As a real estate investor, you understand the importance of curb appeal. It creates a first impression for your property, drawing potential tenants closer to renting a unit. You want to leverage those first moments with a prospective resident and create a connection. You want them to want to get inside the property and imagine living there.
When was the last time you evaluated the curb appeal on your building? Stand outside on the street or look at the property from the sidewalk. Is it a place you’d want to learn more about? Does it look like a home where you’d want a friend or family member to live? Would you consider living there yourself?
Improving curb appeal is an excellent way to increase your rental values, update the condition of your asset, and attract high quality residents. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, either.
Let’s take a look at some of the most cost effective ways to improve the curb appeal of your Idaho investment property.
Cleanliness First: Present a Clean Building Without Debris or Dirt
Good curb appeal starts with clean curb appeal. Residents won’t be impressed with cobwebs in the corner, leaves gathering in piles on the front steps, or trash scattered across the parking area.
We always tell real estate investors that a clean property is absolutely essential when increasing rental values and making marketing plans. No good resident will want to move into someone else’s dirt. They want to approach a building that offers a clean, organized outdoor space.
When prospective residents arrive for a showing or drive through the neighborhood to get a look at the building before they schedule a showing, you want them to see a clean, well-maintained outdoor space.
Here are some immediate and inexpensive steps to take:
- Clear away any debris from the front of the building. You also want to inspect the parking area, the walkways, and whatever outdoor space you offer, whether it’s a courtyard, a porch, or a large communal lawn. Sidewalks need to not have empty food bags and bottles rolling around. Residents don’t need to see trash or debris; it leaves your property looking unkempt.
- Ensure that all trash and recycling bins are where they belong. When these receptacles get left outside at the curb too long, they fall over and they could potentially travel up and down the street. That’s not a great way to attract new residents. Make sure those trash bins are stored away, especially when you’re marketing and showing your rental property.
- Wash those windows. Windows have a huge impact on curb appeal. Residents arriving to see a unit won’t be impressed with bent and damaged blinds in the windows. They won’t want to see torn screens. If the windows are too dirty, they won’t be able to see much at all. Replace any window screens or window blinds that may be an eyesore. Clean the windows so they’re bright and transparent.
Don’t forget the lighting when you’re cleaning up around the outside of your property. You’ll want a strong light at the entrance and exits.
Invest in a Power Wash
Every building looks better after a good washing.
As you work towards making your curb appeal clean, take a few extra steps. After you have dusted away the dirt, debris, and any sticks, branches, leaves, and insects that have gathered, you’ll want to brighten up the whole building.
Power wash the entire house as well as the driveway, sidewalk, and any paths.
Power wash the patios if you have them, and the deck or the balconies. It’s not expensive and it can be surprising how much filth gathers over the years.
If you don’t have your own power washer, they’re easy enough to rent, and it won’t be terribly expensive.
Current and prospective residents will appreciate the brighter, lighter feel when they come to see the home. Power washing and cleaning your property’s exterior are extra steps that tenants will appreciate. It will be much easier to love your property.
Look at Your Landscaping and Lawn Care
We get all the seasons in Idaho, and you’ll need landscaping that can withstand heat and cold and ice and rain. In the spring and summer, your lawn will need extra attention so it’s not overgrown. Whether you have a little outdoor space or a lot, make a plan to keep the landscaping simple, attractive, and well-maintained.
In most multifamily buildings, landscaping is the responsibility of the property owner. Hire a reliable service that you can trust to keep things looking good. Residents like some green space, so if you have a courtyard, make sure there are pleasant trees, bushes, and enough shade to make it a comfortable spot to gather in the summers.
Make a plan for winter landscaping as well. Snow will need to be shoveled and the ice will need to be treated to prevent the risk of injury to residents driving and walking around your property.
As long as your landscaping is neat, trimmed, and healthy, it doesn’t require a huge investment. Your grass should be kept short and some kind of irrigation system should be in place to water it.
Cost-effective landscaping will include native flowers and plants. You don’t have to spend a lot when you want to upgrade your landscaping with decorative plants. There are a lot of options in Idaho. Look for plants that are naturally found in and around our region. Look for different sizes, colors, and shapes, and position them strategically around the perimeter of your property.
Check the Condition of Your Building and Exterior
There should not be any rotting wood, trip and fall hazards, or peeling paint.
Whether you’re renting out two homes inside of a duplex or a hundred apartments inside of a high-rise building, you need an exterior that’s not only attractive, but safe. Curb appeal includes the front doors, the walkway to the building, and any outdoor spaces associated with your property, such as driveways and parking lots.
If things are looking run-down or the paint is deteriorating quickly, think about some ways to make it look better. This is important aesthetically and also functionally. Maybe you need an entirely new entrance. Is the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act? Is there an ease of entry and exit? These are the things to think about.
For strictly curb appeal reasons, you can make some cost effective upgrades in these ways:
- Fresh paint on your exterior. This might be a large undertaking, depending on your building size and structure. However, if the paint is looking chipped, faded, or worn, it’s worth the investment. Updated paint is a good idea every five or 10 years because it increases the durability and the lifespan of that building. The most extreme weather hits your exterior, whether it’s sun or heavy snow. It has to hold up.
- New hardware looks good on even an aging building. Try a new set of door handles. Upgrade the welcome mat. Improve the lighting.
Don’t be afraid to decorate the front of your property. There’s no need to go overboard, but a simple wreath or a welcome sign on the door can go a long way in helping tenants to feel welcome and comfortable. Consider a pot of fresh flowers and make sure the mailboxes are in good shape, especially if they’re visible at or near the entry.
Curb Appeal Can Include Security and Technology Improvements
When we talk about curb appeal, we’re mostly talking about aesthetics. Curb appeal allows your property to look good.
But, there’s also safety and security, which is critical to any residential building. Having the right technology in place can also improve your curb appeal and deliver good first impressions.
Some of the things that residents will appreciate when it comes to your tech-friendly curb appeal include:
- Keyless entries. These types of systems allow your residents to access the building without using a physical key and lock. You might assign physical keys for individual units, but for the building itself or the common areas, keyless entry is better. It’s more efficient and it’s something that tenants are likely to expect.
- Security cameras. This is a safety feature for your property and the tenants who live there. You can see who is coming and going, and this will give tenants a sense of security. Video doorbells are also more and more popular, even in multifamily properties. Residents appreciate being able to see who is at their door before they open it.
Smart home tech and features are popular in-unit as well. But, when you’re thinking about curb appeal, make sure you’re showing off your security initiatives.
These are some general and inexpensive ideas for the curb appeal at your investment property. If you’d like a customized list of suggestions, we’d be happy to take a look. Please contact us at Jacob Grant Property Management. We provide property management help in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and the surrounding areas.