Howard County is one of the most competitive rental property markets in Maryland. With beautiful scenery, the excitement of city life, and a touch of history sprinkled throughout, it is no wonder people are rushing to make Howard County their home. Plus, with plenty of work opportunities that pay well above the average American income paired with lower-than-average housing costs, Howard County offers an affordable place to grow professionally.
If you are a property owner that has an investment property in Howard County, you are likely aware that the competition is tough. In fact, you may already know that attracting high quality tenants takes more than offering a decent rental rate and a clean and inviting property. But you may not know how to use outdoor upgrades on your rental property to your benefit.
Thus, today we are going to look at how to improve your rental home’s outdoor living space in order to appeal to tenants looking to call Howard County home. The outdoor updates we are going to look at are going to make sense financially and be worthwhile in the long run.
The Best Outdoor Updates for Your Howard County Rental Property
Making outdoor rental property updates can become a costly venture if you are not careful. In addition, if you do not do your research and make sure the upgrades you are performing are going to pay off in the long run, you could easily lose thousands of dollars in the process and never recover. However, there are plenty of great opportunities to upgrade the exterior of your rental home without breaking the bank.
1. Tend to the Backyard Ground Space
Looking at a huge backyard is not appealing if it is a barren space of dirt or even plain grass. Luckily, there are a number of easy and affordable ways to make your rental property’s backyard ground space look well-maintained and attractive:
- Paving Stones. Placed in attractive patterns or designs, recycled paving stones can really make your ground space pop. To add to the appeal, consider allowing moss or grass to grow up between the stones. Not only does this help save you money on materials, it makes your ground space unique when compared to others with similar outdoor spaces
- Gravel is an inexpensive way to fill a large ground space and make it look maintained and more finished. Rather than leave the existing earth, choose a colorful gravel mixture to match the outdoor vibe you are looking to provide tenants.
- Grass Alternatives. Grass is hard to maintain and can be expensive if you have a large ground space. However, using alternatives such as thyme or lamium instead of grass are increasingly popular choices for giving your backyard that lovely green look without all the cost. Other great choices that add texture and color include Blue Oatgrass, Feather Reedgrass, colorful Flax, Fountaingrass, and Zoysia.
- Getting creative with items you may already have on hand for planters is a great way to upgrade your backyard without having to invest a lot of money. For example, wine crates, barrels, tires, or old pallets make great and rustic looking planters.
2. Add Flowers and Trees
Although this may seem like an obvious thing to do when it comes to upgrading your rental property’s outdoor space, the truth is that putting some extra thought into your choices and methodically choosing your flowers and trees can go a long way.
One of the best things you can add to your property’s exterior, whether in the front or back yard areas, is perennials.
Perennials flower throughout the year, during every season, and require very little maintenance on your part (or your tenant’s).
The only thing to keep in mind with perennials is that they are typically more expensive upfront. However, since they return year after year and add beauty to your yard, the initial investment pays for itself over time.
Here are some great perennial options that would work well for your Howard County yard space:
- Coral Bells
- Russian Sage
If you choose to plant annual flowers, as opposed to including perennials in your yard space, that’s okay too. Though these types of flowers only bloom once a year, the money you invest upfront will be significantly lower meaning you can add more color and texture to your yard for the same amount of expenditure.
Consider using dropseed rather than planting full-grown flowers as this will yield more foliage throughout the year. Poppies and sweet peas in particular are excellent annual flower options.
When it comes to adding trees to your Howard County rental property, here are some things to keep in mind to make this potentially expensive upgrade worthwhile:
- Use young, slow growing varieties as they are often cheaper than full grown trees
- Include “shade trees” that are strategically placed near the exterior of your property to help save your tenants money on their cooling and heating bills
- Use large trees such as Evergreens to help block wind
- Choose species native to Maryland that are suited to the extreme climate and that require less maintenance
- Install a watering system that soaks rather than sprays to keep water costs lower and your trees alive without the help of your tenant or a professional landscaper
- Shop around and be mindful of what time of the year you are purchasing to give your trees the best chance at living
3. Bring the Indoors, Outdoors
Another excellent way to pique the interest of potential tenants is to add a little bit of indoor living to the outdoor area of your rental home. For example, one of the most popular amenities tenants look for in a backyard space is an outdoor kitchen of some sort, complete with a functioning sitting area. This means an outdoor BBQ, counter and cooking spaces (such as a stovetop), sinks, an island with barstools, full patio furniture, and even a fire pit for enjoying the later evening hours.
You may want to consider a patio or deck as well. Adding to your tenant’s personal enjoyment of your property, patios or decks are a great way to bring interior living space outside. Providing an entertaining and relaxing place for tenants outdoors is an upgrade that will not go unnoticed.
In the end, being able to host a large amount of people is a major selling point for some tenants. And, with these kind of rental property updates, not only will you be able to place higher quality tenants that are willing to pay more for such amenities in your property, these are likely to be the kind of tenants that will lease from you longer in order to enjoy the great rental they have.
4. Vinyl Siding Replacement
As one of the most preferred outdoor property upgrades these days, replacing your investment property’s siding comes with plenty of benefits:
- It gives your property’s exterior a modern and upgraded look
- It is relatively inexpensive
- It is very durable even for the sometimes harsh Howard County climate
- It requires very little maintenance
- It typically comes with exceptional warranties
In order to understand how adding certain upgrades to your Howard County can be worthwhile in the long run, let’s look at some convincing return on investment statistics:
- Replacing your older Howard County rental property’s siding: 80% ROI
- Adding outdoor lighting: 50% ROI
- Paving a gravel driveway: 50-75% ROI
- Professional deck addition: 73% ROI
- Landscaping: 28% additional home value = higher rental rates
- Replacing exterior doors: 101% ROI
Offering your tenants some of the above-mentioned outdoor improvements will produce many worthwhile benefits. Not only will exterior improvements put your property ahead of even the stiffest competition, it will appeal to high quality tenants looking for a rental home that exceeds their expectations.
If you have a rental property in the Howard County region and are looking for a property management company to put it on the market, contact Bay Management Group. Not only do we help ensure that your property is maximizing its curb appeal, we also advertise your property across many channels, screen potential tenants, and draft solid lease agreements, among many other property management-related tasks.
So contact us today to ensure that your outdoor updates to your rental property will yield you the return on investment you deserve.