NORTH COUNTY – Real estate investors have many reasons for making such investments, but one of the more common motives behind a decision to invest in a property is the belief that real estate rarely depreciates in value. Though the recent housing crisis might have debunked that myth once and for all, real estate is still widely considered a sound, long term investment, one that many people wish they could afford to make.
Those who have already invested in real estate know how difficult it can be to maintain a property, much less improve it, which should be high on an investor’s priority list. But improving a property does not have to involve a complete overhaul or any other dramatic changes. In fact, there are several simple ways investors can improve their real estate investments and improve their chances of turning a large profit when they decide to sell a property.
• Hire a property management firm. Some real estate investors, especially those new to the business shy away from hiring a property management firm. But such a company is worth the expense for investors with little time or know-how with regard to fixing a home. A property management firm will ensure the building is kept in shape, and depending on the agreement with the company, may even take care of cleaning vacant apartments, readying them for showing and renting them to new tenants. Perhaps the biggest advantage to working with an effective property management firm is the likelihood that they will turn over the vacant apartment quickly, ensuring the owner doesn’t lose much money when tenants move out.
• Carefully vet prospective tenants. One of the easiest ways a property can fall into disrepair is to allow bad tenants to move into the building. It’s understandable that investors want to get a building occupied as quickly as possible so they can use tenants’ rents to pay for the property. But bad tenants can cause damage to the property, and their behavior might encourage reliable fellow tenants to find a new living situation. When looking to fill a vacancy, establish a minimum income requirement for prospective tenants and ask applicants to produce proof of income and references from past landlords.
• Work quickly. Few people want to rent forever, so expect significant turnover, especially if the investment property is a larger complex with multiple dwellings. Work quickly when turning apartments over after a tenant moves out. This includes painting and cleaning the apartment, and the process should go smoothly if tenants are properly vetted and the vacant unit did not suffer significant damage while the previous tenants were living there. A unit with just minor wear and tear should take one week or less to get ready to show to prospective tenants, and the unit should be vacant for only one month before new tenants move in. Anything longer than a month and it’s losing money you don’t have to lose.
• Upgrade appliances. Renters are just as likely to fall in love with curb appeal as buyers are. One of the more notable eye-catchers to prospective renters is updated appliances, especially since appliances may be the only items actually in the apartment when it is shown. In addition, renters may feel that landlords who took the time and spent the money to upgrade appliances are likely to make a greater effort maintaining the property.
Investors can maximize their returns on investment properties in a variety of ways, many of which don’t require significant effort.