Increase Duplex Value

Increasing duplex value is really a matter of increasing rent. This will help the top-line P&L and many investors look at price as a multiple of rents.

Selling to an Owner-Occupier

One exception to maximizing rent is if you plan to sell your duplex to a buyer who will occupy one side. In that case, increasing your duplex value could include strategies like staging the side the owner would live in, or having more privacy features (fencing, soundproofing, etc). You will also want a current lease on the other side so the potential buyer can use the lease to help them qualify for the mortgage. You would also market this property differently to attract this specific type of buyer.

Estimating How Much Rent Can Increase

Find comparable rentals in your local market. In some neighborhoods there might be a rule of thumb, such as $600 per bedroom per month. In other areas it might be a rule of thumb like $1.50 per square foot until you reach $2k per month. Some real estate agents will run lease comps for free for you.

If your duplex rent is already at or above the neighborhood average, your return on investment will likely start to diminish. Don’t assume it’s profitable to be the nicest rental available. That said…

Ideas for Increasing Rent

Ways to increase rent can depend on the property and characteristics of the neighborhood.

Is a vacancy problem affecting your rents? You might want to adjust your rents or lease terms. In some markets there is high seasonality, such as when college students start a new year. You might adjust the term of your lease or the timing to better fit with the market.

You may also look if there are any key features your property is missing. Examples could include a washer/dryer, or central air conditioning.

My Own Projects to Increase Duplex Value

  • Refinishing Bathtub:  This took a couple of hours and a strong acid. The tub looked like new. Probably runs around $60 to get done. I know someone else who had a claw-foot tub restored professionally for around $300. It looks brand new (but wasn’t for a rental property).
  • Replacing Window Screens: These seem to break all the time. You can make them yourself or buy the pre-made screens. One property came with really nice solar screens with a thumbscrew, not sure how much those are to replace yet.
  • Fencing: One property had a fence falling down. The posts weren’t sunk in concrete so had to re-set them. Recovered the pickets (about $1.50 each) and screwed them on instead of nailing. With labor this probably cost $500 for ~100 feet of fallen down fencing. The fence is much more durable and also establishes the property line with neighbor.
  • Shelving: Older rent houses are notorious for their lack of storage space. We built wrap-around bookshelves in living rooms. The main boards are about $25, the mounts run $5-10 each, and paint runs $20. Altogether it’s probably $200 in parts to build really nice shelves in a bedroom or living room. We use pretty industrial mounts (lag bolts into studs, toggle bolts, and dry wall anchors) so you could hang off them.
  • Door Viewer: Under $10 to put in a front door. Might even be required security feature in your local property code.
  • Storm Doors: Added these at ~$99 per door plus .. $20 or so to have handyman install.
  • Kitchen Faucet: These make a big difference in my local market. Probably can get them for $50-150. Tenants seem to like the kind where the sprayer pulls out.
  • Garbage Disposal: Have this in every property. Hasn’t added as much to maintenance as I thought. Probably spent $80-150 per disposal. Installation depends on if you have the electrical connection and dishwasher hook-ups. Probably at least $50 to get installed.
  • Paint: We picked one neutral color and buy it in 5 gallon buckets. All trim is another generic color. I tend to use a roller and brushes, not a commercial sprayer. Prep work (cleaning, taping edges) is key. Could probably save money buying that blue painter’s tape in bulk.
  • Shutters: I think these were like $30-40 at Home Depot. Lots of curb appeal for little money. Pre-painted, we just mounted them.
  • General Maintenance: I find it easiest to use a checklist for annual maintenance. We make a big list and either do it ourselves or call our favorite handyman. There’s usually at least 10 things that need to be done. Some are preventative (cleaning drains, adding ant killer by HVAC cables) while some are cosmetic (patching walls, replacing door weatherstripping).

Have any favorite upgrades? Tell us about them below. Token: BPDE3ZKHCKC6

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