It is said that out of any type of improvements that they can make to a property, investors get their biggest return on investment on cosmetic upgrades.  In this article, cosmetics include painting, flooring, and cleaning.

It’s one in a series of article about improvements to your OKC rental properties.  Here are the other articles:

Affordable Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Tips for OKC Rentals

Keeping the Weather out of Your OKC Rental Property

Spotting Construction Pitfalls for OKC Rental Properties

Kitchen and Bathroom Upgrades for Your OKC Renal Property

What tenants want are clean, safe, and affordable homes.

Focus your spending on what will provide a clean, safe, and affordable house to your tenant. Make sure you you bring your property manager into these discussions.

You don’t need to provide a designer house unless that is your market, such as doing Air BnB short-term rentals.

But that doesn’t mean that you should always go cheap.  This article has tips about what cosmetic upgrades to make to your OKC rental properties.  It comes down to getting the biggest benefit for the dollars invested.  

If you have a newer home, you’ve likely got a house with the latest in finish work.  These types of houses are always in high demand. I don’t recommend spending much on cosmetic upgrades to these types of homes.  It’s just not necessary.

It’s really the older homes in which you need to decide what cosmetic updates to make between tenants.  Don’t overspend.  You may not get the money you have invested back.

Your property management company needs to make sure the property is very clean when you are trying to lease it. A house that is 90% ready to ready is 10% NOT ready to rent. You’ll pay a price for a house that is 10% incomplete.

Cosmetic Upgrades For Your OKC Rental Property

Here are top 5 affordable and cost-effective cosmetic upgrades to help you attract more tenant:

Sheet Rock

  • If you have a house full of wood paneling, plan on tearing it out and hanging new sheet rock.  Paneling makes the house look dark. Most people don’t like wood paneling because it makes the house look outdated.  In addition, if your tenants put holes in the paneling, you cannot repair it. It’s fairly easy to repair holes in the sheet rock. 
  • When you are going to install sheetrock on exterior walls, make sure you insulate behind the wall.  If you don’t want to tear down the sheet rock, you can drill a hole in the wall and blow in insulation.  
  • Do your electrical and plumbing work first   Once these are done, then you can close up the walls.
  • If it is an older house with lath and plaster walls, you can repair the walls, skim coat where necessary, and texture before painting.

Painting

  • If you have some marked up walls, you may not have to do a complete repaint.  The best fix is if the wall can be scrubbed clean.  If the walls aren’t painted with semigloss, this isn’t likely to work.  If you have to touch-up paint, the paint needs to be a close match or it’s going to look terrible.  That’s why it’s a good idea to leave the left over paint in the house when you are done painting.  And, use semigloss paint on the walls.
  • Use high-quality paint.  Select a uniform color to use in every house, every room.  If you try to match the paint, they are always just a little off the true color. 
  • For the interior, use a two-tone color scheme, one color for the trim and one color for the walls. 

Again, use semi-gloss paint, which is easy to touch up and clean. Walls painted with flat paint will not clean up easily.  Pick a wall paint and trim and door color that you will use in every property. That way, you can easily touch up the paint when the renter moves.  

  • Paint the ceilings white.  That will brighten the room because it will reflect more light onto all the surfaces.
  • Use one supplier for your paint.  You will need to get good technical advice from your supplier on some trickier jobs from time to time. 
  • Use an oil-based paint or a latex paint that is both paint and primer for exterior painting.  This way, you won’t need to use a primer in most cases.  That will cut your labor cost because they will only need to apply one coat.

Flooring

Different flooring types include carpet, hardwood flooring, ceramic tile, vinyl tile, and wood laminate.

Carpet

  • If you are going to install carpet, don’t spend a fortune buying high grade carpet.  Work off the assumption that it will only last for one tenant before it needs replacement. 
  • Most of the time carpets can be steam cleaned between tenants.  You would be surprised at some of the stains I’ve seen come out of carpet with a good carpet cleaner.  The exception is pet smell, especially cat urine.  Steam cleaning will not remove pet smell most of the time.  In fact, it often makes it worse because it mobilizes the organic chemicals that create the smells in the pad.  You can remove and replace the carpet and pad.  If it’s older carpet that has seen its better days, that’s the best approach.  If it still has some life, it’s possible to remove those odors.  Over the years, we’ve figured how to remove those odors 100% of the time.  

Hardwood Floors

  • Hardwood floors are great for rental properties.  All it takes is one careless tenant with a mangy cat to ruin $2,000 worth of carpet.  Hardwood flooring can take a lot of abuse. In the worst case, you will have to refinish it.  Have as little carpet in your rental property as possible. Dirty, soiled carpets are unacceptable even in low-income rentals.  Wood and tile flooring is easier to maintain and can take a lot of abuse. 
  • Instead of sanding your hardwood floors, you can often just buff the floor with a commercial floor buffer to remove grime and build up.  Use a coarse scrubbing pad to fit the buffer, a little Comet cleaner, and water. Once you are done with the buffer, mop up the mess. When the floor is dry, wipe it again with mineral spirits.  Sometimes the floor will need to be stained, but most of the time you can just apply one or two coats of polyurethane. Your handy man or clean-up crew should be able to handle all this for you. 

Vinyl Tile

  • There are many different types of vinyl tile, including vinyl plank, commercial vinyl tile, sheet linoleum, and peel and stick.
  • The most common type of vinyl tile is vinyl plank.  Vinyl plank has a wood look, and comes in a variety of colors.  Among vinyl tile, I think it looks the best.  It’s durable, and a very good flooring for any area of the house.  It needs to be installed in a warm room and surface.  If not, the adhesive will not bond properly, and the flooring will peel up.  And, if the tenant damages some of the tile, it can be replaced rather than having to retile the entire room.
  • Commercial vinyl tile is durable, but does not have a great look.  And, if the tenant doesn’t buff out the flooring, it won’t have that shine that you see in stores with that type of flooring.  
  • We install sheet linoleum sometimes in small spaces such as bathrooms.
  • Peel and stick tile is the least expensive vinyl tile, and the easiest to install.  However, it also has a cheap look.

Ceramic Tile

  • Ceramic tile is the most durable.  And, it can have a great, contemporary look.
  • It is perfect for installation on concrete.  You can still install ceramic tile on a wooden subfloor in a house with crawl space, but you have to install concrete board underneath it to make the subfloor strong enough.
  • It is the most expensive type of flooring, at roughly double the cost of vinyl plank or wood laminate, and more if it’s installed on a wooden subfloor.

Wood Laminate Flooring

Wood laminate flooring looks good, and it’s affordable.  However, I prefer installing vinyl plank over wood laminate because wood laminate flooring is ruined by water.  Vinyl plank can come loose if it’s flooded, but it’s simply to dry out the surface and reapply adhesive to fasten it back down.

Light Fixtures

  • Install new lighting fixtures as needed.  Ceiling fans are nice in some common areas, but not needed throughout the house. Ceiling fans are a must in the master bedroom.  
  • Spotlights are a nice touch, such as in the kitchen.  I recommend the type with ordinary bulbs.

Clean Up

  • Once the renovation is complete, you will need to pay someone to do a final detailed cleaning. 
  • You will need to have the house and yard initially cleaned up, including hauling off junk, old carpet, and construction debris.  Quite often you will need to have a dumpster on location. 

Not sure where to start? We're always ready to help you

© 2018 Copyright OKC Home Realty Services, LLC. Licensed Broker