Author Topic: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?  (Read 1370 times)

Megma

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 695
Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« on: February 07, 2019, 01:12:16 PM »
My husband and I are moving out of our current townhouse and will be renting it. This house is currently marginal as a rental but since we already own it and it's in an area that has great prospects for rentals long-term (next to large university park & ride lot; on future transit line), we're keeping it.

To get the best price and attract more interest, I am thinking of installing granite countertops in our kitchen. Our house has a lot of great features including: one of the better layouts in the community, newish cabinets with updated hardware, nicer vinyl flooring downstairs, nice vanities and fixtures in bathrooms but it has kind of crappy countertops and white rather than stainless steel appliances. I don't want to spend big bucks to replace perfectly functional appliances but think maybe countertops could make the kitchen more of an asset.

I've been eyeing this upgrade for years and there is a company that offers them installed as low as $1300 (up to 40 SQFT, which should be plenty for me) and I'd probably spring for the under-mount sink upgrade (another $200-250).

Realistically, do you think this is worth it?

MaikoTsumi

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 97
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 01:51:09 PM »
I doubt you will find it to be a profit center vs just a clean, nice laminate countertop.  If your entire competition has granite, then by all means, put it in. If you raise the rent for that premium renter, it's counterintuitive, but many landlords get more unqualified applicants at rents higher than the competition.   You don't want a 3-6 month vacancy just to find that one tenant willing to pay more than market.

Another Reader

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4789
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 01:52:15 PM »
In general, your finishes are middle grade.  Vinyl flooring anywhere other than the kitchen and baths is not attractive.  Granite by itself might make your unit rent faster but it might not increase the rent much.  More information is needed.  Size of the unit, parking availability, bedroom and bathroom count, school quality, and all the other things potential tenants look at.  What is the typical tenant profile?  What are other units renting for and what are their finishes?  Do you see a trend in rents in your complex and similar nearby complexes for better finishes?  You can make a more reasoned decision with that information.

sammybiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 353
    • Making 200k in equity in 6mo - Back down the rabbit hole, long distance RE
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 02:24:53 PM »
I think the key point here that @Another Reader pointed out is what is your competition and what does your market desire?

In my area of Texas, granite is very desirable and you will see an ROI on the granite installation in both appraisal (approx. 1.6x my cost) and rents (estimating but $25-50/mo more).

More trendy markets probably view granite as old fashion, who knows what they would think of laminate.  Others, a clean and well kept laminate countertop is acceptable.

$1500 for new granite & sink installation is a good deal though!

Megma

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 695
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 02:26:51 PM »
In general, your finishes are middle grade.  Vinyl flooring anywhere other than the kitchen and baths is not attractive.  Granite by itself might make your unit rent faster but it might not increase the rent much.  More information is needed.  Size of the unit, parking availability, bedroom and bathroom count, school quality, and all the other things potential tenants look at.  What is the typical tenant profile?  What are other units renting for and what are their finishes?  Do you see a trend in rents in your complex and similar nearby complexes for better finishes?  You can make a more reasoned decision with that information.

Thank you Another Reader for your comments.

Yes I would say we are middle grade, not luxury market. The living room is wood laminate flooring, kitchens and baths are a textured vinyl. Bedrooms are carpet. We also middle range of finshes for our complex. Some are updated and very nicely (wood plank floors, granite, etc) but many are original from the 80s when they were built, especially the kitchen cabinets (ours are newer, probably early 2000s).

The townhouse is a large two bedroom, with 2.5 baths, 1325 SQFT. Fireplace, separate dinning room. Each bedroom has it's own balcony and there is a large deck (~10'x20'). I would say a B- maybe a B rental.  Clean, nice, very good area but not "fancy."

It's in the top school district in the state but I don't expect to attract families, too small. It is very convenient to the a large and prestigious public university but not in the "student ghetto". University has large graduate programs in law, medicine/dental, business - these are our target renters. Many of the units in our neighborhood are either rented or owned by these folks. The University and attached hospital is also the city's largest employer; secondary target would be university hospital employees such as nurses.

Rents are around 1100-1350. There are many 2 bed units for rent but most are a floor-plan that is smaller than ours, nonetheless, a two bedroom is a two bedroom. I am hoping to rent for 1250-1275. I was thinking a little more upgrade might get me to that 1275 or at least help me rent fast at 1250.

I would like to have my choice of renters and get it rented fast. We're moving out in early June and I want it rented for Aug 1, before school starts. We'll be on vacation in July so have a 2-3 week window to show it and get it rented. I will try to complete as much work on the house as possible before we move; and have carpets cleaned the day after we are out.

Megma

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 695
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 02:27:22 PM »

$1500 for new granite & sink installation is a good deal though!

Choice of two colors and 4 edges! :)

PoutineLover

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1091
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 02:39:09 PM »
Honestly, carpets are way more of a turn off for me than non-granite countertops. I think in your case, doing a deep clean, taking great photos, and making sure you vet the potential tenants well will have a better payoff than granite countertops. Also, $1500 dollars to maybe get a $25 increase doesn't have a great payoff period. Unless the current counters are in terrible shape, it's probably not worth it, at least not initially. Why not try to rent it now, see how it goes, and maybe next time you have a turnover, consider upgrading. That way at least you get a sense of the market first and see if you can get the rent you want without paying extra for a cosmetic upgrade.
This is speaking as a renter, not an owner. The size, location, cleanliness, functionality of the space, and responsiveness of landlord all factor much more in my decision than the colour of the appliances or the material of the counter.

Another Reader

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4789
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 05:01:25 PM »
Honestly, carpets are way more of a turn off for me than non-granite countertops. I think in your case, doing a deep clean, taking great photos, and making sure you vet the potential tenants well will have a better payoff than granite countertops. Also, $1500 dollars to maybe get a $25 increase doesn't have a great payoff period. Unless the current counters are in terrible shape, it's probably not worth it, at least not initially. Why not try to rent it now, see how it goes, and maybe next time you have a turnover, consider upgrading. That way at least you get a sense of the market first and see if you can get the rent you want without paying extra for a cosmetic upgrade.
This is speaking as a renter, not an owner. The size, location, cleanliness, functionality of the space, and responsiveness of landlord all factor much more in my decision than the colour of the appliances or the material of the counter.

I completely agree.  Unless granite counters are in a lot of the competing units, I would wait before making that investment.  You have a short window to get it rented.  I would rather go in at $1,200 to $1,250 to get it rented and then watch the competition.

Jon Bon

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 701
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 07:52:12 PM »
What do you think you could sell it for. I think I know what my answer will be.....

feelingroovy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 257
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 09:22:19 PM »
Just an FYI. I also have a 2br middle grade rental in a university town.  Our rental is in an adjoining town and our Target market is also grad students and assistant professors.

Around here you want to be advertising in April for an August 1 start date, not June. Although grad students usually stay year round, they still are looking early.

There is a second smaller blip in the market in the second two weeks of July for all the post docs and grad students who got last minute appointments.

We also have pergo floors, laminate countertops in good shape and white clean appliances. The unit looks well cared for.  We have found that putting in a few nice finishes, like ceramic tile in the entry and a couple nice light fixtures, go a long way. Applicants care more about parking, laundry, and quiet neighbors.

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3099
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2019, 09:48:17 PM »
What does "marginal as a rental" mean? Post up some numbers.

-W

Papa bear

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 913
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2019, 10:11:01 PM »
In university towns, rental season started October 2018 for this August 2019 rentals. Get on listing this now.

Post numbers.  Value of property, expected rents now, expected rents at “top value” finishes.

I’m not saying granite is bad, I’ve got it in some of my rentals, but most are laminate. Granite probably doesn’t make sense at your price point. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1596
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 06:05:35 AM »
I agree with earlier posters that carpet is more of a turnoff than lower grade counters.  So I would consider changing flooring first. 

But I do have a tip that might be helpful for renting. Law schools typically have visiting days for admitted students.  Many students will make rental arrangements at that time.  Find out when it is (probably on the schoolís website) and figure out how to advertise for that.  At the school by me people put flyers on certain bulletin boards.  Once you get law students in, they will likely pass the place on to friends when they graduate.

LiveLean

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 721
  • Location: Central Florida
    • ToLiveLean
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2019, 06:35:52 AM »
I have granite in my primary residence but a nice laminate in my rental. Previous owner was a home remodeler and I actually like the laminate better than my granite. Go figure.

calimom

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 819
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2019, 10:22:57 AM »
What is the counter surface now? If it's those grouted 4X4 tile squares, it might be worth considering an upgrade. But granite in general, is getting to be considered passe. You don't see it used much on HGTV or design blogs. There is so much great laminate now that I'd go with that, cheaper and lighter. But unless the existing surface is in really bad shape maybe it doesn't really need to be upgraded, because the margins seem pretty slim on this project.

Megma

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 695
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2019, 12:08:20 PM »
What is the counter surface now? If it's those grouted 4X4 tile squares, it might be worth considering an upgrade. But granite in general, is getting to be considered passe. You don't see it used much on HGTV or design blogs. There is so much great laminate now that I'd go with that, cheaper and lighter. But unless the existing surface is in really bad shape maybe it doesn't really need to be upgraded, because the margins seem pretty slim on this project.

Itís laminate now.

@LiveLean my husband said we should get granite for us before we get it for tenants! He might be right.

@Another Reader youíre definitely right about price, we should under charge a little if we want to rent it quickly.

Ok it seems the consensus is that itís not really worth it. I think I just have anxiety about getting it rented and want to control the aspects of it that I can, which is getting the house in the best possible shape over the next few months. Iím always nervous about renewals and finding tenants. Our other rental (th will be #2) also has the lease up Aug 1 and the idea of both being vacant at the same time is daunting.

tralfamadorian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1167
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2019, 01:48:35 PM »
Around here you want to be advertising in April for an August 1 start date, not June. Although grad students usually stay year round, they still are looking early.

The bit of advertising then moving in the compressed time frame jumped out at me too.

In one university town I own in, leases are signed the last week September/first week October for the next summer move-in. Another is during winter break in December/January. In some places, bare bones furnished with basic beds, desks, kitchen table/chairs and a sofa will pay themselves off in less than a year and rent much faster. In other towns, furnished is the odd ball and will impede the process.

Regarding whether to replace the counters- it depends on what is in there now and what your competition has. Personally, I would spend my money on LVP floors in the bedrooms, IKEA laminate counters (if the old one are in bad shape) and a good photographer rather than granite and carpet cleaning. YMMV (your market may vary)

J Boogie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 875
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2019, 01:15:58 PM »
Granite is a risk.

If some say it looks dated now, that means soon most might think it looks dated.

If you have vinyl flooring and builder grade finishes in the place, there isn't much upside to using natural stone. Character, integrity, period appropriateness, sustainability - all could be good reasons to use expensive natural materials (though maybe not in terms of a rental property). A speculative interest in commanding a higher rent shouldn't cause you to invest in granite.

Ikea has great options for sophisticated looking stone alternatives.
 

jinga nation

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1056
  • Location: 'Murica's Johnson
  • Left, Right, Peddlin' Shite
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2019, 07:35:51 AM »
I would not use granite countertops in a rental. speaking as a multi-property landlord since 2011.

Granite needs sealing and care otherwise you'll have plenty of visible stains, especially light color granites, but I've seen oil seep into black granite and cause cloudiness. You can't guarantee the tenant will do their due diligence on care and cleaning.

The new laminates are much much better. Unless you want some silestone or man-made stone. But then how heat resistant are those to tenant placing a pot on it straight from the stove. Then getting that replaced/fixed. I've had bad experiences renting to yuppies and retirees alike.

If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.

JoJoP

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 135
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2019, 06:40:04 PM »
I wouldn't do granite.  As @jinga nation said, it needs sealing and care. It gets stains and can be damaged by heat.  It also gets scratched.   

But I agree with your husband- Regardless of your choice, if you're going to upgrade, do it now and enjoy it while you still live there. 

leavesofgrass

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2019, 09:57:46 AM »
Granite is a risk.

If some say it looks dated now, that means soon most might think it looks dated.

If you have vinyl flooring and builder grade finishes in the place, there isn't much upside to using natural stone. Character, integrity, period appropriateness, sustainability - all could be good reasons to use expensive natural materials (though maybe not in terms of a rental property). A speculative interest in commanding a higher rent shouldn't cause you to invest in granite.

Ikea has great options for sophisticated looking stone alternatives.

As a life-long renter, I agree with this. I find granite very unattractive and dated. I much prefer simple, minimal looks. Ikea for kitchen upgrades is fine by me.

Also, I wouldn't choose a rental that had carpeted floors. Grosses me out. Get some laminate wood floors installed in the bedrooms.

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2825
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
    • Years in the making, I created a journal!
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2019, 05:26:24 PM »
I'm on the side of refresh the rental.  There's a style of house that becomes "in vouge" about every 10 years.  You need to do that and stay current for A quality markets.  B/C rentals, not as much.  Its about can you get the ROI back over 7-10 years to do this refresh cycle, or are you okay with the return of an outdated product.  It just depends on your market

getting there pnw

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Upgrade to get top rental rates? Granite or something else?
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2019, 05:09:21 PM »
I'm in the minority here. If these numbers are correct, that is $25/month for a $1300 investment. That is something like 23% return. Nuff said. Do it.

Also gives you some piece of mind about renting it faster and/or getting better tenants.

Edit: Also, I see granite (or maybe do quartz) as still super desirable. It's just a matter of color choice, and probably somewhat a local thing. In the pacific NW, I'm seeing tons of gray themes with whitish gray granite or quartz.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2019, 05:11:11 PM by getting there pnw »