Some landlords dread the summertime. That’s when a lot of them think they have to choose between going on vacation with the family or ripping out that dilapidated deck at their newest property. You don’t have to choose between having fun and working on your properties, but when you’re planning your summer, there are a few things you should consider doing to improve your rental homes.
Summer is the traditional moving season, which means it’s also the time of year when many tenants’ leases expire. They’re going to be making a decision about moving or staying, and it may not always come down to the price of rent.
There are numerous reasons that renters decide to pack up and move. Maybe their landlord doesn’t fix things as quickly as they think he/she should. Maybe they have new neighbors that are disruptive. Maybe the neighborhood has gone down a bit or while they thought it was a good location when they moved in, it proved over time to be inconvenient for their work commute or shopping. Also, some people get bored with their living situation, and compared to buyers, it’s much easier for renters to up and move. Going into the summer season, think about what you can do to make your properties more appealing to your renters. Below are a few suggestions that might make your life…and summer…a bit easier.
Improving or creating outdoor spaces
Summer is a time of outdoor barbecues and yard parties. Are there things you can do to enhance this temporary move to the yard?
Dedicated outdoor living areas are always appreciated. People love the look and utility of a wood deck or a brick or stone patio area for their outdoor furniture and warm-weather meals and parties. If you can add a dedicated outdoor living area to the backyard, it is almost always a good decision. It’s a relatively inexpensive improvement and will add to your tenants’ quality of life. The earlier in the season that you do it, the more likely your tenants will be to renew when their lease expires.
If your property already has a deck or patio area but it looks run down and uninviting, maybe you can forgo ripping it all out and just refinish it. Wood decks, can look far worse than they really are a lot of the times. If the structure is solid, a good pressure washing, maybe replacing a board to two here and there, and staining is all you will need to do to breathe new life into it.
If you are having to build a new deck or replace an existing one and long-term deck maintenance is a concern, consider spending a bit more and buying the new wood-look materials that are impervious to moisture and rot. They’re manufactured, not natural, and they will last a very long time with little or no maintenance.
Stone or brick patios are a fantastic route to go especially for houses and/or apartments that sit lower to the ground. Spend that little extra cash and time to properly prepare the area in order to prevent weeds from growing up and over your patio area and be sure to edge your new outdoor area to prevent slippage over time. Patios, when done well, are just as popular as a deck and the prices are very similar. it should be noted that a well-constructed patio will last as long as the house. While every deck will eventually require replacing, a well constructed and maintained patio will not. Below are a few ideas. You can go as big or as small as your mood (and pocketbook dictate).
You don’t even have to hardscape the outdoor living area. Make a permanent border and fill the interior with nice chat, stones or gravel for a dedicated outdoor living area that is sure to inspire tons of use.
Another great exterior improvement is a stone or brick walkway. Many properties have a driveway but lack a hard surface upon which to get from the drive to the house. Over time, a path is etched into your landscaping….and not a pretty one but one which gets muddy when it rains, dusty when it’s dry and looks a mess all the time.
Always remember that power washing can be your best friend. Everything looks more inviting and pretty when it’s clean. Just take a look at the difference below.
Buying a rental in the summer
Summer is also the consumer home-buying season, which usually means greater competition for properties; you need to decide whether to add to your portfolio during the summer or wait for the buying pressure to die down. There are definitely far more buyers in the market during the summer months. However, most of them are typical retail buyers looking for turn-key properties or cosmetic fixer-uppers. If you are focused on foreclosures or properties needing more significant rehab, they will not be your competitors. The fact that other investors are shying away from the market during the summer works in your favor. On the negative side, rehab can be more expensive when contractors are busy.
You can’t control when foreclosures come to market, so avoiding the market just because it is summer could be a poor decision. You just may grab up a bargain while your investor competition is enjoying a summer cruise.
As for distressed homeowners who could be ready to sell, there could actually be more opportunity during the summer. This is a time when many people are changing jobs and some must relocate to do so.
Evaluating your investment options
As with most things, there is the half-full or half-empty glass view for investors. Depending on your market and whether your state is a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure state, summer could be time for a vacation or a buying opportunity.
Judicial foreclosure states are lagging in clearing out the backlog of foreclosure homes, so they may provide more summer inventory at decent prices for investors.
Regardless of whether you choose to buy any new properties this summer, consider making a few improvements to the ones you have — this will keep your renters happy and increase the value of your rental homes. You’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy the season. While we all know that landlording is a year-round job, improving your properties is a great way to nurture your investment, keep good renters and free up personal time.