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Rental potential by design

By: TERESA AZEVEDO COUTINHO

[email protected]

MORE AND more of my clients are buying overseas investment property to rent it out. The main objective in the luxury rental market is to create an impact to enchant guests so they really notice the difference between your property and others they have stayed in.

If you make your property fabulous, you are more likely to have repeat visitors and your happy guests will spread the word. One of the most common problems I have come across with clients is the ‘lived-in look’ with too much clutter. Another problem is the ‘bare look’, which homes abroad sometimes have because personal items are kept in the main residence or sometimes people take the minimalist look a step too far. Knowing how to dress a home for rental is key.

Interiors need to be functional and low maintenance. You need to showcase the home’s possibilities, make rooms look larger, de-emphasise unusually shaped rooms or dark rooms and set the mood for a relaxing lifestyle. Show off the best features and downplay the flaws. This, obviously, also works when you are selling your property by drawing the buyer in and making them imagine themselves in the space.

With the flood of rental properties available, especially in the Algarve, there is so much competition. Many of the major renting companies are becoming more selective in the process of accepting homes and have standards and minimum requirements to adhere to. I have had people come to me, after having their homes rejected for rental, looking for assistance to not only appeal to the widest possible market but to ensure that it ticks all the requirements of accommodation agencies.

Neutral base

In living rooms, incorporate the correct scale and type of furniture for the house. Use neutral colours that appeal to everyone and make the home look fashionable yet cosy. Upholstery covers should be hardwearing and fabrics such as Teflon coated fake suede are very easy to clean after spillages.

One of the big mistakes that I have seen is simply not enough sitting space in living rooms. Because the climate in the Algarve is very hot, everyone thinks about being outside. I have been to fantastic villas with three times more outdoor furniture than inside. Although we are after the alfresco lifestyle, remember potential rentals in the off-peak season and plan for what the occupants will do if the weather is not good. There should be at least two sitting spaces in the living room or dining room and for each bedroom in the property.

Curtains should be in a material that is easily laundered. One of my clients had beautiful silk curtains and returned to her property to find them ruined after guests had ingeniously attached mosquito tape to them!

Fabric panels can be a good option for filling up a bare wall or the stairwell. They are inexpensive, look very stylish and can be made with inner padding to keep the echo and noise down in large rooms.

Avoid clichés. Themed rooms such as beach scenes are defiantly out. I always recommend a neutral base with colours to accessorise so that you can update and replace soft furnishings when they get dirty after use.

Special bed toppers are great to put on the beds when the owners are in occupation. They make the beds feel more luxurious and can then be removed when the property is rented out. This is great for owners who do not like to feel they are sleeping in someone else’s bed when they visit their own home. Bedside lamps should be hardwearing and inexpensive, as they get knocked over all the time.

In bedrooms and bathrooms, towels and bed linen should be white. They are easy to wash and look fresh and clean. In the kitchen, crockery should also be white. If they get broken they are far easier to replace than the patterned variety.

All-weather materials

Ensure the garden is set up for use as an extra room with table, chairs, sun beds and an umbrella. Make sure you also have additional seating by barbecue areas and ensure the patios and terraces are well lit. As an additional touch provide terracotta pots with inexpensive mosquito candles. Do not go for plastic or teak furniture. Opt for all-weather materials such as resin rattan weave. You do pay more initially but it lasts far longer. White cushion covers are a mistake, although they look great. but they are terrible for showing suntan lotion, drinks and food stains.

Interior designers provide furniture packages that are often a very effective means to sell or rent your property fast and to the right type of client.

In the US and UK, large real estate agents now offer staging or presentation services in order to sell or rent your property as part of their individual after sales services.

To coincide with the opening of my new showroom in Lagos, I am launching a home staging service to assist clients prepare properties for sale or rent. It is all about creating the best first impression.

Potential buyers and rental clients start to form an opinion of your house before they even walk in your front door. It’s important to maximise curb appeal, but then you must also carry that same attention to detail right through the rest of the house. Be sure you are hiring someone with the experience needed to do the best job staging your home quickly and effectively. They will be merchandising one of your biggest financial assets and how well they do can mean you achieve maximum rental and sale prices.

For further information from Teresa email [email protected], or call 262 909 822.

Teresa Azevedo Coutinho runs her own interior design consultancy in Lisbon and found her niche in designing holiday homes for UK and Irish clients. Her company is expanding with the undertaking of international projects and the opening of a new office in Lagos.