Location, layout, size, nearby facilities — these are just some of the factors you need to take into consideration when you’re looking for an investment property.
And while you can put in extra amenities such as a dishwasher and an air conditioning unit, there are a few property features that aren’t so easily added — like a car space.
In this modern day — with so many people commuting to and fro work via trains, buses and other means — should you have a preference on parking?
And will off-street parking really add much value to your overall investment?
The ability to offer potential tenants a place to park their car could give you a competitive edge when you’re marketing your property.
Let’s be honest – most households in most cities have at least one car, sometimes more, and when people are searching for a place to live, parking is likely to be high on their priority list.
Off-street parking, particularly safe and secure parking such as a garage, is undoubtedly going to add value to the property, as it can be utilised for so more than just car storage.
But to work out just how much value it can add, you really need to know your target market (and the local area) inside out.
In some areas, access to off-street parking can add a serious premium to your asking rent — whereas in other suburbs, it’s simply expected, and doesn’t command much extra rent.
In fact, in family-friendly suburbs, not offering your tenants safe, secure, off-street parking could prompt them to bypass your property in favour of a more suitable home.
Whilst undoubtedly a valuable feature for a property, in some suburbs, a car space is more valuable than in others.
Consider Sydney, for example.
For many of the residents who live in the inner suburbs — and even up to 20km from the CBD — owning a car is a luxury.
If access to work and play can be achieved via the train or bus, many residents may not have a car at all.
However, those that do have a car will be willing to pay a premium for parking, as car space supply is limited.
And the thing is that supply will continue to become even more limited, as the city grows more and more congested.
Whilst not having a car space won’t destroy your chance of finding a tenant in these markets, offering parking can definitely increase your property’s appeal with a wider pool of potential tenants, and allow you to charge a higher rent.
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Now, if you move a little further out of the city, where the homes and blocks of land are getting bigger and the tenants are more likely to be families, offering a secure car space with the property becomes almost essential.
Think about it: families don’t want to drive home from the supermarket and search for a street park, before juggling their groceries and children in a 200 metre dash to the front door.
In a suburb like Castle Hill, where the median house price is $1.6 million and the median rent is $690, renting is far more affordable than buying, so landlords have a captive audience of potential tenants — who all want safe, secure, on-site, off-street parking.
If you don’t offer it, potential renters may dismiss your property in favour of another that does.
What if you already own a property and you’re considering adding off-street parking as an additional amenity?
Obviously, an enclosed garage can be pricey to construct, though they can add value.
Plus, as well as being the most secure, garages are great spots for the items that can’t be kept inside the house, such as bicycles, skateboards and other equipment.
If a garage isn’t an option, there are other ways to create a car space for your property more affordably.
Car ports are less expensive to build and still provide suitable protection for vehicles.
You could also install a shade sail over the driveway, which is cheaper again, and protects cars from the elements.
Whether you’re looking to buy a property or you’re reviewing the assets you already have, how do you decide whether a car space is essential or not?
While you don’t need to consider it as an absolute necessity, in most cases, it is a smart move for landlords to add parking if possible.
My advice is to speak to your property manager.
They will be able to advise you on the most important features that tenants are looking for, whether it’s off-street parking, air-conditioning, or up-to-date fittings.
That way you can make sure your property is ticking as many tenant boxes as possible.