Your buy to let mortgage is in place, your property complies with current building regulations, and you’re all set to start searching for someone to actually live in it. All it needs is a lick of paint and you’re good to go, right?
Well, actually… wrong. Decorating your buy to let property is a very important part of marketing it. The calibre of tenant, and probably rent, will be much lower if your property is an eyesore, and choosing the wrong scheme can put tenants off entirely.
So get the overalls on or the cheque book out – your property’s getting a makeover!
Be honest with yourself: can you decorate a property to a marketable standard on your own, or will you make a pig’s ear of it?
There’s no shame in dipping into your funds and getting a professional in. The property will look much better for it, and you might be able to squeeze a little more rent out of it for your trouble.
Whatever you decide, two things are important: budget and timeframe. Know what both are, and stick to them.
Fifty shades of beige
Remember the seventies? In old photos, everything looks yellow, orange and brown, dark green and turquoise. That’s not the quality of the camera lens – this actually happened.
Bright ‘pop’ colours are a no-go in pretty much every rental, for two very good reasons: firstly, what attracts one type of tenant might utterly repulse another, and you want to keep your options open; secondly, most tenants expect a neutral colour scheme anyway, and are able to ‘mentally decorate’ a property they’re viewing.
A lot of tenancy agreements allow tenants to paint their home, provided that they repaint it before they leave. If you’re feeling adventurous, use brighter colours sparingly, but most of the décor should be that old mainstay: neutral.
Neutral, however, doesn’t mean ‘bland’! Before you paint your whole property beige, take a look at some interior design books or blogs (like this informative one I found whilst ambling around the internet).
Types of tenant
You should have decided what sort of tenant you wish to let to before sourcing your property. It might be, though, that your property appeals to a number of markets, and how you choose to decorate it will have an influence over whom you eventually rent it to.
Students, for instance, will go for a real ‘blank canvas’ – somewhere spacious and plain they can make their own for the brief period they live there. Families might like a little more character, but still avoid large areas of dark colour that will make the space look smaller. Professionals are likely to be attracted to a property which is stylish and functional, but don’t decorate according to your personal taste – go modern, plain and smart.
Withstanding wear and tear
Put that white emulsion back on the shelf! Cream looks less bare, and won’t show as much dirt. Also get paint with a satin finish that can be wiped clean. Wallpaper stains and peels – avoid it.
Cheap carpets look cheap, and expensive carpets are likely to require costly maintenance or replacement. The answer? Laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring is durable (it’s resistant to cracks and dents), hygienic (it doesn’t hold dirt or stains, and can be wiped clean) and affordable. Consider carpeting the bedrooms for variety, but generally, laminate flooring is the way to go!
The chief rule
Consider: you might be tempted to decorate your own home with fabrics; throws, rugs, cushions and the like. Fabrics are, by their nature, easily damaged, and tenants will most likely bring or buy their own if they want them. Putting fabrics in a rental, then, is costly and unnecessary.
I’ve already mentioned that tenants can ‘mentally decorate’ a place. Don’t feel as though you have to make it look like a home before anyone even lives in it; the reality is that tenants bring their home with them (cliché, I know, but true).
Just make sure that your décor is plain, neat, inviting and will withstand punishment, and your tenants will do the rest.