As a Client Services Executive in the real estate investment industry, I am talking to clients on a daily basis about their investments and what works best in terms of letting those units quickly and maximising their returns. One of the most common areas for questions is furnishing.
Although some markets don’t require that investment properties are furnished, in many cases tenants do expect that they are fully furnished and ready to move in to, and we know that well-furnished properties attract a better standard of tenant who will often remain in the property for longer, and on average, they tend to let much quicker than their unfurnished counterparts.
Choose a style that will appeal to your target tenants
Before marketing the property, do some research and ask your agent the type of tenants that will typically rent properties in that area and be clear on the type of tenant you wish to attract. A young professional tenant will have different needs and expectations from a young family and so it’s important that you chose the right styles most appropriate to your target tenants.
Opt for modern, durable finishes
Whilst it might be tempting to buy in the most expensive, high end furniture and fittings on the market, in many cases this is an unnecessary expense. Equally, trying to save money by sourcing much cheaper options might be false economy, as these will wear much quicker and require replacement much sooner. Poor quality furnishing might even result in longer void periods and effectively result in lost rent. Opt for clean, modern and durable finishes and chose high quality furniture appropriate to your tenant type. In many cases, specialist furniture providers will offer furnishings specifically for buy to let properties.
Don’t make it personal
It’s an easy trap for many buy-to-let investors to fall in to, but don’t buy furniture that suit your own personal style. Whilst you might have exceptional taste, overly personalised furnishings may put off some tenants and make the property more difficult to let. Modern, neutral and clean should be guiding factors.
Don’t under-furnish or over-supply
Take a moment to think about what your tenants will actually need, or what you would expect to find in the property when you move in. Cover the day to day essentials and have a look at things like kitchen packs and cleaning equipment and include those in your furniture inventory. It might even be helpful to provide one or two soft touches. Some nice artwork or soft furnishings can make all the difference in completing the overall look and feel. At the same time, don’t over-furnish and clutter the property. Keep the inventory useful and helpful, but simple.
Don’t forget blinds
This is absolutely critical and you should factor in the additional costs of window dressings to this avoid major pitfall in letting the property quickly. Tenants will expect blinds or curtains in all rooms and not providing these will inevitably result in longer void periods and difficulties in renting the property quickly. Leaving the tenants to install their own window dressings might even result in property damage which could result in rather high costs to repair.
Keep it fresh
If it has been a while since you had installed the furnishings, it might be worth considering updating and replacing them to bring the property up to date, and up to standard. Although the furniture might not need replacing entirely, new mattresses and new sofas will appeal to new tenants moving into what will be their new home.
Equally, updating or refreshing the décor will be helpful if some time has elapsed since its completion. For older properties, it may be worth considering a programme of refurbishment and updating throughout to appeal to more attractive tenants, improving the units rentability and returns.
However you decide to furnish your property, it is essential to ensure that they are compliant. In the UK, all furnishings and fittings must meet the requirements of fire safety regulations and blinds and window dressings will also need to ensure they are complaint with particular child safety regulations.