If you're thinking of purchasing a buy-to-let property, or if you're already in the process of putting your rental property out to prospective tenants, take a look at our top tips to ensure your accommodation is as attractive as possible to the best renters.
Purchasing and owning an investment property, whilst a similar process to buying a home to live in, has to be approached with a very different style and mind-set. When you are occupying a property for your own, it's exciting to plan how you would like to decorate, to get comfortable in your surroundings, and add extras that make your property unique to your style - however an opposite approach must be taken when looking to rent your property out.
"For each day your rental property is vacant, you are losing potential rental income. There are simple fixes to make your property more desirable to prospective tenants" - The Balance Small Business
#1 - Stick to neutral decoration
One of the biggest mistakes any landlord makes is trying to decorate their properties to fit their own style preferences and assume that all prospective tenants also find these styles appealing, however this is often not the case. When viewing a property, tenants are concerned about whether they can see themselves living in a property and how their belongings will fit in the space - garish colour schemes can make it difficult for tenants to imagine this and be put off.
Decorating with neutral colours such as white, cream or beige will allow tenants to better visualise living in the space. This neutral theme doesn't just refer to the walls, it also filters through to tiling, carpeting, light fixtures, flooring and cabinets. Having a fully neutral space where tenants can make the property their own with non-permanent fixtures will be the most appealing to the largest amount of people. You can always give your tenants the option of painting when they are renting (as long as they change it back when their tenancy ends).
Decorating in a neutral fashion and choosing timeless details (if you are planning on renting your property furnished) also means that you won't have to spend time and money updating your accommodation to follow the latest design trends. Interior designer and decorating guru, Nate Berkus, lists timeless finishes as shaker style kitchen cabinets, stainless steel appliances, pedestal sinks in the bathroom, white subway tile backsplash, Carrara marble, and slate tile floors.
#2 - Make sure all your included appliances are clean and in working order
Safety is one of the most important things, so it's vital that you can assure potential tenants that any appliances that come included in the apartments are clean and in full working order. Make sure all your appliances are PAT tested and within date. It's not just electrical items that you need to ensure are clean either - if your apartment or house comes with furniture included, you need to ensure that whatever is being left behind is clean and of a suitable standard for new users - this could be something as simple as deep cleaning the house with the help of a professional cleaning company - or contractually promising clients that certain items of furniture will be replaced if not in a good enough condition.
"Buyers need to hunt for buy-to-let property through the eyes of targeted tenants. Most people will have been house hunting a number of times for themselves - but not for others. Shelve all your own tastes, likes and dislikes and look at each property from a business point of view. You want a property that performs well in the chosen market, rather than something you want to live in yourself" - Kate Faulkner of Propertychecklist.co.uk
#3 - The outside is as important as the inside
First impressions count! This is no less true for when a prospective tenant arrives at your property for a viewing for the first time. Simple things like mowing the lawn, putting a fresh coat of paint on the doors and window trims, and moving bins out of sight, can give prospective tenants a great first impression.
This is slightly more difficult if your rental property is an apartment in a block. If you're looking to purchase an apartments, it's therefore important to do your due diligence and research on the management company who will be looking after and servicing the site. Do they have a good turn-around time for fixing issues within the building? Is the garden regularly maintained? Are the communal areas (both indoors and outdoors) well looked after? It might also be an idea to arrive at your apartment block half an hour before prospective tenants are due to view to ensure that the area around your apartment is clean and tidy.
#4 - Know your competition
Making your apartment appealing to the masses isn't just about the first impression or the aesthetics, it's also about choosing to include appropriate niches to your property. Knowing your competition can allow you to know what features other apartments are marketing as unique aspects and benefits to their accommodation. If another landlord is advertising the benefit of his apartment or house to be a brand new modern kitchen, and yours is five years old, for example, focus your advert on other appealing aspects of your accommodation e.g. natural sunlight, large windows, public transport links.
A lot of off-plan opportunities build in recent years will also include a lot of extra facilities and amenities for tenants. Dependent on what target audience your are looking to rent to, choosing an investment property with a gym, cinema room, or gardens on site can be an attractive feature to tenants.
#5 - Make your property stand out on sales listings
The majority of tenants hunting for their next rental accommodation use online portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla to quickly and easily scour the internet in one place for a large number of listings. As a landlord, having your property on these portals is a massive advantage, however, if you don't ensure that your accommodation is stand out enough, your property could get lost in the masses.
When putting your listing up, it's important to ensure that you are putting all the information necessary on your listing, including floorplans, information about the tenancy, and at least five high quality images. When choosing your images, it's important to show off every room in the house at its best angle - taking photos from corners of rooms gives the best perspective, and you should always make sure your property is clean and tidy before taking any photos.