With renters paying more for housing last year than they ever have before—that’s around $504 billion, for the curious—now’s high time to be a landlord. Renting is on the rise due to a wide range of factors, from the ever-climbing cost of home ownership to the fact that younger people want more flexibility in terms of where they live. With all of this in mind, existing landlords should consider a few ways they can get the most out of their rental properties. In the right markets, with the right upgrades, you could double your rental income with just a few small tweaks. Based on data highlighted below, we know that modernizing your rental property is one of the simplest ways to boost the cost of your rental. Here are the specifics.
Learn (and Implement) IoT
Never heard of the phrase “the Internet of Things?” Before you do anything else—Google it! In short, IoT is the digitization of everyday, household objects, like lamps, doorbells and fridges. This matters to landlords, why, you ask? Consider that, according to one survey, the vast majority (86 percent) of millennials say they’d pay as much as a fifth more in rent for a “smart” apartment, or one equipped with features such as keyless entry and smart locks. Consider upgrading your regular old lock to a Bluetooth lock and don’t forget to install the camera-equipped security doorbell.
Install Minimalistic, Cordless Blinds
Upgrading your rental unit’s window treatments is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to give the space an attractive upgrade with a fairly small up-front investment. If you’re marketing to families and parents with children, make sure that you install cordless blinds to make the space safer for kids, as standard cords may present risk of entanglement and suffocation. You may also want to consider upgrading to motorized, remote-controlled blinds for a high-tech approach to window treatments.
Shell Out for the Stainless Steel
A standard white refrigerator and a flashy stainless-steel refrigerator may function in exactly the same way, but the stainless steel one could fetch you a higher monthly rent than the white one. In the same way that installing new appliances can increase your home’s value for resale, it too can make it more appealing to renters. Stainless-steel appliances give the appearance of a more modern, upgraded kitchen, which is one of the most highly valued rooms among renters.
Add New Kitchen and Bathroom Hardware
If affordability and ease are what you’re after, start by upgrading the hardware on your kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, etc. Like stainless steel, stylish new hardware can give off the feel of newness and luxury, even if you haven’t actually made any serious updates. Make sure to reference what’s in style and go for cabinet hardware that’s distinctly up-to-date rather than classic or timeless.
Knock Down a Few Walls
Up for a renovation? If you’re looking to maximize your rental property at whatever cost is necessary, focus on opening up the space. These days, an open floor plan is desirable to those seeking all living scenarios, whether renting, buying or building brand-new. Consumers are especially concerned with unsegmented kitchen, dining and living areas, so if you’re looking to achieve top-tier luxury (and top dollar), then renovating for an open floor plan is an absolute must.
Make It Pet-Friendly
According to estimates from the American Veterinary Association, about 50 percent of renters have pets. And if you’re looking to cater to millennials and modernize your listing, well, going pet-friendly is the way to be. The fact is that millennials—the group that makes up the biggest chunk of the American renting market—surpass other generations when it comes to pet ownership, so in order to market to them, you simply must be willing to allow pets. Charging a substantial pet deposit (as long as it is in line with your local legislation) is perfectly acceptable and will only attract the most responsible pet-owning tenants, which, of course, is ideal.
Make it Energy Efficient
Not paying for your renter’s utilities? No biggie, as long as your space is fairly energy efficient. There are a dozen ways you can enhance the space’s efficiency, from installing a smart thermostat that adjusts the heating and cooling automatically to enhancing a space with energy-efficient window treatments that keep the sun out of your space in the summer, helping to reduce strain on your HVAC system. Make sure to advertise your space as efficient to attract more applicants.
Add New (and More Efficient) Fixtures
One of the simplest ways you can play up your “eco-friendly rental” approach is by upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms with water-saving fixtures. The right shower heads, toilets and sink fixtures conserve water consumption, which means lower utility costs for potential renters.
Offer More Flexible Lease Options
Did we mention that millennials want flexibility? This factor has helped the rental market explode, drawing some young adults away from home ownership, and it’s something landlords can leverage. If you’re marketing to this demographic and younger, focus on offering more flexible leasing options, such as six-month leases and short-term rentals. More turnover is actually good when it comes to renters, since it allows you to raise your rent prices as needed without affecting any of your current loyal renters.
Offer Online Rent Pay
Whether it’s through PayPal, Venmo, Zelle or check your property management software, you should allow your tenants to pay their rent online. The fact of the matter is that they pay every other bill online, so why not modernize rent, too? In theory, digitizing your payment process will simplify things for you and your tenants, with fewer trips to the bank and no risk of bounced checks. It may also help prevent late payments and automatically calculate and charge late fees.
Final Thoughts: Play to Your Target Market
As you can tell from the above list, it can be well worth your while to make updates based on your target market. In many housing markets now and in the foreseeable future, the ideal customer is the high-paid millennial. Modernizing your rental property and making changes that appeal to that age group is your best bet for now, and we know that the above upgrades are things prioritized by this age group. With a few strategic modernization efforts, you can optimize your rental so it yields top dollar.