First impressions matter in every aspect of life; The competitive world of real estate is no exception. Imagine you are a prospective tenant, you are going out with an agent to see several apartments around the city. The first unit you enter is immaculate, bright and clean. The second unit is dark and dingy (and slightly stinky!). If they are listed at the same price, in the same location – which would you apply to? Exactly. How the prospective tenant feels from the moment they enter your property is greatly going to influence their decision to rent it or not. It also gives them an idea about the kind of a landlord you are.
Are you an overworked or disorganized landlord, who won’t take care of minor maintenance issues? Or are you a well-organized and responsible landlord that your tenants can count on? Often times, the quality of your services rendered as a landlord can have big impact on how the tenants treat the apartment. As a general rule of thumb, if you want your apartment to look great and be kept in a clean condition, make sure you communicate that with your tenants. Be quick to fix issues, so when the time comes and your renters are moving out, they feel good about keeping the place clean and assisting with showings.
A well-kept and maintained apartment is not only going to show better to prospective tenants, but also advertise better. It will get far more attention online and more positive reactions in person. You want tenants that say good things about you when they go see the property. Your tenants will often be a great asset to you if your future tenants ask how responsive the landlord is to requests and maintenance.
Be mindful that some upgrades in an apartment can often be unreasonable such as asking the landlord to replace appliances just for looks rather than functionality. It all depends in the amount of rent being paid and numerous other factors. Perhaps a tenant will offer to pay a slight rent increase to have better appliances put in prior to moving in. Now it’s true that many landlords don’t have the time or money to completely renovate their space, but there are still many cheap and simple solutions to instantly take your property to the next level. Life as a landlord can be complicated, and big ticket items often wear out or break at the wrong times so having reserves is important. Below, we point out 4 quick fixes that won’t break a property owners bank account but still provide that winning edge.
Clean The Apartment
It all starts with a clean unit. A little attention to detail, and a bit of cleanliness is enough to set your unit apart from some of the competition. This is the first thing that potential tenants and agents are going to notice when they walk into your unit.
Is the apartment dirty? Is there trash leftover from the previous occupants? Are the carpets stained and odorous? These are basic questions you should ask yourself when you inspect your unit. If it feels unsanitary, odds are people are not going to want to lay their head there at night.
First things first, pick up any trash and sweep up any loose dirt. Give the hardwood/tile a good mopping and wipe them down for a deep clean. Vacuum any carpeting and deep clean if necessary. Open all the windows prior to the showing to let in some fresh air.
Wipe down all the kitchen appliances. If they are stainless steel make sure to polish them. Clean the fridge, stove and microwave of any leftover food. Renters are going to be using the kitchen to prepare and store food so it is imperative that they feel a sense of cleanliness.
Similarly, make sure the bathroom is as clean as possible. Wipe down the mirror, clean the toilet and replace any old shower curtains. This will go a long way with people. Set aside the time on a weekend or in the evening to get it done so that you have the confidence you have put your property in a position to be rented. Most likely you are looking at no more than 5-20 hours’ worth of work make a dramatic difference. Chunking landlord tasks is also another way to feel like each day you did something good. Perhaps one day you clean the entire kitchen including fridge. The next day you clean the hardwood floors and walls. Create a sense of pride and progress.
Always open up as many windows as you can for a while to let in some sunlight and fresh air. This will help eliminate some odors – just like us, homes need to breathe too! Utilize disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces – this will kill bacteria and also help to get rid of some odors.
Try to avoid air fresheners; while they smell nice they only cover the odor and do not solve the problem causing it.
Pay attention to detail and clean any nooks and crannies where odors and bacteria may be hiding (for example – top shelfs, under the fridge etc.). This will give your unit a sense of freshness that will make it far more appealing to renters. The other overlooked but important item is giving a quick mop of the initial common way into the building. Pick up mail and organize it, and get rid of old newspapers/coupons or advertising that has been trampled on a few times.
If your unit is older, or has been rocking the same paint for a while, it may be time to refresh the walls a bit. Paint is one of the easiest ways to completely change the look and feel of a space. A fresh coat of paint can make a room feel bigger, brighter and cleaner. Try to stick with light, neutral tones as they will appeal to more people. If you are going to repaint the unit, take the time to patch any holes or remove any blemishes that may have been painted over in the past. This attention to detail is going to drastically improve the aesthetic of the unit (all it takes is a putty knife and some joint compound).
Do not paint over old outlet/light switch covers. If needed take a trip to the local hardware store and pick up some new ones. These covers are inexpensive and will offer a nice touch to a freshly painted wall. Little details all add up to a perception of a well kept place, or one that is showing signs of slight neglect.
If you are painting the walls, do not forget the trims! A fresh coat of semi-gloss white to your door and window frames will further improve the look of each room, giving it a sense of newness. Hiring a professional painter can be pricey, however if you want to save some money painting can be a fun and rewarding weekend project.
Replacing the blinds in a unit can make a surprisingly big difference in how it shows and how it is photographed. It is such an easy and relatively inexpensive fix that you can do yourself. Old, dirty and broken blinds bring down the sense of quality in an apartment. When agents photograph your apartment, uneven or broken blinds can drastically take away from how the room actually looks. In some cases you can literally replace all the blinds in an apartment for less than $40-$100. The internet is loaded with sales on blinds and you can also order in bulk if you have several units. While blinds are not a required provision for landlords to distribute; in a time when there is high vacancy it is a great value add. The less a tenant has to think about bringing, or getting resolved, in a new apartment the better!
Again, it is a matter of first impressions; Broken or crooked blinds give off the perception that there may be other issues with the unit.
While you have the blinds off, you may as well give the windows a good cleaning. Remove any dust from the window sills and give the glass a good wipe. If there is any paint or adhesive on the glass, gently using a razor blade is a good way to scrape off any gunk. Clean windows are going to let in more light and help make the room feel bigger.
Getting new blinds is a very simple way to step up the appearance of an apartment. It will get your unit more attention online and will further promote the idea that you are an owner/manager who cares about your properties.
Replace old light bulbs
This may actually be the easiest way to instantly improve how your apartment shows. Get some new light bulbs to replace any old and dull ones! No matter what room it is, good lighting is always a good thing. A bright room will always show better. It will make the space feel more refreshed, spacious and comfortable.
High efficiency light bulbs can save you money in electricity cost while improving the appearance of a room. LED lights are a great option for brightness and longevity. If you are replacing light bulbs make sure you match them, both in style and type of light. Mismatched lightbulbs can make a room feel unbalanced and can hinder the improvements you are trying to make. Make it your personal business to check all common area lights as well as the basement or laundry room. If the entire building is lit properly it just gives a much better impression. You may also want to think about putting outside motion lights on or perhaps a ring camera with lights. This also makes tenants think that you are a more modern landlord that provides a slightly better level of service than the average property owner.
There are so many different styles of light bulbs that offer a wide variety of light color and brightness. With that much room for customization, it is very easy to create any kind of ambiance that you desire.
If some rooms require separate light fixtures like lamps, consider putting in temporary lamps with bright bulbs. This way, at least while the unit is being shown there will be some kind of light in the room. A room with little light does not offer any sense of comfort, so even a stand-in fixture can improve how the unit shows and advertises.
If there is anything you take away from this it should be to pay attention to details. From cleanliness to a little bit of elbow grease, a little bit of care and focus can greatly differentiate your property from the competition. Try imagining yourself in the shoes of a potential tenant. You want to create an environment where renters can see themselves living in your unit.
Of course there are other factors, such as price, location, amenities, etc. However, if a prospective tenant is deciding between two units of equal price and size, it would come down to how comfortable they feel inside the units. While you cannot control everything, it is important that you do the best of your ability to make your property shine the brightest it can!
Published October 15, 2020