A property that’s ready for the Santa Rosa rental market is clean, functioning, and attractive. It’s ready for tenants to move right in.
This is the condition your rental home must be in before you begin listing it, showing it to tenants, or collecting applications.
Don’t rush the process. If you try to market a rental property that isn’t move-in ready, you’ll find that you face a longer vacancy or need to negotiate lower rents. Tenants will not bother renting your home if they cannot imagine themselves living in it.
The amount of work and resources that go into getting a home ready for the rental market depends on a number of things, including property age and condition. If you are renting the home out for the first time, you may need to remove some of your own personal belongings. If you’re turning the property over between tenants, there may be some general wear and tear that needs your attention.
As professional property managers in Santa Rosa, we spend a lot of time getting homes ready for the rental market. Our process is efficient and effective, saving you from long vacancy periods and unqualified renters.
Here’s how we do it.
Start from the Outside: You Need Stunning Curb Appeal
It’s natural to want to rush right to the paint, the floors, and the fixtures when you’re getting your property ready for the market. Start from the outside and work in. Curb appeal is especially important because a lot of your likely tenants will form an opinion about your property just by the way it looks from the outside. This is where they make an emotional connection to the property.
The first impression is critical when it comes to deciding where and how to live. When you can make a good first impression, you’re more likely to collect rental applications from eager tenants. Your curb appeal asks them to come inside, visualize what it would be like to live there and fill out an application.
Take a look at your landscaping. A single-family home might have some grass in the front or back yard. Even if you’re renting out a condo with a simple courtyard, you want to make sure it’s inviting and welcoming. Pay attention to the grass. You want to keep it mowed and healthy. If there are trees and bushes, make sure they’re trimmed and pruned. You don’t want a lot of branches covering the windows of the house or dropping onto the roof.
Make sure the front door and the walkway are clear, clean, and easy to see. You need sufficient, bright exterior lighting and an easy, well-marked path to the home’s entrance.
Rent Ready Inspections Identify Maintenance Needs
Your Santa Rosa rental home isn’t ready to be rented unless all of its maintenance needs are met.
Conduct a thorough inspection of the property so you know where you stand. There are likely repairs that need to be made. Some of them will be minor and easily taken care of. Others might be more of a project that requires licensed and insured vendors and contractors.
Inspect the floors, the walls, the ceiling, the appliances, and the doors and windows. Run the air conditioning and the heat. Turn on every faucet, and plug something into every outlet. Flush all the toilets and test all the appliances.
Does the dryer vent need to be vacuumed out? You’re looking for safety and habitability issues as well as basic mechanics.
Take a look at every square inch of the property, and then figure out what needs to be done before you take some marketing photos and begin to look for new tenants.
Schedule Your Vendors and Make Repairs Quickly
Now that you know what needs work, it’s time to set about making those repairs or replacements.
You should have a checklist that indicates the problem you noted, the vendor you plan to call, and the date that they can get out there to help.
Some of the issues will be simple. You can change out the light bulbs. You can probably install any replacement appliances.
You’ll need professionals for a lot of the work, however, and here’s the thing: professional vendors right now are busy. You may find yourself waiting for them to be available. That’s going to extend the turnover period and leave you with a longer vacancy.
Get those relationships in place now, so you’re a priority when you need the help of good vendors and contractors.
Time is money when you’re a real estate investor, and it’s valuable. Make sure you’re minimizing the amount of time you have to spend preparing your rental property for the market. If you have great relationships in place with vendors in Santa Rosa, you’ll be able to make these repairs and updates quickly and get that property on the market as soon as possible.
With maintenance costs rising and workers difficult to schedule, you may be looking for solutions. For example, should you make the necessary repairs yourself?
It seems like doing it yourself will save you money. That’s only true if you know what you’re doing. If you have never repaired drywall before or installed vinyl flooring, are you sure you’ll do it right the first time?
You also have to decide whether doing your own repairs will actually save you time. If you can’t find a few days to get over to your rental property, the work will not get done and your home will not get rented. Don’t delay your ability to rent out the property.
Expertise is important when you’re preparing your property for the rental market. We always recommend that rental property owners hire licensed and insured professionals when there’s something that’s needed and it’s outside of what you can reasonably accomplish.
Here are a few more maintenance tips that may help as you’re scheduling vendors for repairs:
- Replace what needs to be replaced. Sometimes, landlords will over-repair a system or an appliance that should really just be replaced with a new one. If your refrigerator keeps breaking down and the appliance is 20 years old, don’t spend the money to repair it. Buy a new one instead. This will cut down on the maintenance that’s required for your fridge, and you’ll have a brand-new appliance that will really appeal to prospective tenants when they’re looking at your listing and visiting your property.
- Be thorough. Check every system and every detail. Make sure the home is ready for tenants to see. Repair and replace all the major things you notice, but make sure you’re also catching even the small issues. It’s worth your time. You don’t want to be called over to the home in the first 30 days after a tenant moves in to fix something that you could have fixed before the move-in day. And, you don’t want your rental home to be vacant for longer than necessary because you forgot or neglected to do something critical in the property.
- Be thorough. It keeps your tenants satisfied before they even move in, and you’re establishing a great relationship for the tenancy. They’ll notice that the toilets are new or the lighting on the front porch is bright. They’ll appreciate the floors that are free of stains and scratches and the front door that is clean and free of bugs and cobwebs.
Make the repairs quickly so you can move on to marketing and listing your property. You don’t want to find yourself promising tenants who come to see the home that the work you need to do will ultimately get done before they move in. They won’t believe you. They want to see a fully functional home.
Give Your Santa Rosa Rental Home a Professional Cleaning
Cleaning is an important part of getting your property rent ready. The inside of your home should be clean and free of dust and debris. This is another factor you’ll notice when you’re inspecting the home. You don’t want any stains on the carpet or the floor. You don’t want a refrigerator that still has condiments in the door.
Hire a cleaning crew to really do a deep clean, which should include pulling the appliances away from the wall to clean and dust under them and behind them. You’d be amazed at the crumbs and dust that can gather around appliances.
While the initial cleaning is important, you also want to clean after the work is done. When you have repair people coming and going through the property, additional cleaning will probably be necessary before you put the home on the market.
Don’t rush through the process of preparing your home for the rental market, but keep it as efficient as you can so you get the home on the market quickly. If you don’t have the time or the resources to inspect your property before you list it, work with professionals who have experience in this area. Our experience in Santa Rosa real estate and property management allows us to take care of these things quickly and thoroughly. Please contact us at Prestige Real Estate & Property Management. We manage homes in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park.