How to Prepare Your Home for Rental

Mar 08, 2020

How to Prepare Your Home for Rental

With the upcoming PCS season, many military members and their families will be preparing to put their homes on the rental market. Whether it’s for investment purposes or just because it’s not a good time to sell, you can use these tips to help you get ready!

Start with Finances

If possible, work toward having at least three months of expenses saved up. This includes mortgage, maintenance, utilities, etc. This way you have a buffer if the home stays vacant for a bit. You don’t want to struggle if you have to pay for multiple houses for a few months.

Do Your Research

  • Look up landlord/tenant laws in your state. Even if you use a property manager, knowing and understanding the laws will help prevent lawsuits and help with the process of an eviction (should you need it). The possibility of eviction is not pleasant to think about, but we should always be prepared!
  • Read over examples of state-specific leases to see what they include. Think about what you want to allow. Will your rental be pet-friendly? Will you charge a pet fee? What about the security deposit? Also, feel free to check out the advice on our FB page to see what other investors are doing in these situations-- you’ll find a ton of great information there!
  • Search for comparable properties in the area. Researching properties that are similar to yours and what they’re renting for will give you an estimate of how much rent you can charge.
  •  Vet your vendors. Check out reviews and recommendations for vendors you will need while renting out your home. This list may include property managers, handymen (for small jobs), plumbers, HVAC techs, insurance agents, and lawyers. (Note: if you decide to use a property manager, they may have a list of vendors that they already use.)

Outside the Home

  • Pest control – Hire professional pest control to spray the property outside and inside. Some may consider it an unnecessary expense, but the home needs to be pest-free before renting. It’s a big turn-off for prospects to see bugs/pests in the home when searching for a rental. Not to mention it can help prevent pest issues later--resulting in one less thing to worry about!
  • Curb Appeal – You have to make the outside look presentable! Curb appeal gives the prospective renter their first impression. Make sure to mow the lawn, trim trees, and clear out weedy flower beds. There’s no need to get fancy--you want to keep it low maintenance-- but make sure it looks tidy. Also, if you’re going to include lawn maintenance in the lease, put that in the property description of the rental listing. It can be a great “selling” point for prospective tenants!

Inside the home

  • Declutter -If you’re showing the home while your belongings are still in it, take a day and de-clutter. De-personalize by removing family photos and unique artwork, clear off countertops, remove unneeded furniture, and organize closets. Doing this will help improve the flow of the home and make it seem larger.
  • Clean, clean, clean - The house needs to be scrubbed clean before showing. If you’re not up for really using some elbow grease, save the time and hire a professional cleaner. You’ll be glad you did! If you decide not to hire a house cleaner, at least hire a professional carpet cleaning company. Dingy carpets are one of the reasons prospective renters pass on listings.
  • Add some fresh paint - Have some dark/unique colors in your home? Even if you love them, prospective tenants may not. Paint a neutral color throughout the home to help the home appeal to everyone.
  • Upgrades - Depending on the market, it may be time to upgrade appliances or other features. Take a look at the market to see the caliber of homes that are renting for your ideal rent amount. If you’re going to improve, focusing on the kitchen and bathrooms are always a good idea!
  • Side note: make sure you don’t over-improve. You don’t want to spend a lot of money upgrading when the market won’t allow you to recover some of those costs.

What else?

  •  Professional Pictures - Once all of the above work is done, I highly recommend getting professional pictures taken of your rental--preferably with furniture still in it. For many military families, online pictures are the only way they will see the home before deciding on a rental. It’s an investment (usually between $100-$300), but it’s worth it for the amount of interest it will bring to your rental. There’s nothing worse than bad quality cell phone pictures when you’re trying to look for your next home!
  • Insurance is Key - Once you have renters, you will need to switch your home insurance policy to a “landlord policy”. Call your insurance agent and talk with them about rates, coverage, etc. Then, make sure you shop around. Also, don’t forget to check into umbrella policies--which offer low-cost additional coverage for the property. It’s a great cushion in those less-than-ideal damage/accidental situations. While you're at it, discuss renter’s insurance. You should require it for your tenants and knowing more about what coverage you should require is imperative.

Preparing to list your home on the rental market can feel stressful, but following these tips can help you cut down on unnecessary stress. Take a deep breath, focus, and scratch off one thing at a time. You’ll get it done--- and when you do, it will be fantastic!

Good luck!

Kelly Madden is an Air Force spouse, has been married to her wonderful husband, Rich, for 13 years, and is a mom three beautiful girls Ava, Lexi, & Evie while currently stationed at Yokota AB, Japan. A licensed FL real estate agent (currently on referral status), she and her husband own three rental properties in Crestview, FL and are working toward breaking into the multifamily arena. Kelly likes to spend her time working as a virtual assistant, volunteering as a key spouse for 5AF, and horseback riding.

Facebook: Kelly Madden – Virtual Assistant
Website: https://www.kellymaddenva.com

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