Ian Willis knows what people look for in a property.
As a property manager turned sales agent for Central Coast-based real estate group Wilsons Estates, Willis has spent nearly 15 years learning what does and doesn’t work when it comes to leasing your investment to prospective tenants.
A clean, well-maintained property is more likely to attract tenants who will take pride in it and, importantly for owners, take good care of it, he says, therefore prospective landlords should aim to spend the minimum they can get away with in preparing to list the property for rent.
Willis says before even considering spending money on the property, the first thing perspective landlords should do is to have a look online to gauge their potential rent amount and to view competing properties.
Next, it is worthwhile speaking to real estate agency to discover how long the average unit, apartment or townhouse in your area is taking to rent out and what the current vacancy rates are as this can have a “large bearing on what price you ultimately ask for your property”.
High vacancy rates mean that properties are taking longer to rent out which means you may need to ask for a slightly lower than average rent amount to find a tenant. Low vacancy rates indicate a high demand which means you can ask a little more than average.
“Having carpets and walls cleaned and [ensuring] all fixtures are working and in good condition are all important to finding a good tenant and will help keep the tenant happy throughout the tenancy.”
When it comes to repainting or decorating, Willis says it is important investors don’t inject too much of their own personality into the property.
Instead it is far safer to stick to neutral colours for your rental property, remembering that sometimes you may go through tenancies fairly quickly so you want to ensure that the home is always easy to rent out.
Unless it is a holiday rental, Willis advises it is generally better to leave your property unfurnished to be rented out rather than wasting money on expensive furnishings in the hope you will attract a better rental rate.
“Not only do most tenants have their own furniture but also if you leave any furniture at the property to be used during a tenancy, you will be responsible for maintenance and repairs of those items,” Willis says.
He says one of the most common things that owners do wrong when preparing their strata property for rent is failing to take into consideration how the type of tenant they approve to move in can affect the other residents, such as allowing a tenant with a large dog to move into your property that barks and causes noise complaints.
For this reason it is important to consider the overall community within your complex when allowing new tenants to move in, as well as ensuring you find a tenant who is respectful of the other residents and will comply with the body corporate and strata by-laws.
Willis says while most tenants do the right thing when renting a property, it is worthwhile ensuring that the real estate agent that you employ to manage your property will conduct all the necessary checks before approving a tenancy to minimise the risk of problems later on.
“Sometimes it is better to leave the property vacant for a little longer and wait to get a quality tenant rather than lease it to the first available person.”