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Seattle Property Management: Budgeting for a Single-Family Home

When you’re putting together a budget for your single-family rental home in Seattle, you’re likely thinking about a number of things.

You want to budget for the acquisition, which will be expensive. You’ll also have to budget for vacancy and tenant turnover. If you’re investing in more than one single-family home, you’ll have to budget for your mortgage payments, your insurance premiums, and the cleaning and landscaping that’s necessary during turnover processes and as you’re getting the home ready to rent.

Your biggest expenses, however, will always be maintenance. Allow a premier Seattle Property Management Company to give you the tips and tricks for a single-family rental. 

Budgeting for a single-family home is often about your intentions for the property. Take a look at your investment goals. Are you planning to move back into the home at some point? If so, you’ll want to buy a property that you’d enjoy living in yourself. Otherwise, you’ll think strictly as a tenant. 

When you know you might live in the home at some point, you’ll also want to pay attention to its maintenance and its renovations. If you’re expecting you’ll keep it as a rental property until you sell it, your maintenance budget and strategy might look a little different. 

Here’s how to budget for your single-family investment property in Seattle and around Puget Sound.

Budget for Higher Rents and Appreciation

If you’re thinking about financing, you have some good options. You can get a conventional mortgage for the single-family home you want to buy and rent out. Or, you can pay in cash if you have it available, which is an especially nice option now, with interest rates creeping higher. 

Here’s what’s great about your single-family investment: you can expect high rents and well-qualified tenants. 

A single-family home is always a great investment option because highly qualified tenants enjoy renting them. The tenants you attract with a well-maintained single-family home in a good location will want stability, and they’ll probably take care of the home just like it’s their own. You can expect them to stay in place for more than a year, and they’ll be attentive to taking care of the home. 

While vacancy risks are more pronounced when you have one asset only, you can expect better tenant retention and less turnover to budget for. 

Budget for Preventative Maintenance Budgeting

With a robust plan for preventative maintenance, you’ll have fewer expensive emergencies. You’ll also protect the condition and the value of your asset. Here is where you should focus your maintenance dollars when you’re preventatively maintaining your investment property in Seattle

  • Maintaining the Heating and Cooling System 

The HVAC system is one of the most expensive and important systems in your investment home. HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling. All of these things are essential to the comfort of your tenants and the condition of your property. You don’t want to wait for the entire system to break down. It will be terribly expensive to fix. 

Have the HVAC system serviced and inspected every year. Educate your tenants on the importance of changing air filters and reporting maintenance issues with heat, no matter how minor. You don’t want your property to lose heat in the middle of winter. If you have air conditioning, you want to make sure that runs reliably throughout the summer. An HVAC technician can let you know if there’s anything that needs attention. Your system will remain healthy and functioning, your tenants will enjoy clean indoor air and lower electric bills, and you’ll save money on unexpected repairs and replacements. Most importantly, you’ll avoid emergency repairs that come with neglect.

  • Pay Attention to Leaks and Plumbing

Nothing will do more damage to a rental property than water. Even a slow leak under the sink can be catastrophic because if it drips unnoticed for months or even weeks, it can lead to a major flood, which will then lead to rot and mold. You’ll end up with a huge repair bill when you could have taken care of the problem right away, as soon as the leak was noticed. 

Inspect for potential leaks, drips, and pooling water before and after a lease term. Run the water in tubs and flush all the toilets. Run the appliances and make sure there isn’t any evidence of leaking water. Check your irrigation systems regularly and make sure the gutters are cleared of debris and leaves. It’s critical to keep water away from your home. 

Budget for Improvements and Upgrades 

House RepairRepairs are one thing. What are you budgeting for your improvements?

Keeping your rental property modern and attractive is important for attracting and retaining good tenants. They want a home that reflects their tastes. It needs to be updated. 

If you’re planning to move back into the home at some point, you’ll also have an interest in ensuring the property remains modern. Budget for these improvements and renovations. Some of the things you may want to do during turnover periods include:

  • Fresh paint
  • Updated landscaping
  • Hard surface floors instead of carpet
  • New energy-efficient appliances 
  • Updated counters or cabinets
  • Better interior and exterior lighting

The amount you’ll need to complete these projects depends on how extensive you want to be. There are plenty of affordable things you can do to keep your home looking good. Tile backsplash in the kitchen, for example, or new drawer pulls in the bathroom. A nickel faucet instead of a fading bronze faucet will look great, too. 

Put together a budget and a plan for those long term projects that are more involved. For example, maybe you’ll want to tear up the carpet and convert to hardwood floors in two years. If you cannot invest in hardwood, consider laminates or faux wood. Plan for new exterior paint in five years and until then, give the home a good pressure washing between tenants. 

Vendor relationships will help you budget. Working with a Seattle property management company can really help you budget. We work with our owners to create a maintenance budget for their single-family investment properties every year. We help to keep costs down through our network of preferred vendors and contractors and our relationships with them.

Let’s talk more about the needs of your property and how we can budget for them. Please contact us at SJA Property Management. SJA is a premier Seattle property management company serving Seattle, Seattle’s Eastside & the Greater Puget Sound region since 2009. We provide sophisticated, personalized, and comprehensive management services for single-family residences, luxury homes, condominiums, and multi-family buildings.

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