How Property Maintenance Can Increase Your Property's Value

Published 08 September 2021 by Team :Different

Maintenance isn’t just about preventing burst pipes and fixing leaky taps. When done proactively, it can actually boost the value of your investment property and mean more rental income in your back pocket. 

With proactive property maintenance, you can actually boost the appeal of your rental and increase it’s value, too. This is a powerful strategy, particularly considering how tough it can be to increase an investment property’s value year-on-year. 

Ready to discover the best ways to increase your property value with maintenance? We reveal the five key maintenance areas you need to prioritise to see a tangible return on your investment. 

How can property maintenance increase the value of your investment property?

You’re not investing your hard-earned cash to see it spent on bills. But there are ways to turn your expenses into savvy investments that can boost the value of your property. 

If you’re looking for stable, consistent rental returns as well as the best chance of long-term capital growth, keeping your property in top condition is the ticket to get you there. 

By knowing which cost-effective maintenance jobs deliver property value increases, you can spend your money in the right places and boost your returns over time, too. 

In 2021, Australia’s average property value increase is rising at its fastest rate on record. The latest data from CoreLogic reveals the national home value index has risen to a whopping 18.4% (which works out to be an average rise of about $103,400 in value each year).

And we know that strategic renovations can further accelerate this house price growth (with great curbside appeal alone helping to boost a property’s final sale price by up to 7%). 

In practical terms, a well-maintained investment property currently priced at $850,000 can hope to grow in value to $1,065,900 in the next 12 months alone. 

Wondering what are the best ways to increase your property’s value? Here’s why it’s worth spending a bit on proactive maintenance as investor:

  • It can safeguard the quality of your investment property for years to come: regular, preventative maintenance (such as fixing cracked bathroom tiles, replacing tired flooring and refreshing window coverings) means your property will stay in top condition and reduce the visible signs of wear and tear.
  • It can prevent costly repairs issues cropping up: with proactive maintenance, you’ll be able to spot potential issues early and get them sorted out straight away (rather than waiting for them to turn into major, costly problems).
  • It can boost the perceived value of your property: a few smart fixes and maintenance upgrades can give tenants the illusion that your property is newly renovated (at a fraction of the cost). Plus, when it comes time to sell, buyers will be more inclined to pay a premium for a modern, well-maintained property too. 

The key to making property maintenance an investment (not just an expense) is to spend your cash wisely on jobs that will move the needle for your property’s value. 

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What types of maintenance offer the biggest property value increase?

Boosting the value of your property doesn’t have to mean forking out tonnes of cash on major renovations. In fact, all it takes is a few proactive steps to beat signs of wear and tear and keep everything working at its best.

In a nutshell, preventative maintenance is all about getting on the front foot and keeping a property in top condition. The best way to do this is through routine inspections where you can pick up early signs of wear and tear and replace fittings and fixtures when you notice they’re starting to wear down. 

Take this example: rather than booking an urgent repair to fix a burst pipe (which can cost upwards of $800 per hour to fix), preventative maintenance would mean replacing an old, leaky tap early before the problem gets worse (which can cost as little as $60 to do). Clearly, this is an easy way to save money as an investor.

By conducting regular routine inspections, you or your property manager will be able to pick up these potential problems and get them sorted proactively. As they say, prevention is better (and cheaper) than cure. 

Five practical strategies to boost your property's value with maintenance

Ready to increase the value of your property using proactive maintenance? Here are five strategies to help raise your rental’s appeal and boost your property’s perceived value, too.

Increase your property’s curbside appeal

You want your rental to ‘wow’ potential tenants, even before they’ve stepped through the front door. This first impression is what will help you boost interest in your property and set the tone for what to expect inside. 

The stats speak for themselves: homes with the higher curbside appeal are shown to sell for an average of 7% more than similar homes with a poorly maintained exterior. Even if you’re simply looking to secure a new tenant, the same logic applies (and can help you charge a bit extra for weekly rent, too).

So, what proactive maintenance should you focus on to boost your property’s curbside appeal?

  • Repaint your exterior walls: a fresh lick of paint can instantly revive your rental and give the impression of a newer property. Typically, this kind of maintenance job will set you back anywhere from $4,000 for a single-story brick veneer property all the way up to $20,000+ for a  large Queenslander-style home.
  • Invest in landscaping: creating a beautiful outdoor garden space will instantly catch the eye of potential tenants and even win over home buyers when selling your property. In general, terms, adding a new lawn and plants to an empty backyard is estimated to cost around $6,000 while simply adding a few tropical palms should cost around $47 per plant.
  • Proactively repair fencing: broken palings and rusted fencing can detract from the appeal of your property. Instead, it’s worth staying on the front foot to keep your fences in top condition. Generally, fixing holes, cracks and missing slats will only set you back between $100 and $200 (which is much cheaper than replacing posts or fixing leaning fences which can cost upwards of $750). 
  • Boost security with alarms: a modern security system can help keep your property safe from intruders and give tenants added peace of mind that your property is secure. This cost depends on what kind of system you choose but generally starts from $100 for a single Wi-Fi camera, all the way up to $2,500+ for wireless alarm systems.
  • Add sensor lighting: for added security, it’s worth considering outdoor sensor lighting that can illuminate the entryways to your property after dark. In general terms, a LED floodlight with movement sensor should cost around $120+ per light, as well as the cost of hiring an electrician to install it (usually $90 to $120 per hour). 

When leasing your property in a competitive housing market, a great first impression can help you secure tenants faster and even charge extra for rent. 

In practical terms, a great curbside appeal can boost your rental income by upwards of 7% (which works out to be an extra $50 per week if you’re currently charging $700 per week in rent). That’s an extra $2,600 per year in your back pocket.

Refresh your property’s interiors

Sprucing up your rental property doesn’t have to mean spending tens of thousands on a full renovation. Instead, with proactive maintenance, you can strategically target the areas of your property that will make the biggest impact on your rental returns. 

Updating your property’s interiors is key to eliminating any visible signs of wear and tear and giving tenants the impression that your property is newly renovated. 

And here are a few cost-effective reno's that increase property value:

  • Refresh flooring: ditch scratched floorboards and stained carpets and opt for durable, cost-effective flooring instead. Vinyl is one of the most cost-effective options, starting from just $30m2 (or roughly $1,000 for a standard sized living room).
  • Update window coverings: a quick and easy maintenance job that can boost the perceived value of your property is installing new curtains or blinds. Typically, new curtains will cost anywhere from $10 to $1,000 with installation costs around $70 to $200 (depending on the size of the project).
  • Repaint interior walls: freshly painted walls remove any signs of wear and tear and can instantly boost the appeal of your property. Typically, it will cost around $250 to $400 per room to repaint your interior walls.

Getting the most out of refreshing your property’s interiors means making cost-effective maintenance decisions that will boost your rental income, speed up the releasing process or increase the final sale price. 

Take the example: investing a bit of cash in refreshing your property will mean your rental stands out in online listings and generates stronger turnouts at inspections. With higher interest in your property, you’re likely to receive faster applications and even tenants willing to pay more than the asking price to secure your rental.

Even a $20 increase in your weekly rent can add up to an extra $1,040 per year in rental returns. 

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Modernise the kitchen and bathroom

Wondering what tenants are looking for in a rental property? One of the big-ticket items on many tenants list is this: a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom. Plus, these items are a big drawcard for potential buyers, too.

These wet rooms tend to show the age of your property. That means it’s worth proactive maintaining these rooms and finding cost-effective ways to keep them modern, updated and appealing. 

But you don’t need to spend $17,000+ (a.k.a. the average cost of a bathroom renovation in Australia) to boost your property’s value. 

So, what steps can you take to refresh your bathroom and kitchen on a budget? Here are the top bathroom and kitchen renos that increase property value:

  • Replace outdated taps: rusted or leaky taps aren’t just unsightly, but can also be signs that your fixtures need to be repaired. So it’s worth spending around $80 for a new basin tap set in a contemporary style to update your rental.
  • Refresh cabinets: worn out cabinet doors can detract from the quality of your property. So, it’s worth looking into replacing tired or old cabinets with a new set (which typically starts from $4,000, depending on the size of the kitchen).
  • Repair broken or cracked tiles: over time, your property’s bathroom and kitchen tiles are likely to wear down and get damaged. But if you catch this issue early, you can repair the individual tiles (rather than retiling the entire room). That way, you’d only expect to pay $35 to $120 per square metre (depending on how long it takes to fix).
  • Replace old shower curtains: as far as proactive maintenance goes, this is one of the easiest jobs to tick off your list. You can easily pick up an affordable shower curtain for as little as $20, while a permanent glass shower screen should cost upwards of $360 (if you’re looking for a more durable option).

Strategically maintaining and updating your bathrooms and kitchen can pay off big time, with the stats showing that these renovations offer potential returns of $4 for every $1 spent

The key is not to overcapitalise and spend too much on unnecessary updates but target the specific items and areas that will allow you to charge a premium for your rental.

Update your property’s appliances

Did you know that tenants are willing to pay more for properties with air-conditioning?

The newer the appliances in your property, the more desirable it will be to potential tenants. That’s because modern appliances tend to be in better condition and work more efficiently, and show that you’re proactively maintaining your rental property. 

So, what appliances should you be refreshing and replacing in your property?

  • Air-conditioning units: as we mentioned, air-cons are such a hot item for tenants they’re willing to pay extra to score a property with one included. In most cases, a split system air-con will cost around $960 to $4,000. But, if you manage to score an extra $50 per week in rent, it will have paid for itself for a couple of years. 
  • Dishwashing machines: in smaller properties (like apartments), a dishwasher is a big bonus that will give your tenants extra space in the kitchen. So, it’s a smart move to install one (or update an old model that isn’t energy efficient). Typically, you’ll be able to score a new model for anywhere from $700.
     
  • Dryers: a separate laundry is another in-demand item that tenants are willing to pay extra for, and that includes kitting it out with a modern dryer. And scoring a new dryer should only cost you a couple of hundred dollars (plus installation). 

So let's do the numbers. 

Say you spend $2,000 on upgrading the appliances in your rental and you list your property for lease. You’re likely to generate more interest with these desirable features, which can mean you score a new tenant quickly. 

Say you cut down your leasing campaign from 6 weeks to 2 weeks of vacancy. When charging $700 per week, you’ve saved upwards of $2,800 in lost rent. That means you’ve already earned an extra $800 just by proactively maintaining your rental.

Consider transforming your property into a smart home

Along with new appliances, many of the best tenants are looking for rentals that include smart home features. 

In a nutshell, a smart home is a property that is kitted out with connected tech that allows you to control appliances, lighting and heating systems wirelessly. 

The main players in the space are smart assistants such as Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa, each using a central hub and a stack of extra products (such as light bulbs and sensors). Many use mobile apps as well as voice commands to control light, temperature and even remotely control door locks. 

So, why should you consider these upgrades?

  • It improves security: many smart homes offer security cameras and smart locks that allow you to keep your property secure (or even unlock doors remotely when cleaners or nannies need access to the property). 
  • It offers greater convenience and control: give your tenants the added luxury of being able to dim lights or change the air-con temperature using their phone or voice command.
  • It appeals to high-end tenants: a smart home elevates your property against the competition and gives the best tenants a reason to prefer your property. That means you’re more likely to secure a long-term tenant who pays on time and treats your property as if it were their own.

Let’s crunch the numbers.

Typically, a professional smart home system will cost anywhere from $250 to $20,000 (depending on how many features you connect, such as curtain, garage doors and security system). This system involves hiring a professional electrician to set up smart home wiring for added safety and longevity.

As for your return on investment, here’s what you’d be looking at. Say you manage to charge an extra $100 per week in rent thanks to these smart home features (bringing your weekly rent to $800). In one year, you’ve scored an extra $5,200 in rental income. 

Plus, let’s say these features encourage your tenants to renew their lease. That takes out the costs of vacancy, which could be up to four weeks if you need to find new tenants. Now, you’ve saved a further $3,200 (based on a weekly rent of $800), just by spending a bit of proactive maintenance. 

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When it comes to the best ways to increase your property value, investing in proactive maintenance will help you increase your rental returns and boost the chance of a long-term capital gain. 

Plus, by having a good property manager taking care of your rental, you’ll have a dedicated expert on-hand to offer strategic advice about how to keep your property well-maintained for tenancies to come. They’ll also be able to handle the logistics of reviewing repair requests, gathering quotes and booking tradies to take work off your plate.

Ultimately, staying on the front foot with maintenance will keep your rental in good condition, prevent costly repairs and ensure your property remains competitive against newer properties. 

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Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog post are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon. We have not taken into account specific situations, facts or circumstances, and no part of this blog post constitutes personal financial, legal, or tax advice to you. You should seek tax advice from your accountant, specific to your situation.

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