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Which makes more money, furnished or unfurnished rentals?

09 Sep 2016

If you've inherited a property, scaling down or investing in gated estates, deciding on whether you should rent out your property furnished or unfurnished can be difficult, and relies on a few important factors.

Smee says there are an array of trends that differ from market to market, and taking into consideration elements of geographic location, price, economic standing, demographic, and so forth, to definitively answer 'furnished' or 'unfurnished' is just not possible.

Grant Smee, Managing Director of Only Realty, says there are an array of trends that differ from market to market, and taking into consideration elements of geographic location, price, economic standing, demographic, and so forth, to definitively answer 'furnished' or 'unfurnished' is just not possible.

“If you're mulling over the idea and weighing up the options hoping to reduce no-tenant months, there are a few things to consider carefully,” says Smee.

“It is always good to start by doing your research. Understanding your particular market equips you with the knowledge and insight to make an informed decision.”

He says there are many online property portals and rental estate agencies with listings in your area, which you could use to assess demand. Browse homes similar to yours online to identify the frequency of furnished or unfurnished properties - these listings are great indicators.

For example, in areas such as Rondebosch and Claremont in Cape Town or Westdene and Melville in Johannesburg, renting out furnished property is in higher demand due to the nearby universities.

Similarly, in luxury apartment suburbs like Sea Point in Cape Town where interior design influences and luxury furniture have been included, furnished apartments are also more popular.

“So, your location plays a major role, and you need to know your local market and target demographic,” says Smee.

Another important factor to regard is the quality of your furniture and appliances, as well as the possibility of wear and tear.

“If you have a lovely four bedroom home in an upmarket suburb and your furniture and appliances are outdated and show visible damage, the demand will be greatly reduced,” he says.

“On the other side of the scale, if you have a small bachelor flat that appeals to students, luxury appliances and furniture might make the property unaffordable to the target market.”

If you're dead set on letting furnished, Smee says you need to make peace with the high possibility that wear and tear will take place on the furniture and appliances in the home.

In some instances, the damage could be significant, whereas in other cases there will be no wear and tear at all. That is why screening tenants and seeking references are so important.

In many cases, he says tenants also expect to move into a furnished apartment a lot quicker due to circumstance, and if you're not in a hurry, this might be a drawback for prospective tenants.

During void months, furnished flats in coastal regions and other high tourism areas can be marketed as short-term holiday accommodation. This creates some breathing room to find a tenant whilst still receiving an income from the property.

“You need to understand that these are not hard-and-fast rules, but rather general analysis,” says Smee.

“It is best to avoid making this decision purely on your own sense of the market, but to rather seek the advice of estate agents with a distinct understanding of your local property market and rentals.”
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