Best Brands for Rental Properties
As we enter the spring maintenance season, quite a few property managers will be tasked to repair, replace or upgrade everything from kitchen appliances, washers and dryers, to fixing toilets, pipes, roofs and windows that are leaking.
All those maintenance, repairs and replacement expenses represent a continuous drain on your time and your operating budget. That has to be resolved.
The ongoing expense takes us to the matter of building product and appliance brand names. You might be wondering whether to choose generic or brand name products for the performance and value you need.
When upgrading your HVAC, refrigerator, bathroom and kitchen fixtures or house roofing for example, your choice of brands will likely affect the rent price you can charge. And quality/durability will affect your operating budget to some extent. You must choose wisely!
If you take some time to investigate products and brands you can:
- provide a more recognizably valuable and modern living experience for tenants
- charge higher rents and extend leases (reduce churn rates)
- minimize future maintenance and repair costs (reduce workloads)
- avoid having to raise rent prices to cover maintenance cost over runs
Quality, Features and Durability Are Important
Your brand and product choices won’t just hinge on price and durability, but also on appearance and functional benefits delivered to the renter. Some renters are deeply affected by quality of appliances in the rental unit. Low quality appliances and fixtures suggest the rent price should be lower.
There are so many rental home fixtures and appliances which can and do wear out or break down. Sometimes maintenance isn’t enough, if the product itself is low quality. That gives weight to the idea that you should choose the better brands.
And with mechanical or structural assets, it’s the property maintenance managers responsibility to know when assets need to be maintained, repaired and replaced. Having a handle on all of this can impress landlords that you know the business and manage budgets well.
Fortunately, your property management system helps you keep track of appliances and other assets and aids in scheduling the inspections and work to be done. See more on maintenance management software and the rental property appliance guide.
Top Brands, Do They Help Control Costs?
When we mention top brands such as LG, Frigidaire, Lennox, American Standard, and Pella, we’re suggesting making choices for quality does minimize costly maintenance and repairs. Some of these brands have built in self-monitoring features now that minimize wear/tear and breakdowns.
What’s Most Important About Choosing Products and Materials?
Your choice of rental house appliances (including HVAC) and products comes down to product ratings, warranties, maintenance and service costs, estimated service times, price, and high tech preventative features built into some appliances and HVAC systems. For roofing, windows, plumbing, it’s more about long term durability.
Besides the best appliance brands for rentals, is the features and technology which you can learn more about in the rental house appliance guide post. Energy efficiency, convenience, and power are important to tenants so you have a lot of inputs for your decision.
What will surprise you about the brands is new tech features offered that read like this: “Wi-Fi Enabled, 10 Dry Cycles, 5 Temperature Settings, Energy Star Certified, Wi-Fi Connection, Sensor Dry, FlowSense, SmartDiagnosis, End of Cycle Signal, Child Lock, SmartThinQ Works with Google Assistant/Amazon Alexa.” These features are appealing to tenants too, which might weigh on your preference for more pricey appliances and products.
The Power of Top Brands
An appliance/window/HVAC brand just like your property management brand, is a powerful thing. Many buyers will choose the popular names regardless of their true ruggedness and versatility. They assume the brands they respect will perform best. The truth may be the opposite. Visiting review sites is wise.
Of course, the truth is that any brand of appliance or fixture will need maintenance. Even Maytag technicians aren’t lonely or out of work for long. It’s preventive maintenance that delivers immense cost savings, as your wear and tear is monitored and resolved before serious breakages occur.
A rule of thumb is that 1% to 2% per year of property value is set aside for repairs and maintenance. If you manage $200 million in properties, there’s a big difference between 1% and 2%. For a 1% service budget, the best brand of appliances, materials and fixtures is essential. This includes product warranties.
Appliances, Fixtures and Materials
If you’re a new property manager or working with a new landlord with properties that need equipment/fixtures, then you’ll be shopping for these items:
Kitchen Appliances – a good source of ratings info can be viewed on Consumer Reports appliance report post, where they surveyed consumers on which appliance brands performed reliably.
Bobvila.com lists its best appliance products too. The Bosch brand appears to be their favorite at the higher price point and Danby at the lower price level. Speedqueen, Ikea, and LG received good ratings.
Kitchen Plumbing fixtures – includes faucets and sinks and those of Kohler, Moen, Toto and Delta come to mind first. Touchless faucets are an especially attractive type along with those with an extendable handheld sprayer. See more of them at Sinkfaucet.net.
Family Handyman offers its list of best bathroom faucets for your perusal including smart faucets where no handles are used. These smart features may deliver a lot of value and help you raise rent prices (or justify them). Moen, Pfister, and Grohe were cited as the best.
Sink Garbage disposal, Dishwasher, Ranges, Refrigerators – Here again, you may want to subscribe to Consumerreports.org, or ConsumersAdvovate.org to see in-depth reviews of ranges, fridges, and dishwashers. TheSpruce rated its best dishwashers of 2021 and Maytag, Frigidaire and GE were their top picks. They assessed noise levels, control panels, and wash cycles. The best quiet model, important for tenants, was the Bosch 800 Series built-in-dishwasher. Buyersguide.org offers a list of reviewed garbage disposal units with brands such as Moen, Insinkerator, and WasteKing. They come in different power ratings, and materials. Stainless steel models might perform better. Best Reviews chips in with their top 5 best garbage disposal brands.
Bathroom Toilets, Sinks and Plumbing Products – Wear and tear in the form of traffic, usage, heat, moisture, and so on makes the bathroom an expensive room in your rental. Flooring and fixtures will take a beating and only the most durable products will survive and not receive maintenance requests from tenants. You’ll find the toilet brands compared at Plumbinglab. American Standard, Kohler, and Woodbridge toilets were ranked highest.
Washers/dryers – Consumer Reports gives the nod to Speed Queen. Consumers Advocate chooses Speed Queen, LG, and Danby as best appliance products based on energy efficiency. LG offers some smart home remote features with its ThinQ app which connects to their Proactive Customer Care which is a service that monitors tenants usage patterns to discover issues (such as excess detergent use, vent usage, water temperature).
Appliances Connection chooses Maytag for their Maytag Commercial Technology, which includes a durable motor and a strong five-rib belt drive system. They also note LG’s NeveRust™ stainless steel drum on LG washers, designed to last many years without rusting and the LG Inverter Direct Drive™ Motor which comes with a 10-year limited warranty.
The added sensors of the new technology helps to prevent the heat, vibration and moisture conditions that cause washers and dryers to wear out faster.
Windows and Doors – Will your rental house’s windows begin to fog up, window cranks break, or your doors not close tightly in a few years? Energy loss is a big problem too and most of it goes out the doors and windows. It’s something that tenants complain about. Consumeraffairs.com surveyed consumers and found that the usual big names in Windows rank highly include Pella, Milgard, Andersen, and some not well known brands such as Champion, and NewSouth Window Solutions. Choices vary in your location.
Patio Doors and Exterior Entry Doors – may provide security, insulation, durability, quality hardware and handles, and you’ll find models made from fiberglass, wood, and metal that might work for your rental house. Jeld-Wen, Thermatru, Milgard, Pella, Masonite, and Stanley are top brands.
Flooring Brands – We’ve discussed new flooring products for rentals on the ManageCasa blog and a new floor can really enhance your house or townhome. There are vinyl, laminate and other durable materials that look great, some looking very much like real wood floors. Of course, real wood is expensive and easily scratched and damaged.
Flooring stores has chosen RevWood, Newton, Pergo, Shaw and Mannington Mills as the flooring brands to look for. You’ll find products from $2 to $7 a square foot in laminates.
Roofing Products for Rental Properties – Roofing on rental houses is another tough decision for landlords and for property managers making choices for their owner/clients. Given the enormous cost of a new roof installed, you’ll want to ensure you’re using a contractor and material you can rely on. Warranties are important too.
Your roofing material choices are Asphalt roll, BUR, Composite, wood shingle, standing seam metal, clay tiles and slate. Asphalt roll and shingles are the cheapest but have the shortage lifespan. If your rental house is aging and you’re not certain of its future value, then asphalt roll or asphalt shingles might be the most sensible choice. Standing seam metal roofs are becoming popular, and if you want it be done once and forever, it’s a good choice.
Of course, the best choice might depend on your local climate since Florida and Arizona offer different challenges than Alaska, Minnesota, or Maine. The Spruce chips in with their choice of best roofing materials.
Check out Roofsimple’s look at the best roofing material brands for further reference.
HVAC Systems – brands such as Carrier, Bryant, Lennox, Trane, York, Amana, and Rheem are popular. Look for brands with at least a 5 year parts warranty and ask about service warranties. USNews chooses Carrier brand as the best HVAC for its quiet operation and energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is vital for some tenants who may not be able to afford rising electricity costs. USNews also likes Carrier furnaces and heat pumps for their innovative technology and reliability.
House Siding – Your rental home’s exterior siding affects perceived rental value, insulation, and weather resistance. New siding helps tenants keep their energy bills down, so they can afford their rent.
Modernize.com rated its favorites in house siding products and they include CertainTeed, Mastic Home Exteriors, Norandex, Royal Building Products, JamesHardie, and Alside. You can choose from vinyl, aluminum, engineered wood, fiber cement, steel, or composite polymer products which insulate well, resist sun damage and could have coatings that give a natural wood grain texture or stained wood look. The normal cost is $2 to $12 per square foot. Warranties cover hail and storm damage coverage.
As a property manager, you’ll never rid yourself of maintenance work, receiving invoices, paying bills, scheduling repairs, and protecting your operating budget. However by choosing high quality appliances, fixtures and materials, you stand a better chance of hanging onto your landlord accounts (or your own rental properties) and increasing your own business revenues.