expert-q-a

It's all in the details!

By Andrew Winter

To attract the right sort of tenant to your investment property, writes Andrew Winter, you need to ditch your ‘owner occupier mindset’

 

Preparing your investment property for rental is not the same as making decisions for your own home: here, the focus should be purely on the dollars.

A majority of long-term rental stock is let unfurnished, which is good for you: fewer costs and less maintenance. But it also means those great staging tips used to sell a house generally don’t apply when it comes to attracting tenants.

So, how do you present your property so it attracts the right sort of person, who will pay the right sort of rent?
 
First, remember different tenants have different needs. Some are seeking a suburban location with family-sized homes and gardens; others want a buzzing urban unit. Establish the likely demographic of potential tenants – age group; family or single etc – and cater to their likely personal tastes and style (not your own!).
 
The age of the property may affect where you need to spend more. If the property is in a new suburb, or less than 10 years old, tenants will expect modern fittings throughout. In older suburbs, they are more forgiving, but will still look for a decent power socket count and fittings that are not too ‘last century’.

Get the agents in and listen to their advice – they’ll know what you may have to do.

Keep decoration simple and maintain a neutral theme – this is about a style to suit all. Even ‘neutral’ colours have trends though: currently, no magnolia or creamy, yellow-based colours! Local paint shops are always up to date on what is the latest perceived ‘neutral’.
 
Kitchens and bathrooms. The most costly areas of a house to change, major works in these rooms should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Try bench top/sink/tap updates, new cabinet handles etc. Tiling is the big one –and professional specialists can spray even the most hideous tiles a nice sharp white. Cheap fixes are not suitable for all properties due to tenants’ expectations, so do your research first.
 
Floorings and window coverings. Get landlord insurance so you can cover damage because no tenant will want to inherit stained carpets or cracked tiles. Window dressings are equally important. Simplicity prevails right now, and for any planned updating it is generally best to go for the plain roller blind in a plain, neutral shade.

Reasonable wear and tear is to be expected. Tenants should be able to enjoy everything in working order and will expect a smart, clean and neutral dwelling – a place where, when you open a door, the handle doesn't fall off! However, they also must comply with all legislation relating to renting a residential property.

Don’t overlook the outdoors. The rule of thumb here is to focus on ease of maintenance – paved areas, lawns and minimal borders, and shrubs and plants that are all easily pruned.

It really is all in the details. Ensure the property feels and smells clean and fresh. Ensure taps work, toilet seats are in good condition, and door handles, ceiling fans and cupboards etc all function well. These items are often tested on inspection and can leave a lasting impression. Remember, if you hand over an immaculate home, an immaculate home should be handed back to you. Generally, most tenancies are conducted in a professional way and, in my experience, tenants appreciate and look after a property that is presented well.

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