published in the NARPM’s Residential Resource
As the cliché goes, we only have one chance at making a good first impression. When a prospective renter pulls up to your rental house his first impression is already formed before he or she even gets out of his car. So, the opportunity to increase your chance of successfully getting your vacancy filled has already passed before you even officially meet your prospect. Therein lies the importance of properly preparing the outside of your client’s rental properties.
When first counseling a new owner on company management procedures it is important for them to know how significantly the exterior condition of a property can affect its rentability to qualified renters. I have always informed them from the outset of the necessary work required to attract the right people and made sure to address the exterior needs of their rentals.
As owners and managers we really don’t know how many people have driven past our properties and never called us when it didn’t meet their visual sniff test. Below is a checklist of the more important exterior components of most rental houses:
- The lawn – always keep the grass properly cut. In the spring it is easy to let that first cut go a little too long, not only turning off the prospective renters but also making the neighbors angry. It certainly doesn’t help your public relations! Be sure and get the grass cut promptly when spring has sprung in your area. The first cut should also include a general yard clean-up. Leftover leaves, sticks, twigs and litter should be properly removed.
- The exterior trim, siding, roof, windows & doors – Always make sure that the house does not need painting and that there are no other obvious items of deferred maintenance such as gutters overflowing, mold growing on the roof, broken window shutters, dirt on siding etc.
- The driveway – An easy method for rejuvenating a worn, old looking asphalt driveway is to have it sealed. It is not very expensive and it goes a long way towards making it not stand out as a defect. Badly cracked concrete driveways should be replaced with either new concrete or asphalt, the latter being much cheaper. Gravel drives need to have fresh looking gravel and they need to be neatly edged.
- Flowers and shrubbery – Large overgrown shrubbery is a negative for any property. Not only do they constitute a security hazard, they also can promote unwanted wildlife and aesthetically detract from the house. When replacing old shrubbery, steps can be taken to minimize trimming, edging and other yard maintenance for the future. Some flowers are easily maintained whether it is done by the resident or at the expense of the property owner. Ask your landscape professional for low maintenance plantings and bed configurations.
- Fencing and retaining walls – Neither of these items usually require a significant amount of routine maintenance but failure to pay attention to these items when they have needs can result in personal injury and liability not to mention poor aesthetics.
About the Author
Robert Massey Jr., is the president and owner of Robert Massey Company, a rental property management and residential property sales company based in Louisville, KY. Robert, Jr. also founded RentalHouses.com, a leading national internet listing service for advertising rental houses. He is an industry leader and authority in property management and online-based services in the industry, writes articles and speaks regularly to property managers and agents across the country about beneficial services and upcoming trends in property management. See more articles from Rob Massey, Jr., website: www.RobertMasseyCo.com