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Small investments, big returns: independent rental owners offer 11 cost-effective ways to add value to a rental property.

The independent owner/manager, who often manages "B" and "C" properties, faces special challenges when competing with new apartments. Following are 11 cost-effective ideas on how to add value to a property.

1. Try Taupe

One sure way to minimize the cry, "My furniture won't match the carpet," is to install taupe carpet. Taupe, a color between gray and tan, is just about the most neutral color available. Cost: Same as any colored carpet.

2. Wood-Look Flooring

If you want a classic look that is tougher and longer lived than carpeting, try one of the many faux wood flooring surfaces available in a wide variety of colors and styles. It may be more expensive initially, but will last much longer than carpeting. Cost: Varies.

3. Parquet!

Another flooring option is to use self-stick wood parquet flooring squares in an entry. They add a rich, warm look and owners can boast "parquet floor" in their advertising. Cost: About the same as inexpensive ceramic tile, about $30 for a small entry.

4. Staying Neutral

Most rental owners agree that neutral wall paint is the way to go when painting a rental property. Many believe that wallpaper is not necessary to cover the bathroom, and sticking with paint will help cut down maintenance costs. Cost: Same as a can of any color paint.

5. Counter Proposal

Want to extend the life of your Formica countertops? Give each new resident a small wood cutting board as a move-in present. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but owners also can prevent their countertops from being damaged. Cost: $6.

6. Taken For Granite

A material called Granulon has a rich granite-like look, but is actually simulated marble. It comes in several colors and looks great. Cost: Much less than granite.

7. Let Us Spray

Install an upgraded kitchen sink faucet that has a sprayer built in. They cost more, but they add a deluxe look to any kitchen. Cost: About $50 more than a standard faucet.

8. On the Right Track

Very often the dining area in smaller apartments is used as a home office. Rather than letting residents squint under the typical cheap chandelier to see their computer screen, install a three-light track lighting fixture. Residents love the open look and the flexibility it brings to the floor plan. Cost: $50. And while you are at it, add a dimmer switch for another $20.

9. No Dim Bulbs

Owners typically turn on all the lights when they show the interior of a residence. This is a good practice. But even better is to make sure the bulbs are the highest approved wattage--especially in the closets. And please, avoid having any bare bulbs. Spend a few dollars to install a single globe fixture. Cost: High-watt bulbs cost the same as low-watt bulbs.

9. This Does Compute

To help satisfy the needs of single residents or couples without children, one clever rental owner created an inexpensive computer center by building a desk into the smallest bedroom of a three-bedroom apartment. She markets it as a two-bedroom with an office. Cost: About $400.

10. Shower Power

Install a shower rod and a colorful shower curtain. It adds color, plus yon can arrange it to cover any tub defects. Cost: $25.

11. Grate Expectations

Put a grate in the fireplace with a few logs. This brings an otherwise dead-looking fireplace to life. Cost: $15.

Jack Terrillion is an independent rental owner based in Dallas. He can be reached at 972/991-1939.
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Title Annotation:Rehab Strategy
Author:Terrillion, Jack
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Previous Article:Repositioning with smart renovation: rehabilitating an apartment building can be a smart business move. When done right, it is a win-win situation...
Next Article:How to save on plumbing: by following a regular plumbing maintenance program, owners will find savings where they least expect it.

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