Kitchen & Bath Upgrades


Consider Your Investment vs. ROI

Residential rental investors … be sure to put emotion in the back seat when you plan upgrades to your investment property. Your rental property is an investment, not your residence, and should not be afforded the same rigorous standards that you likely apply to your own home.


The reality is that tenants view the rental unit as temporary and will not demonstrate the same quality of care they would exhibit toward their own property. That said, very few renters will notice or appreciate “above and beyond” efforts on your part to improve the rental unit. Their concern is a functional, comfortable living space that is consistent with the rent they pay.


So as you approach the need for renovations, upgrades or improvements be critical … but remain objective. Your concerns should reflect the above tenant expectations with an eye to your expenses, potential return on investment (ROI) and tax considerations. The caution, “Don’t fall in love with your investment”, is especially important when it comes to kitchen and bath upgrades.


Kitchen/Bath Upgrades – Options & Alternatives

Kitchens and baths are the primary focus of prospective tenants. Each of these rooms arouse feelings of comfort and hygiene when they are visually attractive, well-designed and functional.


Given the priority value placed on kitchens and baths by prospective renters, improvements typically result in two immediate values to you, the investor. First, appraisers will assure you that the asset value of your property will increase. Second, you will be able to realize increased rental rates in the range of 10% – 30% or more. An added plus … at sale you can anticipate recouping about 80% of your investment.

So kitchen and bath upgrades offer you the best “bang for your buck” if you carefully choose materials and installation costs. Aside from appliances, the biggest single expense is countertops. And that’s where you will find a remarkable range of choices in materials and costs.


  1. So the first thing that comes to mind is granite countertops as the Rolls-Royce of alternative materials. Actually, there are many experts that shake their head and dispute that granite is the premier choice for kitchen and bath upgrades. Naysayers cite:


  • Expense
  • Micro fractures on surface can be nesting areas for bacteria
  • To prevent staining, granite needs to be sealed every year or two


That said, as an investor, what are the alternatives to consider? Fortunately, there are plenty of other choices that offer beauty, durability, and a great return on your investment. Some factors to consider when choosing a countertop material include aesthetics, practicality, durability and price.


Here are eight alternatives along with comparative descriptions and photos to prompt food for thought as you consider kitchen and bath countertop options. Of course, prices will vary depending on your location, so be sure to do your homework before committing to a countertop material.

Five Additional Upgrades Tenants Look For

Again in keeping with an eye to your ROI, invest your upgrade dollars on things that tenants seek most. The following are most often cited by renters on their preferred list.


  • Dishwasher & garbage disposal
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Washer & dryer
  • Hardwood floors
  • New paint
  • Crown molding
  • Horizontal blinds


So if these are what tenants seek … depending on your budget and the market served by your rental property … the kitchen and bath countertop upgrades, plus the six items above should be your priority list of considerations. The more perks you add to a rental, the more you can raise prices and be picky about choosing quality tenants.



A word of caution to motivate planning before you jump into renovation. There are variables that determine what combination of improvements produce the biggest bang for your investment buck. Projecting what percentage of rent increase will be realized from an upgrade is often more art than science.


If you have prior experience in the market served by your rental property, you will start with a definite advantage. That said, whether experienced or not, it’s important that you closely examine the variables that impact rents before committing to a major upgrade effort. Among others, those variables include: the age of the building, location, tenant profile and competitive offerings – each of which may vary widely from property to property.



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