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Even when demand for rental properties is high, it makes sense to ensure your property is as appealing as possible for renters. This will help you attract the best possible tenants: people who always pay their rent on time, keep renewing the lease, and treat your property with respect. These are the kinds of tenants that will make your life much easier — but you’re competing with most other property owners for them.
To attract such tenants, you need to give them what they want — and, of course, advertise these features when you list your rental property. But what do renters look for in a property? Although every renter has different priorities, there are eight property amenities that almost everyone wants.
The eight features renters want most are:
Of course, you’ll only be able to implement some of these if you already own a property. However, if you’re still on the search for an investment property to purchase, you should be able to meet all eight of the criteria for attracting renters. In either case, it’s certainly worthwhile to offer tenants as many of the property amenities as possible, since even with the high demand for rental properties, there’s a vacancy rate of more than 6 percent nationwide — and you don’t want your property to be part of that 6 percent.
It should come as no surprise that location tops the list. The vast majority of renters search for properties in a particular area, as opposed to looking for just the property amenities they want. There are major price differences between cities but also between neighborhoods within the same city. In fact, location often influences price more than property features like square footage and upgrades.
The kinds of things tenants look for from a location include proximity to grocery stores, restaurants, and parks. Depending on the city, tenants may also want to be close to public transport or be well-connected to routes that allow them to reach their jobs.
If your property is in the suburbs or the neighborhood lacks public transport, tenants will need their own car — which means they’ll need parking. A driveway or garage is one of the best rental amenities you can offer, although just being able to advertise that there’s always street parking available is a good alternative. If neither of these is a possibility, you should at least be able to recommend a parking garage within a few blocks of the property.
In the case you are able to offer private parking, it’s crucial that you set rules you’re able to enforce. For instance, you may need to install a sign that tells others that the parking space is reserved — and you’ll have to step in if someone other than your tenant tries to claim the space. Make sure the parking conditions are clearly stated in your lease as well as in the listing for your rental property.
Another factor related to location is safety. This is a major concern for parents, but it’s important for just about anyone — no tenant wants to worry about it being dangerous to come home late at night or know that there’s a high risk of experiencing a break-in.
If you’re still in the process of finding a property to purchase, look at the crime statistics for the neighborhood and compare these to other areas in the city (the likelihood is potential tenants are doing the same). If you already own the property, make it more secure. For instance, install an alarm system, update the locks on the doors and windows, or add a security camera in the parking area.
It’s no good for families if your property is in a safe area but schools are quite a distance away. In fact, even tenants without children often take the quality of schools in the area into consideration, since they’re a good indicator of the neighborhood as a whole.
Alternatively, you may be aiming to rent to students, in which case the property should be at a reasonable distance from another type of educational institution, like a college, university, or vocational school. If you have a large property and want to offer housing to multiple students, you’ll either need to have plenty of parking or be within walking distance of campus.
The last thing tenants want is to need to wait for a property to be ready for them to move in after they’ve signed a lease. If you’ll be repainting the walls or making repairs, finish everything ahead of time. This will also be beneficial when showing the property, as renters will form better first impressions.
In addition, make sure that the property is clean and well-maintained when tenants move in. Renters will remember this when they eventually move out and will be more likely to leave the apartment in the same condition as they found it.
Renters are attracted to younger properties for a few reasons: these have better aesthetics, require less upkeep (it’s annoying for tenants to take care of repairs even if they’re not responsible financially), and have modern apartment features.
As we mentioned before, it’s the effective age rather than the chronological age that matters to renters. A property may have been constructed several decades ago (or more), but it can still have a relatively young effective age compared to a property built just a couple of years ago. In other words, age is completely under your control: you just need to make sure the property is well-maintained and stays that way.
Tying into property age are upgrades and renovations. The best choices are anything that costs little but has a big impact. Bathrooms and kitchens are top places to upgrade since these areas suffer the most wear and tear and make the property look lived in.
If you can afford the expense, a new stainless steel appliance is ideal. Just make sure appliances match to create cohesion in the kitchen. If you’re looking for something lower cost, even changing a backsplash or some cabinets can be enough. For a large renovation, an air conditioning unit will definitely be attractive to tenants.
Finally, we come to the layout of the property: specifically, an open floor plan and storage.
Although there are both pros and cons of open floor plans, they seem to be what renters want. They’re particularly useful in small apartments, as they help the space feel larger; however, even large homes can benefit from open floor plans, as they make entertaining more comfortable.
As for storage space, there are several things you can do. One of your upgrades could be larger closets in the bedrooms. However, if that would reduce the size of the rooms too much, consider if you could offer tenants external storage space, such as a garage or spot in the basement.
To clarify how you can incorporate all (or as many as possible) of the features that tenants want into your rental listing, let’s return to the key takeaways:
To summarize — what do renters look for? There are eight main things, most of which you can incorporate even if you already have a rental property, and all of which are definitely worth considering before you purchase an investment property.
Once you’ve created a property with all these things, it’s crucial to advertise it the right way to attract the attention of the best potential tenants. You can do this by using the Landlord Studio app. Our rental listings feature allows you to describe all the great property amenities you have to offer, add high-quality photos, and easily share your property listing on all the top rental sites.
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Laura is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in advice for small business owners. She has written extensively on all kinds of real estate topics.
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