It’s nearly impossible to own rental property in Santa Cruz and not renovate it from time to time. You’ll want to make sure the property remains attractive to tenants, and you also want it to be safe and modern.
Making renovations can often seem like an expense that you’d rather not undertake, especially with maintenance supplies and labor being so expensive. But, if you’re strategic about the updates and upgrades that you make, you’ll find that you have more to gain and less to lose.
Renovate for profit, and focus on cost-effective upgrades and updates that will do two things:
- Increase your Santa Cruz rental value
- Attract and retain high quality tenants
The best renovations will increase your units’ worth in relation to the amount you spend on them.
We have done some research, and according to the data we’ve uncovered, real estate investors who are willing to make cost effective renovations can find themselves earning 10 to 30 percent more rent.
Here are some of the best renovations that will increase your value and income.
Start with Fresh Paint Inside and Out
Fresh paint is obviously more attractive than paint that’s chipped, faded, or peeling.
During turnover periods, don’t just touch up a wall or paint over a scuff mark. Instead, paint the entire unit. This will make everything look new and modern, and tenants who come to see your property will appreciate the newness of the property.
Check your exterior paint as well. You won’t have to replace that as frequently as your indoor paint, but every few years you might find that the exterior could use a fresh coat of paint or even a power wash. A newly painted exterior will increase your value instantly.
Upgrade Your Floors: Hard Surface vs. Carpet
A lot of investors favor cleaning carpets between every tenant. You might replace those carpets every five years or so. We recommend you pull out the carpets entirely and install hard surface flooring. This is a renovation that will increase your rent and your property value.
This upgrade provides several benefits:
- It looks better. Hardwood floors or vinyl laminate or tile have a cleaner, more modern appearance.
- It’s better for prospective tenants who have allergies or pets. There aren’t any fibers to trap dog hair and dust.
- It’s easier for tenants to clean and maintain.
- You’ll get a longer lifespan out of hard surface flooring than you will from carpet, so your replacement costs go down per unit.
New, hard surface flooring like laminate or tile can earn you $100 or more in rent every month, depending on the size of your property and the materials you choose.
While cheap carpet is always tempting and seems easy, do a little research into the benefits of upgrading your floors. Consider hardwood, tile, vinyl, laminate concrete and any of the other engineered options that are out there. You’re looking for durability.
Santa Cruz Rental Property Lighting
Lighting does not cost a lot, but it delivers great returns.
You don’t need to re-wire all the electricity in your property. Instead, work with what you currently have and focus on updating the fixtures and the energy efficiency. Using LED fixtures will likely reduce electric bills, which is good for you and your tenant.
Exterior lighting helps your residents feel secure, and it protects your investment property. A well-lit property is less likely to be victimized than a dark building or home. If you’re renting out units in a multi-family building, make sure the parking area is well-lit as well as all the common areas. In a single-family home, update your exterior lighting to include timers and motion lights. Tenants will appreciate the extra security.
Kitchens and Bathroom Renovations Matter to Santa Cruz Tenants
You probably don’t have the budget or the time or the interest in renovating your entire property just to earn a few extra dollars in rent.
So, where should you focus?
In most cases, we recommend focusing on kitchens and bathrooms.
Tenants are going to spend most of their time in their kitchens and their bathrooms. These are the spaces that tenants will really inspect before they decide to rent a home.
Here are the renovations that matter in kitchens and bathrooms:
- Replace old appliances. Consider stainless appliances and energy-efficient models. Tenants will pay more rent for an upgraded kitchen. Evaluate your counters and your cabinets, as well as the sinks and the hardware.
- Remove any old, worn, or stained showers and replace bathroom flooring that’s peeling or scratched.
- Installing new hardware like faucets and drawer knobs can give the space a huge and value-added makeover. Bathrooms are small spaces designed more for functionality than aesthetics. But, no tenant wants to take a shower in a stained and worn bathtub. Tile is great for a bathroom upgrade as well.
Upgrade Your Technology and Security
Aesthetics are important when you’re making rental property renovations, but so is functionality.
Think about technology. Tenants are working from home. They’re looking for ways to feel more efficient, productive, and even safer. The technology you provide can upgrade your rental value tremendously.
You don’t have to completely rewire your home. Consider some of these tech upgrades for your property:
- Smart thermostats. Santa Cruz has a mild climate. While there aren’t the types of extremes that we see in other places, you still need to think about energy efficiency. Your tenant will appreciate lower energy bills and the ease of a smart thermostat. This is a Wi-Fi enabled, programmable device that can be adjusted remotely. A good system will respond to your tenant’s routines, keeping rooms cooler or warmer depending on whether anyone is there.
- Digital keys. It’s frustrating to lose your house keys or inadvertently lock yourself out of the house. This is where smart door locks can help. Smart locks offer more security and ease. You’ll save money, too, because you won’t have to change the locks every time between tenants.
- Video doorbells. These are extremely popular. Tenants will know when a package was delivered and they’ll be able to see who is at the door before they answer it.
Technology renovations make sense because they meet the needs of today’s average tenant. Everyone wants to automate.
We’d be happy to take a look at your rental home in Santa Cruz and tell you where some cost-effective renovations might help. Contact us at Portola Property Management.