12 Rental Property Improvements You Can Make for Under $1000

The Joseph Group Jan 2020

Ian Joseph

“Clients first!” – is a huge part of the DNA that Ian Joseph and his Team have established at The Joseph Group. This motto helps them focus on striving for the highest level of customer experience, for their clients (landlords) and customers (tenants). In fact, Ian strongly believes that in life, family and business, you must strive to give more than you receive. “You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." - Zig Ziglar


When you live in a city as hip and transitive as Seattle, it’s essential to keep your rental property current if you want to attract good tenants. Seattle rental properties that are more than a few years old suffer from a drop in its perceived value if you don’t make regular updates. Luckily, there are many rental property improvements you can make for under $1000 that will entice prospective tenants. 

rental property improvements paint

1. Paint

A fresh coat of paint in today’s trending colors will make any property look modern during a showing. You may not be able to paint a whole house for $1000, but you can enhance key rooms or create accent walls to make your rental property stand out from the competition. 
However, it’s important to keep your paint decisions fairly neutral unless you’re renting a furnished home. Neutral colors are easy to pair with whatever furniture your tenants bring to the property and hold a wider appeal than bright or vibrant colors.
If you do choose to paint an accent wall with a non-neutral color, see what home decor   colors are popular in the coming year. Choosing a color that is currently popular before showing a space will update your rental property immediately.  
rental property improvements flooring

2. Change Out Flooring

If you’re renting out an unfurnished apartment or home, there’s nowhere to hide bad floors. Smelly carpets, chipped linoleum, or stained tile can make or break a prospective tenant’s decision. To  keep yourself on budget, focus on small, key areas of flooring when updating your property. Putting new flooring in entry areas and bathrooms or replacing the carpet in that one ugly bedroom will make a big difference when showing your home.
rental property improvements roof

3. Patch the Roof

In a city as rainy as Seattle, a sealed roof is a must. Roof leaks can cause major havoc with rental properties. They can quickly deteriorate your asset, cause ballooning repair bills, frustrate tenants, and lead to damage of renter belongings that you may be liable to cover. 

In many cases you don’t need a new roof, just patches. If you’re unable to locate leaks, you may consider getting a roof inspection just to be sure. Inspections usually cost under $1000, and you can   find tutorials online  for patching basic issues by yourself. 
rental property improvements smart home tech

4. Add Smart Home Tech

Seattle’s #1 industry is tech. With Amazon, Microsoft, and tech companies continuing to attract new transplants daily, adding some trendy new tech to your property can make renters choose your rental over your competition. Smart home technology upgrades that are popular, useful, (and under $1000) include:

5. Bring in a Bar or Mini Fridge

Seattle nightlife is known for its craft beer and cocktails, but many renters choose to save their money and enjoy drinks at home. Expanding a kitchen counter top, bringing in a standalone bar to the living room or dining room, or adding a mini-fridge to a finished basement or garage really adds to the excitement and emotional appeal of a place without breaking a $1000 budget.
rental property improvements cabinets

6. Refinish Cabinets

Kitchens and bathrooms are the first rooms to look outdated in any home. Replacing kitchen and bathroom cabinets can be expensive and a lot of work. Instead, look at options for refinishing existing ones.   Refinishing  (simply changing the finish/color of your cabinets) is the most affordable option, but is only recommended if your cabinets are still in good condition. If your cabinet doors are cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, consider refacing. Refacing replaces the doors rather than replacing the cabinets all together. 
rental property improvements backsplash

7. Add a Backsplash

Kitchen backsplashes can make a massive difference in the appeal and perceived value of a home. Installing a   backsplash  is affordable, but time consuming, so make sure that you plan accordingly. There are endless combinations of tile to choose from that match your home’s style and budget. 
rental property improvements office space

8. Consider Flex Office Space

Working from home has quickly become the new norm. However, many remote workers soon find that working from the sofa isn’t as effective as they expected. 

We don’t recommend reducing bedroom counts  by turning one into a home office. Your rental property’s bedroom count listed on   rental sites determines whether potential tenants consider your rental or not. However, you may be able to create some flex space by adding a cabinet, pantry, Murphy bed, or pull out sofa that enables quick changes between a daily living space and an office space.
rental property improvements finish garage

9. Finish the Garage

Finished garage spaces add a big “wow” factor and more value to your rental property. We recommend that you ensure there is still a space to park a car comfortably, as covered parking is in high demand in a city as big and rainy as Seattle. Even on a tight budget, you may be able to:

  • Finish walls
  • Add flooring
  • Install storage and a workbench
  • Put in an extra refrigerator or freezer
rental property improvements replace hardware

10. Replace Hardware

Replacing front door, closet, and   cabinet hardware  can have one of the best returns of any home improvement. Before heading to the store, be sure to note the size of knob or handle that you need and snap a few photos of the room to compliment the colors. 
rental property improvements home staging

11. Stage the Home

Staging can be powerful for marketing rentals. You can   stage your rental property virtually  for less than $1000—or bring in some extra furniture or rent furniture temporarily. Be sure to pay attention to details, like matching bed linens or bath towels. 
rental property improvements home staging

12. Replace Appliances

Appliances are a big deal to renters. Replace microwaves or dishwashers that are broken, consider adding a washer-dryer, or lease new appliances when staging. You can choose whether or not to include the appliances for the duration of the lease, but be sure to inform tenants of your choice before they sign.

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