Turn Your Rental Property into a “Smart Home” & Attract High-Paying Tenants

If you want to attract high-paying tenants, you need to realize that they often look for convenient, luxurious amenities that will improve their quality of life at home.smart-rental-property-columbia-howard-county-manager-tipsOne of those amenities is “smart” technology.

When you install smart devices in one of your properties, you can turn that property into a smart home, which can increase its value in the eyes of potential renters.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “smart device,” it simply refers to an electronic device that is generally connected to another device or network of devices. A good example of one of these devices is a smart refrigerator, which keeps track of its contents and alerts the tenant via your smartphone when they’re running low on supplies.

Smart devices are so appealing because they give your tenants the ability to control standard home functions with the touch of a smartphone, tablet, or computer—the ultimate convenience.

But don’t worry – you don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive smart devices like smart refrigerators.

There are several inexpensive options to consider so you can keep costs low while justifying a higher rent rate and attracting higher-quality tenants.

Let’s talk about 3 devices you can install in your properties now, and along the way, we’ll discuss ways to sell potential tenants on the value of these devices.


How to Turn Your Columbia Property Into a Smart Home

1. Install a Smart Thermostat

Did you know that heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy used in the average home, which makes it one of the largest energy expenses for most homes?

With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why giving a tenant more control over their heating and cooling with a smart thermostat makes your property more appealing – it gives them a lot more control over their energy costs.

Smart thermostats allow your tenants to remotely control their home’s temperature (and monitor energy usage) with a smartphone, tablet, or even their desktop. All they have to do is download an app onto their device to adjust their heating or cooling needs from any location.

On top of that, some smart thermostats have the ability to “learn” a tenant’s behavior patterns and make adjustments accordingly.

For example, if a tenant often desires a certain temperature at a specific time of day, the smart thermostat can learn those preferences and build a heating/cooling schedule around it.

Wondering how you can express the value a smart thermostat adds to your property?

Here’s how to sell your tenants on smart thermostats:

  • Let them know that smart thermostats can make temperature adjusting more convenient. Your tenants can adjust the temperature from the comfort of their couch or from a distant location – all they need is their phone, tablet, or computer!
  • Talk about how smart thermostats can help them save money. No more accidentally leaving the air conditioning on for an entire day – the temperature can be adjusted at any time, from anywhere.
  • Appeal to environmentally-conscious tenants. Let them know that they can receive reports about their energy usage through their smartphone to help them avoid wasting energy.


2. Install Smart Locks

As a landlord or property manager in Columbia, MD, you understand how troublesome lost keys can be for you and your tenants. The last thing you want is to receive a call at 2AM from tenants who have accidentally locked themselves out of the property.

To prevent that situation, install smart locks in your property. These replace traditional locks and keys with an electronic system that unlocks a door once it receives a wireless signal from an authorized smartphone.

Installing smart locks isn’t just great for your tenants – it’s also convenient for you, as you can remotely manage who is allowed to open your property’s door at any given time.

In addition, some smart locks will send you a notification when one of the smartphones you have authorized has opened the door, allowing you to keep track of who has entered your property.

To sell the value of smart locks to your tenants, let them know that the smart locks will eliminate their need to keep track of physical keys. They can easily unlock their doors with their smartphone (or tablet) so they won’t be locked out of their home if they lose their physical keys.


Tip: Worried about what might happen if your tenant’s smart phone dies and they need to enter their home? Don’t worry – a smart lock can still be opened with a traditional key if needed!


3. Use Smart Bulbs

Unlike traditional light bulbs, these bulbs give your tenants the ability to use their smartphone (or tablet) to remotely access their home’s lighting system with the touch of a button.

Smart bulbs can also include features like:

  • Motion SensorsSome smart bulbs have motion sensors that can detect when a tenant is in the room and turn the lights on and off accordingly. No more high energy costs due to a light accidentally being left on all day!
  • GPS Activation – Some smart bulbs are able to detect the GPS in a tenant’s smartphone and will automatically turn the lights on or off once they are almost home. This allows your tenants to come home to a well-lit house.
  • Dimmable Function – This allows your tenant to dim or brighten the lights in their home by simply using the bulb’s corresponding app and saves you from installing physical dimmer switches in your property.

You can sell your potential tenants on the value of smart bulbs by describing how they can help keep energy costs low and improve convenience when it comes to making lighting adjustments.


Final Thoughts

Making your property into a “smart home” provides tenants with more convenience and control over the functions of their home. So if you’re looking to attract higher-paying tenants, the devices mentioned in this post may be well worth the initial investment.

And if you are looking for a property management company in Columbia to help you learn more about turning your property into a smart home, contact Bay Management Group.

Attracting high-paying tenants can seem like a difficult process, but we are here to help you with your landlord tasks, including Columbia property advertisement, rent collection, tenant screening, maintenance, inspections, and more.


What Tenants Want in an Outdoor Space

What Montgomery County Tenants Are Looking for in a Home Exterior

what-montgomery-county-md-tenants-want-rental-property-1For many renters in Montgomery County, the outside of a rental property is just as important as the interior.

On nice days, tenants want to know that they can go out and spend time in the yard or enjoy a glass of wine on the porch and feel like they’re in an extension of their home.

A polished outdoor space can also help tenants choose one home over another.

Many individuals make snap judgments the moment they pull up to a prospective home. Those with manicured lawns and an inviting presence are more appealing than those with attractive interiors but nothing to offer outside.

Most of the time, investing in an outdoor space offers a high return for property owners.

Here are some of the features tenants want to see in an outdoor space:



A home’s landscaping is what sets it apart from the crowd. Great landscaping adds that extra touch of polish and can greatly enhance homes with interiors that lack amenities.

Montgomery County tenants want to know they can go outside and enjoy the space without having to worry about weekly maintenance that may not be covered by their rental agreement.

Keep landscaping simple, functional, and appealing.

  • maryland-property-owners-consider-landscaping-to-attract-tenantsLawn. Investing in quality grass in well-lit areas can make a huge difference in the outside feel of a home. Nice lawns invite children to play and tenants to enjoy warm evenings outside with their families. A uniform lawn is also easier to care for than patchy grass that grows wherever it chooses. Some property management companies in Montgomery County offer regular lawn maintenance, so be sure to ask if yours does.
  • Plants and trees. Choose hardy plants that will come back year after year for an easily maintained rental property. Boxwoods, peonies, monkey grass, and hydrangeas are all easy-care plants that can really brighten up a rental property. Add hardwoods for a lasting effect on the property that generations to come can enjoy.
  • Gardens. Many renters want to feel like the home is really theirs. Try to accommodate this by including a garden plot for any tenants who want to grow ornamental plants or vegetables. Alternatively, window boxes are great additions that allow tenants to grow small plants without affecting the overall landscape of a property.
  • Sustainability. Environmental friendliness is a popular selling point in real estate these days. Renters like to know that their landscaping includes native plants that are easy to care for and do well in the local environment.


Patio and Porch Spaces

Many properties in Montgomery County offer great scenic views, making outdoor patios the perfect place for tenants to relax and entertain. Renters will appreciate any extra effort that a homeowner puts in to make the patio area comfortable.

While homeowners should not worry about investing in all possible bells and whistles, there are some basics that will make the patio an attractive rental feature.

  • montgomery-county-rental-proprerty-backyard-with-lighting-seatingLighting. Make sure that the lighting is clean, working, and illuminates the area well. Use energy-efficient outdoor bulbs (LED) in all the fixtures as an added bonus to help tenants keep their electric bills down. LED bulbs are also advisable for the lights inside your home. They last much longer than a regular light bulb, and help to lower the utility bill. High-quality bulbs should last for several years without a problem and are an important comfort and security feature for the outside of the home.
  • Sitting areas. Homeowners may choose to provide a basic sitting area, porch swing, or built-in benches. However, they should protect their investment if this includes any movable furniture by putting their expectations for care and safekeeping in the lease. Patio furniture is absolutely optional for a property owner, but can add significant value to any tenant who does not already own outdoor furniture.
  • Grill. A built-in grill will last for years and is an instant value-add to any home. Gathering spaces and food preparation areas are both highlights for renters and homeowners. A small portable charcoal grill can also be a valuable addition to a rental exterior, and provides tenants an alternative to indoor cooking. If a tenant chooses not to use it, the grill can be easily stored. Portable grills are also a cost-effective value promotion for a property.


Additional Amenities

It’s important that your rental property have something to set it above competing properties in Montgomery County. By highlighting additional amenities, property management companies can more easily market homes to viable prospects.

Choose exterior coloring that is neutral and calming, and even if the exterior features are limited, make sure the area is very well groomed.

Other top rental property amenities include:

  • hammock-from-montgomery-county-property-managementExternal sound systems. A home wired with a sound system provides tenants with flexibility to take their activities inside or out. External sound systems can add an extra touch to the home experience and can be as inexpensive or as extravagant as a property owner wants.
  • Neighborhood access. Provide renters with information about additional amenities they may have access to by living in the neighborhood. Nearby tennis courts, pools, and community clubhouses can all make a home more enticing to prospective renters. Consider keeping a booklet spotlighting such information to help newcomers become acquainted with their new community and list nearby grocery stores and entertainment options.
  • Parking. Safe and easy to access parking is very important for renters. Make sure that the garage doors are working and that the driveway is accessible. Consider lining the driveway with plants or solar lighting to provide easy visibility at night
  • Mail. The mailbox is often overlooked, but is an easy improvement for property owners. Make sure the landscaping around the mailbox is attractive and that the mailbox itself is sturdy, attractive, and functioning smoothly.
  • Hammocks, swings, and more. In Maryland, small investments in the backyard can lead to big payoffs for property owners. If you have trees that are perfect for a tire swing or hammock, consider installing bolts and giving tenants the opportunity for lounging in the afternoon shade during the summer.


Many tenants place a high value on the care property owners take with the exterior of a home.

Property management companies in Montgomery County, such as Bay Management Group, are well acquainted with local exterior selling points and can help property owners decide on exterior improvements and maintain the property throughout the year.

Contact us for more information about improving your outdoor space and improving your rental property experience today.