6 Cost-Effective Upgrades for Investment Properties

upgrades for investment propertiesRentals may be temporary solutions, but leaseholders can still be selective about the appearance of their units. Renters typically don’t invest in upgrading rental units because they can’t receive a return on their investment. At the same time, renters strive to be comfortable in their surroundings, albeit impermanent. Therefore, it’s in a landlord’s best interested to keep units neutral, up-to-date and clean to satisfy the majority of tenants.

With so many people choosing to rent, investment property owners must upgrade units to attract lessees. These six home improvements are inexpensive alternatives to complete demolition, but still transform dilapidated rentals into fresh, eye-catching spaces.

1. Paint

Painting is one economical, do-it-yourself project that transforms the look of rental units. Dark and dated interiors benefit from light paint colors that make rooms appear more modern and spacious. Even apartments equipped with ample natural light can optimize brightness by incorporating pale hues on walls. Don’t go too shiny – opt for matte, light gray or off-white tones. Incorporate one or two different colors throughout apartments to create harmonized design. While neutral tones may not be unique, they have universal appeal and widen the potential applicant pool.

Paint can go beyond the walls, too. Revamp builder-oak cabinets with basic white paint. Make sure to remove cabinet doors prior to painting to best ensure even applications. Use small brushes to reach inside divots to prevent missed spots in grooves and stenciling.

2. Floors

While more costly than a can of paint, upgraded floors create sleek atmospheres that dated carpet lacks. Hardwood planks are a popular and aesthetically-pleasing option, but may not be within budget – especially for larger townhouses and single-family rentals. However, linoleum floors mimic the appearance of wood while reducing overall expenses. Linoleum requires less upkeep and is actually a more practical option for rentals that see more wear and tear than average homes.

3. Countertops

Countertops can add or completely detract from well-designed kitchens. First, they must match the cabinets appropriately. While warm, brown tones and dark granites create coziness, white and sterile kitchens are trending. The “clean” look is imperative in rental properties, since prospective tenants might be concerned about multiple leaseholders and inevitable germs.

Quartz countertops are acid, scratch, heat, impact and stain resistant since they are non-porous. Quartz doesn’t need to be sealed like other natural stones and comes in various shades and patterns. Laminate is great for owners on tight budgets, and many new styles closely replicate stone, wood and quartz. Steer clear of butcher blocks, as maintenance is arduous and time-consuming. Similarly, natural stones might be more difficult to keep in good condition throughout the years.

4. Hardware

Replacing hardware is a quick fix to make interiors look updated at virtually no cost to owners. Swap out old and dirty ceiling fans for pendant lights. Purchase new kitchen drawer pulls to complement freshly-painted cabinets. Consider updating overlooked features, such as bathroom mirrors, with more polished frames. Changing many small things has a surprisingly large impact on the feel of homes. Existing hardware can be repainted if styles, but not finishes, already match the upgraded interiors.

5. Appliances

Top-of-the-line appliances aren’t necessities for rental units. Tenants might be thrilled just to have dishwashers or in-unit washers and dryers at their disposal. Skip the fancy gadgets and go with basic, trustworthy brands in stainless steel or all-white finishes. Renters don’t expect apartment appliances to have touchscreens, and can incorporate elaborate technology on their own.

6. Staging

While often overlooked, staging is important in homes for sale and rentals on the market. Add fresh flowers to kitchen countertops and small dining tables so future tenants can grasp a lived-in feel. Float furniture away from walls to make interiors feel spacious and be careful not to overcrowd staged units. Staging is especially helpful for couples who are downsizing or transitioning between single-family homes. They feel more comfortable knowing what size furniture fits well in smaller spaces and how they can optimize apartments to best suit their lifestyles. Don’t forget to take high-quality pictures for listings, preferably during the daytime and after upgrades are finished.

Landlords can’t possibly satisfy the needs of every potential tenant. Some people want more unique features or lavish finishes, but the vast majority of renters are pleased with simple, smart spaces.


  1. says

    These are all great suggestions! We are working on getting our current house ready to rent out when we move out and all of these things are on our list. In fact, they’re the only things on our list, because we’re on a budget! Thanks for the reassurance that we’re doing the right stuff!

  2. says

    As someone shopping for a place to stay, paint can really impact me. Although I know its only cosmetic, it really helps define the space. Its worth considering when upgrading.

  3. says

    I love reading DIY home decor blogs to find inexpensive creative solutions to spice up my apartment! I know I’ll only live here for a short time, but giving a little bit of personal taste can make it more homey and more comfortable to live in.

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