10 Inexpensive Ways to Spruce Up Your Rental Or Rehab Property

Real Estate Agent with Renaissance Realty Group of Keller Williams Atlanta Partners

     It's easy to fix up your properties if you have unlimited cash. However, you need to keep your repairs to a minimum to stay profitable. You also need to keep your properties in good shape to attract tenants or buyers. There are the basic improvements, such as carpet and paint, but these can still costs thousands of dollars. The following are some inexpensive ways to improve your properties with very little cash.

  #1) New Electrical Switch Plates

  This is such a minor, yet overlooked improvement. Most rental owners and rehabbers paint a unit and leave the old, ugly switch plates. Even worse, some even paint over them.

  New switch plates cost about 75 cents each. You can replace the entire house with new switch plates for about $20 -$30. For the foyer, living room and other obvious areas, spring for nice brass plates. They run about $5 each - not much for added class.

  #2) New or Improved Doors

  Another overlooked, yet cheap replacement item is doors. If you have ugly brown doors, replace them with nice white doors (you can paint them, but unless you have a spray gun it will take you three coats by hand).

  The basic hollow-core door is about $ 50. It comes pre-primed and pre-hung. For about $10 - $15  more, you can buy stylish six-panel doors. If you are doing a rehab, the extra $10 -$15 per door is well worth-it. For rentals, consider at least changing the downstairs doors.

  #3) New Door Handles

  In addition to changing doors, consider changing the handles. An old door handle (especially with crusted paint on it) looks drab. 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).

  #4) Paint/Replace Trim

  If the entire interior of the house does not need a paint job, consider painting the trim. New, modern custom homes typically come with beige or off-white walls and bright-white trim. Use a semi-gloss bright white on all the trim in your houses.

  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.

  #5) New Front Doors

  You only get one chance to make a first impression. A cheap front door makes a house look cheap. An old front door makes a house look old. If you have nice heavy door, paint it a bold color using a high-gloss paint. If your front door is old, consider replacing it with a new, stylish door. For about $175, you can buy a very nice door.

  #6) Tile Foyer Entry

  After the front door, your next first impression is the foyer area. Most rental property foyers are graced with linoleum floors. Consider a nice 12" Mexican tile. An 8' x 8' area should cost about $100 - $150 in materials.

  #7) 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.

  #8) 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 knobs. No need to paint the inside of them (unless you own a spray gun), since you are only trying to make an impression.

  Americans spend 99% of their time in the kitchen (when they are not watching TV). A fancy modern faucet looks great in the kitchen. They can run as much as $150, but not to worry - most retailers (Home Depot, Home Base, etc) often run clearance sales on overstocked and discontinued models. I have found nice Delta and Price Pfister faucets for about $60 on sale.

  #9) 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 - (e.g., if the house is dark, paint the shutters white. If the house is light, paint them green, blue, etc.).

  #10) Add a Nice Mailbox

  Everyone on the block has the same black mailbox. Stand out. Be bold. For about $50 you can buy a nice colorful mailbox. For about $60 more, you can buy a nice wooden post for it. People notice these things....and they like them

Posted by

If you or someone you know is thinking of buying or selling a home have them give me a call .. we will get it done ...right 

Eric Reid 

Associate Broker

Keller Williams Atlatna Partners
Team Leader 
Renaissance Realty Group

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Gregory Maley
Sold Buy the Sea Realty & R.E.N.T. - Wilmington, NC

Great list.  You're right, some of the cheapest and simplest improvements can make such a big difference!

Jul 10, 2008 05:43 AM #1
Tina Bann
Prudential Benrud Realty - Eau Claire, WI

This list is very good and I will use it to pass along to sellers looking for inexpensive ways to spruce up their property.  The only item I have a question about is your price for 6-panel doors.  Where I am, a prehung 6-panel door is $100 on sale and about $125.00 regular price!

Jul 10, 2008 05:49 AM #2
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate

Hey, Eric. All very good tips. I think that another idea may be to add a new light or faucet. I hope that you have a great weekend, Jim

Jul 10, 2008 05:59 AM #3
Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate
SDW Realty of Cape Cod - Falmouth, MA

Thanks Eric these sound like easy fixups that most average people can do themselves to ready their property for a better or maybe even a more profitable sale!!

Jul 10, 2008 06:45 AM #4
Jacinta da Silva
Atlanta Communities - Marietta, GA

Thanks for the blogg...i am going to use this for clients.  By the way I work in the cobb area of Altanta.  If you have any referrals send them my way and I will do the same.  I also speak spanish and Portuguese.  Thanks

Jul 10, 2008 08:21 AM #5
Josh Steele

Excellent list!

For hints and tips (as well as great pricing), visit www.carpetexpress.com.

Jul 10, 2008 09:23 AM #6
Jared Pomranky ~ Detroit Foreclosures
Urban Detroit Wholesalers - Detroit, MI

New front doors are always a big one with me.  Talk about increasing the curb appeal.  Switch plates and a shower curtain are so inexpensive but everyone overlooks it.  I think sometimes we as investors are so focused on the big picture that we forget to look at it from a buyer's or renter's perspective.


Jul 10, 2008 09:56 AM #7
DeAnna Troupe
Learn Small Business - Stone Mountain, GA

That was good information.  I disagree with white cabinets in the kitchen, though.  White cabinets are so hard to keep clean.  I don't know what other color would be good.  I just know if I was renting a house and saw white cabinets I would probably run away screaming into the night. :-)

Just my two cents.

Jul 10, 2008 10:30 AM #8
Eric Reid
Renaissance Realty Group of Keller Williams Atlanta Partners - Lawrenceville, GA

One extra idea is to remove the screen from the fornt side windows the bright clean widows reflect light and make the house look bright and welcome

Jul 10, 2008 12:48 PM #9
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

Good list.  I would add to clean up the yard.  Even sod is that expesive if you are trying to get a house rented or sold.

Jul 10, 2008 05:34 PM #10
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional


Great tips for adding that little extra something to a listing!

Jul 11, 2008 08:34 AM #11
Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR
Desert Gold Realty - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale - Mesquite, NV
Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS

Eric - This covers all of the basics to get ready to sell a home in Lawrenceville GA.  Or anywhere else.  Consequently, I am 'permanently borrowing' this list.  The switch plate idea is so overlooked and amazing how many people notice - well, why wouldn't they?  They reach out and touch them even if the lights are on.

Jul 12, 2008 03:57 PM #12
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