To furnish or not to furnish, that is the question!
The answer: You should furnish a property only if it will be more profitable in the long run.
Many factors go into this, such as; will furnishings make the property more marketable, and will you be able to charge more rent for it?
This article discusses the Pros and Cons of furnishing your rental property.
Neither, it is completely up to the owner. However, there is much to consider before making a decision.
In the United States, most unfurnished rental units come standard with basic appliances such as a refrigerator, oven, microwave, and range top. Dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers, if present, are usually a bonus. But what about furniture such as couches, beds, dressers, tables, chairs, and even linens?
There are a number of things to consider when deciding to furnish a rental; such as the costs of damages, tax benefits, and whether or not the addition of furnishings will indeed make a property more attractive to your target renter.
A More Complete Package
The benefits of furnishing a property (having beds, sofas, etc) can make a home much more attractive to potential renters who don’t have their own furniture. However, this might be the result of these tenants being students, first time renters, or professionals looking for short-term leases. Having a “ready-made” apartment or house means that you are offering tenants a more complete package.
Higher Rent & Tax Benefits
Furnishing a property also means that you can pass on the costs of outfitting a place to tenants through higher rents – you may also be able to claim back part of the value of expensive furniture against your tax bill as a 5-year depreciable asset.
If you want to furnish a property, but don’t have the money to buy the furnishings, you may want to consider renting the furniture from a local company. This can be a particularly good idea for televisions and other electrical goods, although you will need to keep them in excellent condition to avoid losing your deposit.
Damage and Storage of Furniture
Having furniture in place similarly means that you have the choice of either keeping items in place or putting them in storage if you do get someone who doesn’t want them – which is easier than having to invest in new furniture every few years. Of course, the flip-side to this is that an investment in expensive furniture can seem difficult to justify if tenants consistently damage items. You’ll also need to pay for regular safety checks for electrical items.
Tenants who are looking for furnished rentals sometimes only plan to be in town for a few months. This isn’t always the case, but often times, you’ll attract more short-term tenants (1-3 months) rather than long-term tenants (1+ years) if your rental is furnished. On a positive note, you can charge a premium if you are willing to accept short-term tenants.
Tenants can “Make it their Own”
By contrast, an unfurnished property means that you don’t have as many complications as you would with furnishings. Tenants that effectively want a blank slate can just move in with their own items, subject to approval. Note, your lease agreement is allowed to prohibit some items – such as waterbeds.
What an unfurnished property does achieve, though, is a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to maintenance. You can specify, for example, that tenants have to pay towards cleaning a property after removing their furniture, which can help to remove marks and other damage caused by wear and tear. You also have more space in which to make decor changes, which might include repainting or laying in new flooring, without having to worry about working around a lot of furniture.
Less Rent and More Uncertainty
You may not be able to charge as much rent to tenants, and cannot always guarantee that a tenant’s furniture won’t cause damage to your property by being too heavy, or unsafe. Hot Tubs, when filled, are heavy enough to cause a deck to collapse.
In general, furnishing a property does have a lot of benefits, but only if you are able to offset the cost of maintenance and the risk of damage against the increase in rent that you can potentially charge.
Consider your target audience. Is your rental is in a young trendy area where most tenants are 25 years old and don’t own much furniture? Or, is the surrounding population mostly families with 3 kids who already have a ton (literally) of furniture?
Always remember that any furnished property has to be suitable for your tenants – there’s no point spending a lot of money on designer furniture if you have unreliable or messy tenants.
In summary, you should furnish a property only if it will be more profitable in the long run.
Consider your replacement, damage, and storage costs associated with furnishings. Ask yourself the following questions. Are you really getting significantly more rent compared to an unfurnished rental? After expenses and upkeep of that furniture, are you making enough money to validate the extra hassle? Each property situation and rental market is different, so be sure you think it though before making a decision.