What tenants want
Considering buying to let, but unsure of where to invest your money in today’s market? Will a hot tub in the garden bring in the tenants? And will people really get offended by a bit of colour on the walls? We reveal the most sought-after features of a profitable rental property (and where you’d be wasting your cash).
‘Playing it safe’ seems counterproductive when you’re trying to get a return on your investment, but the simple fact is that tenants look for a certain standard when they’re weighing-up somewhere to rent. “If they can afford it, the following touches always appeal and help let a property,” explains Andrews’ lettings expert David Bryant (and curiously, it seems that flooring selections are top of the list): “People like a tiled floor in the kitchen, and laminate flooring in the hall and entrance areas. Good quality carpets in the bedrooms always get noticed. However, never have carpet in the bathroom – it really turns tenants off.”
On paper, a hot tub might seem like a good idea – especially in a high-end property aimed at affluent professionals – but the reality, explains David, is that: “if the figures don’t add up, it’s not going to work for you.” Hot tubs, and other domestic gadgets which are expensive to buy and maintain, are luxury items that won’t pay for themselves in extra rent.
What people want from the location tends to depend on the type of property they’re renting, so: “if you’re thinking of investing in a flat that would appeal to young, urban professionals, decent transport links are important,” says David. “Most people in this bracket don’t want to be more than a five or ten minute walk from a transport hub.”
Conversely, if you’re going to buy a three bedroom place that a family might move into, decent nearby schools can up the rent. And while we’re discussing families, don’t assume that they’re the only ones who are interested in…
“Most people want an outdoor space,” says David. “Yes, families tend to want a bigger garden, but everyone likes somewhere to light a barbecue in the summer, or to sit and have a drink on a warm evening.” A patio or just some decking is often enough to secure a decent rent for your property. “Remember though, whatever the size of the outside space, people may well get put off if it’s not easy to maintain or accessible,” explains David.
“Times and tastes have changed and most people – even first time renters straight out of university – look for kitchens that have storage space and are equipped with all the usual white goods. A dishwasher is an added bonus,” says David. “It’s not necessary to go overboard and spend a fortune, as long as the kitchen’s clean and functional.”
There’s no doubt that as far as letting goes, decoration makes a difference. Put yourself in a potential tenant’s position: they’re considering moving into a place where they’ll stay for a while, and where they probably won’t be able to decorate themselves. Will they really be able to put up with a strong colour scheme (that they didn’t choose) in the long term? “It’s boring, but the standard route is neutral tones,” says David. “You may love a vibrant red wall, but this place is not about you and your taste, it’s about a wider audience.”
It’s a sign of the times, but off-street parking is very appealing to today’s urban tenant. “More and more people consider the parking when they’re viewing properties to rent,” says David. “It doesn’t have to be a garage, you just need space to park a car – without paying extra for an on-street parking permit.”
You may well be constrained by budget, and if a one bedroom flat is all that you can afford, it certainly has its place in the rental market. But if you do have a sizeable sum to invest, don’t let yourself be dazzled by a place that doesn’t make financial sense. “I’ve seen a lot of landlords get caught up in an aspirational game, and buy properties that they like the look of for their portfolio – rather than because they can make money out of them. Expensive properties don’t always guarantee sky-high rent. Again, don’t lose sight of why you’re doing this.”
Taking care of your tenants
It might not seem like a deal-breaker to novice landlords, but those with experience know that tenants often prefer a fully-managed property. They tend to be reassured that a third-party will be able to care of any queries professionally and promptly, and if something breaks down, there won’t be any delays with the repairs. Plus, as a landlord, it means that you won’t have to deal with the day-to-day duties – leaving you time to find the next property for your portfolio.
If you’ve got any questions about renting out you property, our professional letting agents can help. Pop in to your local branch or give them a call.