Whether buying or renting, anyone who is choosing a new home needs to feel an emotional connection to that property. If you don’t love where you live, it’s hard to be happy.
In the San Mateo rental market, tenants are looking for safety, comfort, and aesthetics. They want to live in a home that’s modern, attractive, and updated. We know that the rental market is hot. Rental values are high, inventory is low, and tenants are competing for the best properties available.
That’s good news for you, as an owner or investor.
Make your property the most desirable rental home on the market. This will allow you to increase your rental value and earn more every month. It also ensures that the most qualified tenants will be attracted to your property, which means you’ll have a pleasant – and profitable – rental experience for a year or longer.
Renovations are expensive. Maintenance costs have risen and finding labor isn’t always easy. If you’re thinking about making upgrades and updates, you have to be strategic. Decide what’s most cost-effective for you, and make sure you have a great network of vendors and contractors you can rely on to provide outstanding remodels for affordable prices within the timeline that you require.
Our best advice is to focus on cosmetic improvements. These are far cheaper than major remodels, and they’ll take less time than a total renovation. You won’t have to worry about overspending or waiting too long to have your property rent-ready. If your property is in good condition, a few minor updates are all you likely need.
When you’re thinking about cosmetic upgrades, think like a tenant. What’s going to induce them to pay more rent? What will connect them on an emotional level with your San Mateo rental home?
This is often deeply personal and the areas you should concentrate on improving will depend on the unique needs of your property.
We can offer some general tips, however, and these are cosmetic upgrades that will be beneficial to just about any property you’re renting out.
Upgrade to Hard Surface Flooring
Floors are both functional and cosmetic. You need good floors for the obvious reasons – tenants walk on them.
Ditch the carpet. When you want to make a big cosmetic difference in the rents you earn and the satisfaction of your tenants, focus on your floors. You can expect a return on the investment you make when you install hard surface flooring, whether it’s wood, tile, laminates, or vinyl.
Typically, rental homes have always provided the same dull carpet that needs to be replaced every few years. It also needs to be professionally cleaned during turnovers. That gets expensive, and carpet is unhealthy. It traps dust, allergens, and if your tenant has pets, you can bet that the cat odors and the fleas will be nearly impossible to remove from those fibers.
Tenants prefer hard surface flooring because it’s cleaner, safer, and easier to maintain. Spills are cleaned up with ease and dirt doesn’t get stuck when it’s tracked into the house on shoes and feet.
Hard surface flooring is better for you, too, from a maintenance standpoint and when you’re thinking about turnover costs.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on floors. If you cannot do new floors in the entire unit, focus on the common areas such as living rooms. Tenants might be fine with carpet in the bedrooms, and they’ll really love the shiny new floors in the rest of the property once you have them installed.
San Mateo Rental Property Appliances
Another cosmetic upgrade that also serves a functional purpose is appliances.
Stainless steel is dazzling, and it will immediately get the attention of good tenants who are looking for a modern, well-equipped kitchen. If you can afford the stainless, go ahead and do it. This will give your property a sleek and modern look, and it will really stand out in your rental listings when you show pictures of your brand new, stainless appliances.
It doesn’t have to be that, however. As long as the appliances in your kitchen match each other, you can install black pieces or even white. There are some hybrid models too, that have a partial stainless covering.
What tenants are really looking for is energy efficiency. When you’re thinking about replacing your appliances because they’re looking old and dated, think about replacing them with models that have a high Energy Star rating. This saves tenants money on their electric bills. They also look better in the property.
If you’re providing in-unit laundry, you’ll want to consider upgrading to attractive washers and dryers. If space is an issue, look for stackable models. They’re attractive and easy for tenants to use.
If you’re not providing in-unit laundry, this is a great time to consider it. Laundry facilities in a home or apartment are more than cosmetic – they’re a reason that tenants will want to rent your home.
Take a Look at your Landscaping and Improve your Curb Appeal
There’s nothing more cosmetic than your curb appeal.
There’s also nothing more powerful.
The curb appeal is your rental property’s first impression. When prospective tenants arrive for a showing, the property’s exterior will set their expectations and influence how they’re feeling about your rental home.
In single-family homes, make sure the landscaping is attractive, neat, and low-maintenance. Grass should be mowed. Bushes and trees should be trimmed. If there are flower beds, consider fresh mulch. Make sure the front door is free of cobwebs, insects, and clutter. When you’re renting out a multi-family property, make sure the outside is welcoming and attractive.
When the outside of your rental looks like it needs work, you can make some simple upgrades such as:
- Lighting. Make sure the home is well-lit. A soft glow on the front porch or at the entryway can have a dramatic effect.
- Hardscaping. We’re always in danger of droughts and water restrictions in San Mateo. Don’t invest in lush lawns that need a lot of water and upkeep. There are some great options with rocks, paths, pavers, and wooden anchors.
- Sturdy plants and vegetation. Needle grass, monkey flower, gooseberry, and June Plum are all examples of native vegetation that will hold up well and do not require a lot of attention and care.
Invest in professional landscaping services so you know the property will be looking its best at all times. You never know when a prospective tenant will drive or walk by.
Provide Better Tech Upgrades
Video doorbells are huge right now, especially in residential neighborhoods where people want to see when their packages are delivered and screen who is at the front door before they answer it. While you might not think of technology as particularly cosmetic, when a prospective tenant sees a video doorbell at your home, they’re going to be happy about renting it.
Smart home tech is a great upgrade to make at your property because there’s a huge demand for it in the tenant pool. It’s also expensive, so think about where you can best invest your money. The doorbell is a great idea as is a security system. You can also consider a smart thermostat or a system that makes it easy for tenants to sync appliances, lights, and temperature control to their phone through an app.
Install Attractive Lighting (Inside and Out)
Lighting impacts how your San Mateo rental home looks. Investing in a lighting upgrade will bring you better results and you’ll also reduce the risk of tenants taking matters into their own hands by installing lighting that they like better at your property.
Energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures are always going to be the most attractive to tenants. Get creative in kitchens and bathrooms, where tenants will need the brightest lights. In living areas and bedrooms, dimmer lights are okay and tenants might prefer not to have strong overhead lights.
Don’t forget the exterior lighting. The front door or the steps need to be well-lit. If you’re renting out units in a multi-family building, make sure there’s adequate lighting from the parking area to the property. A motion light is always a worthy upgrade, especially on garages or other outbuildings.
Painting a San Mateo Rental Property
Finally, consider your paint. If you’ve only been making touch-ups during tenant turnovers, it’s time to invest in a full paint job. Put new paint on the entire walls. You want to stay neutral, but the same white color on all the walls can look a bit institutional. Experiment with soft gray shades or even a light beige. This will add interest while keeping the color easy to match with furnishings and décor.
Paint the outside of the property if it’s looking old and faded as well. This will enhance your curb appeal and your rental value.
These are just a few suggestions we have for making cosmetic upgrades to your San Mateo rental property. We’d love to take a look at your rental property and make some customized recommendations. Contact our team at Sharevest Property Management.