Focusing on your outdoor entertainment areas and considering some additions can boost your weekly return and reduce your vacancies. This will help those soon to show their investment to prospective tenants make the most of the summer months.
Renovating for Profit’s Cherie Barber maximizes a yard’s potential through plants and simple landscaping, and uses a “cookie cutter approach” – a template that can be applied to virtually any garden.
The cookie cutter landscaping focuses on making borders. By planting the outside edges of the garden, including those that line the front of the house, a structure is created that ensures the illusion of depth, order and space.
“All I do is perimeter planting,” Ms Barber says. “I focus around the front, back and sides of a property, along the back fence and the front boundary. Quite often I put plants around the front of the house as well, to dress it. Less really is more.”
Reno Kings’ master renovator Paul Eslick agrees with this simplifying technique, particularly where tenants are involved.
He recalls one property in Queensland’s Toowong that looked great from the street but was filled with plants out the back.
“You couldn’t see the house for the trees to start with,” Mr Eslick says, “but they took out seven tons of plants and the landscaping just looked so much better. With landscaping: keep it simple.”
This is especially true when it comes to properties suited to families, which tend to value space over plants. “Families with kids prefer a flatter yard at the back with plenty of grass instead of heaps of plants,” says Mr Eslick.
Investors with family tenants who are considering adding a sandpit or a cubby house should understand that it may not mean extra rent and also that they quickly go out of fashion.
Nevertheless, these low-cost additions may make the property more desirable, particularly in areas where there is stiff competition for tenants.
More costly additions, such as outdoor entertainment areas, may be worth the outlay where they both make the property more attractive to tenants and increase its value.
A basic pergola made out of Colorbond sheeting could cost around $2,000, Ms Barber calculates. “It would have a massive upside of $10,000-plus. It will add $5 to $10 back for every $1 spent.”
A property Mr Eslick renovated in Queensland’s Mooloolaba had few changes – tidying, planting, a new deck and barbecue paving – but the work yielded a significant return.
“It just transformed that place and when we finished, it had added $50,000 worth of value to the property,” he says.
For investors with smaller properties, adding a deck that is attached to the house and easily accessible is one way to get the effect of space without opting for a high-cost extension.
“Putting a deck out the back really makes the house look bigger; if you’re trying to encourage people to dine outside then remember that means less wear and tear inside.
“You will definitely add more value and people will pay more rent when it has been opened up to encourage that ‘indoor/outdoor’ look that people are currently after.”
Properties with outdoor entertaining areas are likely to be rented out sooner than those without this benefit, since they attract a larger range of tenants.
“If the rent is at $300, then you can expect an extra $20 a week because what tenants are looking for is the lifestyle,” says Mr Eslick.
Ms Barber agrees that a place with outdoor living space can command a higher rent: “Definitely patios and pergolas can be well worthwhile and are one way to improve your returns,” she says.