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As a property manager, our goal is to ultimately find the best possible tenant in today’s market because this is where the landlord truly benefits. Finding someone who will pay their rent on time, take care of the home, and be respectful while not causing problems takes the right mix between price, the condition of the home, and of course location.

First Impressions

Many people want jump up and begin advertising their rental right away. In Hawaii, it’s no secret that there is a housing shortage and generally when you list a home for rent, you will get applications. But property managers and landlords should not be interested in just any application. Instead we are looking for high quality applications. The best of the best. To do this, we have to offer the best that we can.

It all starts by making a great first impression. You only get one shot at making that first impression and in most cases, tenants decide if they could rent a home within the first 30-60 seconds of seeing a home. If the home passes the first impression, the tenant will then base their final decision based on personal preferences (furniture, kitchen, master bathroom, size of bedrooms, etc).

The best way to give a good impression is for the home to feel clean and well maintained. There are several factors that determine whether a home feels clean:

  • Condition of the paint
  • Condition of the flooring
  • General cleanliness

Now these items are listed in that order intentionally. If someone walks into a home, they are generally looking straight (at the wall) and down at the ground (flooring). At this point they have not gotten far enough into the home to see whether it is truly clean.

The Walls & Paint

If a home has marks all over the walls, yellowed from age, or covered in outdated wall paper, then it will feel dirty. This is a huge turn off to tenants. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way. If you’re a landlord on a budget, then you may be able to get away with some quick touch-up paint.

Now I know painting can get expensive quickly, but this is one area that can truly have a huge impact on your ability to find quality tenants quickly and you may end up having to drop the rent some to find someone. In general, combining both a reduction in rent and the time lost in trying to find a tenant can easily exceed the cost to paint the property.

Flooring

One way to help attract great tenants quickly is by offering new flooring. Unfortunately, this has a reverse affect. Poor flooring can turn away potential renters very quickly. Whether it has a funky odor, covered in stains, or a matted appearance, flooring that is in bad condition has got to go.

A tenant can learn a lot about a property manager and the landlord just by simply looking down at their feet. Old flooring with stains, tear marks, or a matted appearance tells them that they landlord either cannot afford or is choosing not to maintain the home. Newer flooring that has been damaged indicates that a previous renter may not have taken care of the home which signals that there could be potential problems either with the property, its neighbors, the property manager, who knows. But they probably won’t stick around to find out.

General Cleaning

And finally, general cleanliness undoubtedly has an impact on how clean a home feels. The key is in the small detail items like light switches and outlet covers, baseboards, inside cabinets, light fixtures, windows, blinds, etc. If a home is dusty or not cleaned very well, the air can feel heavy and even have a musty odor to it. However, unlike paint and flooring, a maid service can almost be viewed like a one-time investment. Once you do it the first time, it becomes the tenant’s responsibility to take care of that in the future. As a property manager, I recommend to all of my customers to have their home professionally cleaned before listing it on the market for the first time and it really makes a big difference, especially when compared to other homes on Oahu.

One notable exception for maid services being a onetime investment is large repair projects. If a home is having a considerable amount of work being done to it, the landlord needs to consider that they will need to have a maid service after the work is complete.

A very common argument is that repairmen are being paid to do work and therefore they should clean up after themselves. This is something that I hear a lot but it’s simply not the case. I let my clients know that repairmen are usually skilled to complete a variety of tasks, however, they not professional cleaners. They don’t know the techniques and they don’t usually have all the tools or supplies that a maid service would be able to provide. In general, they are not really qualified to clean a home.

Another important thing to consider is that most repairmen are usually paid $50+ an hour while maids typically cost about $30+ per hour. It’s significantly cheaper to have a maid service go through and clean a property before renting it out versus a repairman because the hourly rate is often less and they know the proper cleaning techniques which helps the job done faster. So not only will maids save you money because they are cheaper, but they will also save you money because they will get the work done more quickly.


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