In our previous article, we discussed some of the reasons why vacancies are longer and harder to fill during the winter season. This is especially true during the month of December. Try as you may, we may not be able to locate a tenant during the next month or so. There are, however, winter improvements which can be done during this time that can increase tenancy. That means that once you get a tenant, these improvements will encourage your tenant to stay longer. This will reduce tenant turnover and eliminate vacancy losses during that time.
Remember the graphic that was part of the article, “Why You Must Rent out Your Home by December 20th!”? It showed the effect that an extra month of vacancy can have on your annual income. In fact, reducing the rent and/or offering an incentive can actually increase your cash flow if it reduces unit vacancy by only one month.
So, getting a good qualified tenant into your rental is the first step. The second step is to keep them happy and content so that they do not want to move. The longer your tenant stays, the less expenses you will have. That leads us to the question: What winter improvements can you do that will increase tenancy?
Design Trends: What is Coming In
Let’s take a look at current trends in the home buyer market and what the industry is saying buyers will want in 2018. If we can offer those same features, amenities, and color schemes, then your tenant will not be in such a hurry to leave.
High Contrast Palettes
Darker walls in neutral earth tones that is balanced by white trim and wainscoting gives a warm put clean appearance. Those deep richer colors can make an older rental look just plain classy. When choosing a color, gravitate more towards warmer tones.
Brass Accents are Back
Brushed silver has been in style for many years now which has replaced stainless steel as the standard for faucets and hardware. It looks like in 2018, brass hardware is making a comeback.
Buyers are looking for natural elements in their home. Installing stone tile backsplashes can change a ho-hum kitchen into one that grabs the eye. Concrete is becoming a great kitchen design element. It can be used for countertops and even sinks. It can be professionally finished to look like more expensive natural stone and it will last for years to come.
Wider Doorways and Halls
Ground floor rentals can draw more seniors who will choose to age in place if the units can accommodate wheelchairs or scooters. Pocket doors are also popular because they take up less room than a swinging door and are easy to operate in a wheelchair. Also, if you will be widening the doorways, then pay particular attention to bathroom layouts, handrail installation, and accessible sinks along with walk-in showers.
Design Trends: What is Going Out
Often the rental market runs a couple of years behind home buyer trends as landlords are worried that these styles are a flash in the pan and will do little to increase tenancy. The problem here is that by the time a landlord incorporates them into their rental, they are already on their way out. Here are the trends that you do not want to use in upgrading your units.
Subway tiles in bathrooms and kitchens have been hot for a couple of years now. Homeowners, however, quickly realized the amount of upkeep. There is a ton of grout and grout loves mold, dust and stains. If you are planning on retiling a rental, the trend now is to use larger format tile and even slab sized porcelain sheets.
All-white interiors are on the way out. White is being swapped out for warm wood tones and neutrals including cream, blue, gray, and wood grain tones. Which is great because white is nearly impossible to keep clean anyway.
Unit Upgrades that Saves Money
Even if you are not paying the utilities, your tenant is and they are going to count that cost when choosing a rental. Energy efficient rentals have serious market appeal. If you have two similar units which are both at market rent but one is energy efficient, which one would you choose? Exactly. Here are some easy to install options.
Tankless Water Heaters
Water heaters only last so long. If you have a unit with an old rusted tank, consider swapping it out for the smaller profile, on-demand tankless water heater. Hot water is only produced when needed and they can instantly provide up to 5 gallons a minute. They can run on either gas or electric. Right now your water heater is keeping 50 gallons of water hot all day, whether your tenant is home or not. A tankless system only fires up when needed – saving hundreds of dollars a year.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Carpet and linoleum have been a standard in the rental market for years. But, carpet only lasts a few tenants and gets nasty fast. Linoleum while easy to clean, just does not have much market appeal. So if you have a rental that needs new flooring, we would like to recommend TrafficMaster Allure Ultra Vinyl Plank Flooring. It is an extremely durable interlocking floor covering that mimics hardwood floor but without the maintenance. It is highly recommended by many rental property owners as can be seen in this thread from Bigger Pockets.
The winter rental season can be tough for landlords. If a tenant cannot be found, why not use this time to work on a few upgrades. Not only will it increase the market appeal of your rentals and hence the rental rate, but it will increase tenancy and reduce move out vacancy losses. If you would like to meet with us to discuss ways we can improve the quality and market appeal and increase tenancy, just let us know and we can schedule an appointment at your convenience.