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3 Upgrades to Increase Your Rental's Value

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Hello, and greetings from Colorado Springs. My name is Lance Kohler. I'm the president of the Cornerstone Real Estate team. Today, I'd like to talk to you about three upgrades to increase your rental income and the value of your rental property. Every investor wants to see their property improve in value. When making upgrades to your investment property, you can do a couple of things. One, you can cut down on your vacancy time. If your property's upgraded – if you've got a nice kitchen or a nice living space – then chances are your property won't stay vacant long or won't stay on the market, at least not as long as similar properties that aren't upgraded. And an upgrade – be it kitchen, bath, or living space – can improve value for the long-term.

So let’s talk about a couple of areas where you could potentially make some changes or make some upgrades that we think would bring a lot of value to your rental property, improve your vacancy and your rent rate – possibly getting higher rent or at least keeping up with the market as others continue to improve their properties.  But it is a balance. The balance is now you'd have to look at your rental property as an investment, as a business. Now we don't want you to go overboard with gold faucets and hardwood floors in every room and that sort of thing. You want to balance what you're spending with the potential return on your investment. So we'll talk about that here with a couple of these items.

The first thing I'll talk about is flooring. Carpeting is pretty common here in Colorado Springs. Living spaces – sometimes dining rooms – have carpet, stairs have carpet, bedrooms of course have carpet, hallways too. So your investment property may have a lot of carpet. What we recommend when it comes time to replace that carpet – whether you're swapping it out because of fair wear and tear (it's beyond its usable life) or if there are some stains or you had a water leak, or whatever reason you have to get rid of it – we don't necessarily recommend that you put carpet back in.

In our experience, tenants tend to prefer carpet in the bedrooms because it keeps you warmer if you're jumping out of bed with bare feet. People tend to like carpet there – not always, but generally speaking.  However, for your hallway, your stairwells, your kitchen, your living room, your dining room – for any of those, if you're replacing the carpet there, you may want to look to a different material. One of the materials we've had a lot of success with is luxury vinyl tile or luxury vinyl plank. It's a manufactured material. It's very durable and it's easy to clean. You can replace it in pieces instead of replacing the whole floor and you can get it where it looks like hardwood or like tile. We've found it to be very durable and like I said, easy to clean. And tenants appreciate it because it's easier to clean if they drop a glass of wine or spill some food or whatever. It cleans up really easily, much better than carpet, of course.

You also have tile and hardwood. Hardwood – certainly on higher end properties – is very popular. Now, you may not want to do the entire house in that; but, tile is also popular for entryways, hallways, and certainly bathrooms. So those are a couple considerations to upgrade your flooring. 

Another area where you can bring value to your rental property is storage. Folks who are renting properties are often looking for storage. They appreciate some unfinished space (maybe in a basement) where they can store boxes that they're not going to use, or some overhead space in the garage where they can put their Christmas ornaments. Or whatever they're not unpacking during this move or are not using during their time living in this property.

A couple of places where you can add some storage or facilitate some storage: one is the pantry. If you have a pantry, how are the shelves? Are they wide enough? Is there enough shelving in there? You could potentially add some shelving and increase the amount of storage that somebody could use in the pantry. Another area would be closet organizers. I'm kind of thinking bedrooms here. If you don't have a system or have racks and some storage in the closets themselves, you could easily add those. That would increase the amount of storage that you have in the property. Or potentially look at some permanent shelves either in the basement (if it's unfinished) or in the garage. Someplace where your tenants can put those boxes that they don't use year-round, or that they're not going to unpack during this move.  Those are a couple of options.

Another area where you can upgrade is countertops – either in the kitchen or the bath. The inexpensive laminate countertops don't last very long, and they can get discolored through water spills or if somebody places a hot dish on there, and they also tend to come apart over time. And those small tiles that were pretty common some years ago (we had them in our house – in our kitchen). Two-inch by two-inch tiles are really hard to keep the grout clean, and they’re not easy to clean if you have those in the kitchen. And they chip easily.

If you're replacing those, then we would recommend going with a solid countertop. That's always a plus. That always makes a property rent easier, if you have solid countertops. Again, not the inexpensive laminate, but some kind of solid countertop. That may be larger tile (that's an option) or you can have stained concrete. There are also some acrylic composites out there that are very durable and look really nice. People like having that solid countertop. If you’re going higher-end, you may want to go with granite or quartz – those are always popular.

And the last one, I'm going to throw in a bonus. This isn't really an upgrade necessarily, but I told you that I was going to give you three upgrades, and this is number four. But it's the roof. This is maybe more of a periodic maintenance item than an upgrade, but we want you to look at making sure your roof is solid and protects your tenants, their belongings, and your property. Certainly nothing can damage drywall, flooring, carpeting, et cetera, quite like a roof leak. And it doesn't matter how nice your kitchen is; if your roof leaks every time it rains or snows, then the tenants aren't going to be happy in your property. So we just recommend you check it regularly and stay on top of the roof.

The lifetime of a typical asphalt shingle roof might be 15 or 20 years. Out here in Colorado we typically don't see them last that long because of the hailstorms. If you haven't replaced your roof recently, or you haven't checked it regularly, I would recommend you have somebody do that for you. 

There you go: three upgrades to improve the value of your rental property. I hope this was of use to you. I appreciate your time. Thanks, and make it a great day!