Recently, we furnished a Citylights (Pipera) apartment then rented it for a Scottish client living in the Middle East and I thought it might be an interesting story to share with you.
The client bought the property some years ago, and through a Bucharest property manager/ rental agent, tried unsuccessfully to rent it for 2 years. We were asked to pick up the reigns in Feb 2012.
I explained that the apartment needed to be at least equipped with a kitchen & lighting throughout. Without that, is like renting a car without wheels. No one is going to imagine the finished article in a positive light.
After years of doing this job, ie dressing property, furnishing, renovating etc. I can say, my most important advice to you is this: remove all doubt, question marks, fears, worries, ambiguity. Make a property all that it can be, for your given budget. Houses sell for tens of millions in London with this approach & a large percentage of the profit is due to a small percentage of the overall cost. A simple coat of paint on a wall might cost 100e, but be the difference in being able to rent it at full price & not renting it at all. one empty month equates to lost rent that could have been invested in the property & had a long term, increased-income effect.
Example, adding 500e extra of furniture might mean 50 euros per month more than without, for 6 years or more. So, 500e now returns 3,600e in the 6 years, in addition to the resale value of that added furniture, or the increased value of the apartment.
Citylights Pipera – Steps to success
- Researched the market to understand tastes, budgets etc for the area of the apartment
- Interior design conducted, offer made for the furnishing. Client was unable to secure credit on the property due to him working overseas & the property being in Romania, in different countries. Therefore, we offered to carry out the work at materials-cost-only, until an income was available through rent. A bit of a gamble on my part, but I thought it better to manage a rented property than an empty one, therefore I was happy to forego any profit until a later date. In fact, out margin is probably the lowest in this business, at around 10-12%. I may well increase that to 15% later this year. In other words, for me to install a washing machine that cost 200e, it cost the buyer not more than 224e, but that includes (intelligent) shopping, overseeing the installation etc. That’s a lot of stress avoided for 24e!
- Designed furniture, installed it, fine tuned the decor
- Carried out the advertising strategy in parallel, including all social & professional networks, friends, colleagues, internet sites, banner fitment, discussions with the developer, large employers nearby, fellow & competitor agents. We were fortunate enough to find some really lovely tenants, a young couple. In fact they said ‘we really wanted a 2 bedroom apartment, but were so taken by this level of finish & good taste, that we would rather suffer the loss of a bedroom for our expected new child than suffer poor living conditions and have the extra room, as determined by our budget’
So now, the owner can finally sit back & relax as his Romanian investment starts to do its job for him, for the first time since he started the venture, instead of struggling to pay the mortgage with an empty flat in a foreign country.
I would like to stress, we at White Mountain Property do what we do, because we love what we do & are very proud of our commitment to our customers, rather than seeing them as merely means of making money. I personally install the furniture in every single apartment we have renovated or furnished. Every single detail to me is as important as the next, from the colour of the wall to the dead-level of the curtain pole, pictures or washing machine feet. Last Saturday night I was seen driving through Bucharest with a mattress & a fridge on the roof of my car. Locals thought I was crazy & I got plenty of looks. Note to self: must get dark glass fitted to save embarrassing of looking like a nomad refugee.
If you need free advice or help turning your Romanian investment around, please, exploit the fact that we are here, we care & we know what we are doing. In this, arrogantly perhaps, I sincerely believe we have little competition, for price, for quality, for taste or dependability or transparency in Romania, but I am open to any challenge to that.