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Top Tips! How to Move Your Rental

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Got a flat for rent in DB? There are ways to maximise its market appeal in 2021, but aiming for the height of home fashion isn’t among them. Elizabeth Kerr reports

PHOTOS COURTESY OF Pexels

We all have our tastes and demands and personal quirks. She likes her steak medium and he likes his well-done (even though that’s just wrong). Some of us can’t abide synthetic fabrics, while others couldn’t live without the ease of a dry cleaner-free wardrobe. Rubber thingy on the end of your toothbrush or not? Needless to say, such preferences extend to our homes. Even with the work-heavy lives most families lead, up to two-thirds of our time can be spent at home on any given day, sometimes more. You want it to look nice.

Research by most of the high-end international property agencies represented in Hong Kong – Savills, Colliers, Knight Frank, Jones Lang LaSalle and so on – rarely lumps Discovery Bay in with the SAR’s premier residential locations. As far as pricing is considered, it sits squarely between the mass market and the luxury sector. This is something of an enigma given that the area’s most prominent features (greenery, relatively low-density planning and limited traffic) are precisely what drive rents and sales prices up in Mid-Levels and Island South. The issue for DB is its relative inaccessibility, though that’s arguably an advantage too.

KNOW YOUR MARKET
You could have drywall and bare wires hanging from the ceiling, and still rent your DB flat out for a hefty price if, say, it came with a really big private terrace. But back in the real world, if you are considering buying to rent, there are some practicalities worth considering.

The first thing to keep in mind is the make-up of the local rental market. There are a lot of families in DB, certainly a larger proportion than other areas of Hong Kong, so rentals with a number of bedrooms and bathrooms are a good bet. What’s more, its expatriate residents frequently require creature comforts and environments similar to those they have left behind. Rare is the American, Canadian or Australian who will suffer a lack of outdoor space for barbeques, or settle for archaic or poorly functioning fixtures and fittings.

Potential investors should also bear in mind the types of properties that attract renters to DB. Those who have just relocated here prefer apartments facing the water near the pier – in villages such as La Costa and Hillgrove or in prime developments like Chianti and Siena 2. Beach Village is still very popular as it is in close proximity to the pier, DB Plaza and so on. And it can be accessed by foot without the need for a bus. Likewise, villages like Amalfi and Positano near DB North Plaza rent well.

It’s a good idea to also consider a flat’s position in relation to the main DB schools. For instance, Siena 1 is popular because of its proximity to Discovery College.

KEEP KITCHENS PRACTICAL, MODERN AND BRIGHT
KEEP KITCHENS PRACTICAL, MODERN AND BRIGHT

PRIORITISE PRACTICAL DESIGN
But there’s much more to a successful rental than simply location. Style matters. For better or worse, the cosmetic touches count and they can often be an indicator of what lies beneath.

It is no secret that a nicely renovated property will attract renters over a tired looking one. The sleeker and more modern the decor the better – and new, large windows are a bonus. A properly finished outdoor space is a definite plus. Open plan layouts which see the living and dining areas combined are another good bet but be wary about opening up the kitchen. This kind of layout is popular and no doubt it can make an apartment feel bigger but it’s definitely not for everyone. Being unable to close the door on the kitchen (and the dirty dishes in the sink) is a dealbreaker for some.

When decorating keep your colours light and bright, for example matte-white walls and ceilings, except in the kitchen and bathroom. This provides a clean, blank canvas, and will also make the touch-up procedure much easier. Lay the same flooring throughout the property apart from in the bathroom. This allows rooms to flow into each other. A durable wood or laminate floor will be easiest to maintain.

Keep kitchens practical, modern and bright. Avoid work surfaces that damage easily, and install splashbacks for sink and stove to protect from grease and general dirt. Clean, white bathroom suites always look the part. Position plenty of tiled splash-back areas, and pay special attention to the fixtures and fittings.
Intensely novel styling is best avoided. A decor that’s too individualised can be a problem. You’re better off creating an unobtrusive backdrop. Potential tenants may be put off by anything radical… or colourful.

OPEN PLAN LAYOUTS ARE A GOOD BET
OPEN PLAN LAYOUTS ARE A GOOD BET

FURNISHED OR UNFURNISHED?
The personal style preference is what makes unfurnished flats the better option as well. Simply put, the furniture you choose may not appeal. Long-term renters will also want the option to move in with their own stuff. Built-in cabinetry, for example, may seem like a boon in storage lean Hong Kong, but immovable items are often a dealbreaker when potential tenants have near and dear cabinets of their own. And let’s face it, people want to sleep in their own beds.

If you do decide to go the furnished or part-furnished route, opt for durable pieces that can withstand wear and tear. Choose wood- or aluminium-based furniture and dark upholstery fabrics.

Either way, don’t forget the invisible touches. As omnipresent as it seems to be, broadband internet is an unusual inclusion because of service provider contract demands, but perks like recreation club memberships are popular.

A FLAT WITH A SMART OUTDOOR
AREA WILL SELDOM BE UNOCCUPIED
FOCUS ON CREATING A PLAIN
UNOBTRUSIVE BACKDROP
A PRACTICAL, MODERN KITCHEN
WILL ALWAYS APPEAL TO TENANTS
SPEND ON A SIMPLE YET STYLISH
BATHROOM WITH ALL MOD CONS
A FLAT WITH A SMART OUTDOOR AREA WILL SELDOM BE UNOCCUPIED FOCUS ON CREATING A PLAIN UNOBTRUSIVE BACKDROP A PRACTICAL, MODERN KITCHEN WILL ALWAYS APPEAL TO TENANTS SPEND ON A SIMPLE YET STYLISH BATHROOM WITH ALL MOD CONS

PROVIDE SOME SERVICES
If you are looking to rent out an apartment short term – 28 days being the legal minimum – there are different requirements. Short-term lets, ideal for those who want to try DB before renting long term or purchasing, or for people jetting in to visit family (soon we hope) come fully inclusive of furniture and utilities, and as often as not, they are fully serviced.

First, consider the concept of service. You need to be on call to hand over the keys, and deal with any issues (burst water mains, a broken light fixture) that crop up during a tenant’s stay. Second, make sure you approach each rental on the basis that everything can be negotiated. If cleaning is required during the lease period make sure it’s included; if a tenant requires a welcome hamper and some basic toiletries on arrival, provide them… for a small fee.

Short-term renters travel light. They won’t be moving in with beds and sofas, or sheets and cushions for that matter, so the flat needs to be fully kitted out, right down to the cutlery drawer. Again, focus on setting up a durable, unobtrusive backdrop and pay particular attention to the kitchen and bathrooms, which need to be top-notch. Then add in key pieces of furniture and a smattering of stylish accessories.

A serviced flat needs to be both fully functioning and clutter-free. Take your inspiration from a favourite hotel room, and shop IKEA.

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