Making Your Rental Property Stand Out in a Competitive Market

Published 28 February 2021 - Updated a year ago

Are you capitalising on the regional property boom? You might find that even by investing in the most attractive areas, finding a tenant isn't as easy as you thought it would be.

With trends comes saturation, and many fellow property investors might have scored a property to the right, left, and across the street from your rental. So, how do you make your property stand out from the crowd?

To help you win great tenants for your rental, we've called on Leigh Patrick (a.k.a. @mrsbabbito on Instagram) to share her top tips. Leigh is an Interior Designer and Senior Manager of Portfolio & Acquisitions at :Different, with hundreds of renovations and successful sales under her belt.

Her advice can help you reduce your vacancy, even in the most competitive markets.

1. Invest in renovations tenants truly want

Pop quiz: Is any rental renovation a good renovation?

Not quite. The clue to unlocking value from renovations on your investment property is to invest in upgrades that will actually move the needle for your property. To do this you need to know what tenants want in a rental.

Once you've got that out of the way, the floor is yours for making renovations that can net you some serious gains.

I landed one of my clients a sales price of $1,000,000 above her reserve, purely based on cosmetic renovation plans and good execution. That's the level of value smart refurbishments can make.

Leigh Patrick, Snr. Mgr. Portfolio & Acquisitions at :Different and Interior Designer

Leigh shares the top 5 tenant requests in a rental:

  1. Built-in wardrobes
  2. Air conditioning or ceiling fans
  3. Internal laundry flexibility
  4. Gas cooking
  5. Parking or storage cage

Let's unpack these.

Add built-in wardrobes to every bedroom

Built-in wardrobes in your rental will instantly put your property ahead of others on the market. 

But what does a good built-in robe look like? Leigh explains that convenience is key.

Every bedroom should have its own robe with a custom hanging rod, internal drawers and storage options above.

Leigh Patrick, Snr. Mgr. Portfolio & Acquisitions at :Different and Interior Designer

This gives tenants the flexibility to customise each robe to suit their needs without having to buy clothes racks or wardrobe solutions themselves.

Install air-cons or ceiling fans

Which do you think the tenant will pick? The rental for $450 with air-conditioning, or the rental for $420 without it?

In most cases, the $450 rental with air-conditioning will come out ahead. A study of 1100 tenants reveals that renters are willing to pay more for air-conditioning in their home.

A popular option among investors is to have ceiling fans in bedrooms and A/C in living rooms.

Leigh Patrick, Snr. Mgr. Portfolio & Acquisitions at :Different and Interior Designer

A split system air-con unit usually costs between $960 to $4,000, but it could make what would've been a 4-week vacancy into a 1-week vacancy, with a little extra rent on top. In that way, it pays for itself over the years.

Install internal laundry in a convenient location if possible

Tenants are on a quest for convenience and comfort! Recent surveys have indicated 62.7% of tenants are willing to pay up to $50 more in rent for properties with internal laundry.

Particularly for properties with limited or no outdoor spaces, installing a clothes dryer is a simple step you can take to instantly boost your property’s appeal.

You should install a bracket for a dryer mount. It goes a long way maximising laundry space.

Leigh Patrick, Snr. Mgr. Portfolio & Acquisitions at :Different and Interior Designer

It’s a quick improvement that will typically only set you back a few hundred dollars (with models starting from $400). 

Offer gas cooking 

If you're weighing your options, tenants prefer gas cooking over electric stovetops.

It's hard to change the size of your kitchen, but you can help your tenants channel their inner Jamie Oliver!

Ensure your property offers parking and a storage cage 

Tenants appreciate off-street parking and extra storage options. So, if you’re still searching for your investment property, this is one of Leigh’s tips for picking a wise investment. 

leigh patrick on instagram

2. Professional photography is a must-have

We don't doubt your skills with your smartphone camera, but professionals are exceptionally good at putting your rental's best foot forward.

Think about it, investing in professional photography for your rental is a one-off expense that can speed up the process of securing a great tenant tremendously. Grainy DIY photos and professional photos can mean the difference between a tenant applying for the rental or clicking away.

Don’t try to cut corners with inferior images as they’ll often make a room look smaller or darker. A professional photographer will use a wide-angle lens to showcase the entire space which will assist a tenant with their spatial planning ahead of the application stage.

Leigh Patrick, Snr. Mgr. Portfolio & Acquisitions at :Different and Interior Designer

Professional photos will set you back $100-$300 photos, then you have them forever. So if they even prevent 1 week's vacancy (they will), then they've paid for themselves.

Leasing with :Different

One of the most important elements of leasing your property quickly is creating a property ad that will knock the socks off prospective tenants. Find out how :Different can help you today.

See how :Different does leasing

3. Upgrade and repair your property with preventative maintenance 

Leigh’s final tip for investors is to be proactive about maintenance to keep your property in top condition. One of the best opportunities to do this is during the pre-leasing stage when the property is vacant between tenants. 

Be sure to chat with your property manager to see what items are worth replacing, upgrading, or removing. By getting on the front foot and repairing key areas before your new tenants move in, you’ll be well placed for a smooth tenancy ahead. 

Some great areas to consider proactively maintaining might include:

  • Replacing fly screens that require re-meshing
  • Giving your property a fresh coat of interior paint 
  • Updating or modernising your light fittings (to keep your property up-to-date with the latest interiors trends)

The bottom line - how to increase the appeal of your investment property in a competitive market 

The reality is that every investment property is different and will require a unique approach to secure high-quality tenants. That’s why it can be helpful to engage an experienced property manager who can make tailored suggestions for how to get the best returns (particularly if you’re struggling to find tenants in a competitive market).

Go follow Leigh on Instagram (@mrsbabbito) for more investment property behind-the-scenes moments and renovation inspo!

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