Preparing Your Home to Be a Rental or Investment Property

Below are a dozen tips on preparing your home to be rent-ready.

Some homeowners find themselves unable to sell in today’s market. Some have purchased too recently and their job requires they move before expected. Some purchase homes as long, or short-term investments. All three of these types of home owners may find that preparing the home for rent is the most beneficial for them at this time.

Before jumping the gun and putting the “for rent” ad in the local paper, consider preparing the home for its new occupant carefully

Take a good, long and honest look at the home. If you were forced to take photos of the home right this minute, what would you remove, fix, replace, etc.? A good quality tenant will expect the home to be in excellent working condition and will also expect it to be spotless clean.

Here are a some tips on preparing your home for the rental market:

1. Make necessary repairs and or improvements. You may not mind the inoperable dishwasher but I assure you, a tenant will. If you’re going to provide it, make sure it works. Replace smoke detectors and screens. If your home has a fireplace, have the chimney swept and inspected. Clean out the dryer vent. Checking chimneys and dryer vents regularly will help prevent an avoidable fire hazard. Be sure to eliminate any and all trip hazards or insurance violations.

2. Paint. Yes, I said it. Paint all the interior walls a light neutral color. If you just painted it green last week, paint it light neutral color this week. Seriously. I do not recommend using white paint (except for doors and trim). A light neutral color allows the tenant to better visualize their own belongings in the space. Light neutral color hides normal wear and tear markings better than white paint, which means painting less frequently. Use quality paint so that you can clean the walls later or in between tenants if needed. Paint trim and doors (white) if needed. Paint the ceilings if needed. Paint the front door inside and out as this is one of the first and last opportunities to have a positive lasting impression on the home for the prospect. Use your best judgement on the exterior paint. Generally, it doesn’t need painting as frequently as the interior, but should be done if paint is worn, weathered or tired.

3. Replace flooring as needed. Take a hard look at your carpets and determine if they need to be replaced. Are they worn, stained, or starting to become thread-bare? Carpets don’t need to be in perfect condition, but they should not look dirty or worn out. Consider tile if you want to replace flooring less frequently. It’s durable and easy to clean too. Avoid using non-waterproof laminate flooring for rentals if possible as, they are easily damaged by spills or minor leaks, and difficult and expensive to repair/replace.

4. Have the home professionally cleaned. A professional will clean everything you see and don’t see. Also, by having the home professionally cleaned, it makes it considerably easier to hold the tenants to the same standard when they vacate.

5. Have the carpets professionally cleaned. Quality cleaning can extend the life of your carpet. To avoid overly soapy, soaked carpets, do not rent a carpet cleaning machine and do it yourself, and do not hire the most inexpensive company you can find. Again, hiring a professional to take care of the carpets will help extend the life, and also make it more likely that the tenant will hold to the same requirement to have them professionally cleaned when they vacate.

6. Clean up the lawn. Do any shrubs need trimming? Are there any bushes or trees brushing the roof line? Cut the lawn, edge, trim, clean out flower beds, and install fresh mulch or pine straw. You do not necessarily need to replace sod or plant flowers (unless your Home Owner’s Association’s regulations dictate otherwise), but you should make the lawn look as nice and inviting as possible.

7. Pressure wash all concrete, brick or siding surfaces. In most cases, a professional pressure washing company will clear out gutters too- just ask.

8. Determine who will manage the rental. If you’re going to manage it, I recommend that you speak with an Attorney who specializes in Landlord/Tenant law, so they can prepare an Application and Lease. You will want this in place before you begin showing the home.

If you decide to hire a professional property management company, ask if they are a member of NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Managers). Then, allow them to manage the home. Most reputable companies have systems and vendors in place to handle anything and everything that happens. If you are overly involved, it can become a case of too many Chefs in the kitchen, spoiling the soup, so to speak. In other words, don’t micromanage, but do consider viewing your investment property approximately once a year, so that any concerns can be addressed. It also gives you an opportunity to physically see if you want to renew that tenant, management company, or sell. The home is your investment and responsibility and a great property manager will act in your behalf and in your best interest, according to all applicable laws, and ordinances. Want less headaches? Hire a professional property manager.

9. Thoroughly screen the prospective tenant using Fair Housing Guidelines. If you hired a property manager, they should have a processes and procedures in place for screening the tenant. Do not use your emotions or gut instinct to determine if your tenant prospect will pay rent or tear up your home. A reputable property manager will check credit, references, criminal history, past evictions, and make sure the tenant makes adequate income to support the rent. They will also deny a tenant prospect who doesn’t qualify. Do not rent to someone who doesn’t meet criteria. It may seem ok, but I promise, this is something you will regret. ALWAYS screen the tenants thoroughly before they move in.

10. Price the home appropriately. Again, do not involve your emotions in this. A good, experienced property manager can help you with pricing. They will not only be able to determine a market price for your home, but they can also help you determine ways to increase the rental value and discuss how long the house may stay on the market based on the current trends in the area.

11. Everyone 18 or over should be signing and responsible for payment. Do not allow any adults to move in without signing a Lease. Collect the full deposit before the tenant moves in.

12. Lastly, once you have a tenant in place, notify your insurance company. This is so that you continue to insure the structure but not the contents.

If you have questions about property management or renting your home out, please do not hesitate to call our office (850) 994-1542.   You can also visit us at www.rmxipm.com.  We are located in Pace, Florida, and serve all of Santa Rosa County, and Escambia County.

Written by RE/MAX Infinity

Jason has been involved in Real Estate since 2005 where he quickly became a multi-million dollar producer within his first full year. He graduated from the Realtor Institute a few years later and then went on to achieve his Broker’s License in 2009. In 2008 he was asked to start up and lead the Property Management Department. He served on the Board of Directors as President for the local chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers for 2014 and is readily available to meet and speak with clients.

Written by RE/MAX Infinity

Jason has been involved in Real Estate since 2005 where he quickly became a multi-million dollar producer within his first full year. He graduated from the Realtor Institute a few years later and then went on to achieve his Broker’s License in 2009. In 2008 he was asked to start up and lead the Property Management Department. He served on the Board of Directors as President for the local chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers for 2014 and is readily available to meet and speak with clients.