First National Basso Real Estate Update Market Spring 2020
WHY YOU SHOULD DEEP CLEAN
Ideally, you’d have been notified if your tenant has tested positive for COVID-19, but there are always exceptions. In any case, isn’t it possible a deep clean may become the new norm between tenancies in the post-pandemic world?
At present, an end of lease or vacate clean still only needs to be to the standard outlined in the condition report. If, however, you’ve had a COVID-19 infected tenant, or someone quarantining in the property, a deeper level of cleaning is essential for the protection of others and of course for peace of mind. A deep clean occurs as an adjunct to the vacate clean, and most professional cleaning companies can respond accordingly to the deep clean request. It applies a process of disinfecting, in addition to surface cleaning, using antibacterial products and single-use cleaning cloths and equipment. Reusable items such as mops, buckets, and scrubbing brushes should be soaked in disinfectant for a number of hours before using again.
Carpets are best dealt with by a professional, again with the deep clean request specified so appropriate cleaning tools can be used. Curtains, rugs, and floor mats should be washed on a hygiene cycle with an antibacterial washing detergent. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, hand sanitizer and social distancing measures should be implemented at property inspections. COVID-19 risk aside, a deep clean also addresses the layer of unknown microorganisms that may have accumulated thanks to the various lockdowns of 2020 in different states.
SPRING IS A GREAT TIME FOR A PROPERTY REFRESH
Regular property inspections help you keep track of whether your property is being looked after, but they can also flag things that could do with some attention.
Spring is a great time to consider improvements, alterations, or even minor renovations that can be made to the property – and it’s not just to boost the spirits of your tenants! Upgrading appliances, repainting interiors, exteriors and fences, changing window dressings, light fittings, or floor coverings; these are all valuable ways to improve the value of your property incrementally through your ownership, rather than all at once if you decide to sell.
Refreshing the décor, appliances, or colour schemes also keep your property up to date for when it goes back onto the rental market. It’s difficult to ask a premium price for rent if you still have 1970’s shag pile carpet, dusty vertical blinds on the windows, or whitegoods that should have stayed in the previous century. If you have a reliable long-term tenant this may not be a consideration, however paying attention in small ways to the property over time, will certainly soften the regular blows of rental increases as they happen.
Appliances are a great place to start – especially if yours have depreciated beyond your ability to make a claim against them. You can replace old appliances with higher value ones, to make them eligible for depreciation claims. You can also add new appliances that weren’t’ there before – such as a dishwasher or a washing machine – as assets to the property to boost your claimable expenses at tax time.
As soon as the shiny new appliance is installed, however, other things may start to look a little more tired than they once did. When your property manager attends the property for its regular inspection, it’s a good idea to ask them to check on more than just whether your tenant is taking care of the place. Let them know you’d also like an overall review of the property. Get them to take a look at its general appearance and condition and make a note of anything they think could be attended to. Is the carpet starting to wear thin? Could the floorboards do with a polish? Maybe just the window trims and doors could be painted to freshen things up.
Talking to the tenant about how things are working is also useful – your property manager could ask if there have been any issues they haven’t thought to report, such as the intermittent flickering of a light globe, a vaguely dripping tap, or strange noises from the hot water or heating systems. These could be indicators that something might need to be replaced and if it’s getting close to its use by date anyway, it could save you money later. If you have the time, money, and inclination so why not do it now, before disaster strikes, and save yourself a potential expensive call-out fee on a messy repair?
Make a list of all the possibilities then refine it by identifying which upgrades will deliver the most value to you, for the amount you are willing to invest.
WHAT BUYERS NOW LOOK FOR
It’s true that Victoria has taken one for the team where the Covid-19 pandemic is concerned, but across Australia, we’ve all been affected. Many of us have seen more of our homes and families than ever before, while others no longer value the anonymity that comes with apartments.
We’ve experienced our living spaces in new and challenging ways and some things just can’t be unseen or inexperienced right? Australian architecture made a dramatic shift to open plan living decades ago, with little sense of how impractical that might be when everyone needed to be on different Zoom calls at the same time.
It’s not unreasonable to expect that buyers in the post-pandemic world will want more space, more light, and for many – a generally less open-plan environment. Architects will need to be more creative around how to offer communal lifestyle options, as well as privacy and quiet retreats within homes for work, study, or just a bit of peace and solitude.
There will inevitably be a shift in how we work, which may mean more of us will work from home. This could make the bedroom to study conversions a draw, or the granny flat style studio in the backyard an essential.
Though plans for the future are probably not being made around ‘the next time there’s a pandemic’, there’s certainly reason to believe the conflicting yearning for a sense of togetherness in spaces, with multiple opportunities to be apart, will drive buyer demand.
OUTDOOR ROOMS THE NEW MUST HAVE
You only need look to the dull-eyed apartment dwellers of the nation to know how difficult lockdown got for those starved of outdoor space.
From two-foot balconies to stark brick courtyards – the struggle became real as the pandemic marched on. Now, as people reassess their current lifestyle, a yearning for not just a backyard, but a whole other room outside seems more essential than indulgent.
Though in previous iterations, the outdoor room has been about cooking and entertainment, the possibilities and requirements for today are more diverse.
The challenges faced during lockdown weren’t around food and socializing, but about engaging in the daily activities of life, many of which used to happen elsewhere and can vary widely for each member of the household. Suddenly a grown-up version of a cubby house looks extremely attractive!
The outdoor rooms of the future may need to accommodate an array of uses and creativity in design will be key. Replacing windows with doors out onto private outdoor spaces with a deck or paving and with some well-placed trees could create a reading space, or a yoga and meditation space.
A fire pit in a well-located position in the garden breaks up the endless nights in front of the TV for those who choose.
Extending an existing porch or balcony, or even adding a new patio on top of a garage could create a space for work or recreation.
The new normal requires that a few people’s different needs can all be accommodated at once – from workspace to playroom, gaming den, to exercise studio.
A sheltered deck distanced somewhat from the house (attached to the side for example, or freestanding at the back of the property) could provide a range of opportunities for activities that may need to be done at home, well into the future.
A range of simple ‘escape’ solutions could be built around a sturdy multipurpose table, with some good weather protection.
Buyers of the future will yearn for more than the traditional layout of bedrooms, bathrooms, living and dining spaces and creativity is the key!
Talk to one of our agents for more detailed advice before you commence any renovations. We can always guide you on what buyers are responding well too before you get started.
BUDGET FRIENDLY SPRING REVAMPS
Many of us have spent more time than ever before inside our homes this year, and though we can’t hit refresh in 2020, we can certainly revamp things around the house to brighten our moods.
Shed some layers
We all have stuff in our homes that we don’t need – from jars stuffed with pens that don’t work to wardrobes bursting with clothes that don’t fit.
Starting with the smallest thing and working your way up helps you chip away at it – and we all have a junk drawer that can get us in the mood. Pull it out and sort it in front of the TV – Before you know it, you’ll be emptying wardrobes and stuffing the recycling with all those old takeaway containers driving you mad in the bottom cupboard.
You may have a few days of chaos as various piles appear for goodwill, garage sales, and hard rubbish collection but stay focused and keep your eyes on the spacious, clutter-free prize.
Do a deep clean
If you’ve lived in your rental for a while, you probably have some things you overlook, that you think will be dealt with on your exit clean. A particularly stubborn moldy corner in the bathroom perhaps? Rust marks on tiles? Stains from old spills on the carpet?
If you’ve become a long-term tenant in the property, it might be worth considering a deep clean, using products you don’t normally buy – like a grout pen, a high strength household disinfectant, or carpet shampoo.
Many of these products are inexpensive and freely available at your local supermarket or hardware store. Not only will the extra time and attention keep the property in good shape, but it will also make your life easier in the months ahead of where housework is concerned too!
Plant some seeds
Regardless of how much space you have, there is always room somewhere for a plant. Pick one up spontaneously while you’re shopping, or better still grow your own. Most supermarkets sell small bags of potting mix now, and you can order seeds for a few dollars a packet online.
Rocket seeds will sprout in just a few days, and snow peas will shoot and burst to life in less than a week. Spring is the time for bulbs so add some colour to the house with daffodils, jonquils, tulips, or hyacinths. Or cut the ends off your spring onions, put the roots in a jar of water and watch them magically regrow, for a bit of greenery in the kitchen.
Clean, paint, and repair
Now that the chaotic top layer of miscellaneous life junk has been removed, the smell of disinfectant lingers in the air and you’re buzzing with the promise of new life as your seeds start to sprout, what comes next? Being an excellent tenant is the answer – nobody likes a whinger, but every landlord loves a good tenant. Take a look around your home and try to see things with fresh eyes. There may be a collection of small things that need attention, that will not only contribute to your overall revamping efforts but also let the landlord know you’re really taking care of their property.
Maybe you’ll spot some minor maintenance or repairs that might be needed – like markings on walls, chipped or peeling paint, or loose or broken things like handles and doorknobs. Start a list of small things around the house that need to be repaired, or are starting to look shabby and could do with some attention. There may be things you can deal with yourself – such as scrubbing wall marks with some sugar soap or spot cleaning carpet stains – but if there are enough odd jobs, it might be worth a visit from a handyman.
One handyman might be able to manage all the small repairs needed, or you may require a tradesman for more complex issues. This will of course be at the landlord’s discretion. Whatever the result, spotting issues and getting them on the table now, means you’re keeping on top of the ongoing care of the property; life is too short for cleaning and waiting around for emergency repairs right?
The landlord doesn’t see the property in the way you do and may appreciate the feedback and be happy to oblige. They may also reject the request but its spring and inspiration is in the air so it’s worth a shot right!
Make things new again
Aside from the cosmetic things to do with the property, you can also make small changes yourself that will brighten things up. Putting pictures on the walls (or changing around the ones you have), or filling a dull corner with a lush leafy indoor plant can transform a space in minutes. There are plenty of tenant-friendly wall hanging options on the market now that won’t damage surfaces, and indoor plants are yours to keep forever (providing you don’t kill them).
Brighten up your space with colour by adding a couple of good quality throw cushions to your living spaces. You can often pick up pillows and cushions from garage sales and if they are a standard size, you can mix and match with fun cushion covers and throw rugs as the seasons change. Changing colours, designs, and styles of bed linen, bathroom towels, and accessories can also help and often will change the entire mood of your house. You can’t go wrong with a vase of fresh flowers on a sunny windowsill.
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