We have all rented an apartment or home at some point in our life, right? And we have all walked into that home or apartment with high expectations only to be let down by the “actual” condition of the property. As a leasing representative, we try to bridge the gap between the expectations of residents versus the expectations of owners on a move-in ready home.
Over the years, we have been asked a mired of questions by prospective residents, the example below:
Will the owner be replacing the carpet?
Appliances are outdated or old…will the owner replace them?
Can the owner paint the inside and out of the home?
The cabinets look old, will the owner replace them?
Will the owner put ceiling fans in each room?
Will the owner replace all of the window blinds?
Can we replace things and bill the owner?
Can we upgrade the yard with flowers and plants?
The AC is old, will the owner replace it?
Expectations of Used Homes Versus New Homes
When renting a home, it is important to remember that you are renting a used home. Think of it like buying a used car: it looks good, but all the parts still have miles on them, so they are worn but still in good shape.
The same thing applies to renting a home, the carpet might have some “miles” on it but is still in good shape, the same thing on the kitchen cabinets. Most homeowners are not willing to make the home “brand new” by adding in all new carpet (unless needed), new kitchen cabinets, etc.
Of course, most owners want residents to live in their homes and care for them as if they were their own. Maintaining plants and flowers, taking care of the lawns, keeping the inside and outside of the home looking nice, minimal maintenance/repair requests, etc.
Ultimately, the goal of the owner is to have a happy resident who wants to continue living in the home for years to come.
Lack of attention
Now, there are instances when an owner only wants to do the bare minimum, if that. Some owners have the mentality of “well, it’s just a rental property. I’m not living there, so why should I paint the house or replace the carpet?”
While that is true, the reality is that your “rental house” is someone’s house. And just as much as you want a new modern, beautiful home, so do those that are renting your house to be their home.
Sometimes, owners do not realize their lack of attention to the things needed to be done to the home to prepare for a new resident, will cause their house to be vacant longer and more often, have to accept lower rents, and even possibly attract residents to rent the home that will not care or take care of the home. They feel that the owner does not care so they should not have to.
Maintenance and Repairs
Did you know that the national average for household repairs is approximately $1800 per year? No matter what, a home will always need some kind of repair. It’s the nature of living in a home.
Just like your car needs regular maintenance to run efficiently, so does a home. We like to advise residents to check things out when they move in.
Turn on the dishwasher, bake a cake in the oven, pop popcorn in the microwave, make sure everything is working correctly. If not, contact your property management company or landlord direct so that a contractor can be sent out there straight away.
At the time of move-in, we provide the residents with a list of items that are $50 or less that they can repair on their own and be reimbursed for? Why would we do this? Well, we are upfront in stating that things can be missed during the rehab or things stop working after we have done our final inspections. You know that light bulb in the bathroom that you just used last night, and now this morning it won’t turn on. Yes, things happen. In an effort to cut down on waiting for a contractor to come and change the light bulb you can do it yourself.
Move-In Ready Home: Bridging the gap between Residents and Owners
So how do we bridge the gap? Management One encourages the homeowner to do the repairs needed to bring the home up to current market standards, not creating the Taj Mahal but bringing the house into the 21 Century. All the while, not over-promising residents of the condition the home will be in once the rehab work is completed. Residents, too, must remember they are renting a home and not staying in the Ritz Carlton.
An average rehab costs about $4,500. While that is a chunk of change, the good news is 40% of that amount is a tax write-off. This could include painting the cabinets in the kitchen to “spruce” them up instead of replacing them. You can reglaze the counters in the kitchen and bathrooms to bring new life without the added cost of replacing them. There are minor things that can be done during each vacancy to keep the home looking fresh and new to attract great residents.
When properties are made rent-ready correctly, the number of repairs requested by a resident after move-in should be one or two at the most. If the homeowner fails to make the property rent-ready, they run a very high risk of:
- Calls every day for something else to be fixed, leading to the homeowner feeling like they are being nickeled and dimed.
- The resident gets fed up and moves out, thus creating another vacancy.
At the end of the day, it is much better to spend the money on making the home nice attracting quality, long-term residents than to have a constant turnover in the property. You will lose money and most likely sell the property.