Real Property Management

by Jeff Pepperney, Real Property Management

S pring is just around the corner and so you should start plan- ning for any landscaping improve- ments now. An attractive and low-maintenance yard is one of the most important exterior features in a profitable rental property. As a property owner, it can be a chal- lenge to design landscaping that will improve your rental home’s curb appeal, but still, be easy to keep neat and tidy. Adding a few inexpensive and low-maintenance hardscaping features, such as paths or decorative rocks, may be the best way to do both at once. But not all hardscaping features are a good idea for rental properties because even though many of these features are expensive, they will not lead to any measurable rent increase. For this reason, knowing which hardscaping features will give you the highest return for the cost is an important part of keeping your rental home good-looking and clean from the outside in. Hardscaping is the process of adding features to a property’s exterior that are not lawn, trees, or other plants. Most yards have at least a few hardscaping features, such as a porch, concrete or stone walkways, or even a patio or deck. There are many different kinds of hardscaping features, ranging from the inexpensive to the beautiful but costly. Some of these features

can help to increase your rental property’s appeal and rental rates, while others simply are not worth spending the money. For example, adding a stone or concrete path or walkway to a yard that doesn’t have one is a small but effective way to add value and visual appeal to a rental prop- erty. Materials like stone, brick, and concrete are durable and low-maintenance, reducing the amount of yard that your tenant will need to mow, trim, or otherwise maintain. This may also explain the popularity of patios and decks, which are often in high demand in a rental home. Patios and decks offer tenants an outdoor living space that they can use to relax and gath- er with family and friends, some- thing that many people enjoy. If constructed out of durable materi- als, they are also low-maintenance features that will last decades with very little effort. Other options for inexpensive hardscaping include adding deco- rative rocks or rock areas to a yard. Particularly popular in the American southwest and other dry regions, decorative rock features are attrac- tive and easy to maintain. But such features work well in any part of the country, and will significantly reduce the amount of effort required to keep the yard looking tidy. This in turn, may help attract and retain quality

tenants to your rental property. Of course, not all hardscaping will result in increased appeal or even increased rental rates. Some property owners may believe that if a little is good, more is better. But adding features like elaborate firepits, zen gardens, ponds, water- falls, and even pergolas rarely lead to higher rent, and in some cases will increase insurance premi- ums and risk exposure. There are several reasons for this, but most often it comes down to the cost and effort of keeping these features in good condition. Water features, in particular, are notoriously difficult to maintain, and may end up cost- ing more in repairs than you would like. While impressive hardscaping may be something in demand from homeowners, this is rarely true of renters. Tenants do want to enjoy their rental home, but not at the expense of spending their week- ends maintaining the yard. Ultimately, it can be difficult to know which landscaping upgrades provide the best return for your mon- ey, and which do not. But it is import- ant to make smart decisions about your rental property’s landscaping to keep it profitable year after year. At Real Property Management, we can help you determine which landscap- ing upgrades are right for your rental properties and market. Contact us today to learn more. •


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