Top 5 Reno Tips for Your Single-family Investment Property

Mat Piche
December 31, 2012

In the expensive Vancouver/Lower Mainland real estate market, having tenants and a mortgage helper can make the difference between owning a house and owning a condo. This article has advice that works just as well for the basement suite as for a complete house. It's by Ontario property investor and real estate agent Mat Piche.

If you have read my blog " 3 things your single-family investment property needs to attract quality tenants" you will remember when I mentioned that providing a clean and updated home would attract quality tenants. Today I'm going to dive deeper into which renovations will make your property stand out. Some of you may not know, but before I became a Real Estate Agent I had a business renovating properties strictly for real estate investors, as I am also a certified carpenter. By working with investors for so long, I've learned some great cost-effective ways to renovate a property. Here are some quick and creative ways to make a space look great while most importantly, keeping costs down.

1. Paint the entire unit with ONE light colour.

You want your property to feel bright and spacious. A great way to achieve this is by painting your entire unit in a light colour. When you paint your property with one colour, you can buy your paint by the 5-gallon buckets as opposed to a number of 1-gallon cans, which greatly reduces costs! I know some investors that like to add feature walls or paint different rooms with different colours. By doing this, you are not only making the space feel smaller but you are starting to personalize the unit. And while some prospective tenants will certainly appreciate your design choices, some will not. The whole idea is to attract AS MANY prospective tenants to fill out the application. Everyone will appreciate a bright space that has flow. Once the tenant gives you first and last, they can then personalize their new home the way they like, with your permission of course!

Investor tip: The colour I use on my units is called "Rafia Cream" by Behr.

2. Quality flooring throughout

The second biggest impact you can make is by changing out the flooring throughout your property. Putting down good quality laminate in the living room and bedrooms is a really effective way to give your property flow. What I mean by flow is by using the same materials throughout your property, it gives the feel of a larger space. I know many investors that will go to a discount flooring store and take what ever is left at the back of the warehouse. It might be a few boxes of one flooring here and a few boxes of another kind there. When you walk through their properties two bedrooms might be one flooring, the master bedroom is another and the living room is again, another type of laminate. This makes the home feel thrown together, choppy and cheap! You definitely know the landlords bottom line here is money.

If you have old vinyl and outdated tile floors in the kitchen and bathrooms, you don't always have to rip them out and pay the large contracting bill that goes with it. There is a great vinyl tile product I use that installs directly over these outdated floors. Once it's grouted it looks identical to a high-end ceramic tile. Watch a video of me renovating a client's property with this product HERE for further instructions on the installation.

3. New baseboards.

Now that you have installed new floors in your property, don't just throw on the old baseboards. Get some high-end baseboards such as 4-inch colonial and then add a piece of doorstop to really give it a custom look. This alone can totally transform a space and is surprisingly cost effective. If you are lucky enough to buy a property with great flooring already installed but it has cheap looking baseboards, just pull them off and add the baseboards I just recommended. For an example of this type of baseboard, watch my video linked above.

4. Paint outdated cabinets white.

A common mistake investors make is thinking they have to gut a kitchen just because it looks outdated. If the cabinets still function properly and are in good condition, you would be surprised by how good your kitchen can look after painting the cabinets white and adding brushed nickel handles. Throw on a new counter, sink and taps, and you have yourself a completely transformed kitchen. This can all be done for $1500 or less. I know some people, especially men, have a hard time painting over "natural wood". This is 2013 people, PAINT THE WOOD AND DON'T LOOK BACK!!

5. Curb appeal.

Curb appeal is the single most important tip I can recommend to investors. If your property looks bad from the street, tenants will drive up for the appointment, and keep driving. Maintain your lawn and keep sidewalks and driveways clear if its winter. Make sure the exterior of your property is in good shape as well, e.g., roof, siding, windows and doors, etc.

A common misconception is that renos have to be extremely expensive. By doing creative things, you can really make your property stand out on a budget. I hope this gave you some good tips on how to renovate your property to beat out the competition. If you're looking to expand your single-family investment portfolio in KW/Cambridge, feel free to contact me anytime! Visit my website and see me renovate properties for clients and watch video testimonials. I look forward to helping you achieve your goals!

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