How to squeeze more cash from your property
These days there’s plenty of information around finding and buying property. But what do you do after you’ve finished celebrating the purchase? Don’t just let that property lay around.
As long as you haven’t purchased ‘off the plan’ or ‘house and land’ property on some tiny block of land, you’ll have multiple ways to optimise your property and squeeze as much return as possible out of it.
Outlined below are a few key ways to get the financial returns flowing to you.
Tidy up – cost from $0
By simply ensuring lawns are mowed and minor maintenance is actioned regularly you’ll be optimizing your investment. In most cases, this is achieved through good property management. Ask your property manager to send photos or videos when they conduct their regular inspections, and provide feedback if you believe the tenant (or the property manager) needs to lift their game.
Strategic leasing – cost from $50
Instead of leasing your property the traditional way, consider the ever-growing number of options available to rent out all or parts of your property. This includes avenues such as Airbnb, student accommodation, garage space or car parking. We’re expecting this area of the market to continue to grow as our population continues to expand.
Cosmetic renovation – cost from $100
Sadly not enough people realise the difference it makes to change a few items sometimes at a cost of $100 or less. For example, changing cupboard handles in kitchens and bathrooms or on doors can make big impact. There’s a sliding scale of other activities from painting, changing carpets and light fittings through to changing tapware – how far you take this is up to you, although beware of overcapitalizing.
Yes . . we’re talking about a rental property, but even if your tenants have been in the property for ten years and are happy to stay, it doesn’t mean you can let the carpet become threadbare and still expect to be able to increase the rent every year. Once again, utilise good property managers’ inspection reports to determine what needs to be done, or visit your property at least once every two years to get a view of what works need to be completed.
Add a room – cost from $2,000
Your ability to achieve this will depend on the layout of your property, and this was something you hopefully kept in mind when you were looking to purchase (it’s definitely something we consider when looking for our clients). More often than not skilled trades will be required to complete the work but it’s worthwhile paying professionals to do the work rather than trying to do this over a string of weekends. The effect should enable you to increase the rent.
Add a shed or garage – starting from $10,000
Many tenants appreciate the ability to store their car in a garage (particularly in case of hail – hello summer storms) or at least have an extra storage area. Depending on the size of your block, you may consider adding a car port, then close it in at a later date. This approach can also be used as a stepping stone to a granny conversion . . .see below.
Advertising options – cost from $15,000
Slightly left of centre and very site specific, but some properties can split off a small area of the land parcel and use this as an advertising site. Everything from billboards to strategic signage can be used as a revenue generator, often managed at no cost by advertising companies. The returns can be considerable with minimal fuss or time required.
Granny conversion or installation – cost from $20,000
Before you consider this approach, ensure you check your local planning regulations as not all States and Territories are granny flat friendly. In many council areas of Queensland, a secondary dwelling must be rented to a family member. Currently, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia support the approach of renting out secondary dwellings separately but it’s important to check with your council as your first step. Costs and building structures vary widely – everything from making a few tweaks to an established structure (your garage) or completing a full new build – can be actioned. The rewards are currently quite lucrative with rental returns of $200 – $400 depending on your area and the quality of the property. Renting secondary dwellings can also earn considerable amounts via Airbnb if you’re inclined to do the work to manage your property this way.
Go into the roof – cost from $25,000
Attic conversions are becoming a big trend and work as a quick way to add valuable space to the existing footprint of a house. The easiest conversions are those where there’s minimal change to the roofline, however with current engineering approaches and materials even properties with small roof areas can accommodate an attic. Like everything with property, success is in the detail so zoning and council requirements will need to be considered if you’re looking to purchase a property you can convert. There’s some good service providers Australia-wide, but check out https://www.atticconversioncentre.com.au/ for starters.
Split off the side or back – cost from $25,000
This approach works for larger blocks, ideally with a dwelling located so it doesn’t need to be moved. Of course weatherboard homes can usually be moved quite easily, so consider the option of relocating your house if your land parcel will accommodate another dwelling (or two). Our clients love buying these types of properties as the opportunities are almost endless – you can sell off the spare block, add an extra house and sell, or rent out the extra house and use the equity and income to fund your next purchase.
Conversion to multiple occupancy – cost from $25,000
In many areas of Australia we have a growing problem with housing affordability and all levels of government are struggling to provide solutions. You can be part of the solution by converting your property to a ‘house of multiple occupancy’ where rooms are rented out separately with shared kitchens and living rooms. There’s many variables to this, but also strict regulations so ensure you gather information from your council before embarking on any change. The Property Owners’ Associations in each State also provide plenty of information about this strategy. Be very careful about companies ‘spruiking’ this approach as many are really just trying to fleece money from unsuspecting investors and aren’t providing the most up to date information to their ‘students’.
Full structural – starting from $30,000
Firstly, don’t just shake your head in fear about a full structural change. If you keep things simple, such as adding an extra room to the back of a smaller house, structural changes don’t have to be a nightmare. Like anything from choosing a plumber through to selecting a building company, your heavy lifting should be in doing the research to find the right specialist. Take your time (or call us for help) and make sure you explore all options considering your budget and compatibility with your street and suburb.
Replace with a new build – cost from $200,000
If you have built up equity and your suburb has undergone some gentrification, maybe it’s time to consider replacing that strange little house with a brand new (cost effective) new build. Once again, it’s important to think through the range of options, build types and requirements of your area (to ensure you don’t over capitalize). Your choices include everything from shipping containers and flat packs through to housing companies and full architectural approaches. A feasibility is critical in this instance and remember to add rent costs if you’re planning the change for your personal residence.
Mini development – cost from $400,000
If you purchased well and you’re in an area that accommodates the change – or council has recently rezoned for you – consider replacing your single property with a duplex or series of town houses. In many cases, as long as you choose your suppliers well, building a duplex or up to six town houses is just as easy as building a house. We provide advice to our clients about this approach and recommend they work with one service provider for the development application, then one service provider for the build . . and you’re done. Timelines start from around six months, although I always add a buffer of three months to any timelines I am given.
Micro apartments – cost from $800,000
Along similar lines to the multiple occupancy approach, micro apartments are currently being encouraged in key areas of our suburbs. In a nutshell, micro apartments are like studio apartments with sizes of 20 to 30 sqm that include a kitchenette, washing machine, ensuite and bedroom. Where the zoning allows it, eight to nine micro apartments can be built on a 650 sqm land parcel, with returns of around $250 – $400 per unit. Do the calculations yourself on the annual returns for this (but it’s over $100,000 just for the one property). Note with this strategy it will usually mean you need to cover the outgoings such as electricity and water, but the yield is still extremely good.
Maxi development – cost from $1,000,000
All the infrastructure activity occurring across the country has meant many areas of our cities and suburbs have been re-zoned quite radically. Some properties have been changed from low density to high density in one swoop. If you have owned your property for some time, ensure you check your zoning as you may receive a pleasant surprise. That lovely old two bedroom house on 650 sqm might now accommodate multi-level units. This situation also applies to a little unit you own in a four or six pack block on a larger block of land. You can band together with your neighbours and replace that double storey unit block with a multiple story block of six or more levels. Two pivotal steps (a) check your zoning and planning regulations (b) develop a realistic feasibility analysis before making any decisions.
As usual, this blog has turned out to be much longer than I originally planned, but this is just a handful of the ways you can squeeze more cash from your property. Don’t limit your thinking to your investment properties as all the strategies outlined above can be applied to your personal residence. In addition, there’s quite a few more actions you can take to optimise your own home. See ‘more choices’ for details.
The key decision making point will be zoning, which is why we use this as a leading criteria when we’re sourcing property for our clients. We also recommend that each property should be allocated a ‘role’ in your portfolio with performance targets and plans for the future. Contact us if you would like us to review your property or portfolio and provide optimization recommendations.
Buy smarter = limitless ways to build lifetime income
Crave Property Advisory is a unique property strategy and buyers agent service. As the only independent and unbiased advisory that can help you use any property strategy Australia-wide, Crave’s services extend to home, investment and commercial property. A highly client focused organization, Crave developed the Modular Investing System (MI System) to provide clients with the ability to use a tailored mix of strategies and efficiently build profitable portfolios that create lifetime income.
Debra Beck-Mewing is the CEO of Crave Property Advisory, and has more than 20 years’ experience in property investing, Australia-wide. She has used a range of strategies to build her property portfolio including renovating, granny flats, sub-division and development. Debra is skilled in identifying development opportunities, and sourcing properties that have multiple uses and multiple exit strategies. She is a Qualified Property Investment Advisor, licensed real estate agent and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business.
Disclaimer – This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute professional advice. We strongly recommend you seek your own professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances.