Have you been inside these other places? Identical size, age, even down to the floor plan..yet I get top dollar because the kitchens and bathrooms are new..tile floors (in floor radiant heat in the bathrooms). New countertops in corian (no more scratched up counters)... hardwood or tile everywhere...speaker system & optical cable in walls....etc. Of course, for my students..everything high-tech is already in the walls.
Fellow two houses down from my SFH cannot rent at $350. less than I get.
Everything depends on what you have that they don't..how new? how low maintenance it is, how up to date it is...etc
I think you make a good point for anyone comping there property. It is important to walk through the other properties to get a feel for what they have to offer.
Over the 15 years of living down I have visited many properties. It was a fun thing to do on the weekend. Before the market crashed there was a home for sale on every block. So I know the floor plans & understand the lay out of the different types. Some of the Victorians have a round room, that is just so cool. Some of the Victorians are larger and have a balcony off the front of the house. Havn't seen anything like that for rent. Mostly bungalo's for rent. The bungalo's have larger kitchens and much smaller bedrooms plus they don't have a formal dinning room, it is one big area. Rarely will you find a Victorian for rent that is a full 2 stories. In my opinion the bungalos are smaller because the area downstairs is so small and dungeon like. However I figure renters may just look at it as extra space so the love of the Victorian style is just my taste. If the bunglo is sporting rooms upstairs the living space is also just not the same because of the walls being ceilings.
As far as upgrades go we are at the top for most any rental or an equal to. Some people are getting smart and realizing that in this neighborhood investing is wise and there is a return.