Unless you are renting vacation studios at the beach, people need a minimum of two bathrooms. Now, I know that two generations ago, having an extra half-bath was a luxury. But times have changed and people now expect two bathrooms. You may be able to skirt by with 1 ½ baths, but this is a buyer’s market and you have a greater freedom of choice, so upgrade your thinking to a minimum of two baths.
Families need a minimum of three bedrooms. Even though families are smaller now, people like to have a separate bedroom for each child. A third bedroom is often used as an office or a family room. The extra space will make a huge difference when it comes to renting a property.
Elderly people need single-story houses. It’s tough to go up and down stairs when you are older. One-story houses make it easy for people. It’s also nice when you are lugging laundry or groceries or kids.
People prefer having a garage. They won’t necessarily put their cars in there, but they like the idea that they can. If you are going through a neighborhood and almost every house has a garage and the one you are looking at doesn’t, you might pass it over, unless you can get a great deal on it. A carport is okay, but they tend to look junky fast. If you are renting a property with a carport, have a specific and very strict clause in your sub-lease agreement about keeping the area clean and clear.
No pool. A pool is a liability in a rental property. You might have one for your own personal residence, but never have a pool property as a rental. If a child should wander in and drown or be injured, it is going to be a nightmare for you, not just financially but in terms of sleeping at night.
Amenities need to match today’s living standards: dishwasher, garbage disposal, washer/dryer hookup, central heat and air. Whatever is standard in your area needs to be in your rental properties. If every rental house in the area has a washer/dryer hookup, your property needs to have it, too. You might not need all of these things. If most rental properties in the area don’t have a dishwasher and your property doesn’t either, you are probably okay. But if most properties don’t have something and your property does, you are ahead of the competition.
JC Underwood is the executive director at the Metrolina Real Estate Investors Association, which provides education, mentoring, and networking for real estate investing in the Charlotte region. He can be contacted at jcu@MetrolinaREIA.org. For more information, visit www.MetrolinaREIA.org.