The ABC's of Property Rental

Okay, so you've decided to rent out your home. Where do you start? First, you need to get the house into tip-top shape in order to get the highest reasonable rent. This includes:

- Interior painting - your best bet is to use neutral colors. Don't forget to patch cracks and nail holes in walls.

- Exterior painting or siding - again, a nice neutral color scheme is best.

- Professionally clean or replace carpets.

- Make sure your home insulation is adequate to cut down on utility bills.

- Don't leave any furniture or accessories behind that you want to keep. Furniture in rental properties gets burned, scratched, dented, broken, and sometimes permanently "borrowed."

- Clean the house from top to bottom. Consider hiring a heavy-duty cleaning service (not a maid service) to do it for you. - Fix whatever needs fixing, and tune up and clean appliances. If they are part of the rental agreement, you'll be responsible for fixing or replacing them if they break down.

- Set the proper rent price. While cleanliness, attractiveness, and amenities are important, location still rules when setting prices. Contact a property management company to find out prices they're seeing in your area, and look in the real estate section of your Sunday paper for similar houses on the rent market. If you set your price too high, it's unlikely that you'll find a tenant. If you ask too low a rent, prospective tenants may wonder what's wrong with the place.