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Preston Station - Breaking the habit of "It's just a rental"

For the past few years, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with many real estate investors and professionals in the Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge Area. As an investor myself, I like to say investment properties are kind of my bread and butter.

I, too have found myself in the mindset of "It's just a rental" What does that mean? Well basically its what us investors use as an excuse to choose basic finishes and inclusions in order to save some money or time during the renovation process. Not that there is an issue with this, but in some situations this can be a rookie mistake. You could be missing out on rental income and incredible tenants based on the finishes and upgrades you choose.

My partner Kyle, is an incredibly knowledgeable real estate investor. mentor and rockstar mortgage broker (shameless plug for him! - seriously, check out his youtube videos( ). He truly is great at what he does. We purchased this 10 unit building in Cambridge (what we have now called "Preston Station" and have completely revamped the property from what it was,

Here are some before pictures of one of the units

We decided to step out of the "It's just a rental" mindset and give potential tenants exactly what they want and deserve with a premium rental- after all, this is going to be their HOME why should it feel like anything less?

After- 3 Bedroom unit Kitchen

Knowing your market is important

Not everyone is looking for a premium rental. In making our decision we looked at the Cambridge market, and because of the proximity to the 401 we realized there are a lot of commuters moving to the area, people who were priced out of Toronto or Mississauga but are still looking for a stylish, updated space.

In this case, it made sense for us, but it is important for you to know your market and know your tenant before choosing to renovate into a premium rental.

Knowing what to upgrade (and what not to)

Typically the areas I focus on for upgrades are Kitchen and Bath. For a premium rental, I recommend always a stone counter top with an under mount sink. Quartz is great, and I love how durable it is too. Potential tenants are looking for this type of upgrade specifically, this is one I wouldn't shy away from. It is always worth the added cost!

A nice back splash is great for adding that extra stylish touch. We opted for a neutral hex tile, which is trendy but still simple enough that it appeals to a larger amount of tenants tastes.

Appliances- we always go stainless. It just looks better- and honestly the price isn't exponentially higher than black or white appliances. We also added a dishwasher, this is very important especially when your potential tenants are families. Who wants to hand wash dishes?!

2BR Unit Kitchen

Some investors choose to use carpet in certain rooms, or utilize existing flooring and replace some of the flooring in rooms that need it. Truthfully I am a big believer in consistency, and I typically do the same flooring throughout to avoid a space looking piece-y. I highly recommend carpet-free, however we save some money and time on stairs by carpeting them, its great for families with kids and down the road if you need to replace it due to wear and tear, its inexpensive and easy to do so.

We also installed smart thermostats in each unit, as well as AC so it stays comfortable in the hot summer months.

Bathrooms should have functional vanities, and if you are using stone top counters in the kitchen, the bathroom should be stone too.

Special stylish touches such as black hardware adds a "wow" factor for premium rentals. I also added a more trendy, interesting dining room light, which was actually very affordable! Only $69 from Structube.

Higher-end finishes can attract an ideal tenant and get you higher rents

Let's face it, we all want the ideal tenant. We always hope for someone that will be respectful of the property and care for it like their own home. Spending more effort on the finishes and design upfront, will potentially positively influence how a tenant treats the property. If it's nice, the tenant will be proud of the space and will want to show it off and keep it maintained.

Of course the more upgrades you include, the more you can charge monthly for a space as well. We have 4 x 3 bedroom units and 6 x 2 bedroom units, all with dishwashers, AC, separate furnaces, smart thermostats, quartz counter tops, laminate flooring, in suite laundry so we are able to charge top rent.

We can help!

I LOVE helping fellow investors. We can help by choosing finishes, room planning and total coordination of the reno if needed!

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