Older Condo Rentals May Need to Upgrade to Compete

for rent signThis fall two new apartment communities (Alley 11 and Main Street Flats) opened adding 500+ new rental units to the downtown Bellevue marketplace. Early next year the second tower at SOMA and two communities under construction at Main Street & Bellevue Way will be ready for occupancy adding nearly 1,000 rental units. With more apartment communities in design review or under construction, several hundred more rental units will be added downtown in the next 2-3 years.

Demand for rentals is high in downtown Bellevue. If you’ve advertised a condo for rent in recent months its likely multiple renters were ready to sign on the dotted line. New communities command lofty rents, and while its tempting to cash in on that trend, bear in mind that those newer communities also offer high end finishes and luxury amenities and services. Renters are willing to pay top dollar for high tech, upscale finishes and fixtures, stainless appliances and granite, security, garage parking, concierge service, fitness and business centers, dog walking/grooming areas, electric car charging stations and well appointed resident lounges and view terraces for gathering and entertaining. Condo owners who previously found it easy to secure tenants and demand top rental dollars may find its difficult to rent an older condo with tired oak cabinets, laminate counters, dated appliances or fixtures and a common hallway laundry room. Improvements may be required to compete with newer, sexier apartments.

On the other hand, it’s definitely a challenge to find quality, affordable rentals in and near downtown. While not all renters demand rooftop terraces or 24/7 concierge service, what they won’t accept is a unit in poor condition that isn’t clean, well maintained, somewhat updated, safe and secure. While these are two different markets, each has its own market demand. Major upgrades will compete with new construction and provide a significantly higher rental return, but are expensive. Minor improvements may result in a modest bump in rental income but equally high demand for a quality. affordable option.

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