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Maintaining Your Investment Property

May 22, 2008
You can often tell from the curb which landlords maintain their investment properties and which do not. As both an investor and a real estate agent, I am actually concerned more about the "deferred maintenance" of all the little items than the major ones.

The dozens of minor repairs can be more concerning than the major repairs as it makes me question what else is wrong with this property that I can't see.

For example, a poorly maintained caulking job around all the windows is going to let water in, resulting in rot and mold which is far more costly and difficult to diagnose and repair than replacing a dead water heater.

Below are some minor items that are both fast and inexpensive and will improve the first impression of your property. These easy maintenance tips should help both lease your property quicker to new tenants as well as make it easier to sell when you are ready.

1. Make sure the lighting in the common hallways are clean and bright. Put a fresh coat of paint on the wall and make sure they are consistently swept and clean.

2. If the individual apartment doors are dented or scratched, replace or repaint them. It the first impressions that people have of the unit they are preparing to enter.

3. Clean up the yard, pick up any trash, trim back the trees and bushes. Consider planting some inexpensive, but low maintenance plants in the front to freshen up the look.

4. Has the front door been kicked in, damaged, or dented, if so repair or replace it. Not only will this improve how it looks, it will improve security and possibly weather proofing.

5. Consider replacing the mailboxes if they are more than 20 years old and look worn and dated.

6. How does the building have an odor (pet, smoke, or mildew)? Find the offender (no not the tenant) and fix the source and then treat the problem.

7. If the building has a common laundry room, make sure it is clean. Consider adding lights and repainting.

8. Insure the front windows on the building have good window coverings. If the blinds are damaged or the tenants put up sheets over the windows, replace them with property windows coverings.

9. Look under ever sink for signs of leaking drains. Repair the plumbing and then repair or repaint the under side of the cabinet.

10. Walk around the outside of the building and look at the steps, screens, and fascia. Replace, repair or repaint anything that does not look perfect.

11. Check that you have door bumpers on all the doors and repair any damage in the walls.

12. If you have mold and mildew growing around the tubs, clean with a strong bleach formula and recaulk them.

Most of these above tips are simple and inexpensive and doing a few every month is easy. Over time you will help make your property both easier to rent and sell when necessary.
About the Author
Scott Ficek owns and manages almost 30 investment property units from single family to multi-family. He is also a Investment Property Agent with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Minneapolis and helps new and seasoned investors buy and own Real Estate Investment.
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