The Morgan Apartments Designed by Foshee Architecture - View of Kitchen and Appliances

What Your Appliance Colors Say about Apartment Quality?

One of the most important rooms in a rental property is the Kitchen. Cabinets, countertops, and backsplashes all play a huge role in the design of a Kitchen; however, the appliances can speak volumes to a prospective tenant. How do these appliances affect the overall quality of the property, and do tenants prefer a particular appliance finish? Most importantly, are they willing to pay for an upgrade to this amenity? Let’s examine these questions together.

Stainless Steel

The reigning champion in recent years, in regards to appliance color, is stainless steel, and we don’t see it going away anytime soon. This look became popular as more and more people began using commercial appliances in high-end residential Kitchens.  The manufacturers soon caught on and began offering the same finish in residential appliances, for a fraction of the price.  Stainless steel compliments a large assortment of cabinet colors and feels luxurious, making it an easy design option to consider. In addition, they are often considered the most durable, making them a good long term investment. The downsides?  Stainless steel shows finger prints and carries a higher price tag in comparison to the standard black and white appliances.

Black and White

But, are black and white appliances really considered standard? Well, we use to consider white colored appliances to be THE standard. While there are occasionally reasons to purchase a white refrigerator (replacement in an existing kitchen full of other white appliances), we would advise against using white appliances on any new multifamily construction project (unless of course you are striving for a 1980’s look and enjoy trying to scrub off dingy handprints from the appliance handles on every turn…).

So, what about black appliances? We feel that this is a great choice for new construction and rehab projects. Not only do they look classy and resist dirt and fingerprints, they also compliment most cabinet and countertop colors. In addition, black appliances are typically priced exactly the same as white!

More Appliance Finishes?

“But wait!  I am seeing appliances with finishes such as black stainless, slate, black slate, and clean steel?”  Yes, in addition to black and white, designer colors are also available. These colors usually fall between the cost of black and stainless steel, but be careful as it may be difficult to match these specialty colors during replacement in the future.  It’s like trying to match that avocado green shag carpet that someone thought was a good idea in 1976.  Our advice is to simply stick with the basics.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Now that we have established some of the differences in appliance colors, what do these colors say to a prospective tenant? Have you ever seen a stainless steel appliance and thought it looked cheap or outdated? Of course not, and neither have your prospects! Stainless steel is an easy way to say ‘high-end’ and “luxury,” which is the exact message you are trying to convey to a prospective tenant. Maybe you are trying to build a new premier project in your area, or maybe you are trying to rehab a “B+” property into an “A-”, then stainless steel appliances are a good choice.

Dollars and Sense (no, not pocket change…)

Just keep in mind that you will have to pay an extra $500-$750 per unit, on average, for the luxury of stainless steel appliances. It could prove well worth the investment, though! If the rental rate can be increased by only $20 per month, a $500 upgrade will pay for itself in two years.  With an expected useful life of approximately twelve years, those stainless steel appliances will earn an additional $2,400 of income after they have paid for themselves.

So, where does this leave black appliances? In our opinion, black appliances should be your new baseline choice. Not only is it the least expensive option, it is quickly becoming the new standard for multifamily properties. While black appliances do not scream luxury, they certainly do not imply “cheap” or “inferior.” In terms of cars, they are Honda Accords. Simply a good, reliable, and affordable automobile. Not a head turner, like a red Ferrari, but also not a terrible decision, like a 1975 Mercury Bobcat (Yes, the rebadged Ford Pinto….).

In conclusion, if you are building or rehabbing a Class A property, use stainless steel. For all others, black appliances will be the right choice for you!

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