>Do's & Don'ts of a BTL Refurb

We've had quite a few properties back on the market this year for re-let and given the large number we thought we would provide landlords with a few tips on getting their buy to let ready for re-marketing. This article solely looks at the aesthetic side and condition of a property in readiness for potential viewings. Let’s face it renting out your property quickly to avoid losses in rent through void periods (especially significant when you rely on rental income to pay the mortgage), maintenance and repairs, cleaning costs, can all add up the longer the unit is vacant. By reducing vacancies, you can help increase profitability, which is the end goal of almost all landlords.

Well, if you have fabulous tenants the property is clean, no damp or condensation and we don’t have any hygiene or health issues then the property is perfectly placed for re-marketing. The flip side is that this may not always be the case, as a property doesn’t always look its best when lived in for many years and property needs work. It would hardly be conducive to showcase a property in poor condition in this scenario you would be better off just waiting for tenants to vacate before doing the necessary work to bring a property up to date!!

What work will bring a property up to date!!

You need to be confident that the property is going to re-let when you show it to potential tenants and get it to look the part. And when I say "look the part" its' not what you think that looks the part because you could be out of sync with the demand placed on decorating a standard buy to let. For most modern apartments and houses this isn't really an issue. I'm talking once a property becomes dated a lot of landlord(s) take it for granted that decoration, fixtures and fittings is the least of their problems when re-letting, that's not the case you need to keep changing the decorative interior to keep your most "prized asset" up to date. Therefore, presentation and condition is very important when staging and marketing your buy to let.

Here are the 5 steps to take so you can rent your property quickly

Wooden or roller blinds over Curtains 

Curtains and net curtains aren't really going to cut the mustard as tenants prefer blinds it's basically more modern and cleaner. Any type of blinds would do it whether wooden or roller. If you really do not want to put venetian blinds up or any other type of blind over curtains. Then at least keep the curtain poles fitted, but do not hang up any curtains which you think would look the part because tenants will change them and please get rid of the net curtains at all times they are a definite no go.

Many tenants favour wooden flooring over carpets 

Again, it’s much cleaner and more hygienic. Please note some dated buildings and mansion stye apartments keeping carpets is a must for a buy to let property under the superior head lease. Flooring doesn't have to be terribly expensive it can be laminate and obviously if you want to spend more the solid wood finish is a much better look. The lifespan of this type of flooring is longer than carpets and instead of steam cleaning between tenancies. You can get away with a specialist contractor to polish the flooring with a machine every 10 years which really does bring it up looking as new as the day it was fitted. In the wet areas you can go for lino and again if you want to spend more go for tiled flooring and always remember to keep the neutral look!! .

Keep the property unfurnished a blank canvass is best

We always say to our landlords keep the property unfurnished a blank canvass is best. Let your tenants fill in the blanks and use their imagination as to where their furniture will go. Once they start to build a picture in their minds of how they would like their home to look and can see where their furniture fits. They are already sold on the idea of renting out your property plus the fact that tenants normally stay longer in properties when they have their own furniture. Which is a big plus in my book as it means longer tenure an void periods are reduced.

Go for neutral look and colours

On all walls, woodwork, radiators, kitchen and bathrooms all neutral colours apply, which forms part of the blank canvass look!! We have a landlord who has been with us for 15 years all three of his properties that we fully manage are unfurnished. And in all 3 properties the kitchens and bathrooms have a neutral look i.e.3-piece white bath, wash basin and pan. Similarly, kitchen units are white with a light brown laminate work top surface, it doesn't look too ghastly considering the kitchens and bathrooms are over 20 years old. So don't think you have to change older kitchens and bathrooms providing they are in good working order and condition they can stay. Please note the more neutral colours the better, as part of our blank canvass look, we wouldn't go for magnolia paint - on walls - as it's out of fashion now. We would use almond white which is a colour between magnolia and white. For all woodwork including radiators, satin wood finish is the best as this paint lasts longer without turning yellow like gloss paint. And if you are going to go for carpets then the best colour to go for is a grey shade, which always trumps any other neutral colours.

Lighting and Power points sockets

For the finishing touch do away with pendant lighting especially if the rooms have low ceilings it restricts the height and makes a room look smaller. Go for any other type of ceiling light like spotlights, downlighters and ceiling light shades are good for bathrooms and kitchens. All power points and light switches standard chrome as is the case with wall and ceiling lights.

These are the main areas and tips to look out for when it comes to decorating and renting out your property quickly. By the end of the day a tenant isn't looking for temporary digs, they are looking for a place they can actually call home. As the lettings market has grown, standards have gone up, tenants’ taste have changed over time and your property needs to get past the 
post when it’s time to let it out every single time it's on the market. It doesn't cost much to get your property looking the business to find the quality tenant, of course, the better your property looks, the more likely you will attract a good tenant that’s prepared to pay a bit more. So, the first thing to do is to speak to your agent about your target tenant type, find out what the general standard in the market is and see how much more rent you could charge for going over and above the ‘norm’. As an agency we love to get involved in helping you find your perfect tenant and come up with the standard fits all sizes approach!!

In our experience, if a tenant sees that you really care about giving them the home they want, they tend to look after it, pay their rent on time and stay longer – so going the extra mile tends to benefit everyone. if you can deliver more than you promise tenant(s) they will thank you for it and put you in their good books from the word go and that is the basis of building strong relationships.

One of our landlords (whose property we fully manage) had an offer and prospective tenants requested new carpets, but landlord declined their request. However, the tenants were still interested in the flat as long as it was fully painted throughout and carpets steam cleaned. When the potential tenants put down a holding deposit and once they passed their references. We went back to the landlord and said why don’t you just pay the extra £800 for new carpets as they really do need replacing. We won’t tell your new tenants you will be doing this and when they move in, they will love you for it!!

By the end of the day this was no deal breaker, but it demonstrates adding value landlord could afford to give more than what was promised. We demonstrated that the money he was going to spend replacing the carpets was next to nothing as tenants were going to move in only 3 weeks after the last tenants vacated. His property could have been empty for another month or two and the rent lost over that period would never be recovered. He was happy to go ahead when we explained this and sure, enough when we checked the tenants into the flat, they were so happy and pleasantly surprised it definitely did the trick. They sent us an email the next day thanking us that they rented through us.

To find out more about how we can help you rent your property quickly get in touch we offer competitive rates for all service types and never compromise on the quality of service provided adding value all the time!!