Curb appeal is the first impression your property makes on any prospective tenants. It’s worth the investment of your time and resources.
The San Diego rental market has always been competitive and fast-moving. There is a consistently large pool of tenants, but there’s also a lot of turnover. Our military tenants are always moving in and out of the area. People are staying in rental properties for a year or two before buying their own. Residents relocate for work or school or in accordance with their own life and family changes.
So, your rental property always has to be ready to attract new tenants. Even if it’s a strong rental market. Even if there are always people interested in renting your home.
The curb appeal you provide to your rental property will attract high quality tenants, increase your rental values, and allow your investment property to continue increasing in value.
There’s also the neighborhood to think about. Whether you’re in an established neighborhood with a lot of owner-occupied homes or a new construction HOA community, you don’t want to look like the rental that doesn’t get as much attention as the owner-occupied homes. Keeping up is important. Again – it attracts better tenants and higher values.
Making renovations to any part of your property is rarely cheap. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve your curb appeal that are not terribly expensive. Here are our most affordable and cost effective recommendations.
Good Lighting Leads to Better Curb Appeal
Your rental property needs to be well-lit, especially at night, and certainly if it’s vacant. Lighting is about aesthetics – that’s why it’s part of our curb appeal strategy. It’s more than that, however. Lighting also impacts security and safety. Your residents will feel safer in your property when they have adequate lighting, especially exterior lighting.
What should you do?
Start with a strong light outside the front door. Whether you have a porch, a single front step, or nothing more than a landing, make sure there’s a bright outdoor light right outside the door. Studies have shown that homes with a light outside the door are less likely to be burglarized or victimized. You’ll want to have that light on at night.
There’s also an opportunity for motion lights. This can be helpful on garages, sheds, and even on the side of the property.
Be as creative as you want with the lighting. Solar lamps on pathways and walkways can be attractive and give the home a gorgeous glow in the evenings. Prospective tenants may drive by the property at different times to get a feel of how it looks in the day and the night. Make sure you can provide a good first impression. A dark property isn’t welcoming nor inviting. It also invites potential criminals to seize upon the opportunity an empty house provides.
Lighting doesn’t have to be expensive, which makes it a cost effective way to improve your curb appeal and the security at your San Diego rental home.
Landscaping: Keep it Simple and Clean
Landscaping is a huge part of curb appeal and you need to maximize what you’ve got, whether it’s a sprawling yard, a courtyard, or simple patio space. Your landscaping needs to be clean, simple, and attractive.
Start by eliminating any debris, trash, or eyesores that may have gathered outside of your property. Are the trash bins rolling around in the driveway? Are there paper bags and other scattered garbage gathering against the home or all over the lawn?
When prospective tenants come for a showing, you’ll want to make sure the yard is mowed and the bushes and trees are trimmed. If you have flower beds, make sure they’re weeded. Clean up any mulch or hardscaping like rocks and stones. You want to present landscaping that’s low-maintenance. Most tenants don’t rent homes because they want to spend every weekend mowing the lawn and tending to the flowers. They will want something simple, especially if they’re responsible for taking care of it. When you have a large yard or a lot of complicated landscaping, your best solution is to hire a lawn care service. You can pay for it yourself or even roll it into the amount of the rent. This will ensure the lawn and the yard continues to look good, and you won’t chase away any tenants who might not want that responsibility.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on landscaping upgrades. Simplicity is better, and as long as you have a clean, attractive outdoor space, tenants will respond well to it. You want your property to look like a home they want to live in. Landscaping contributes to that.
Think about a Power Washing
Cleaning is essential, and you want a completely clean property before you list it on the market. Over the years, your property gathers a lot of dirt and dust and debris. Dead insects. Sticks and leaves from trees.
A good cleaning every few years is a great idea, and by cleaning, we mean washing. A power wash can do a lot for a property. Whether you have your own machine or rent one, it’s not going to cost you a lot to power wash your property. This is a great way to spruce up your curb appeal in a way that’s affordable.
Power wash the roof, the windows, the entire outside of the property, and then the surrounding areas such as the driveway, any fencing, and even the sidewalk outside of your property. You’ll be surprised at how much dirt gets washed away. Your rental property ends up looking much newer. Tenants will notice and appreciate this effort, and your curb appeal will improve immediately.
Fix Up Your Front Door
The front door is an especially important part of your curb appeal. It’s where tenants walk in and walk out. The door is something they’ll be looking at when they come to a showing. They’ll welcome guests to come in through the door. It faces the street or the sidewalk, usually, representing your whole property.
Give it some love.
First, evaluate its condition. Does the front door need to be completely replaced? If it does, you won’t have to spend too much money. Measure the space and buy a door that’s attractive, affordable, and fits the aesthetic of your property. But, maybe you won’t need to replace it. Perhaps you can simply paint it. A new paint color on a front door will make the entire property pop. Consider painting it red or yellow or some other bright, primary color.
Consider some new hardware, too. A new doorknob. A knocker. These things will help your curb appeal. You can hang a wreath on the door, put down a welcome mat, or install a new mailbox.
Consider Exterior Paint for Curb Appeal Purposes
After you power wash your property and spruce up your front door, you might notice that it still looks a bit drab. Maybe the paint has faded significantly because of the sunlight. If you have not painted the exterior of your property in more than 10 years, it might be time to freshen things up.
It does not have to be expensive, and it’s a worthy investment when you’re thinking about how to attract the best residents and keep your rental values high with outstanding curb appeal.
Work with details that will grab the attention of prospective tenants. Painting the property is one thing, but don’t forget to also paint the trim. If you have shutters, paint those, too. You want to create a contrast and some visual interest.
Install Fencing to Make the Yard More Accessible
When you’re renting out a single-family home with even a small yard, a fence can make a big difference. Residents will appreciate the sense of privacy that a fence delivers. If they’re moving in with children and/or pets, they’ll feel safer allowing their kids or their dogs to play in a yard that’s fenced. This can increase your property value, protect you from any risk and liability that may come from neighbors, and attract residents.
Remember that if your rental property is in an HOA neighborhood, things Iike fences and paint colors will need to be approved. There may even be some specific requirements around how you manage your mailbox and what you do with plants, trees, and pushes. Make sure you study your bylaws or your rules and regulations so you don’t invite a violation notice from your association.
These are some of the general recommendations we usually make to all owners about improving curb appeal while on a budget. We know that every property is unique, however, and your rental home is not like all the others on the market. If you’d like some advice on curb appeal that’s specific to your investment, we’d be happy to provide it. Please contact us at Chase Pacific Property Management & Real Estate Services. We’d be happy to serve as your San Diego property management resource.