How Much Should You Improve Your Property Before Renting?

When you own a rental property, whether it be a house or an apartment, there’s a fine line between investing enough money in the property and investing too much. Since the goal of having the property is to turn a profit, everything you do to it should be focused on that.

Landlords should ask themselves several questions in making updates to their rental properties. First: Will this improvement add substantial value to the property? Next: Is this update truly needed? And, finally: How long will it take me to recover the cost? Use this guide and those vital questions to help decipher what is worth the cost and what you can skip in keeping your rental property hot on any renter’s list.

Improvements Worth the Investment

Finishing Touches

A switch plate against a mosaic tile wall.

Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a big impression! Make little updates such as replacing doorknobs with newer models (and ensuring they match), swapping kitchen cabinet and drawer hardware, and replacing outlet covers to ensure they’re clean and matching. These are inexpensive and easy updates that will give the property an instant face lift, impressing potential renters.

New Carpets

Most renters put cleanliness at the top of their list when they’re looking for a new place. Nothing turns people off like a dirty and decrepit carpet. Install durable carpets that will hold up well to repeated use, and have them cleaned and treated often. This will make a big difference in the appeal of your property.


A wheelbarrow in a landscaped yard.

Investing a bit of time and money into the landscaping of a rental property is worth it. Include low-maintenance shrubs, clean your flower beds, put down fresh mulch, and tidy up the yard. Keep your landscaping fresh, especially during the summer months. This can be easy with the installation of a soaker hose if there isn’t already a sprinkler system in place.

Energy Efficient Windows and Doors

Ensuring that the windows and doors in your rental are airtight is a good way to make a home more appealing. This is because windows account for 20-25% of energy loss, and drafty doors add another 10-15% to that statistic. Show tenants that they can save on their utility bills via this improvement and it’ll be worth the investment.

Improvements to Avoid

Hardwood Floors

A dark laminate flooring.

Genuine hardwood floors are not only very costly, but they take a great deal of work to install. They are certainly aesthetically appealing, but many renters will not know the difference between real hardwood and the imitation stuff. Save yourself the time, money, and effort by going with imitation hardwood. This also means you don’t have to worry as much about it getting banged up and worn out, which is an added plus. Laminate flooring is also more pet-friendly, which can attract renters with furry friends.

Installing Expensive Appliances

Unless you are dealing with high-end tenants, installing flashy appliances is not worth the cost. Most people will not know the difference from one refrigerator to the next, and fixing a high-end product in the event of an issue is bound to be more costly than if you went with the more standard models. While flashy appliances are nice to have, they alone will not increase the value of your property.

Bold Accents or Improvements

A neutral living room.

When it comes to renting, you want your property to appeal to a wide range of people. This means it's best to keep things neutral, from paint colors to any accents within the home. Put your creative license to use in your own house and keep your rental property Plain Jane. Not only will this make the property more appealing to many, but it’ll save you time and money!

It’s easy for property owners to make unnecessary improvements, as well as those that won’t stand the test of time and fall out of style in the near future. Rental rates for a particular property are (mostly) based upon the neighborhood market rather than on the improvements made to a home, so updates should be made accordingly.