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Improving a property doesn\'t always involve major changes and a huge expense.\nSometimes, it\'s the combination of smaller fixes that can really pull a property together. To access more such knowledge resources, visit our website. \nhttps://jakeandgino.com/downloads/ \n
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Improving a property doesn't always involve major changes and a huge expense.
Sometimes, it's the combination of smaller fxes that can really pull a property together.
IMPROVE OR REPAIR
Te changes you make will be classifed as either an
improvement or a repair, and while both make the
property more appealing to tenants, repairs typically
aren't very expensive and are tax deductible for the
year in which they're made, while improvements are
more costly and are depreciated over the course of
several years. Repairs, such as a leaky faucet or a
broken doorknob, keep conditions livable but don't
add much in terms of value to the property, but
improvements, such as replacing a roof and replacing
the electrical wiring, do add value.
Once the outside is taken care of, we tackle the inside. We start by working on any vacant units that need to be
“turned” as it's vital to get these units up and running to generate revenue. To start, these units need to be painted,
carpeting and fooring should be replaced if it's old, worn, or damaged, all unattractive light fxtures need to be
replaced, and all plumbing must be in working order.
FROM OUTSIDE IN
When it comes to what we fx on the property, we
always start from the outside and work our way in for
the pure fact that the outer appearance is what
potential tenants see frst. If their impression is
negative, they're not even going to make it through the
front door. Change the perception of the property, and
you increase the interest of potential tenants.
THE HEART OF THE HOME
Te heart of the home is the kitchen, and it's where we focus much of our efort. We replace countertops, change
out sinks and faucets if need be, and update appliances if they're old and not working properly. Rather than replace
entire cabinets, we try to repaint or reface them if possible.
On to the common areas, which include the basement, hallways, and laundry room. We install fuorescent lighting
to reduce the electrical expense, and install photocells outside to control electricity usage.
To follow is a list of the top 20 items that are benefcial to fx in order to make the property more
appealing and retain quality tenants. Keep in mind while reading the below information that you only
have one chance to make a great frst impression, so any changes that can be done are extremely
Tey're usually one of the frst things
potential tenants notice when they pull
up to the property, so ones that are
damaged or rusty aren't going to be a
very good sign. We suggest replacing all
the mailboxes to maintain uniformity.
Tey cost around $25 per mailbox, but
can be priceless in terms of making a
Te last thing you want is potential
tenants pulling up and seeing an
overfowing garbage dumpster that not
only looks unattractive, but also smells.
It's certainly not a positive impression.
Our solution is to put fencing around it
so it's out of sight yet easily accessible.
We match the color of the fence to the
exterior of the buildings to give the
property a uniform look.
You don't want rainwater puddling up
against the building where it could
eventually fnd a way to penetrate the
foundation and create havoc in the
basement, which is where gutters come
in handy. Keeping gutters clear of debris
can prevent water from pooling near the
structure. Because gutters are so visible
on a property, they're also one of the frst
things that a potential tenant notices.
We install white PVC gutters, but you
can match the gutter to the color of the
Trimming the trees and shrubs, mowing
the lawn, and trimming the weeds can
not only revitalize the property and make
it more attractive, but it can also let more
natural light in to the units. We also
install inexpensive shrubs around the
property and water the lawn so the
exterior looks clean and vibrant without
costing a fortune.
One of the easiest things you can do to
massively increase the value and
appearance of your property is to paint
the facade. You'll be amazed at the
transformation of your building once
you've applied a fresh coat of paint. We
begin by power washing the exterior to
remove any dirt or rust from metal
structures, then we add paint to stairwells,
doors, and siding. We also add
budget-friendly shutters to the windows
to add a bit of contrast and decoration.
Te vacant units get painted in a
two-tone color scheme, the trim and
doors get painted with bright white
semi-gloss, and the walls get painted
shaker beige. Tenants love the fresh clean
look, and it's one of the least expensive
ways a landlord can increase the
perceived value. We've even had tenants
move from their apartments that were
lower in rent to newly turned higher rent
apartments all because they liked the new
Sealing the driveway doesn't increase the
value of your property, but it does add a
fresh new look. It lowers the deferred
maintenance on the property if
performed every few years. Sealing adds
a layer of protection from the elements
and improves the appearance while
increasing the life of the asphalt. Before
adding sealer to the driveway, be certain
to patch any holes. Once the sealer has
been applied, you can re-stripe the
Tis is one of our favorite items to
implement once we've assumed
ownership. We like to change the name
of the property to announce that the
property is under “new” ownership. Tis
is critical when repositioning a property
that has a sub par reputation.
Re-branding makes the new ownership
ofcial and shows the tenants that things
are about to change for the better.
Signage includes relevant information
such as the ofce location and phone
Revitalizing the common areas is essential.
Some landlords neglect these spaces,
which include laundry rooms, club
houses, hallways, stairwells, parking lots,
and store rooms, because they think they
lack importance. We view laundry rooms
as a necessity for tenants, especially if the
competition has them. We contract the
service out to Coinmach and sign an
agreement with them to service the units
for a split of the revenue. Te company
ofers an up-front incentive to solicit the
business, and the landlord receives new
machines and one less headache (and less
expense) to worry about.
maintained for liability reasons as well as
for aesthetic purposes. We appreciate our
tenants and the the business they provide,
so it's only fair to ofer a clean, safe
environment. It will also be easier to rent
to prospective tenants if they see that the
common areas are well maintained.
Before you take over the property, take a
trip at night to observe if there are any
areas that are not well illuminated.
Tenants feel much safer if the property is
well-lit, and it will reduce a landlord’s
liability if someone were to fall at night.
We like to install photocells, which are
lights with sensors that turn on in the
evening and shut of in the morning
when the they sense sunlight. It reduces
the amount of electricity used and
there's an assurance that the lights do
turn on and of properly. We've used
timers in the past, but found them
problematic because they have to be
re-programmed as the days lengthen and
shorten. We install sensors in the
hallway that turn the lights on when
tenants enter, and shut of after a couple
of minutes. You can even install sensors
in the laundry rooms so the lights will
shut of automatically when the rooms
are unoccupied. Tis simple change
means saving big when it comes to the
Tese areas should always be
We're still surprised when properties that
are on the market have rusty railings or
dilapidated fencing. Tese are easy repairs
that cost very little yet yield substantial
returns. A little paint, a little rust removal,
and some power washing can do wonders
for the aesthetics of a property. We start
out by using a pressure washer to remove
any rust from railings, then go on to paint
the railings, doors, and shutters.
Depending on the property, we may also
Te kitchen is the most expensive, yet
most advantageous, room to rehab in an
apartment, so trying to fnd ways to save
money is vital. It all depends on the type
of properties in which you're investing.
If you're investing in A or B properties,
then you may be forced to install new
cabinets, but in C properties, not so
much. It's not usually necessary to
replace cabinets, but to repaint or reface
We either reface the cabinets or paint
them white and change the knobs and
handles. It results in a whole new look
for the kitchen at a fraction of the cost.
One of the biggest mistakes a new
landlord makes is over-fxing a property.
Our goal is to keep costs down while
ofering clean, safe, and afordable
housing that doesn't break the bank.
When you acquire a property, every
apartment should be assessed to see if
the fooring needs to be repaired or
replaced. Unless the carpeting in the
bedroom is in good condition, we replace
it with vinyl wood fooring. If we decide
to go with new carpet instead, we shop
at the factory outlet to get it for a
fraction of the price.
Our long term goal is to replace all of
the carpets with vinyl wood fooring.
Tenants love the look and feel of it, and
it's easier for us to maintain every time
the unit is vacated. Carpets need to be
steam cleaned and, over time, are more
likely to get damaged. You'll typically
fnd that tenants are willing to pay more
in rent if the unit has vinyl fooring
rather than carpeting.
Bathrooms that don't have exhaust fans
to remove steam from showers are a
breeding ground for mold. Installing
exhaust fans will remedy this problem
and add a modern look to the bathroom.
Te installation process is inexpensive,
and most tenants appreciate it, especially
during the summer months. Tese fans
can also double as a light fxture.
Tis is one simple area that most
landlords overlook. After we fnish either
re-facing or repainting the kitchen
cabinets, we move onto replacing the
hardware. Te knobs on cabinets show
the most wear and tear and take a lot of
abuse. For a few dollars a piece, your
cabinets will look brand new.
Considering doorknobs are used on a
daily basis, replacing them can create a
In addition to providing your tenants
with added privacy, incorporating
window coverings will allow you to
collect more in rent. Coverings also add
relief from the sun, protect the furniture
and fooring, and instill a homey feeling.
Tis is one improvement that will allow
for a quick return your investment. We
can charge an additional $10 to $15 per
month for a unit with window coverings,
yet they only cost around $150 to install.
We recoup our investment within a year,
and we have a happy tenant as well.
Tenants spend a great deal of time in the
kitchen, which is why it's so important to
have stylish, sturdy, and functional
countertops. We'll only change the
countertops if they're damaged or
extremely unattractive. A and B properties
will need to be furnished with granite or
marble countertops, especially if the
competition ofers this feature. In C
properties, we can install inexpensive
Formica tops. You'll be amazed at the
quality of Formica tops that are currently
You can often tell the age of a property
by the outdated light fxtures. Tis is
another simple fx that most cheap
landlords overlook. Go to a lighting
store and select modern light fxtures for
the kitchen and bathroom. Your tenant
will thank you.
on the market.
Tenants are more likely to favor a
property that ofers them additional
storage and/or parking room. Not only
do they have a place to properly store
their items or park, but as a landlord, you
get the added beneft of having junk
stored away instead of strewn all over.
Te property will rent quicker and will
always have more long term value.
Practice frugality if you're reconditioning
these structures. Te goal is to accentuate
the exterior while providing security for
the tenant’s belongings.
Tis may seem like an obvious fx, but
many landlords allow their laundry
machines to fall into such disrepair that
they become inoperable. Older machines
tend to break down quicker, and most
landlords don’t want to sink any more
money into an old unit. Our solution is to
sell all the old machines and bring in a
laundry service company, such as
Coinmach, which will furnish us with new
machines and pay us an upfront
commission. For around 50% of the
revenue, they're responsible for
maintaining the machines and emptying
out the change on a monthly basis. We
love the arrangement; it frees up our
maintenance crew to tackle other jobs and
we don’t have to worry about replacing
machines when they decide to stop
Our frst investment property that we purchased, a four-plex, had one electric meter that
serviced the entire property. We would drive by and see the lights left on and the air
conditioners running while the windows were ajar. We quickly realized that if someone
wasn't paying for a service, conservation was the last thing on their mind. My solution was
to have an electrician split the utilities and install separate meters for each unit. It was a
painful solution in the short run, but we recouped my investment within three years. All
of a sudden, the lights were being turned of and the air conditioner only ran on the
A property where the landlord pays for all utilities is called All Bills Paid. We've learned
to try to avoid this situation, unless the utilities can be split or the landlord can institute a
Ratio Utility Billing System, which is a system where the landlord bills the tenants for
their share of the utilities. Studies have shown that once tenants begin to pay for their own
water usage, consumption drops by as much as 40%. Te arrangement, however, typically
depends on the area. If the apartment complex down the street is paying for tenant’s
utilities, chances are you won't be able to push of the utility expense to the tenants.
Unfortunately, utilities such as water and heating oil seem to be increasing every year and
results in a substantial percentage of a landlord’s expense. As a business owner, it's a huge
risk when you have no control over those escalating expenses
To help you determine what needs to be done, look over the below Renovation Inspection Checklist and
check items of as you walk around your own property.
Keep in mind that all of the aforementioned doesn't need to be done, but the more you can
complete, the better it's going to be for increasing the value of your property as well as attracting
new tenants and retaining the ones you have.