Northern Virginia Real Estate and Community News Blog

Why should I Update my Rental Property?

System - Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Attitudes about painting and updating vary around the US, and so while renters elsewhere may be much more willing to accept the condition of their rental home “as is” even looking a bit worn and faded – in our area (Northern Virginia) this generally is not the case. Tenants are paying high dollar for rent and their expectations are that homes should be immaculately clean upon arrival, walls in good to excellent condition, and kitchens and at least one bath up to “modern” standards – newer cabinets, granite or quartz counters, etc.

Common objections landlords make are that the cost of these improvements will take a long time to recoup. This is true – especially a major kitchen or bath remodel. Owners are also concerned because they already have to budget for necessities such as new HVAC systems, windows and roofs – things that don’t necessarily add rental value. So asking an owner to repaint between tenants every so often (expensive yes) or redo their kitchen, may be something they want to put off as long as possible. I understand.

Here are reasons why I, and most realtors who do a high volume of rental listings in our area, will argue that it’s better to invest in these improvements sooner rather than later (and especially repainting every 5 to 7 years or updating colors to modern neutral tones). 

When your home shows as well or better than your competition, you will likely:

  • Get the best qualified tenants (they can pick and choose where to rent and they want the best looking home for the price they are paying in rent)
  • Get tenants who really care about your home and are proud to bring guests and family over
  • Get people with good credit – those with lower credit scores are less picky where they rent
  • Get tenants who want to stay longer – they will enjoy where they live

Generally in homes that need updates or have out of fashion colors, worn looking walls and flooring, we find that we have a higher turnover rate, and we struggle to get the best qualified tenants.

So while there may not always be any immediate financial “gain” to making renovations and updates, I see it rather as part of maintaining the value of your investment, just as does taking care of exterior trim and replacing old appliances, and should be something you budget for. 

Remember, most of your competition (and that includes many of you) have already painted to nice modern neutral tones and have updated kitchens and baths. If you have not done so yet, please know we are happy to get quotes and work, with you on a payment plan if needed. We just want to see your home attracting the best quality tenants at the highest possible rent, especially if you’re holding it long-term as an investment property.

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