Rent

21 Ways to help determine how much a property should rent for………

Find out how to make the most of your rental property and ensure you end up with extra dollars in your pocket.

INTRODUCTION

 

The following report has been developed to help investors and potential investors in residential property understand the motivation behind the choices tenants make when renting a property.  With this information investors can make informed decisions when it comes to choosing which investment property to buy and which property management professionals to look after their investment. There are many factors to consider when purchasing a residential investment property.  Regardless of the location of your investment property a number of things remain constant.

Firstly the amount of rent you expect to get for your property is determined by the market demand for properties similar to yours.  If you have the sort of property that appeals to tenants, you’ll have more interest and therefore will generate more income.

It makes sense therefore to learn about the sort of features that tenants most commonly ask for.  This report is designed to guide property investors as to what tenants look for when renting a property, as always please consult a financial expert before making any investment decision.

 

1  PROPERTY PRESENTATION

 

First impressions are critical when a prospective tenant inspects your property.

First, you need to decide what sort of tenant you are targeting.  There are tenants who want to save money and are happy to live in a property that is not in first class condition.  There are others, such as professional people, who are happy to pay top rent, but expect the property to present at its absolute best. There is no doubt that a well presented property will achieve top market rent and will usually attract the best quality tenants.  That adds up to a higher investment return, together with fewer and shorter vacancy periods. A good property manager will insist that your property is very clean and in its best possible condition before letting tenants move in.

 

Here are a few presentation tips.

 

  • Tend to the gardens, mow the lawns and clean the windows, paths, gutters and outside paintwork. These are all things seen from the street, and you don’t want prospective tenants to dismiss the property before getting to the front door.  If you present the property well from day one it also sets the standard of care and up keep that is expected from the tenants.
  • Repair or replace leaking taps, sticking doors, broken light fittings, loose door handles, rotten floor boards, leaky gutters and torn flyscreens.  All of these things can distract the potential tenant and gives the impression that the owner doesn’t care about the property.
  • If you are thinking about painting, only paint those areas that really need it unless you plan on doing the lot. New paint only makes those areas left unpainted look even shabbier.  Use light, neutral colours as strong colours may not be to the tenants taste.
  • If your property is in a noisy area such as a main road, school or shopping center – inspection times should occur when noise is at its lowest. Get rid of odours that you may not notice but prospective tenants will, such as cigarette or pet smells. It may be worth having the carpets and curtains cleaned, neither of which is very expensive.
  • Furniture in a property can make a big impact.  If you want to increase the number of inquiries that you get, it maybe worthwhile to hire good furniture for one day and get some professional photos taken.  You will be able to use these photos every time you rent the property out – so even if your current tenant is very messy, the property will present very well when listed online or in promotional flyers.

 

This strategy works well for all property types but is particularly successful with premium properties.  For a good example of the difference furniture can make, look at building display homes like Jennian or GJ Gardner, these companies have mastered this technique.

 

“We all know first impressions count and a well-presented property can help achieve higher rent from tenants”

 

2  HOW TO PICK A PROPERTY THAT WILL GIVE YOU A HIGH RENTAL RETURN…

 

Determining what sort of rent will be achieved for any property is always difficult.  Despite what some agents will tell you, it is simply not possible to predict exactly what rent will be achieved for a particular property. Comparing what else is renting in the area i.e. a comparative market analysis gives us a guide but is never completely accurate.  This is because there are a number of external factors that determine what rent you will achieve.The most important thing to consider is which property features will improve the rent you are likely to achieve.  Obviously the more money you can rent your investment property for the higher your investment return is. Generally speaking the more money you pay for a property the more rent you will be able to collect each week.

So the question everyone wants to know is exactly what sort of property is most attractive to tenants. To understand this we first have to understand what most tenants are looking for. Currently the highest demand is for property within  8km of the ??????.  Almost 80% of leases are signed with people under the age of 35 typically sharing with one or more people with each tenant paying a portion of the rent. Specialist Property Management companies like Quinovic are in a key position to keep abreast of any change in rental trends.

 

Key factors that determine how much rent you will achieve for your property.

  1. Number of Bedrooms
  2. Number of Living Areas
  3. Number of Bedrooms
  4. Outdoor Entertaining Areas
  5. Car Accommodation
  6. Location
  7. Presentation
  8. Fixtures and Fittings

 

3  NUMBER OF BEDROOMS

 

The number one criteria that tenants have when renting a property is the number of bedrooms.  Typically a two bedroom property will achieve higher rent than a one bedroom property.  A three bedroom more than a two bedroom and so on. This is because the more bedrooms there are the more people can live there.  And naturally the more people that are occupying the property the more rent they can afford.  For properties in a lower price range this rule is even more applicable.  Especially so when your most likely tenants is a group of students or younger people.

Of course having lots of bedrooms isn’t a guarantee of achieving a good weekly rent.  The size of the bedroom is equally important.  In any property, typically one of the bedrooms is smaller than the rest.  If it is significantly smaller than it adversely affects the rentability of the property.  A rule of thumb to go by is to ensure that no one bedroom is less than 75% of the size of the other bedrooms.  Furthermore aim for bedrooms that will fit a double or queen bed.

As a result of the current New Zealand wide affordability crisis rents across the country are increasing rapidly.  This is causing more people to share rental accommodation than ever before.  As a result we are seeing an increase in demand for 3 and 4 bedroom properties.  Having said this, the most popular properties are still 3 bedroom houses and 2 bedroom units.

 

“The number of bedrooms has the most impact on rental value”

 

4  NUMBER OF LIVING AREAS

 

So what is a living area?  It’s an area within a property that can be used for general living, i.e. it would fit a lounge, coffee table and TV viewing area.  To have a second living area it needs to be far enough away from the first area for noise not to be an issue.  For example a house that has a combined lounge  / dining room upstairs and a rumpus room downstairs would be considered to have two living areas.

In many properties an outside undercover entertaining area like a back deck may be considered a second living area.  More about outdoor areas will be covered later.

 

5  NUMBER OF BATHROOMS

 

Like living areas the number of bathrooms you have should be in proportion to the number of bedrooms.  One bathroom or ensuite is suitable for a one bedroom property.  One bathroom is also suitable for a two bedroom property as long as it is not an ensuite attached to just one of the bedrooms.  Two bathrooms are preferred for a three bedroom house but not essential.  For a property with four or more bedrooms two bathrooms is a must otherwise as with living areas, you won’t receive the extra rental benefit that a fourth bedroom with give you.

An important consideration for the bathroom is plenty of cupboard and bench space, particularly for bathrooms that are to be shared by the occupants of two or more bedrooms.  Interestingly a bath is not a major factor for most tenants when deciding whether a property has suitable bathroom facilities.  A shower is obviously essential.  Female tenants place more importance on bathroom facilities (and a bath) than male tenants.

 

6  OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING AREAS

 

Because of the New Zealand climate, outdoor living has become an essential part of life.  Properties without an outdoor living / entertaining area are more

difficult to rent than those with one.  Raised back decks are the most preferable type of outdoor living / entertaining area.  These are most common on properties on the low side of any street, or either side of a flat street.

Size is once again important.  Enough room for a BBQ and outdoor setting for 4-8 people is suitable.  To be considered an outdoor entertaining / living area it must be attached to the house and be covered from the elements

 

“With such a mild climate outdoor living in New Zealand is a way of life”

 

7  LOCATION

 

The location of a property for tenants is important, but like car accommodation is not a top priority.  Location is relative to each person and most tenants have their own criteria with regard to location such as “within 15 minute walk of their place of work” or near easy to use public transport options.  In the inner city area this sort of criteria can mean as many as 5-6 different suburbs are suitable.  As such despite managing nearly    ?????    of residential property across nearly  ????  suburbs, we generally don’t find any one suburb to be more popular that another.

The only exception to this is that suburbs surrounding university campuses or within walking distance to, have an increase in tenant demand during Jan/Feb and Jun/Jul above and beyond normal increases in demand that occur during these times.

 

8  FLOOR COVERINGS

 

Modern carpet in bedrooms such as “loop-pile” or short “blush-pile” carpet is acceptable as long as it is new or near-new and in good repair.  Light earthy colours only.  Shag-pile carpet is always a detriment and makes a property hart to rent.  Likewise carpet in living areas is detrimental unless it is modern and in excellent condition.  Unfortunately however it is unlikely to stay in excellent condition for more than 18 months to two years, with tenants occupying your property.  The best option for floor coverings are polished wood or tiles.  Tiles are generally cheaper and last longer.

“Open curtains and blinds to let the sun and the view inside.  Nobody likes a dark house, and the view will make the rooms feel bigger.”

 

9  VIEWS

 

In the inner city areas, views of the city or across other suburbs may significantly increase your purchase price but will have very little impact on your weekly rental income.  Naturally when dealing with two similar properties if one has views, this will usually be the prospective tenant’s preference.  Of course don’t forget if your plan is to sell at some stage in the future, good views may increase your capital growth return over the period of time that you’ve owned your property.

 

10  PRESENTATION

 

After bedrooms living areas and bathrooms the next most important factor in achieving high weekly rental income is presentation.  A tidy low maintenance yard for houses and clean common areas for units and townhouse are essential. Ironically a tidy, well kept, extensive garden helps rent a property but often during the tenancy it falls into disrepair increasing time on market next time the property becomes vacant.

Interior paint scheme is important.  If you are considering painting a property, never use bright colours, such as reds, blues and greens.  Light earthy colours such as whites and off whites appeal to the most people.  Avoid renovating to a theme murals or paintings of scenery on walls.

 

11  AIR CONDITIONING/HEATING?

 

Air conditioning/heating is a significant advantage in any property renting between $350-500 per week, and in units and townhouses where the asking rent is more than $130 per bedroom.  Air conditioning is also important in houses that don’t have any significant outdoor entertaining or veranda/deck areas.

Always be aware that having air conditioning is more beneficial when renting your property during the summer months and while ceiling fans are definitely an advantage they don’t replace air conditioners.

“The more recently a property has been renovated or built the higher the weekly rent return will be”

 

12  CAR ACCOMMODATION

 

Surprisingly car accommodation is not a major factor with most tenants when selecting a place to live.  This is probably due to the large number of younger people, who do not yet have the financial capacity to own expensive vehicles.  Additionally most property within 8 km of the CBD have access to reasonable public transport.

While covered car accommodation is not top of the priority list, some sort of off street parking is a definite advantage, particularly in areas within the CBD 2 hour resident parking zone.

 

13  BUSY ROADS

 

It goes without saying that nobody wants to live on a busy road, however a spacious, well presented property on a busy road will rent before a poorly presented property in a quiet location.  A property that fronts onto a busy road will take longer to rent than the same property that backs onto a busy road.  This is because backing onto a busy road doesn’t affect access.

If you are considering purchasing on a busy road, the most important consideration is off street car accommodation, and the location of outdoor entertaining areas.  If outdoor entertaining areas are noise affected the extra value they create in rental return won’t be realized.

 

14  ACCESS TO FACILITIES

 

Properties close to universities have significant increases in tenant enquiry at the start of the year in January and February and again at the change of semester in June/July.  In inner city areas easy access to café / shopping precincts increases demand as well.   Easy access to schools, parks, hospitals and other community facilities does not really increase demand in inner city areas, as almost all properties are relatively close to these sorts of facilities.

 

15   APPLIANCES

 

Most tenants supply their own appliances.  However, some extra amenities – such as a dishwasher or air conditioning can get you a few more dollars from a potential tenant.  The kitchen is a significant area of interest for most tenants and quality appliances may help sway their decision when weighing up between two properties.  Gas stoves and stainless steel appliances are preferred by most tenants.

Dishwashers are becoming more sought after by tenants, they’re also becoming cheaper to install.  Keep in mind that any appliance or amenity you put in is your responsibility to maintain or repair, which means if the dishwasher breaks, the cost will come out of your wallet so it pays to put in quality.  Premium appliances tend to attract premium tenants.

 

16   SECURITY

 

Security screens and lockable windows are appealing to tenants particularly to safety conscious females in the rental market.  Security alarms add very little value to tenants.  However in the very high price range they would be considered an advantage.

 

17   SMOKE DETECTORS

 

While little or no thought is usually given to smoke detectors by most tenants, they are required.  As of   1st July 2007 ??? legislation was introduced to ensure that every residential investment property has smoke alarms installed.  As the owner of the property it is your responsibility for installing, cleaning, and regularly testing and replacing batteries before the start or renewal of a tenancy.  This doesn’t really affect the appeal of the property to tenants but is worthy of a mention for investors looking at properties to be aware of whether or not smoke alarms are installed.

 

18   FURNITURE

 

While furnishing the property can increase the rental income, it is recommended that investors consider their property type and likely tenant pool before they decide to furnish their investment property.  You will get more rent for your property if it is fully furnished; however, there are so few tenants looking for fully furnished properties that you end up with vacancies for longer periods of time.  The only exception to this are inner city serviced apartments and executive apartments.  Furnished properties only suit a specific type of property and you are best off consulting a property manager beforehand to determine if your property suits.  In most cases the overall return will be better in an unfurnished property.

 

19   BUILT-IN WARDROBES

 

Very few inner city older houses have built in wardrobes.  This is mainly because of the age of the property. With space a premium everywhere, having built in wardrobes in the bedrooms is advantageous.  Build-in wardrobes in units and townhouses are much more common, and often expected by tenants.

 

20  HOUSES, UNITS OR TOWN HOUSES

 

There is much debate over whether houses, units or townhouses are the best investment for people wanting to invest in property.  The following guidelines may assist you in making your decision as to what type of property to invest in.  Please however consult your investment advisor and do your own research before; making a decision. Generally speaking the percentage rental return that you will achieve from a unit will be higher than from a townhouse which will in turn be higher than from a freehold house. In contrast generally speaking the reverse will be true from a capital growth perspective.  You will generally receive better returns in capital grown from houses than from townhouses and units.  Please note this is a general rule and depends heavily on what you buy and where it is.

Units and townhouses typically have various body corporate fees and charges that you need to pay as the owner to help cover the cost of general building maintenance.  With houses there are generally more ;maintenance issues that need taking care of.

 

21   SHARE HOUSES AND CO-TENANCIES

 

Share houses and co-tenancies have increased in popularity significantly in recent years.  With rents continuing to increase tenants are looking to share the cost.  Shared houses are particularly popular in inner-city suburbs and near universities.  Properties with 3 or more bedrooms or 2 or more bathrooms are suited to this style.

There are a number of things to be aware of when going down this track.  Most share house arrangements are student accommodation and generally have higher vacancy rates particularly from Nov – Dec and if a lease is broken mid year can be difficult to re-rent.  There is usually an increase in wear and tear on the property because of the higher volume of tenants moving in and out of the property and you may have to cover the costs of electricity, internet and water in a share house arrangement.

Currently there is a high supply of share houses resulting in higher vacancies.  This style of investment property only suits a very specific set of parameters and we recommend consulting your property manager to see if this is the best option.