Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How Property Managers and Owners Can Keep an Investment Property Looking Good and Occupied by Improving the Landscape

First impressions matter immensely, thus a property owner should never neglect their investment property’s landscaping.  A real estate agent who is getting a property ready for sale spends time, energy and effort making the most of a property’s curb appeal to entice a potential buyer to buy for the highest possible price.  A rule of thumb is that a realtor who invests $1 dollar of curb appeal improvements will gain their clients $3 of return at close of escrow.   In the same vein, a property manager should counsel his clients to invest some time, energy and effort in sprucing up their rental property exterior landscaping to help attract more potential renters or keep the ones they have.  The art of providing just enough curb appeal, just the right balance of attractive landscaping, while maintaining a fixed maintenance budget can be achieved through education, experience, and common sense.  Experienced property managers should be able to put together a plan for their owners at no additional expense.

Long Term Landscaping Planning for Your Portfolio of Properties is Key
An experienced property manager can and will help their clients improve their exterior landscapes with just the right balance of attractive components while not breaking the bank.  A proper mix will help the owner keep the property rented, while at the same time reduce the monthly maintenance of the property, which in turn reduces costs.  For example, although lush, cool, beautifully manicured green grass is very attractive, the cost of installing and maintaining the grass is not as cost effective as keeping a small patch of grass with other drought resistant groundscape like gravel, bark, mulch and wood chips.  These other ground cover alternatives also help keep moisture in the ground to reduce water consumption.  An experienced property manager can evaluate and help an owner make some design changes to improve aesthetics and reduce maintenance costs.

Trees, Trees, and More Trees
Other than the property’s building a well-thought out scattering of trees are by far the most valuable asset a property exterior can have.  Mature, gorgeous, and sky-reaching trees can also help reduce cooling costs for a rental property which in turn makes the property more attractive to rent.  If your investment property lacks trees consider having an arborist or landscape architect suggest some different species of trees and locations to plant them on the property to maximize their possible benefits.
Seven (7) Ideas for Low-Cost Landscaping
When you have an opportunity you should get together with your property manager and try to implement a long-term plan for landscaping improvement and maintenance with the goal being to improve aesthetics and reduce maintenance costs.  The following list includes some low-cost ideas to think about and brainstorm with your property manager:

11)    City Tree Program – Some cities and towns actually give away trees for property owners as long as the owner follows certain guidelines;
22)    Look for Sales – Wait until the end of the growing season to go shopping for trees, shrubs, soil and mulch because the retailers that didn’t sell all their inventory will be looking to get rid of these items at a discount;
33)    Demolished Buildings – Look around your neighborhood for demolition sites as there are often free bricks or other building materials which can be used in your landscaping designs;
44)    Work Your Existing Plants – Educate yourself to help keep and shape the trees and shrubs you already have to give them new life and vitality, or even relocate them.
55)    Buy Small – Buy smaller sized plants, shrubs, and trees which will be less than larger ones.
66)    Make Your Own Compost – You can easily build and maintain a composter on your rental property where you or your gardener deposits all of the grounds clippings, waste, and leaves.  This compost will eventually produce fertilizer which is one more thing you won’t have to purchase.
77)    Use Drought Resistant Plants – Not only is water scarce, but it is getting more expensive on a monthly basis, so a collection of drought resistant plants is important for long-term maintenance cost reduction.

Be Patient and Watch Your Property Exterior Improve
When you have slowly but surely implemented a long-term plan for exterior landscaping improvement and maintenance your reward will be improved aesthetics, reduced maintenance and reduced costs.  More importantly your investment property will be more attractive to potential renters and those renters who do live there will not want to leave.  Finally, the improvements and maintenance expenses are fully tax deductible provided you and/or your property manager has saved the receipts and properly recorded them.

Remember, first impressions make a huge difference.  A property owner should get together and implement a plan with their property manager and never neglect their investment property’s exterior landscaping and overall appearance.  If your property manager is not making these types of suggestions maybe it is time to begin looking for a new property manager.