Property

How to Raise the Rentability of Your Apartment

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Ryan Ong

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Landlords are getting lazy. A few years ago, they were all Martha Stewart, re-decorating and renovating all the time. Now you’re lucky if you get decorations fancier than a dead flower in a toothbrush cup. With no end of waiting customers (the rental market is hot right now), extra effort no longer seems necessary. It’s a pity, because that little bit extra can lead to a lot more rent money. So landlords, don’t slack off:

 

A Bit About Rentability

In a basic sense, rentability is about avoiding vacancy. Make your unit attractive enough, and you shouldn’t have trouble filling it.

But vacancy isn’t the problem for Singaporean landlords. With the current demand, you could wallpaper a Port-a-Toilet and still manage to lease it. The challenge now is to get the highest rent possible. Rentability is why two apartments, both in the same block, could have a 20% difference in rental costs.

These are four steps that raise your rentability:

  • Stage Your Unit
  • Open Up the Kitchen
  • Prioritize Some Upgrades and Repairs
  • Talk to a Space Planner

 

1. Stage Your Unit

 

Grand apartment
Why would you think I staged those pictures of my two room flat?

 

There are two ways to stage your apartment. One is simple DIY sprucing, and the other is to turn it into a showroom.

If you’re renting out the apartment for the first time, I suggest the latter. Visit Interior Design sites like Qeeple. Most of the images you’ll see (just like when British royalty visits) are staged. Contact the company you like, and ask if they have staging services.

Home stagers vary their prices significantly. A professional Interior Designer might charge thousands; a freelance decorator might work for as little as $500 – $700. A lot depends on:

  • The size of the unit
  • The equipment required (The home stager usually needs to bring in track lights or ornaments)
  • Whether you want photography and photo-editing (Some home stagers can get you special deals with photography studios)
  • The prestige of the company in question

You can retain images and materials from the big staging; so you won’t have to do it again when finding a new tenant.

If you’re on a budget, or you already have staged photos, you can DIY. It’s a simple matter to touch up the paint, switch curtain fabrics, and open up the house to let in more light. You can follow us on Facebook for more details; I’ll be interviewing some designers on how to stage your house for cheap.

 

2. Open Up the Kitchen

 

Fireman putting out a fire
I’ll just use your stove to grill some hot dogs. Seriously, it’ll be fine.

 

The kitchen is a sensitive issue.

Some landlords forbid cooking, or restrict kitchen use to microwave ovens. It seems to make financial sense: Kitchens suffer the worst wear and tear, especially on stove tops.

Such restrictions don’t matter if the tenants are single professionals. Most of them can’t tell a saucepan from a radish anyway, and eat out every night. But for tenants who are family, eating out might not be in the budget. Also, they might be used to home cooked food.

As a landlord, you need to understand the kind of tenants you attract: If the majority of potential tenants are families, it might make sense to open up the kitchen.

Bump up the asking price if you have to, in order to cover the raised maintenance costs. But don’t turn down well-paying paying tenants just to protect your kitchen.

 

3. Prioritize Some Upgrades and Repairs

 

Electric Drill
I don’t think we’re fixing the carpet right. Just saying.

 

According to property investor Charlie Sng, some repairs and upgrades should take top priority. He says these are:

  • Leaks and rusted tap heads
  • Air-Conditioning
  • Cleanliness of fabrics (Especially carpet and furniture)
  • Internet Access

Tenants might overlook a broken light fixture, or peeled paint. But if your carpet or couch smell like wet dog, they’re out the house in minutes. Don’t bother burning candles; just get rid of such fabrics.

As for internet access, some landlords opt not to install fiber optics. This is because of the wiring needed, which can make your condo’s living room look like Frankenstein’s forehead. However, Charlie suggests going ahead with it:

Most tenants prefer a fast internet connection to a nice looking living room. It’s not their house, so they don’t bring people down to show off how pretty it is. For most of my tenants, comfort and convenience come first. They don’t mind that you can see some wiring.”

Some of these other repairs and upgrades might be costly, even if they’re worth it in the end. Try hitting up comparison sites for renovation loans, like SmartLoans.sg.

 

4. Talk to a Space Planner

 

Dissembled furniture
And as long as you don’t assemble the furniture, everything’s perfect.

 

Apparently, it’s possible to make your apartment bigger and brighter by just dragging stuff around. It’s called space planning, and this is already common practice for commercial properties. Odds are, your office layout was designed by a space planner.

(In an old office you might not notice thus. That’s because constant re-organizing means it now resembles that maze in Pac-Man. But it was probably great at the start).

Interior Design student Terence Bachar says:

Effective space planning will maximize the available space in the room. It can increase storage space, make certain areas feel cozy or open, and create a better first impression. And there’s little fiscal cost involved.”

The best part about space planning is that it’s (almost) free. When you get your home staged, or when you get a sales designer to look around, ask them to make space planning suggestions. Most will do it for you, with no obligations.

Image Credits:
kansas_city_royalty, JMR_Photography, LocoSteve, Samuel L. Livingston, Sarah_Ackerman

How do you raise the rentability of your property? Comment and let us know!

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.