Arlington Property Management: A Checklist for Homeowners

March 25th, 2019 by
Arlington Property Management

Here’s Our Checklist for Arlington Property Management & Relocating Arlington Homeowners

Arlington is a hot area for rental properties–and in most cases it’s easy to attract applicants eager to rent inside the Beltway. But many Arlington homeowners wonder whether they could do more to attract the best tenants in the region. After being asked countless times by landlords for tips on what’s worth spending money on and what’s not–here’s our handy checklist for relocating Arlington homeowners.

1. Remember–You’re Renting, Not Selling.

Do NOT spend money on upgrades that you might consider if you were trying to sell the home. What are those “selling-only” types of upgrades?

  • High-end appliances.
  • Kitchen renovation
  • New bathroom fixtures.
  • Finishing a basement.
  • Adding a deck.

Tenants are not buying your home–they’re only borrowing it for a year or so. You may indeed end up wanting to sell your home within a few years after renting it out–and you’ll end up with not-quite-new upgrades that’ll probably show some wear and tear from your tenants. So be conservative about improvements until the time comes when you’re ready to sell.

Sometimes new landlords mistakenly think that putting a home on the rental market demands a particular set of improvements–a punch list of small luxuries intended to attract “the best tenants” (i.e., D.C. professionals with expensive tastes–and so, presumably, the willingness to pay high rents to have the nicest floors, fixtures, or whatever.)

In my decades of Arlington property management, I’ve never seen these types of upgrades improve a landlord’s bottom line. (And often, they will lose you money–whether in the up-front expense alone or in the added budget-killer of having to redo/replace/repair all those upgrades after tenants move out.)

  • Custom paint
  • High-grade flooring
  • Labor-intensive landscaping
  • Custom lighting
  • Custom plumbing fixtures

2. Get Everything in Working Order.

While upgrades are not necessary, a well-functioning home is essential. Do spend money to ensure that all appliances, fixtures, and systems are in good working order. What’s the difference between essential repairs and non-essential repairs?

Well, here’s a simple example:

Broken light fixture you’ve been overlooking for the past year? Yes, fix it immediately.

High-end, silent-running Bosch dishwasher to replace the dishwasher that’s been leaving spots on all your glasses? No. If your dishwasher truly is not up to snuff, then consider either having it repaired or replacing it with a utilitarian grade model. And by the way, purchasing utilitarian grade appliances will also mean fewer service calls and less chance they’ll be wrecked by tenant abuse or neglect.

The rule of thumb should be, basic, basic, basic. Here’s my time-tested, market-proven list:

  • Neutral colors everywhere
  • Medium-grade flooring
  • Utilitarian (read, industrial-strength) appliances
  • Yards requiring minimal care
  • Basic light fixtures
  • Basic plumbing fixtures

3. Allow Pets (On a Case by Case Basis)

Many landlords are open to making pricey upgrades but will not even consider leasing to a tenant with a pet. We recommend widening the tenant applicant pool by allowing pets–but with an attached higher security deposit. Make it clear you’ll consider pets on a case-by-case basis–not as a blanket policy.

In our experience, being willing to at least consider pets doesn’t just give you more applicants to choose from–it actually gives you better applicants to choose from. The most qualified tenants we see also tend to be those with pets. I don’t know exactly why this is–it’s just something I’ve seen again and again.

Will even a small, well trained pet cause more damage than no pets at all? Probably. But most pet damage can be addressed thoroughly through an appropriately higher security deposit. And most pet owners understand why they must be prepared to pay that higher up-front cost for the privilege of having a pet at their rental property.

4. Let Tenants Choose the Paint Colors

Do remember that if your home has been painted with custom interior colors, your preferences may not be those of a qualified prospective tenant. And for the high prices of Arlington rents, your tenants will want to make sure their furniture looks good and the home reflects their tastes. Most commonly, you’ll be asked to paint a neutral color. You can certainly ask the tenant to share this cost with you–but regardless, you should do your best to give your tenants the paint colors they prefer.

On the other side of the coin, if a tenants ask for permission to paint with custom colors, you should also oblige them–but exclusively at their expense. And require them to paint everything back to the way you had it when they leave the property.


So, what are the Arlington VA property management essentials?

Want excellent tenants? Breaking the bank on upgrades isn’t what’ll attract them. Functional systems and appliances–combined with flexibility on pets and paint colors–will matter most.

And by the way, we know how to advise and help homeowners in a lot more than what to spend (and not spend) money on. We can advise on all aspects of renting out your home. what Sheung Leu, a current WJD client, had to say about our services:

As owners of a rental house managed by WJD Management, we are very pleased with the services they’ve provided. The are very responsive to the requests of the tenants and discuss with us for the repairs needed and execute to the satisfaction of both our tenants and us. WJD knows the market trends and provides updated information to us, we can depend on them and save a lot of management tasks.

The First Step: A Rental Market Analysis

Before you make any decisions about preparing your property for the rental market, you need to know exactly what rent you’ll be able to charge. Are you interested in finding out the best rent for your Arlington home? Simply fill out our free rental market analysis form. We’ll apply our 30+ years of Arlington VA property management experience to the particulars of your condo, townhouse, or single family home. We’ll keep your information private–and I’ll reply personally with a custom analysis within a day.

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