It's easy to fix up or stage your property if you have access to unlimited cash. However, if you are like me, you need to keep your repairs to a minimum to stay profitable. The KEY thing to remember is that; you must keep your properties in good shape to attract tenants or buyers. The most basic improvements, such as carpet and paint can still costs thousands of dollars. Here are some inexpensive ways to improve your properties with very little cash.
New Electrical Switch Plates
Most rental owners and rehabbers paint a unit and leave the old, ugly switch plates. Even worse, some even paint over them! You would tend to think that this would be the first thing to do, when this is such a minor improvement. Oddly enough this is a commonly overlooked improvement.
New switch plates cost about 50 cents each. You can replace the entire house with new switch plates for about $20. For the foyer, living room and other main entertaining areas, spring for "nicer" plates; i.e.: brass or decorative plates. They run about $5 each - not much for the added class.
New or Improved Doors
Another commonly overlooked, yet cheap replacement item is doors. If you have those old brown doors, replace them with new white doors (you can paint them, but unless you have a spray gun it will take you several coats by hand).
The basic hollow-core door is about $20. It comes pre-primed and pre-hung. For about $10 more, you can buy stylish six-panel doors. I would suggest that if you are doing a rehab, the extra $10 per door is well worth-it. For rentals, consider at least changing the downstairs doors, if you dont want to change all of them.
New Door Handles
In addition to changing doors, consider changing the handles. An old door handle (especially with crusted paint on it) looks gross or really old. For about $10, you can replace them with new brass finished handles. Replace the guest bathroom and bedroom door handles with the fancy "S" handles (about $20 each).
Most homes or rentals need a good "do over" in the paint department. But if you dont have the time and/or the money, its best to consider just painting the trim. New homes typically come with beige or off-white walls and bright-white trim. Use a semi-gloss bright white on all of the trim in your house.
If the floor trim is worn, cracked or just plain ugly, replace it! Home Depot carries a new foam trim that is pre-painted in several finishes and costs less than 50 cents per linear foot. Create a great first impression by adding crown molding in the entry way and living room.
New Front Door
A cheap front door makes a house look cheap. An old front door makes a house look old. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. If you have nice heavy door, paint it a bold color using a high-gloss paint, consider a nice bright red or nice forest green depending on what matches best with the current color of your house. If your front door is old, consider replacing it with a new, stylish door. For about $125, you can buy a very nice door.
Tile Foyer Entry
Most rental property foyers are graced with linoleum floors. Consider a nice 12" Mexican tile. An 8' x 8' area should cost about $100 in materials. Now, that may seem a little steep, but definitely a worthwhile investment. You don't want that potential buyer/renter feeling repulsed by that old linoleum. Now if this is too much, go for that linoleum, but try to find some that has that look of granite.
New Shower Curtains
It amazes me that many landlords and sellers show properties with either no shower curtain or any ugly old shower curtain in the bathroom. Don't be cheap - drop $40 and buy a nice new rod and fancy curtain.
Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Replacing kitchen cabinets is expensive, but painting them is cheap. If you have old 1970's style wooden cabinets in a lovely dark brown shade, paint them. Use a semi-gloss white and finish them with colorful plastic or even brass knobs. Dont forget the inside of those cabinets too!
A fancy modern faucet looks great in the kitchen, but they can run as much as $150! Not to worry - most home retailers run clearance sales on overstocked and discontinued models from time to time. I have found nice Delta and Price Pfister faucets for about $60 on sale. If that is still a little too steep, just look for any shiny new faucet that catches your eye.
Add Window Shutters
If you have ugly aluminum framed windows, consider adding wooden shutters outside. They come pre-primed at most hardware retailers and are easy to install. Paint them an offset color from the outside of the house; i.e.: if the house is a dark color, paint the shutters white. If the house is a light color, paint them green, blue, etc.).
Add a Nice Mailbox
As in real estate marketing; MAKE SURE TO STAND OUT AND BE BOLD!! For about $35 you can buy a nice colorful mailbox. For about $60 more, you can buy a nice wooden post for it.
Although these tips seem like they are too little and insignificant to make a difference, people notice these things....and they like them!