the marketplace as they hunt for their next home. The overarching theme that I hear from them is that they are looking for value! Often they launch in to a list of things they see in rental that they liked and things that turned them off. I have taken the liberty to write some of them down:
Cleanliness: This is fairly obvious but if you show a potential tenant a property that hasn’t been cleaned, you are setting yourself up for failure. Inventory in Charleston is starting to catch up with demand and soon anything less than clean and move in ready will not be a marketable option. I don’t want to seem like I am talking down to anyone… I get it. It is tough to get in to your rental property, after a long day at your real job and clean up a mess you didn’t even make. I just cannot understate the importance of having this done. Once the property has been emptied and cleaned, it is a good time to look around and take stock of the property. Is there anything antiquated, worn out, or an eye sore? If so, let’s think about switching is out. This can be an expensive step and it requires a level of discernment to know what to do and what not to do. Here are some more things that tenants recently mentioned sold them on a recent Charleston rental.
The Kitchen: Don’t freak out. I am not going to tell you to completely remodel your kitchen or else you won’t get a good tenant. It’s actually quite the opposite; when considering a rental; most tenants know the date the property was constructed and expect to find a kitchen consistent with the date it was built. They do however want to see something that shows that the landlord is invested to keeping the kitchen functional and a nice place to gather. This often means adding stainless appliance. Stainless appliances are great because everyone loves them, it shows tenants that you are the right kind of landlord, and they are relatively affordable. Granite countertops are another great addition that is also affordable. It doesn’t even have to be granite; there are a lot of trendy and low maintenance alternatives like vintage tile, formed concrete, butcher block, and soapstone.
The Yard: If your rental has a yard, it is a great place to add unique things to your property that are relatively cheap. Be careful to not add something that will turn in to a liability. I have seen landlords add something as simple as a high end horseshoe area… you know the game with the rods and the horse shoes… This addition caught many eyes and they could see themselves entertaining one evening as guests held an impromptu horseshoe tournament. Adding a fire pit is often nice if done properly. This can look cheap though, so make sure to do it right. Also a fire pit can be a liability, so make sure to consider that. Prices on sheds are actually very good considering that they are often much needed storage for tenants. In fact, considering outdoor storage a little bit more, the maintenance is almost nothing and there is no added liability.
The last thing I want to mention about the yard is fencing. Quite often, the best tenants out there come with responsibly owned pets. Because they are responsible pet owners, they are likely to only consider a property with a fenced in back yard. Pet friendly properties with pet friendly accommodations get much more exposure than those without any.
The Miscellaneous: Charleston is full of uniqueness. Consider unique ideas that make the property feel as unique as the city it is located in. I recently saw a tile backsplash that resembled the Ravenel Bridge. Creativity like that stands out in the mind of a tenant who may be scheduled to see 10 properties that day. Unique light fixtures upgrade many rooms… especially kitchen and bathrooms. A Bridgepoint property comes to mind that has eclectic cabinet handles in the kitchen and bathroom.
Whatever you do, consider the cost and make sure it makes fiscal sense first. Create a plan and start by doing the cheapest things first. Save for the expensive ones and follow through. Bridgepoint loves to work with Charleston rental owners that love their little bit of Charleston. We want to pair great lowcountry tenants with great lowcountry properties.