Expert Talk: Renovation Tips To Spend Less And Earn More
Imagine: some time ago, you finished dream renovation in the apartment you were going to let out, and everything there are beyond expectations. You plastered the walls with Venetian; polished dark wooden floors, and even hung antique chandelier with horses. You sit on your new leather sofa looking at your beautiful coffee table with lion paws shaped legs and thinking: “Why don’t potential tenants like my apartment? It is perfect, why can’t it be rented out for so long?
When you picture the whole thing, it may look quite funny. But the truth is that, unfortunately, many landlords find themselves in the situation when time goes by, and the apartment doesn’t bring the profit expected. Or even worse – when you have already spent a fortune on the renovation you love, but, somehow, it attracts no one.
Vestor.Estate team wants you to avoid such an unpleasant outcome and prevent the trouble before you even start spending money on renovation. That is why we asked Lara Voloshyna, Head of Design in Vestor.Estate, to help us create a basic guideline for Lessors to let out property successfully.
Lara has already completed 14 projects for our clients that are successfully rented out now. Moreover, this petite woman is currently managing renovations of 16 of our properties. But Lara’s trump card is her career path: she came to design after five years of excellent work as a sales and rental broker.
If there is one person who knows what exactly tenants need and like, it would be her.
Aleksander, Marketing and Operations Director in Vestor.Estate, invited Lara for a casual talk with a cup of tea. During the conversation, she shared her main tips on what approach in renovation will make your apartment a plum for tenants downtown and what you can do to raise the rent price if full restoration is not an option.
Aleksander: So, what is the first thing every owner should pay attention to in the apartment?
Lara: Actually, it starts with a bathroom. That is the place where you start and end your day, so it is needed to make sure it is up-to-date, functional, and neutral. If much time has passed after the last renovation, check if there is no old plumbing or rusty mixers there; get rid of “retro” with two mixers for water regulation.
A: Are tenants not big retro lovers?
Lara: They expect to regulate water quickly – everyone tries to save time nowadays. That is why the plumbing layout also matters a lot. Ask yourself: “Will I feel comfortable here with such a layout? Is this mirror in the right place? Is this light enough?” If even one of your answers is “No,” take time and change it.
A: And what would you recommend to owners who are not ready to move the plumbing yet?
L: Make sure it looks clean and light overall. The Feeling of cleanness is the main feeling in the bathroom. Even if you redo the tile seams, the whole picture will be much brighter for the tenant.
A: Wow, usually, you don’t think about such things, but it seems evident after you brought it up. And what comes next?
L: When you finish with the bathroom, move to the kitchen and check the usability. It is inconvenient to open the doors; fasteners are not that tight, appliances are old – these are your alarms. It is better not to choose dark facades in the beginning, but if you have an expensive wooden kitchen, you may go with changing the countertop only.
A: The tops get scratched with knives and dirty with the coffee scatters on the countertop. And it is not possible to fix it somehow, is it?
L: The natural materials like stone, indeed, absorb any liquid poured. But it is possible to remove everything with certain chemicals and save yourself a fortune. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with the chipboard, so you will need to replace it for sure.
A: Oh, that would be helpful for owners, preparing for the new tenants in their apartments. And what should be their next step?
L: After you made sure the kitchen and bathroom are perfectly fine, you should take a look at the full apartment view. What do you feel when you are there? It should be comforting and make you want to stay there. The right sofa will help you to create that feeling. And that’s it!
A: Okay, but what about the bedrooms and other stuff?
L: You will see it doesn’t matter that much and can be adjusted to tenants’ needs after they move in. If they step into the place and it seems cozy, bright, and clean – you almost got it. If you want the flat to stick in their heads, give them the dream sofa – the one you fall on and never want to get up. And the deal is closed.
A: But what sofa should it be- leather or textile? And where would you recommend buying them?
L: Textile, for sure. They are easier to look after and cost less. I prefer to order furniture from Ukrainian fabrics. The quality is very decent, and you can buy an excellent big couch for $1800. If your rent is going to be $1000-$1500, a sofa for $1000 would be perfect as well.
A: Will lowered price affect quality much?
L: No, cheaper sofas are as functional and well-done as more expensive ones. They are just simple – you won’t decorate the place with them, but you won’t mess it up as well. When it comes to the price of renovation, you need to understand what expenses are reasonable and what are not. You need to think if this or that purchase will help you to increase the rental fee. For example, if you offer a 1BR 40 square meters apartment on the 1st floor, there is no point in buying fancy antique furniture or a leather sofa. It won’t make the tenant pay more for it – they will choose another apartment more modest, but bigger and higher.
A: It seems like every renovation decision is always about yields, not design only. But what is your advice to the owners of 40 square meters flats? They must have some options as well.
L: Of course. They could use zone lighting, mirrors, and correct furniture layout to make the place look spacious. Use as much light as you can, including daylight, and don’t be afraid to try some smart-decisions popular abroad.
As you can see, there are no special magical tricks to attract tenants for rent. All the directions are understandable and straight-forward.