A short guide to furnishing your rental condo unit
They say that most of the residential condominium buildings currently under construction will be completed this year and next, with the units turned over to their owners largely in the year 2013. A moving target, I thought, for just when we thought the market couldn’t take more of these condo units, we still see new residential buildings being launched and sold! While many fear a glut, we just don’t see that coming, what with brisk sales and a population that largely does not have its own home. There’s still room for growth.
While there are many buyers that are end users themselves, there are also those that purchase units as part of their property investment portfolio, and give the units up for rent. I’ve learned recently what makes a unit rentable: it’s apparently not so much of its views, nor the floor that it’s located—whether high or low—but rather, the way the unit is fitted-out. The bottom line is that anyone looking for a furnished apartment to rent will pay more and decide quicker on one that is properly done up and adequately fitted out and furnished.
From what I’ve seen and experienced, I share with you some tips on the kind of improvements that help “sell” a rental unit:
1 Make sure you have all the furniture basics. A sofa, armchair, coffee table, TV console, dining chairs, dining table, buffet or console, a queen-size bed, bedside tables, desk (which can also be used as a vanity table, depending on the tenant’s need) and desk chair. These are the essentials. Check that what you select is scaled down and is not overly large or disproportionate to the available space. If your unit is spacious, that is great! But remember, don’t fill it up with too many pieces. Lesser pieces in a small apartment is always better than too much. Same goes for a big apartment. Add a few accessories to complete the look.
2 Provide for additional everyday storage requirements. While most turned-over units have closets installed, more often than not, they are installed only with hanging rods and a few shelves that are insufficient for everyday living. Drawer chests and shoe cabinets are very helpful additions and can be purchased in most furniture shops. There are also small shelves that can be simply slotted into your closets for proper compartmentalization.
3 Provide ample lighting. Most condo units are turned over with only a few light fixtures or even just light points where your own light fittings can be installed and connected. Make maximum use of these light points by using light fittings that have high lumen ratings. Because most condos are turned over without false ceilings, a light point in a slab ceiling cannot be relocated and surface-mounted or pendant (dropped) lamps and track lights are the best options for this. The former would have to coordinate with your furniture arrangement, while the latter is more flexible and can have multiple lamps pointed to different directions.
Don’t forget the essential decorative lights: lamps for the end tables and bedside tables, desk lamps, and a floor lamp in a cozy nook or beside a console if you have more space. Accent lighting always softens the feel of any room and makes it cozy.
4 Use unreachable spaces for long-term storage. Space above the bathroom mirrors, over the washing machine, under the bathroom lavatory above the TV cabinets are all air space that can be installed with storage cabinets. In small apartments, every bit of useful space is precious. Finish them in the same color as the adjacent walls so they don’t visually stick out and look heavy. Be careful though not to overdo it as you will lose that feeling of spaciousness and your rooms could turn out to look like well-organized “bodegas.”
5 Provide proper window treatment. Curtains are still the gold standard window treatment for rental units. Use a heavy fabric material with a “black-out” lining which completely blocks off light, and have a separate layer of sheer fabric, meant to screen out and diffuse sunlight. The former provides complete privacy and is almost always requested for by prospective tenants.
6 Don’t forget the small things that ultimately define a well-appointed unit. In the bathroom: proper shelving in the shower for shampoo, soap and other bath amenities, robe hooks, towel bars, a small garbage bin and a hamper; in the kitchen: hooks for mittens and hand towels, robe hooks, towel racks, a wall clock; proper racking above or beside the washing machine for the laundry items; in the bedrooms: a free-standing coat rack, trash bins; an ironing table and a rack for hanging clothes; and adequate hanging space in the maid’s room. Have a bedspread installed and your dining table decked with the table setting, so that the first impact into your unit is a very positive and lived-in one. You’d want your prospective tenant to get excited and want to live there already!
7 Enjoy furnishing your unit. Ultimately, it is what will bring your investment around!
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