When it comes to paint, most landlords can fall into one of two categories: those who want to rent their vacant properties faster and those who want to get more rent for their properties.
The answer to both those desires, short of picking up the property and moving it to another location, is probably going to revolve around making improvements to the property.
The improvement that is probably the easiest, quickest, and offers the most return on investment is a fresh coat of paint.
Anyone who has ever bought, sold, or rented a property before is probably rolling their eyes right now and thinking “of course.”
After all, the first thing you notice when you walk into a property is the walls, probably followed closely by the flooring. But, while you may know that a fresh coat of paint will make it look better, have you really thought about the best way to go about painting your property? The way I see it, you have two options:
Should you paint your rental now or paint it later?
First let’s look at the paint it now option.
No, you don’t need to hire a professional painter. After all, you’re trying to maximize your profit. But be intentional about your painting and try to do a professional job.
That means taking the time to patch up problem spots on the walls that paint won’t cover. Use quality paint and enough coats to cover properly. If the situation calls for a primer coat, do it.
Overall, pretend you’re painting your own house and obtain a finished product that you would be happy to live with. If you’ve never painted before, or if it’s been a while, do a little research into supplies and techniques. You may consider buying paint from a specialty store (for example, Sherwin-Williams), don’t hesitate to ask questions of their knowledgeable staff.
If things seem too complicated or you don’t have the time, perhaps it would be best to hire a painter. Just remember it is better to spend a little more upfront to ensure a quality product than to scare off potential tenants with a sloppy paint job.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there concerning what color to paint the interior of a house to help it sell, or in our case rent, but almost all of it will agree that you ought to use color.
Now, there is something to be said about the blank canvas of white walls, and I’ll touch on that later, but for now if you’re planning on painting, plan on using color. What colors? Like I said, there’s a lot of suggestions out there, sources ranging from psychologists to professional home-stagers. Feel free to do your own research, but I’ll try to summarize a few areas of consensus I came across.
Light, neutral colors are most inviting. Beiges and salmon colors can make skin tone look better. Light grays are a more up-to-date alternative to beige and can match better with a wider range of colors.
Stick to the general guidelines but be open to injecting a hue of color. Green and blue are generally seen as relaxing and calming. You may also want to consider an accent wall, which can be relatively easy to repaint if the tenants don’t like it.
Kitchen / Dining Room
Warm colors from yellow to red are seen as stimulating. Red can make things seem more attractive, especially food, and has been shown to increase appetite. Yellow has been shown to speed up metabolism. The obvious advice with these colors is to be overly subtle when working them in. A bright red can be easily interpreted as aggressive and angry, while an intense yellow can cause headaches when stared at for a while.
The universal advice for bathrooms is to keep the color bright. A dark color in any small room will make it seem even smaller. Go with something neutral and add color through accessories, like towels or shower curtains, or the vanity.
Stay away from bright colors and aim for something neutral. If there is an attached bath, make sure the colors flow well between the two. If you like gray as a neutral color and want to add a little color in the bedroom, consider adding a hue of blue or even purple. Purple, while kind of bold, can be seen as romantic and luxurious.
Paint it later option
Consider Your Tenants
The idea here, which I’m probably not the first to suggest, is to present the property as a blank canvas for a tenant that would like to choose their own colors.
I admit, it’s a bold and somewhat risky position, but it could help set you apart from all the other options available in the area. Just keep in mind you’re limiting the appeal of your property on a quantity scale. Some tenants just want to move in immediately or won’t be able to see past the current state of the walls. However, if your property in located in an area where your primary audience is likely to be creative (artists, students, etc.), you’ll be adding value by letting them choose their colors.
Present a canvas
Letting the future tenants pick the new paint colors doesn’t mean you don’t have to still prepare the property beforehand. Even creative people will be subconsciously unreceptive if the walls they first see are dingy or dinged-up. My recommendation is to prepare the walls as if you had already painted them. Repair where necessary and put down a coat of primer to present the walls as a ready canvas.
Choose a palette
Unless you’re extremely brave (or exceptionally foolish), you’re not even thinking of letting the new tenants paint themselves.
You’ll be buying the paint and having the painting done. But you still want them to have as much choice as possible without inconveniencing yourself any more than necessary. I suggest making as many choices ahead of time as you can.
That means choose the store you’re going to buy paint from. Then, pick the type of paint you want to use, and choose the palette you’re going to present to your tenant. Grab a bunch of the sample strips.
Sure, you could just show them the colors and let their mind start churning, but why not help them along a bit?
I’d suggest taping the samples you have to a wall in each room in the property. This also gives you the chance to disallow certain colors in certain rooms, telling them they can pick from any color on the wall for that room. Not only will this help get the prospective tenant thinking about all the possibilities, it also helps provide guidance for those that might be overwhelmed at the idea of picking from possibly hundreds of color and shade combinations.
The most important thing is that once you present blanks walls with color possibilities, you have them immediately imagining what colors they would choose IF it was their home. Thus, they’ve subtlety began thinking of the place as their own before they’ve even decided to rent it.
The psychological impact on tenants of new paint
I hope you recognize the psychological impact just applying a fresh coat of paint can have on your prospective tenants.
It gives an impression that you care about the property as well as the happiness of your tenants. People are also more apt to treat something well when it’s been presented to them in good condition.
If you show that you care about the property, your tenant probably will too. You can take that idea a step further by letting them in on the decision process. They’ll definitely feel more at home and more ownership in the property if they’ve put themselves into it.
Either way, just make sure your caring is evident. Fix blemishes in the wall first and paint in a way that the finished product looks professional. Instead of cutting corners by not applying that last coat of paint, check your local REIA for discounts on paint and supplies. Even without discounts, following these suggestions should bring the best return on investment of any improvement you can make to your properties.