TIPS FOR PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR THE RENTAL MARKET
Your home is competing with every other home listed in the same price range so it is important that prospective tenants see it in top condition!
It is important that when tenants preview the home that it is ready to rent. Even if there are still a number of things that you are going to do to the home, they will remember it as they saw it for the very first time.
This is the time to present the home at a marketable price and in top condition! If the price is too high compared to similar homes on the market and/or the property is not in good condition, it is extremely difficult to attract tenants back to the home.
First impressions are the most important impressions!
Make any necessary repairs to your home before showing it, including faulty plumbing, electrical, and furnace systems. While you may have been willing to put up with a faucet that drips, a toilet that runs, or a light switch that won’t work, tenants will not.
It also helps to touch up your new home, including carpet, curtains, blinds, paint, refinishing the floor, etc. If you are making these changes, it is best to use “real estate beige” colors so buyers can “see” their furnishings in your home without any color clash considerations. A color that is often used is parchment color as it is soft and will blend easily with any color. The time put into improving the appearance of the home may result in a better rental rate and a shorter marketing period.
A clean, neat home in need of few or no repairs will rent faster, and at a higher price, than one that shows signs of wear, walls that need painting, and floor coverings that have “seen their better days.” This is an important time to have your home look its best!
Then, do a final walk-through as if you were going to rent the home or have a friend (who will tell your truthfully) walk though it with to make sure no details have been overlooked. If you want our Property Manager to go through the home with you for advice, just ask for that service. The following is a list of tips that will help make your home more attractive.
Patch it up, pick it up, clean it up, and move it out!
- Remove peeling and chipped paint; replace with a fresh coat.
- Clear gutters and downspouts.
- Make sure there is good exterior lighting and all walkway lights and front door lights work.
- Door bell works – the prospective tenants or their children always push the bell!
- Remove any moss from the roof.
- Paint or clean any exterior doors – especially the front door. This is the first impression to the home. If there is a storm door, make sure it works and is in good condition or just remove it. Lubricate hinges.
- If you intend to take anything from the exterior of the property (plants, swing sets, sandboxes, etc.) remove them before the property is ready to be shown. Even if you put on the contract that they are going to be removed, tenants will almost always ask for those items to be included. To eliminate that aggravation, it is best to just have them removed from the property.
- Mow and trim grass; re-seed and fertilize where necessary.
- Prune all overgrown trees and shrubs.
- Remove or replace dead or diseased plants, shrubs and trees. Clean grease and oil stains from driveway.
- Weed flower beds.
- Curb appeal is important as many tenants drive by the home before making an appointment to see the home. Plant some attractive plants along the walk or the front of the landscaped areas.
- Keep the yard watered and green!
- Move dirt and any wood away from the foundation or against the siding of the home.
Patios, Decks, and fences:
- Paint or stain worn areas in wood decks.
- Replace any wood that shows signs of deteriorating.
- Fix any railings that require attention.
- Remove grass growing in concrete cracks; sweep off debris from shrubs and trees.
- Clean all fencing and make sure it's secure; replace missing slats or posts.
- Clean all windows-inside and out.
- If needed, add a fresh coat of paint to the window trims and sills.
- Make sure all windows open and close easily.
- Replace cracked windowpanes and those with broken seals.
- Make sure window screens are secure; replace any screens with holes or tears.
- Clean entryway floors and area rugs.
- Downsize clutter in entry closet to give the appearance of spaciousness.
- Double-check entry lighting to make sure it is operating.
Living room/dining room/family room:
- Give the room a fresh coat of paint, if necessary (a neutral color is best).
- Repair cracks and holes in ceiling and walls.
- Make sure all wallpaper is secured.
- Repaint any woodwork that is worn or chipped.
- Clean draperies and blinds; open them to maximize light.
- Make sure draperies and blinds open and close.
- Wash windows.
- Steam-clean carpets. Clean rugs and wood flooring and remove any stains or odors.
- Position the furniture to showcase the size and space of the room.
- Remove and replace any items that you wish to move with you (such as a favorite light fixture, shelves, decorator blinds, for example).
- Put away toys and hobby supplies; remove extra magazines and books from tables.
- Tables should have a minimum amount of things on them so they do not distract the buyer.
- Less is better. If there are too many personal pictures, decorations, and clutter, the tenant struggles trying to imagine their belongings in the room. It also makes the rooms look larger.
- Make sure countertops and sinks are clean and stain-free.
- Fix dripping faucets.
- Organize pantry and cupboards so they appear clean, neat and spacious. Make sure the refrigerator and freezer are defrosted and free of odors.
- Clean the oven and cook-top thoroughly.
- You have to start packing your things anyway for the move, so get rid of as many things as you can and box them up so all the drawers and cabinets have an organized look with more room to spare.
- If you plan on taking any of the appliances, remove them from the property and replace them with appliances that will be included when the property rents. You may need to rent a storage facility for the marketing period but if the items you plan on taking with you are important to you, this is the only way to insure that you won’t have to include them in the rental of the home. Exception would be the washer and dryer. The contract will state that they are not included (unless you plan to leave them).
- Make sure sinks, tubs, showers and countertops are clean and free of stains.
- Repair any leaky faucets.
- Remove grout and soap stains from tile.
- Replace any missing or cracked tiles or grout.
- Make sure all joints are caulked.
- Make sure all fixtures, including heat lamps and exhaust fans, are operating and are clean.
- Install a new shower curtain.
- Store all supplies like toilet paper, shampoo bottles and cleansers.
- Clean all cabinets and drawers.
- Keep all mirrors and chrome amenities clean and shiny (use glass cleaner).
- Repair cracks in ceiling and walls.
- Apply a fresh coat of paint if necessary.
- Make sure wallpaper is secure.
- Clean draperies and blinds; open them to maximize light.
- Put away toys, clothes.
- Neatly make up the beds.
- Remove any clothes, shoes, and things that are stored in the closet that you do not need. Box them up and move them out so all the closets look organized and spacious.
- Make sure all light fixtures are clean (no bugs in the fixture) and all the light bulbs and switches work.
- Clean, paint, or replace any damaged window sills and keep the window tracks clean.
- Remove any evidence of water penetration or dampness.
- Get rid of musty odors.
- Clean and service furnace and drains.
- Make sure light fixtures are operating.
- Arrange storage area in a neat and organized manner.
- Sweep floor.
- Make sure stairway handrail is secure.
- Plant flowers to brighten a walkway and enrich the entry. Hide or remove any indoor houseplants that are brown or losing their leaves.
- Remove all fixer cars, campers and boats from the property.
- Discard the clutter of magazines on the coffee and end tables.
- Hide or get rid of worn-out throw pillows.
- Replace shower curtains and invest in a matching set of towels in the bathrooms.
- At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting. Tenants often drive by homes they are considering at various times of day.
- Mow the yard every week and keep it watered.
Pets: If you have a pet, you should make some arrangement to secure the pet during showings. Many people are allergic to cats, and often children are frightened of dogs. If this happens, the tenant will leave the home as quickly as possible and you may lose a prospective renter.
Now that the home is ready to rent, it is important that prospective tenants have every opportunity to preview the home. When you are contacted by an agent to bring a tenant to the home, unless you just cannot accommodate them, it is a good idea to let them come when they are available. Many owners turn down appointments thinking that the agent can arrange another time but often they just arrange showings on other properties and that prospect is lost forever to your property.
Out-of-area tenants often only have a few days to find a home so they need to see available properties quickly so they can decide which home or homes they want to offer to lease and they don’t have time to wait a day or two to see a home.
The saying goes: “Opportunity only knocks once.” That is especially true when tenants want to see your home and there are a number of competing properties on the market.