In the last issue of the Access Wealth Blog we learned that 2018 could be the time to buy property in Zimbabwe. Most signs are pointing to the next decade bringing a significant firming of property prices on the back of better economic conditions, in particular the ability for buyers and sellers to access hard currency and move it between countries. With property being a reliable investment across the world, it is a common method for people to build wealth from.
A market analyst from a leading real estate agency in Harare warned, however, that rentals are generally delivering very low returns, with big suburban properties achieving just 1-2% return per annum, and high density housing a stronger 15-16%. The tough circumstances many potential renters are in means that non-payment of rent is common, and the laws surrounding the human right to shelter mean that evictions can be difficult and expensive.
Estate agents on the ground in Harare have described a short-sightedness in many would be landlords, who expect good tenants without themselves being good landlords. Here are some of the key considerations when trying to get, and keep, good rent paying tenants.
- Adjust your expectations.
To avoid your property lying idle, lower your rent and get someone in rather than having a white horse sitting empty for months on end. It’s a renters market and will be for some time to come.
- Hold up your end of the deal.
Keep your rates with the council paid. If rent includes internet, never miss payments to risk having it cut off. Make sure any staff that you are responsible for are paid on time. Keeping your affairs in order means that you are well within your rights to demand the same from your tenants. If tenants are hassled by debt collectors looking for you, it can irritate and cause concern.
- Make it work.
Investing in your property is the only way to attract and keep good tenants. A borehole and water tank are expensive, but vital additions to attract well-to-do tenants. When viewing a house, missing lightbulbs and broken windows are a big turnoff for prospective tenants. If your house is furnished, make sure that the furniture is in working order. All broken fittings including plumbing and electrical should be repaired. If you show your house love, your tenants will too!
- Make it pretty.
Spending a bit of money on improving the aesthetics of your home will yield a good return on investment. A fresh coat of paint, especially in living areas and the kitchen, will invariably bring cheer to a house. Mow the lawn, weed the driveway, rake up leaves and keep the hedges and bushes trimmed. You are selling a lifestyle to people who are looking to rent, try to fulfil their hopes.
- Top-line lessees require the biggest investment.
If your property is near an embassy or the International School, you are more likely to attract diplomatic staff or NGO workers from overseas whose rent is guaranteed by their organisations. Security becomes a top concern in this case, and a wall with electric fence and gate are a must. A good borehole and a backup generator are also key. The services of a landscaper to get the most from your garden will improve your chances even further. Needless to say, the house should be immaculate and everything working therein. Consider investing in a few top end appliances such as a bigger, high quality stove and fridge. Quality should be emphasised rather than glitz – don’t fit your house out just to look opulent – subdued tones and reliable fittings and appliances will give you a better return on investment in the long run.
Access Finance can help you invest in property in Zimbabwe by offering secure, instant and cheap remittances into the country. Read more here.
Access Finance is a financial services company registered in Zimbabwe.