If you are buying investment properties, it is helpful to know what renters are looking for before you buy. We contacted Apartment Guide, which drew an estimated 19 million visits in 2007, to see what were the most searched for amenities in the last 90 days. Here are their top three and two other important ones:
- Washer and Dryer. This is by far the most requested amenity. No one wants to drag their clothes to the Laundromat. Having a laundry room in an apartment building is a plus, but if you want to score big – put it in the unit. If you cannot afford to install a washer or dryer, having the hookup is almost as good.
- Air Conditioning. In warmer climates, not offering air conditioning in a unit can be a deal breaker. This does not necessarily mean that you need central air but even window air conditioning units appeal to renters.
- Pets. Pet owners are often very loyal tenants. Apartments.com conducted a survey of 1,000 renters and 90% said that they had a pet. Of the renters that did not have a pet, more than half said that they plan to get a pet within the next year. More than 80% of respondents said a pet-friendly policy played a major role in where they chose to live.
Many investors are worried that having pets in the home will damage their investment. One way to offset the risk is by requiring a pet deposit or a monthly fee. More than half of renters surveyed said they paid more than $200 for a pet deposit. If they do not follow the rules you set in the lease agreement (such as not picking up Fido's poop,) you can always charge them a fine.
- Modern and Updated Features. Tenants love to live in remodeled units, especially those that contain quality fixtures, appliances and easy to maintain floor coverings. Renovated kitchens and baths have the most appeal. When updating the kitchen, see if you can install stainless steel appliances as these are highly sought after by tenants. If those are out of your budget, go for the stainless steel look or at least make sure all the appliances match.
- Closet and Storage Space. Everyone has those things that need to be tucked away, whether it is the winter clothes or holiday decorations. A simple storage closet can go a long way in marketing your unit.
Here are some other things to think about before you buy a rental property such as:
- Is it safe? Are there plenty of street lights? Are the shrubs around the house well pruned?
- Is there off-street parking?
- Is there a porch or deck? A fenced yard?
- Is the property close to schools, parks, grocery stores as well as public transportation?
Also make sure that your property management company responds quickly to the concerns of your renters. Nothing will drive a good renter out of your property than poor service.
So, before you buy, look at your property through the eyes of a renter. This will help guarantee a stable cash flow during the time of your investment by encouraging your tenants to be there for the long term.