In the current real estate market in the greater Sacramento region, many solvent homeowners are becoming reluctant landlords. These homeowners have to move for a job change or choose to move for other reasons. They have looked at selling, but with the current market being what it is, selling may not be a viable option. Basically, selling may involve giving the property away or it may simply take too long to locate a suitable buyer in that price range.
Converting an owner occupied property into a rental property is straightforward, but it is not the same a selling the property. Purchasers of real estate are not as concerned about small maintenance issues like paint condition, carpet condition, or cleaning. This makes sense because a purchaser of a home is looking at the long term prospects for the house and will cover the small items for the sake of a good deal on the purchase. But a renter wants an immediate payoff as rents paid today are lost forever. The renter has to be sold on the immediate benefits of renting your property. There are no long term benefits to renting. So, what should be done to make a house rent ready to rent? Here is my list that we use as property managers at HomePointe Property Management.
1. Paint the walls. No shortcuts here, if the walls don’t look like they have just been painted, paint them. This is a cheap way to make your home appear its best. If you see any marks on the walls, paint them. I suggest you use a neutral color on all the walls. A common choice is Frost, an off white. Do not think that your prospective tenant is going to want you to keep the third bedroom walls pink in case they have a young daughter. The more you have customized the walls, the fewer tenants will want your place. I rarely hear that a prospective renter has complained that the walls are all off white. Neutral color is best.
2. In the Sacramento, CA rental market, put up good window coverings. This varies by market, so check with your property manager, rental housing association, or local realtors. No tenants I am aware of want to buy window coverings for a home they are renting. Do not go too cheap as cheap blinds will bend and break, strings will break, cheap will not last. You should be looking for a metal blind that will last six plus years with normal wear and tear.
3. Clean the carpets. In some cases you may need to replace the carpets. Have someone you trust look the carpets over and smell them. This should be done when the house is vacant. Do not trust you own nose, you have been there too long. Some homes still have the old shag carpet from the sixties and seventies. Make sure you carpet is both clean and up to date. No one wants to rent a house with outdated or dirty carpet.
4. Fix up and clean up the yard and exterior of the home. Curb appeal applies to rental properties as much as it does to properties for sale. Make sure the sprinklers work and put them on a timer. Tenants do not like to spend time manually watering your lawn. The first impression prospects will have is of your building exterior and yard. Make it a good first impression. You may have to paint your home if you have let this go. Depending on your exposure I have seen some clients paint only the front and get away with it. But make sure the whole exterior is protected from the weather. 5. Make sure everything works. Windows should lock, appliances should work, heating and air conditioning should work, doors and locks should work, put cover plates on, fence gates should be operational, fix broken windows, no leaks, no mold, and no trip hazards. If you don’t take care of these things before the tenant moves in, you will be receiving their call soon. Best to do it when you are not in a rush to please a disgruntled tenant. 6. Clean the interior, the garage, and the front porch. Do not forget the insides of the kitchen drawers and the garage.
A final question, would you move into the property in the condition it is in? If so, you are getting close!