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Wikipedia – “Curb appeal is attractiveness of the exterior of a residential or commercial property. The term was extensively used in the United States during the housing boom and continues to be used as an indicator of the initial appeal of a property to prospective buyers.” The same could be said for any house hunter out there today – even Renters!

Curb appeal comparison

Low cost rental home improvement

If your property makes a great first impression with its curb appeal, everyone will want to see the inside. One of the main reasons to maintain and update your rental investment is taken from an article I found on www.thisoldhouse.com about curb appeal –

trends“Quality upgrades continue to add value. Home prices may have dropped, but the return on remodeling investments remains strong, according to the National Association of Realtors. Not surprisingly, exterior improvements still lead the pack in terms of biggest bang for the buck, with siding and windows paying you back over 75 percent of their cost upon resale.”

If you’re like many landlords in our area that offer to pay for some or all of the utilities, make sure you take advantage of the offers the utility companies have for updating the unit – appliances, furnaces, insulation, windows and more! Plus, by updating these items, you will save on the utility bills in the long run.

Keep in mind, curb appeal should not stop at your property or fence line. When house hunters are looking for their next home, they are looking over the entire Handshakeneighborhood. Have you met the neighbors? Is the gal next door an elderly neighbor that could use a hand getting her yard raked or mowed to improve some neighborhood curb appeal? Offer to lend a hand. Maybe the neighbor kitty corner from you would clean up the debris in his yard if he had a pickup truck. Walla Walla was voted the friendliest town in the US for a reason; let’s get to know our neighbors! Not only is being friendly with the neighbors a great way to keep tabs on your rental property, it is a great way to improve the neighborhood as a whole. You’ll also gain better paying, longer staying tenants with a high end neighborhood environment that has great curb appeal. Crime will go down, property values will go up, creating a win-win situation.

Have you ever considered recycled materials for updating your rental? These are great money saving resources to help you improve your property without breaking your bank. We have Builders Resupply Store in Walla Walla as a resource for used building materials. There are others mentioned at this website: www.2good2toss.com or at  http://www.sustainablelivingcenter.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=119 .

Check out the tips below to find some low cost improvements for your rental today and get a better clientele that will last longer and keep your income coming in.

The front door/entry area – This is the main focal point of the rental unit. Make sure it is making a statement that will “wow” people driving or walking by. Paint the front door a different color, add a custom door maybe one with a window, clean smudges and dirt away and polish the door fixtures. Consider refurbishing the entry way with some tiles. This is a great way to update and take away any trip hazards. Use colored tiles that are fairly large, in colors that complement the exterior of the home.

Exterior house numbers – Do they need to be cleaned, repainted, and polished? Are they easily visible from the road? Make sure to use numbers at least 4” to aid the fire department in seeing the house numbers in case an emergency ever arises at the property.

The mailbox – Is it dented and old? Does it add character and charm? Would a quick coat of paint rejuvenate it or do you need to replace it? Make sure you comply with the federal laws regarding the installation of mailboxes if you choose to replace it.

Exterior lighting – Is the porch light clean, complete and working? If there is a walk way, install some inexpensive solar lights to light the path. These not only add to the curb appeal, but also to the security and safety of your property.

Flower beds & yard – Is the lawn clean cut, trimmed, edged, weeded and clear of leaves and debris? Are the flower beds weeded, well-kept and free of leaves and debris as well? Try adding a brick or stone edging to the flower beds It gives a more defined look to the landscaping and keeps the lawn from invading later on. Don’t have flower beds? Consider adding a few garden containers to the front entry to add a little color and make it more inviting. Window boxes and plant hangars are some other ideas to add some color to the outside of the house. If you decide to add landscaping plants, look for low maintenance ones that are hardy for our climate – drought-resistant plants don’t require as much water and if your tenants decide not to water, it won’t kill them off. Finally, trim any low hanging tree branches and trim up the shrubs.

Exterior paint – Molding and trim on the outside of the doors and windows should highlight these items. Use a light color behind a dark colored item to accentuate it and vice versa. Does the home overall have paint that is chipped and peeling? Does the siding need a good wash to get rid of the dirt and mold? Periodic cleaning and maintenance will save you in the long run from dry rot and other major repairs.

Gutters & Downspouts – I see so many homes without any, or that have broken or clogged gutters. Make sure gutters and downspouts are cleaned and touch up any that have peeling paint. If needed, replace with a snap and fit vinyl system to update and make it more maintenance friendly down the road.

Porches & Decks – Is the concrete chipped and becoming a safety issue? Does the deck need staining or painting? How about the rails? Are they loose and falling apart? These items require regular maintenance. If they have not been kept up in the past, it may be time to replace with a more maintenance friendly material such as metal, vinyl, etc. Maybe even slap a new coat of paint on them to bring back some luster.

Driveways & Walkways – Are these trimmed, edged and free of weeds growing through the cracks? Consider adding bricks or pavers alongside a driveway to widen it, create a path and accentuate this feature. Have a yard area between the parking and the entrance? Add in a walkway that will enhance the landscape of the yard.

The roof – are there patches that need repair? Missing shingles? Take care of the problem now before you start ending up with major water damage and mold issues.

Fencing – Is it clean and mold free? Does it need to be stained or painted? Do any of the boards require replacement? Have the weeds taken it over? Fenced yards for privacy are a nice amenity if they are kept and maintained correctly.

There are many do-it-yourself tips on the internet, as well as TV programs to help you along the way. I hope some of the ideas above will help you give your rental property the curb appeal it deserves. Have some great tips on adding curb appeal? I would love to hear them!

Until next week, may your rentals be filled and your home be a happy place.

Lori Hartjoy is the owner of Blue Mountain Rentals, established in April of 2011. As well as being a devoted mother of 3 toddlers, she provides over 20 years of clerical experience to her clients. Her background includes processing employment, tenant screening, background checks and working as a property manager and payroll clerk for a major telecommunications corporation.

The information contained on this blog and from any communication related to the Blue Mountain Rentals website is provided for informational purposes only. All information you choose to use is at “your own risk”.

Please visit www.bluemtnrentals.com for more information on how Blue Mountain Rentals can provide a win-win solution for your housing needs.

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