When investing in a house to renovate with the purpose to rent it out, you need to target the type of tenant you are looking for.
If you find a good investment house in the middle of a neighborhood and close to school and stores, then obviously, you would be looking to rent to a family.
If this is the case, and you have decided to fix up or renovate the house to rent to a family, then you need to walk through the house when you first take possession and take notes of safety issues.
It is one thing to just fix up what is already there, but if you want to get the higher end of the rent scale in this neighborhood, then you have to go one step further if you want to attract a family. You need to promote a safe and healthy house.
We have renovated a house, and because of where it was, we decided to try and attract a family. We went through the house and upgraded the obvious, such as the kitchen and the bathrooms. We made everything easy to clean as well. Simple fixtures and good waterproofing behind the tiles in the bathroom. Crayon resistant paints for the bedroom walls, and stain resistant carpets.
But here is a list of things you can do when renovating or fixing up your rental house to attract a family.
1. If you are replacing vanities, get ones that can be locked, or have child locks on their under sink cabinets, kitchens too.
2. Put a carpet runner down the main staircase, instead of varnished hardwood. Kids run around a lot in their socks, and accidents on hardwood stairs are high with children.
3. Put a door on the basement stairs. (There had been a door on ours, but it had been taken off years ago, we put it back on, as it was easy to fall down the stairs where the opening was.
4. Make sure all the exhaust fans work, especially in the bathroom. There will be a lot more tubs and showers with a family, and you don't want mold building up in the bathrooms.
5. Make sure all electrical outlets near water, such as kitchen sink and bathroom, are GFI protected. This is law now if you do any electrical upgrades in the bathroom or kitchen.
6. Get the heating ducts cleaned. We just did that, and it was amazing what came out of these 38 year old ducts. We had been getting stuffy noses while working in there with the heat on. We had just replaced the furnace, and decided it seemed kind of pointless for the new high efficiency furnace if the ducts were clogged with dust, dirt, old construction debris and allergens. The air quality was instantly better. (Find a reputable duct cleaner)
7. Get into the attic and check the roof for any leaks, mold can grow quickly on areas that can't dry out, and that can effect the air quality of your rental house, as it seeps into the general living area. Get the roof looked at, and if possible get extra insulation added and make sure the soffit vents and roof vents are clear for good air ventilation. This will save them money on their heating bill, if they are paying the utilities (which is a big enticer!) or on yours if you are covering the utilities. This also gives you the chance to be proactive and find any problems in the roof before they become big. Get all these structural items checked while doing your renovations, and before you get a tenant. This way there are no surprises. check with your local township. There may be financial credits and rebates for upgrading efficiency items, such as furnace, roof insulation and more. We were able to get credits from the township for installing low flow toilets (they use less water for flushing)
A friend of ours, has rental houses, and did not do any "proactive" maintenance. The roof looked OK, and the ceilings looked fine in the one house, until she got a call from a tenant that the bedroom ceiling had fallen in. It looks like years of leaking and seepage had finally damaged the drywall and it caved in. There were signs, the air smelled funny and a few stains were forming on the ceiling. She was then faced with a very large roof repair bill, and in the middle of winter! So, go on the defensive, and be proactive, find these problems ahead of any crisis!
Check the entire house for leaks, that could cause mold and health problems. If any drywall has black forming on it, then there is water or moisture behind it. Do not just paint over it, until you can find the source. It will not go away. A quick fix is not the answer, you will spend more money in the long run, and be getting calls from complaining tenants. Many investors, will quickly fix up what needs to be fixed up, and slap on a fresh coat of paint, but if you are trying to attract a family with children and want to charge the maximum rent, you have to go the extra mile.
You have to go through the entire house, corner to corner, and work on the "behind the scenes" items as well as the obvious. Upgrade the insulation, upgrade the furnace and any furred up water heater. Fix leaks and seepages. Get the ducts cleaned. These do cost money, and many investors would prefer to spend the money on the decor. But these behind the scene items, can help get that higher rent. Make a list of these improvements for the family to see, when trying to get the maximum rent.
We went to look at houses in the area that were being offered for rent. They were clean, but it was obvious that the insulation was very little, as the really old furnace kept coming on. The water heater was so furred up the water pressure was affected and it took a long time to heat up, and the air smelled stale.
If you go that extra mile, you can charge the higher rent, knowing that your house is clean and healthy inside and out, and will be a great rental house for a family. So be prepared when purchasing and renovating a rental house. You need to spend the money upfront but the return on your investment will be worth it.