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“would it be a good idea to rent the unit furnished or unfurnished?”

by Prince Of Petworth February 2, 2017 at 1:15 pm 32 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user molly

“Dear PoPville,

We’re moving abroad in the next few months and plan to rent our 1 bedroom condo in Logan Circle. We have nice furniture from Room & Board, Crate & Barrel/CB2, and West Elm and was wondering if people thought it would be a good idea to rent the unit furnished or unfurnished (and then just sell all of our stuff)? If we rented it furnished, how much should we ask over the standard price? Whats fair?

Also, I know you’ve asked the readers about property management companies a year or so ago, but is Nest still the best company?”

  • Anon Spock

    I use Nomadic. They only manage rentals; no associations. They’ve been great.
    You could offer it both furnished and unfurnished and see where the interest comes in.
    I charge roughly 7% over base for my studio furnished with everything, and my stuff is nice but not high end.

    • Anon Spock

      To piggyback off the below complaints, online portal is easy to navigate. I was able to pull up broken down financials to handle my taxes before 1099s went out. They send an email to you when tenants request repairs even those below your preset limit.
      I also had a dishwasher repaired, and it took a few days.
      They’ll also do a market analysis to find a good rent even if you decide to find your own tenants as I did.

  • MadMax

    I use Nest. They’re pretty professional, occasionally screw up documentation wise, good at communication, but their online portal for owners sucks compared to other companies I’ve used. Not sure about furnished mark-up, but curious as well since we’re planning an overseas move in the near future.

  • Case

    I rented from Nest and they are certainly NOT the best. Took over 6 months to fix an in-unit dishwasher. For the sake of your future tenants, avoid them at all costs.

    • Bort

      That might be on the landlord and not on Nest themselves. My tenant broke the dishwasher, Nest told me about it immediately and I had it replaced in less than a week. That being said, Nest is only okay from this landlord’s perspective. They are often quite slow to respond to uncomplicated questions and sometimes do not respond without repeated nudging. I’m also not convinced they did a great job finding me a tenant, but I am too lazy to manage my rental unit myself so I deal with it.

      • Anon Spock

        You can have them manage and find your own tenants. I’ve done it this way, and while they’ll encourage you to pay them for the privilege, it’s easy enough to slightly modify a contract to reflect the change.
        I prefer it because I know if the pm is slacking, and I can handle some small things myself. I also get to meet the person which has helped me dodge some sketchiness.

        • Bort

          I lumped “finding a tenant” in with “manag[ing] my rental unit myself” in my above comment and didn’t tell anyone. The “finding a tenant” is actually what I am too lazy to do–I dealt with the dishwasher issue myself because I am also too cheap, apparently, to pay Nest to do it for me. (They identified some unnecessarily expensive machines as replacements and wanted to charge what seemed like an arm and a leg to buy it and get it installed for me). Their labor expenses were disclosed in the agreement I signed, but it still felt like too much when the issue arose.

          • Anon Spock

            That’s funny. I have always considered the finding a tenant part to be the easier of the 2.

  • textdoc

    Yay for the photo of a red panda!

  • Mug of Glop

    My first apartment in DC came furnished, but with really terrible furniture (both quality and utility) that had obviously been bought just to populate the apartment and make it more attractive on paper while increasing the price. It was great for the initial move to the city, but it made the place pretty hard to live in after a while. It sounds like you’ve actually lived in it, though, so it wouldn’t be so bad. Definitely make sure the security deposit and damage remuneration clauses in your lease will cover furniture in the apartment as well as the unit itself.
    I’ve no guidance as to how much of a premium it should be, as I’ve never rented an apartment, but my gut feeling is to charge maybe around a ten-year amortized value of the furniture, so the rent premium would essentially pay off the full cost of the furniture assuming a hypothetical ten year lifetime?
    Right now I rent from a place managed by EJF Realty, and they’re pretty okay at least from the renter side.

  • ColHeist

    As a renter, I am immediately turned off by a furnished listing. Unless you are planning on doing short term leases, I would go with unfurnished.

    We currently rent a property through Nest and have had a wonderful experience with them. The staff is super nice and responsive and the maintenance people have always been very respectful when coming into our apartment.

    • BRP

      seconding this – furnished works best for short-term rentals. if you’re renting for a year +, unfurnished.

  • Chad Glover

    I have had a great experience with Scout Properties.
    I initially tried Nest but they blew me off.

  • carol

    The first poster i think gave the best advise offer both options see what you get. I am in the process of looking for a place to live for a while 2-4 years ideally and would NOT want a furnished place i like my things. That being said you might get a renter who is in the same boat you are coming from abroad or out of state and would like something furnished. I don’t think you can ask for anything more then 500-800 bucks more a month however for a furnished place. Especially if you are looking for a long term rental- it just adds up and becomes not cost effective from a renters point a view.

  • HC

    If you rent it furnished, you basically close off the potential tenant pool to anyone who already owns furniture. Which is to say, a lot of people.

    People who want furnished rentals are either people living their very temporarily, or people living on their own for the first time.

  • JohnWashDC

    I used NEST. What a disappointment. Cannot recommend. There are much better responsive companies out there.

  • anonymous

    Personally, I would sell the furniture. There is no guarantee the condition of the furniture will remain the same when you get back. We used to rent our furnished basement to short-term via AirBnB. We only did this for about 1.5 yrs before we moved. There were lots of stains and scratches all over the living room furniture. We didnt keep any of the furniture except the bed and only b/c we wanted to keep it for guests.

    • Rich

      If your overseas move doesn’t include storage, you’re not getting a very good deal.

      Furniture rapidly depreciates drastically unless its collectible–take that into account in terms of selling furniture and then trying to recoup what you’ve spent and ultimately need to replace, and weigh that against the inevitable wear & tear.

      The market for a furnished place will be more narrow, but there are people who come to DC for a year or more in circumstances where a furnished place would be an asset–those coming from abroad, those who have a house full of furniture somewhere but being detailed by an agency or doing a fellowship, etc. You’d probably want to think about how to advertise in these segments to target the rental.

      I’ve lived in 2 buildings where EJF took care of people’s units for rental–the owners generally have been very unhappy with them–not good with paperwork or following-up on things. they also do real estate sales, and when I was getting ready to sell my old place, I stopped by their office out of curiosity and the broker was just the sleaziest character I’d met in ages. EJF was a spinoff of Edmund J Flynn which has had a long running niche in doing closings for co-ops—they seem to do better in that role.

      Generally speaking, furnished 1 bedrooms seem to generate a premium of a couple hundred dollars a month.

  • As a property manager, I often recommend that my clients (seeking leases longer than 6 months) rent the home unfurnished but let us show it furnished if they wish to leave some furniture in place – a good property manager will be able to convey to potential tenants during showings that the apartment can convey unfurnished but if they are interested in the furnishings to let me know. Many times this has saved my clients the hassle of moving larger items, such as a couch or bed frame, that the tenants were open to using. That said, you usually won’t get much if any additional rent for including the furnishings in a long-term rental. The market in DC is mostly for unfurnished units, so potential tenants will be comparing your unit to other unfurnished units and will likely not pay extra for furnishings.

    Best of luck with your rental!

  • ACinDC

    I have been living in DC for a few years but always with short-term leases lasting 4-12 months. Each apartment I have lived in has been furnished and rented from people who are going to be out of the country for a set amount of time – sabbatical, consulting, deployment, etc. I highly value living in a furnished apartment, mostly because I don’t want to invest in major furniture since I don’t know how long I will be in DC. That said, as I’ve accumulated more things over the years I am now looking for apartments that have the major furnishings but not a lot of clutter (eg, I want the apartment to have a bed and couch but have my own coffee table, cookware). I am willing to pay more for a furnished apartment, but only up to the cost of furnishing an empty apartment (about $200 more per month?).

  • BlueStreak

    I would have loved this situation. My wife had a 2 year fellowship and we were going to live in different cities. We did not want to buy a bunch of new furniture because we had a house we owned. I would have loved a good furnished option. We looked but didn’t find one at the time. So my wife ended up renting the furniture. If you’re going to rent it furnished, I would check with a place like Cort Furniture and see what it costs to outfit a place your size per month. I would add that to whatever you were planning to charge. You might have to adjust downward a little, but I would at least start with that as a target.

  • Anon

    Talk to Hanna at rent the district property management.

  • Ash99

    Unless you plan to come back soon, i would def recommend selling the furniture – or keep it in storage, if you really love it and want to keep it. Tenants do not take care of your stuff as well as you would – so your nice furniture will most likely not be that nice for too long. As for property management, I interviewed 3 diff companies about 4 years ago, when i was about to rent out a rowhouse. Of the three, Nest was the most impressive and professional – but in the end, i decided to manage it myself, since i live nearby. But Nest did significantly underestimate the rent for my property as part of their “market research” – I marketed it myself, and rented it out for 20% higher than what they quoted me as the highest possible rent at the time.

    • textdoc

      +1 to “Tenants do not take care of your stuff as well as you would – so your nice furniture will most likely not be that nice for too long.”

  • DCForever

    I’ve rented from Nest in two different locations. The first time is was great. Anything needing repair was done fast and efficiently. The staff was super awesome The next time around it wasnt’t as great. But we finally realized it wasn’t nest – it was the owner they were working with that didn’t want to pay for reasonable repairs (even broken appliances). i felt bad for Mike who had to really push to make sure we got taken care of. They always went the extra mile to tide us over with a spare refrigerator and once with AC unit. It’s easy to blame the manager – but the owners can be real jerks. Nest always did what they could to take care of us and we would definitely recommend them to anyone.

  • Caitlin

    I mean as a tenant I love Nest, I think that’s what matters most right ? I’ve been at my place for 2 years because they work on longevity and retaining tenants. My owners is selling and I speak with Lydia almost everyday (she’s really became a friend) about the transition. I went to see a unit with Di Di who is really down to earth and made me feel comfortable about my woes. They are great, again tenant side :)

  • Annie L

    I was in a similar boat 3 years ago and ultimately decided against furnished because I realized the furniture itself which I loved would likely get worn – I didn’t want to have to think about that, but if that’s not a worry – you may be able to get more in rent each month. I’ve used Nest for my unfurnished rental since 2014 and they have been great! As an owner, they push me to get repairs done as quickly as possible and while I sometimes wish I could hold on the smaller stuff, I’ve had the same tenants for 3 years in part because they like living there and working with the manager. All employees I’ve worked with are also super friendly and nice to deal with – I’ve never found that in another rental company. I ran into my tenants when I was back in town for a walkthrough and they made a point of telling me they love having nest manage – 24 hour emergency service, online rent collection, and quick responses. I’d definitely try them out and see if they’re a good fit for you – not sure if they do furnished or just unfurnished

  • CoHi-PW

    Agree with others- more than 6 months go unfurnished. As an owner Nest has been great. They are responsive and keep me in the loop of what’s going and managed a pretty major leak really well. Taken care of in a couple of days. I’ve been lucky to have the same tenents for 3 years and they seem happy.

  • anon

    nest is horrible.

  • navyard

    Try with the furniture first.
    When I rented my place out, my realtor told me it would take 6 months longer to find someone to rent a furnished apt than unfurnished. I stupidly accepted this info without checking. I sold furniture in perfect condition for pennies, or gave it away to friends. My furniture fit the space perfectly because I had spent 5 years cultivating just the right pieces. The guy who is renting my place went out and bought used furniture from Craigslist.
    If I were you, I’d list the place both ways and then offer it both ways. If someone is dead set against renting your furniture, then get rid of it.

  • LBJ

    As a Nest tenant, I am super happy renting from them. They agreed to do some extra work before we moved in and are always responsive to maintenance requests, none of which have been serious. I can also email them for tips if I’m not sure how to fix something myself. I know the owner of the house is a bit easier to work with, and I’m sure that helps them in their response time. This is my first time working with a property manager, and it’s far superior to the owners I’ve rented from directly in the past, who have both been kinda slummy.

  • Mr. President

    I lived in a group house managed by nest for 4 years and could not have asked for more. They were awesome. Rent was good/repairs were fast – and the whole experience was more than reasonable. …but man, my roommates always shocked me how rude to management they would be.  When anything went wrong they blamed Nest. When our electric bill was high – they blamed Nest. Seriously, one guy was running his ac full blast 24/7.  I was embarrassed for them.  People don’t like taking responsibility and always want to blame someone else (seems the landlords is easiest to do that with.) I ultimately bought my own house and if I ever rented or need a company to manage my property wouldn’t think twice about using them.


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