Landlords are always asking us how they can make their property more attractive to professional tenants, and no wonder. It's a lucrative market of high-earning people who'll pay a premium rent for the right home. But what exactly do they want?
Professional tenants often work extra-long hours, so their free time is particularly precious: whether they're staying home alone or entertaining friends, they want to truly savour where they live.
They also expect a professionally managed home where they can be sure of being well looked after, with a 24-hour number to call in case of emergencies. And with time a precious commodity, finding a home fast is also a priority, which means your buy-to-let should be listed on a major property portal and not buried in classified ads.
If you already own a buy-to-let, our blog this week will help you identify improvements you can make to reach a new audience. And if you're starting or expanding a lettings portfolio, you'll find tips on what professional tenants look for in potential homes and locations to pay a premium rent.
Either side of a long and busy day, professional tenants want an easy commute and an enjoyable lifestyle that's close to home. In short, the perfect work-life balance.
Singles, couples and sharers have entirely different wish lists than families when choosing a location. Instead of Ofsted ratings for the best schools, they'll be looking up places to meet up with friends.
So when you're considering whether to add a home to your lettings portfolio, use the following checklist to see how the lifestyle matches up:
● easy (10-15 mins max) walking distance to transport
● grabbing a coffee
● somewhere for brunch
● a great local pub with food
● going shopping
● heading to the gym
● staying in with a takeaway
● a decent dry cleaner
● buying groceries
● open green space
Having a fulfilling lifestyle doesn't require living in the most expensive streets. Professional tenants don't prioritise family-friendly avenues or the most exclusive position; they're looking for convenience and connectivity to enjoy the best of the neighbourhood.
Successful people want a home that reflects and rewards the effort they put into their working day.
By offering accommodation that's comfortable for everyone to live in, you'll attract professional tenants who'll pay a premium rent.
● Whether the living room and kitchen are separate or a single open-plan space, there should be plenty of room for a dining table and sofa(s) that comfortably seat at least the number of tenants.
● Each tenant or couple will expect a bedroom that's big enough for a full-size double bed, nightstands and wardrobe without it feeling like a squeeze. Single bedrooms get a lot of tenant turnover, which is unsettling for a household and requires time to find a new housemate - time that professional tenants either don't have or would rather spend on something more fun.
● You can add value, space and convenience to a small bathroom by replacing a tiny tub with a large shower. And if you have more than three sharers, an extra shower room will relieve many-a morning rush and the accompanying frustrations.
Professional tenants are happy to rent either newly-built or traditional homes, but they care about living in a style-conscious and modern environment. A place where everything works, and that makes them feel good.
Make sure the paintwork is clean and bright. Many marks and scuffs will wash off, and for those that won't, treat them to a fresh coat of warm white.
Bare windows are a no-no, even in unfurnished lettings. Choose Venetian timber blinds in birch or oak to go with any style of property and furniture.
A good shower is absolutely essential, along with an extractor fan that works properly. Replace a regular radiator with a heated chrome towel rail for a market-seducing and cost-effective upgrade.
With so much of modern life revolving around the kitchen, the way it looks and functions is a major deciding factor in choosing a home to rent.
It's a myth that professional tenants never cook. They want a good-looking kitchen with:
● fan oven (consider one with a microwave function)
● fast hob
● washing machine with 7kg+ load capacity and 1000+ spin speed
● tall fridge/freezer
● dishwasher (for 1-2 people, you can get away with a well-designed half-size model from the likes of Neff, Bosch & Siemens; 3 or more sharers will expect a full-size machine)
Choose stainless steel for exposed appliances wherever you can. If the kitchen is open to the living space, create a cleaner look by installing integrated models with facias to match the units.
Engineered or solid wood floors are the finish of choice for professional tenants because they're easy to maintain and look brilliant in hallways, living rooms and bedrooms. Carpets are more prone to stains and can show their age quickly through dust lines behind doors and imprints from furniture.
In wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, go for tiles: a smart grey or limestone finish goes with almost anything, but contemporary takes on Moorish, Roman and Art Deco designs are also a popular look.
It's remarkable how little storage space we find in some buy-to-lets when it's a huge priority for professional tenants. We all have belongings we need to store, and when there's nowhere for them to go, they end up in piles and make rooms feel cheap, messy and uninviting.
Use our tips to offer a home that stays effortlessly tidy.
It's essential to have somewhere to store the vacuum cleaner, ironing board, broom, mop, towels and household cleaning products. Common areas like hallways, landings and kitchens are the perfect spots - try to keep them out of living rooms and bedrooms.
There should be sufficient space to store enough food for the likely number of tenants, plus room for cutlery, crockery, pans and containers. If you can't fit more units in, increase their current storage efficiency. Most cupboards will take an extra level, whether an additional solid shelf or a freestanding organiser that stands inside.
Everyone has products that need to go somewhere. A metal shelf or caddy in the shower will hold gels and shampoos; a mirrored medicine cabinet over the washbasin hides everyday products, and a tall, slender cupboard will swallow loo rolls, hairdryers, beard trimmers and everything else.
If you're serious about getting a market-leading rent from professional tenants, consider installing full-height built-in wardrobes. They provide tons more storage than their freestanding cousins, making it easier and tidier to stow items like suitcases, boxes, weights, yoga mats, and other personal items.
You'll also have less wear and tear from bulky furniture being carried in and out.
BONUS TIP: Choose space-saving sliding doors with mirrors to make dressing make a room feel bigger and brighter.
The humble hook makes life so much easier in so many places. On bedroom doors for clothes; in bathrooms for towels and robes; in kitchens for aprons and tea towels; and by the front door for coats.
Professional tenants aren't looking for large lawns where children can run around and build tents. They love stylish, private and low-maintenance patios, balconies and terraces with things like:
● space for a table and chairs to comfortably seat the number of tenants
● easy-care surfaces like paving and decking
● outdoor lighting
● a few pots with hardy succulents that thrive on neglect
● room for a barbecue
It's also worth thinking about how your tenants will get outside. For singles and couples, it's not so important, but for sharers, the access to outdoor space should be through a common area like a living room, kitchen or hall. If it's through someone's bedroom, there'll be times when it's inaccessible to the other tenants, which could become contentious.
By actively designing your buy-to-let to attract high-earning professionals, you'll achieve premium rent, add value to your property and keep it ahead of the market. And as your equity increases, you can release it to fund future investments.
If you're a landlord with rental property in Southampton, we'd love to show you how we can help you optimise the performance of your lettings portfolio. Call us on 02380 987610 or email us at email@example.com for a friendly chat and expert advice.