Bang for Your Buck Rental Property Updates

Elegant bathroom with long white vanity cabinet

Dear Dave,

I have a rental house that needs a little updating. I’m considering working on the kitchen, but not going overboard. Do you have an opinion on the key features someone would be looking for in a modest rental? Or, are there other features that renters might find to be more important? The house is in an older downtown neighborhood and has a wide appeal to a number of different types of renters.

Thank you,

Dan - Grand Junction, CO


Dan,

The key to your “little updating” is making absolutely sure you do not go overboard. One of the biggest mistakes I have been guilty of making over the years is going overboard with updating both inside and out. My wife reminds me, you’re not going to live there. The tendency is to make them as nice as I can, within reason, so the renters want to stay longer and hopefully have a pride in living there. What ends up happening is, I over improve. My suggestion is to not follow my lead and make sure your updating is modest!

Renters like the same features and finishes as buyers so figuring out what will be appealing is simple.

Remember renters are buyers who just can’t buy. Renters like the same features and finishes as buyers so figuring out what will be appealing is simple. Kitchens and bathrooms are always a hot-button upgrade, as is new flooring and paint. If you are going to do some updating in the kitchen try making light fixture changes along with updated cabinet hardware and potentially a new backsplash. Those changes can be a nice bang for the buck return. If the cabinets are in bad shape, try painting them instead of replacing. Any changes you can make with a more contemporary vibe or a modern look is very popular right now. Another upgrade that can be cost-effective and should not be underestimated is outdoor living space. 

The addition of a back patio area or outdoor entertaining area is a very popular feature. It does not have to be extensive or expensive, but just a simple place to gather and entertain and if you are lucky it will also cut down on the yard that needs to be maintained. Outdoor entertainment or gathering areas are a great feature. As always keep in mind that flooring and paint always provide a great return on investment for any rental. All renters, but especially good renters always love to find a rental that has new flooring and paint. Just like buyers, the smell and look of new flooring and paint is very appealing and might just be the hook you need to reel them in. 

When it is all said and done, make sure that you keep it on the modest side and focus on these features to really maximize your bang for the buck return. Keep it simple and as always remember that clean and presentable are always your best renting feature and the cost of clean is VERY affordable. Hope this helps and best of luck!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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