What kitchen updates should landlords consider for a good return on investment?

Property investors are always seeking to increase the return on their rentals. In between tenants, it is a good time to consider what updates or changes you might make to your kitchen that could increase the property’s value and what you can expect to charge per week. Each update or improvement will cost you money at the outset so you want to make sure that you can recoup those costs within a reasonable amount of time.

Why improvements may make sense now?
Property prices in Auckland and Northland mean that first-time ownership is not realistic for most in the most coveted areas. People are renting for longer periods of time. The right upgrades can attract your ideal tenant for an extended lease period. This means that there is less turnover and cost to you to clean, repair and refresh the property between tenancies. Sensible enhancements can quickly pay for themselves. Paying special attention to the kitchen adds immediate appeal to your place.

Reconsidering the right benchtop
While they are affordable - plastic laminate benchtops wear out from heavy use and overall are less attractive than other options. Landlords are often on a tight budget and looking for a quick fix to prepare it for the next person to move in.  

It can be tempting to consider covering them in tile to offer some durability. Is this easy to do?  Is this a good idea? Yes, it can be done but there are serious challenges especially if you are considering this as a DIY project. It's important to understand that a plastic top does not absorb any moisture whatsoever. If you use a water-based adhesive, the only way it will do the trick is if the water absorbs into the tiles. Epoxy adhesives can be tricky to work with for novices. Before you undertake this on your own do thorough research on the internet for best practices or call in a professional.

In lieu of trying a repair project, it may make more sense to tear them out and start from scratch with something more durable. The update will make your kitchen more eye-catching and modern. People are willing to pay more for a cool kitchen as that is where they spend a good amount of time preparing meals. This makes new countertops a really good investment not only because they will last longer but also because of the aesthetics that prospective tenants will find so appealing.

Granite is a great idea that can add sophistication. However, the cost may put some landlords off. There are good fibre cement-based products that will provide a quality sleek surface at a much lower price point. Quartz can give the granite vibe and is a much cheaper option. Recycled benchtops keep rubbish from landfills and are reasonably priced. These are only slightly more expensive than laminate and is still cheaper than most stone selections.

Should you opt for appliances?
It is not standard practice to include things like a refrigerator, washer, dryer or a microwave. For people new to the country, they are often willing to pay top-dollar for a place they can move right into. This does not mean you have to spend thousands on premium appliances, simple whiteware appliances will often suffice. There are many websites where you can find gently used items that are near new at a great savings. You can put a clause in the lease that minor repairs will be the tenant’s responsibility.  Full mechanical failure though maybe something you will be responsible for. Units and homes with these things supplied often get snapped up quickly and for more rent than those without these features.

Look at what’s underfoot
Selecting the right flooring can add value to your rental property from both an aesthetics and durability standpoint. Wood floors, while very classic may not be the best choice for high-traffic areas - especially since as the owner you may take special care of them but renters may not be as careful. Pets, high heels, spills, active kids or the wrong cleaners can bring about damage requiring refinishing.  

You are better off investing in tiles that will keep moisture away and is less likely to incur scratches. Period re-grouting, steam cleaning and resealing may be necessary over time. If you have a very smooth floor without dips or divots, laminate floor in lieu of wood flooring is a good option. Know that quality can vary greatly between products. In short, you get what you pay for. Opt for laminate flooring with a lifetime warranty to ensure that it will last for years to come.  

Vinyl is affordable but sometimes tenants will balk at it if it looks or feels cheap or dated. If an area is prone to water leaks then vinyl is a solid solution and no sealing or grouting is needed. It will also work well on uneven surfaces. 

Any of these improvements may increase the appeal of your property.

Not sure where to start?  Contact your property manager for advice specific to your place as to what will work for you and what could help you secure more rental revenue.

Looking for further assistance or advice?

Contact one of our property managers