How to Prep Your Rental Property
Getting your house ready to rent out is not much different than getting it ready to sell. The house
should be in excellent condition, clean, and looking and smelling great. You will need to decide if
you want to offer the house for rent furnished or unfurnished. Generally, you can expect your rent
to be 10-20% higher if you offer it furnished. Your furnishings should be tasteful and in good
condition. Also, a furnished rental usually includes everything including dishes, silverware,
towels, ironing board, etc.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to make the house look and smell great is a fresh coat of interior paint. If the paint in your home is already neutral and in excellent shape, you can skip this step, but if you have any rooms that have a lot of holes in the walls, or crazy colors or designs, now is the time to paint them. If the exterior paint is cracked, chipping, or a very loud color, you should paint the exterior as well.
Next, replace or clean the carpet. If your carpet is old, worn, or smells of pet odors you should replace it with new, neutral carpet. If the carpet is in good shape, you should be ok with just a steam cleaning. In either case, make sure that any foul odors are removed, as this will scare tenants away.
Take care of any maintenance items that need to be addressed, and make sure that all mechanical items, toilets, sinks, cabinets, etc. are in working order. Odds are that if it bothers you, it will bother your tenant, and they will ask you to fix it anyway.
If you have been considering any upgrades now might be the time to do those projects. If you have outdated cabinets, bathrooms, appliances or other items that are not appealing, strongly consider replacing them now. Use replacement items that are to the caliber of the rental, as higher end upgrades could break the bank, and probably will not be appreciated by the tenant. If you can get rid of outdated items and replace with newer ones, your rent will be higher, and your time on market will probably be shorter.
Make sure that your landscaping is in order, as curb appeal is important for rentals too. Make sure that the grass is cut and edged, shrubs are trimmed, and gutters cleaned. Do not plant a bunch of flowers and buy decorative items for the yard though, as tenants may not care for these items like you would. Your landscaping should be as tasteful as possible while being as maintenance free as possible.
If you will still be living in the house while you are marketing and showing it, make sure that you de-clutter it. The house should be neat and orderly, as clutter and piles of paperwork make the house look smaller and less functional. Put any unnecessary items in storage until you rent the house and move.
Make sure that the house is thoroughly cleaned prior to putting it on the market. Scrub all of the floors, clean all of the toilets, showers, tubs, and sinks, and make sure that the windows are cleaned as well. A dirty house will sit on the market much longer than a clean one.
Finally, once all of these items are completed, ask a friend to check your work. Get a trusted friend or family member that will be blunt and honest with you to tour the house and pick out any items that you might have missed. Being thorough in all of these items will maximize your rental price, and decrease your days on market.