Obviously, not many people are attracted to a neglected home when looking for a place to lease for the next year or two. As you will discover in the next chapter on marketing your property, the most successful method is the sign in the front yard – that is, as long as you can see it clearly through the overgrown lawn and shrubbery – or if you can even bother to focus upon it since you can’t tear your eyes away from the obscene purple front door and pink shutters! Like it or not, it’s true: People can actually have (without even realizing it) such incredibly bad taste that the exterior of their home will genuinely frighten prospects away! New landlords tend to forget that prospective tenants are not looking to buy. Therefore, they are not inclined to think about the changes they could make.
Here are a few things to consider which are reasonable to attend to and which will only take a weekend (or maybe two) to help you attract substantially more prospects:
1. Landscaping: Without wasting too much effort on plants and flowers that will most likely never even be tended to by the tenant, it’s best to simply make sure there is more grass on the lawn than weeds and sand. Pallets of grass cover about 500 square feet and can usually be purchased and delivered for about $200. While laying it takes some effort, especially if you have old grass to remove, inviting green grass is something difficult to pass by.
The same premise applies to brown or naked shrubbery – replacing them is very affordable. Finally, let’s not forget about the weeds growing all over. All it takes is about half an hour of your time to spray them with a long-lasting weed killer and the results are visible within 24 hours.
2. Painting: This is easiest “do-it-yourself” home improvement. But before you consider changing anything, take a couple steps back and think about the current exterior color scheme of your rental. Ask yourself: Does it work and will it appeal to other people? Remember, now is not the time to make a political statement by mixing colors on the opposite end of the spectrum or by unifying the rainbow.
Calm, cool and neutral colors that do not go against the grain of the surrounding community typically work best. This is not to say that people won’t be attracted to your personal tastes – it just may take longer to find them if yours are a little too unique, Picasso. (And keep in mind: Picasso was over 60 years old before his artistic genius was officially recognized…!)
3. Driveways and Walkways: Simple question: Exactly how bad are they? If the cracks are going to break your mother’s back, then you need to do something about it. Otherwise, you can always consider the latest craze of concrete stains, which enable you to add a subtle, even color to hide years of unsightly stains. But don’t forget that people will be continuing to walk and drive all over it, so use your best judgment before you get too attached and start revisiting this issue every couple of years as new stains begin to appear.
If the rental happens to have brick or stone walkways instead of concrete, then do your best to treat the ants and weeds and any uneven hazards that may increase your liability risk.
Naturally, there are many other items that were purposefully left out because they were either too excessive or are perhaps just a given, using common sense – remember, this is not a book for dummies. For example: Outdoor furnishings, lighting, fencing, etc. These items don’t need to be added, merely repaired or removed if they are not working properly or are too unattractive to look at.
The same applies to the mailbox – if it’s so rusted that the neighborhood birds have found a way in to use it as their new nesting place… common sense would say replace it. “Curb appeal” is an essential attribute in renting any property, but this does not mean the home has to appear brand spanking new in order to attract tenants. Just use a little good judgment to make sure the property doesn’t look like the mortgage is in default.