In pre-COVID times, many Americans wanted to work from home. However, employers were resistant, uncertain it would foster productivity. Now that COVID has forced the issue, many Americans have no choice but to work from home. The transition was somewhat easy and, by most accounts, is surprisingly productive. Working from home will probably continue into the foreseeable future, so let’s discuss how investors can create a desirable and profitable work-from-home rental property.
If you invest in rentals, either personally or with your self-directed IRA, you can create an attractive work-from-home rental property by implementing a few basic ideas. Property improvements and clever enhancements that increase a worker’s productivity and peace of mind are worth consideration these days. Depending on the property you have (single residence or multifamily), you can make these additions relatively cheaply to attract (and keep) happy work-from-home renters.
Transform Your Average Rental into an Attractive Work-from-Home Rental Property
For some employees, the shift is easy. But for others, not so much. When challenges arise, working from home is not as glamorous as it sounds. People who work from home are left to their own devices, trusted to get their work hours in, and must have the ability to do so without the support a typical office has. If kids are attending school in the home as well, the work-from-home environment can be straight from hell. (kidding but threw in to make you laugh and it will be changed to “can be particularly challenging.”) This is where savvy investors can earn income—by fine-tuning a few areas to create spaces and features that add value to work-from-home rental property.
Below are some of the challenges your renters face, along with solutions to each.
Challenge: If an at-home employee has internet issues, they’re on their own for the most part. If their internet speed doesn’t have the bandwidth to facilitate sufficient service, their ability to get their work complete on a timely basis is handicapped. This is especially critical as more people working from home, along with children attending virtual classes from home, creates a strain on internet and even wireless phone services in some areas.
Solution: If you offer internet service in your monthly rental fee, consider bumping up the internet speed. There may be a bit of a cost to do so, but it’s worth it. Your renter can accomplish their workload with ease. And they won’t worry about whether their Zoom meeting will be a disaster from sketchy service that many of us are all too familiar with. Zoom requires a certain internet speed to broadcast without interruption. If you don’t offer internet with your monthly rent, price it out to see if it’s worth doing so to help your tenant out during these uncertain times. The effort would be much appreciated by your renter, strengthening their desire to remain your tenant.
Challenge: Block homes and multifamily establishments are notorious for WiFi dead zones. You know, the places where you get no wireless service whatsoever—for no apparent reason. This is inconvenient, at best. But for employees working from home, it can be a serious problem. It can also hinder the ability of children attending virtual school from home.
Solution: Thankfully, there are several ways to fix this problem. Best Buy has great solutions to fix WiFi dead zones such as powerline adapters, wireless range extenders, and even whole home WiFi systems. Check with your renters. If they are working from home, they will appreciate any effort you make to help them get their jobs done. This creates value for you and for them, and also loyalty that facilitates desired long-term leases.
Challenge: The lack of daily interaction with others is sorely missed. Even with zooms, there is no face-to-face camaraderie with fellow employees. People who work from home must find other ways to take much needed breaks to rejuvenate.
Solution: If you have a multifamily establishment, you may already have an outdoor gathering area where people can congregate at safe distances. But, if your pool deck isn’t already inviting, spruce it up. Add colorful pots of flowers and greenery, replace those worn out chair cushions and sun umbrellas, and install a few barbecue grills. Add a WiFi hot spot in this area for a bonus for those who may enjoy working outside if they can.
Single-family homes with pools can be upgraded in much the same way. But, if your rental doesn’t have a pool, consider installing a hot tub. Add some lush landscaping with pretty flowers. A back deck with a screened in porch would add value to your rental, as well.
Features to Consider if You’re Rehabbing an Investment Property
If you are rehabbing a property for rental, consider these ideas to improve home office and/or home-schooling spaces. You could also revamp existing property with the same features, if it’s in your budget to do so:
- Equip rooms with good lighting and ample wall space to facilitate the best conditions for Zoom meetings and virtual school classes.
- Upgrade wiring if needed, to include an appropriate number of grounded plugs in rooms that could be turned into office or learning spaces.
- Consider energy-efficient appliances that could help renters save dollars every month. Air conditioning and heating systems are probably in constant use when more people in the household are home during the day.
The Bottom Line
With any of these changes, your run-of-the-mill rental becomes a virtual outdoor workspace oasis that many renters would enjoy. It also creates room for employees and their home-bound children to catch some alone time to work or relax.
Some of these upgrades, especially with single family home rentals, exceed the expectations of a landlord-tenant relationship. But, that’s the point. You’ll attract (and/or keep) high-value renters if you increase the functionality and desirability of your rental. When you turn your average property into an inviting and friendly work-from-home rental property, you create a win-win situation for all.