Preserving a Legacy: Renovating Your Inherited San Diego Home - Article Banner

It’s pretty emotional to inherit a home. Whether it’s a friend or relative who has passed away, or even someone you didn’t know particularly well, when someone leaves you a piece of real estate, you’re really inheriting a legacy. This might have been a home you grew up in. Maybe it’s a place with no significant emotional attachment for you at all. Either way, you’re responsible to this piece of property and to the memory of the person who left it to you. 

Once you have possession of the property, you’ll need to decide what you’re doing with it. If you’re not interested in legacy, building wealth, or preserving a part of your personal history, whatever it may be, you might decide to sell the inherited home. This is potentially a missed opportunity, but if your financial situation or your lack of interest in owning the home that you were left precludes you from holding onto it, you’ll have to list it on the San Diego real estate market and hope you find a buyer who is willing to pay the price you ask. 

There’s also the option of moving into the home yourself. If you have a serious emotional attachment to the property, moving in might be a good idea. You can preserve and protect the legacy of that property and the people who have called it home. 

A lot of people who inherit property will rent it out. This is an excellent idea, especially if you don’t have any interest in living in the home yourself. Why rush to rid yourself of the asset? If you have ever wanted to invest in real estate yourself, this is an excellent opportunity. You don’t have to go out and buy a property; you’ve had one left to you.

We work with a lot of rental property owners who never planned to be landlords. They inherited a home and couldn’t quite bring themselves to sell it, so they list it on the rental market and earn some consistent and recurring rental income every month while their inherited home grows in value and accumulates equity. 

Before you rent out the home you inherited, you will likely have to renovate it. It’s rare that a property left to someone is rent-ready. Tenants in San Diego have high demands and in order to earn as much as possible on this property and to ensure it’s leased by qualified residents, you want to make sure it’s modern and appealing. 

Here are some of the recommendations we have around renovating a property you’ve inherited in a way that respects its legacy. 

Think about the Property’s History 

If you know the property well and you have had relationships with the people who have lived there, you will have a good grasp of the property’s history. Use that knowledge to make renovations that will make sense to its place in the community and within your family or your circle of friends that includes the former owner. For example, maybe you inherited the home from your grandparents, who really loved the rose bushes that they planted on the side of the house. Why not update your landscaping around those rose bushes so you can preserve them and a little piece of what those grandparents loved? Was there always a dog living at this house? Fence the yard so that it’s a dog-friendly rental property. 

Any of these personal touches you can put on your renovation will add to the character and charm of the property, and it will make you feel good. We often encourage rental property owners to treat their rental home as a business. We stand by that, but when you’re working with a home you’ve inherited, it’s okay to make a few decisions based on how you feel. 

Make Improvements that are Energy-Efficient 

Most people think a lot about the world that we’re leaving to future generations. 

Invest in the legacy of your inherited property by making it kind to the planet. This is becoming increasingly important to San Diego tenants. They want to know that they’re not contributing to an accelerated destruction of the environment. When you’re trying to attract tenants to the property you’ve inherited, you can do so by offering sustainable amenities and features such as:

  • LED lights inside and outside of the property. 
  • Energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen and when you’re shopping for a washer and dryer. Look for models that have the Energy Star rating. 
  • Intuitive landscaping that does not require too much water or invite invasive species onto your property. 
  • Smart thermostats, which can anticipate the level of heating or cooling that will be required, based on time of day and number of people who are home. 
  • Toilets, sinks, water heaters, irrigation systems and shower fixtures that minimize water waste. 

You might consider solar panels, especially if the people from whom you’ve inherited the home were interested in environmentalism and supported investment in new energy sources. 

Environmental upgrades will not only get you closer to preserving a legacy, it will also attract good tenants, keep utility costs down, and contribute to protecting the planet. 

Investing in Quality Materials 

Another way to demonstrate respect for the property you’ve been willed is to make upgrades and renovations that embrace quality materials. You may not want to spend a lot of money on a home that you’re going to rent out to tenants, but think about the value of the property and how it will increase when you invest in things like stainless appliances and granite counters. You’re preserving the legacy of whoever decided you should have this home because you’re saying that this gift is worth a lot – to you and to the tenants who will ultimately make it their home.  

  • Fresh paint. This is a great place to start. If there’s any wallpaper clinging to the walls, take it down and give the entire property a good coat of paint before you start renting it out. Take a look at the exterior of the home, too. Could it use an update? Invest in good paint, otherwise you’ll find yourself repainting those walls every year. You want it to be durable and attractive. Stick to neutral colors. 
  • Hard surface flooring. Good tenants are avoiding carpet these days. It’s difficult to keep the carpet clean, especially if tenants have pets running around. Dirt, allergens, and dust can get trapped in those carpet fibers. Pet odors can stick around, too, and if a dog or a cat gets fleas, good luck getting them out of the carpet. Investing in hard surface floors is a much better idea, especially when considering legacy. You don’t have to go out and buy the most expensive hardwoods. There are wood laminates that look fantastic. Install floors that are attractive but economical. This will help you attract and retain good tenants, and you’ll also be able to raise your rental value. 
  • Focus on fixtures. It does not cost a lot to replace faucets or install a tile backsplash. You can change out the drawer pulls on the vanity in the bathroom, and you can also install new knobs on the kitchen cabinets. Making small changes like this will feel good, not only because it makes the property more attractive, but also because there’s a special joy in making a home you might have loved look and feel even more welcoming and inviting. 

By investing in quality materials, you’re earning more on the property in the long term, and you’re also caring enough to provide this home with the types of amenities and features that good homes throughout San Diego have.

Keeping Your Inherited Property Clean 

Preventative RenovationLetting a property you’ve inherited fall into disrepair is not a great way to show your respect for the legacy you’re responsible for preserving. You don’t want a lot of deterioration, and while wear and tear is pretty normal when you have tenants living in your home, you’re hoping to keep it to a minimum. 

Staying up to date with preventative renovations and improvements will help. For example, make sure you’re contracted with a pest control company for regular inspections and treatments. Make sure the landscaping continues to look great. We recommend that you partner with a professional landscaping company to keep any outdoor space looking healthy and attractive. This will also be a huge benefit to tenants who are moving in and likely do not want to spend a lot of time mowing the lawn or trimming back bushes. 

Your lease agreement must be clear about what you expect from tenants when it comes to keeping the property clean and well-maintained. You’re preserving the legacy that was left to you, and it would be terrible if your own legacy was one of neglect. Don’t let that happen. 

These are just a few of the renovation tips we have for you around how to preserve the legacy of a San Diego home you’ve inherited. Whether you’re planning to rent it out or sell it, you’ll want to make some improvements that add to the value of this property. Even if you’re planning to live in the home yourself, you deserve to live in a place that looks and feels like home. These improvements can help. 

We’d love to tell you more about how to accomplish this. Please contact us at Chase Pacific Property Management & Real Estate Services.