The beginning of a new year is the perfect time for new beginnings – a much-needed fresh start! Last year has been and gone, and now you’re staring ahead to 365 days of possibility and endless opportunity. New Year’s resolutions were created for exactly this; to inspire us to aim higher, dream bigger and accomplish more. To be the person we want to be.
For some a new beginning takes the form of a new job, for others an engagement. Still others look forward to a fresh start in a new home. The emphasis here is on the “fresh” and “new”. Attracting quality tenants is becoming increasingly more difficult in the current economic climate. If the quality of the applicant is consistently low, or if you are finding it difficult to place anyone at all, then it may be time you consider “sprucing up” your investment – to ensure it remains a lucrative one.
According to Shiela Olsen of Investopedia the housing market has begun to show an upward recovery. In September of last year she commented: “Housing prices are on the rise, and home equity has nearly recovered.” Now may very well be the right time to invest in your investment, with higher returns and resale values a greater possibility in the near future.
Even Greg Harris, CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals, agrees that “It might be worth making some bigger home improvements now, even if there is no immediate opportunity in your local market to raise the rent.”
Attracting quality tenants to an out-dated and worn-out unit is near impossible. Tenants are looking for units that are tastefully finished and well looked-after. It does not necessarily have to be the most modern and technically-savvy unit in the complex or area, but it should be both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Before any improvements have begun, consider your tenant or potential buyer and tailor the renovations to suit them. This means that personal tastes and preferences should play little part in the renovations – a fail-safe is a versatile, modern, clean design that can be tailored to the tenant’s taste with the addition of their own furniture. Tried and tested trends remain true.
According to Richard Armstrong, an expert in home renovations and founder of The Makeover Group; “The key when renovating for profit is to keep the renovation accessible to the buyer”.
Armstrong went on to say that; “Lots of natural light, warm white walls and sociable open spaces always sell a home.” Three key home improvement tips to keep in mind.
The kitchen is often the first impression a tenant has of a home. It is also the place they will spend a large amount of their waking hours. In many households the meal preparation and cooking are social times where families reconnect after a long day and catch up on the day’s events. Kitchen renovations are a necessity, whether you’re looking to rent to a single professional or family of five.
Start by replacing out-dated kitchen cupboards with cupboards that are versatile (in style and colour) and durable, and creating additional storage and cupboard space. Old-fashioned faucets and taps are another example of a seemingly small change that makes a notable difference to the overall feel of the kitchen. Splashbacks are a relatively cost effective way to modernise a kitchen and to replace tired, tiled walls in a colour that both brightens and energises.
Bathrooms are another major renovation, especially if it has been a number of years since any renovations were completed. Gone are the days of moss green or maroon baths, basins and toilets, the same can be said for wall-to-wall carpets. Bathrooms have the tendency to become a musty, dark space, owing to the smaller-sized “privacy” windows characteristic of sectional title units. Repainting or retiling a bathroom in clean, bright whites or soft, soft pastels and replacing old light fixtures with high-power light fittings in modern designs is guaranteed to transform the bathroom. As with the kitchen, simply replacing outdated tap fittings or bath/shower heads with a modern alternative will make the world of difference.
Years of foot traffic can wear in carpets and scuff tiles. The grout may also wear away between tiles and may cause cracks and chips. Old, worn and stained carpets are just as noticeable and will instantly put-off a potential tenant. Rather than simply having a professional service in to clean, consider replacing them completely for a completely new look. Durable, high-quality tiles will last longer and will not require a professional and pricy carpet cleaning service. Laminate wooden flooring is significantly cheaper and more hard-wearing than real wood, and is both scratch- and moisture-resistant.
Security has become a major concern for South Africans, particularly in freestanding properties. Although this improvement is a costly exercise, the addition of alarm systems, electric fencing, beams and cameras adds significant value to any home, and may well reduce your insurance. Tenants will pay for the “peace-of-mind” high-tech security assures.
Ironically, satellite TV connections, internet accessibility and cellphone reception are nearly as important to tenants as security and the cost of rent, reports Property24 in an article in late last year. A recent survey by Apartments.com stated that tenants selected pre-installed satellite TV connections and high-speed internet access as two of the most desirable amenities in a potential apartment. Tenants find free and easily accessible Wi-Fi or fibre internet connections a major drawcard due to the high costs of data in South Africa and the necessity of staying connected via their smart phones, tablets, laptops and PCs. Including unlimited Wi-Fi in the monthly rental will appeal to young professionals or corporate executives alike.
Property24 reports that landlords who want to attract more tenants – or retain existing tenants – need to ensure that their properties are sufficiently [“tech-savvy”].
Ensure that all planning and budgeting has been done before construction begins to eliminate any additional costs. Draft a frugal budget beforehand, taking all costs into account – from the cost of hiring contractors to the cost of materials. Consider the style of home, competitive properties in the area and the current market to determine whether the improvements will add value to your home. Home renovation projects should never price your property above resale value, so ensure that the renovations improve your home, resale value and return on investment – even if the real value is not seen immediately.