Surprisingly, when it comes to rental properties, most property managers and landlords think that staging is irrelevant. But here’s a fact. Staging is not just for people who are looking to sell a home. Your prospective renters are looking for a home, not just a stark, vacant building. Moreover, when done the right way, staging rentals can help draw their attention to your property’s top assets and play down the drawbacks.
Still not convinced? Here are some more benefits of staging rentals.
- Staging makes your unit look more “homey” and lived in
- Staging shows prospective tenants that you care about maintain your property in top condition
- Staging can help your property stand out from the competition
- Staging can improve your listing photos and help you market your property more effectively to people who are out looking for home rentals
- Staging can help you ensure lower vacancies, get a better lease, and yes, even charge higher rent.
So what are you waiting for? Here are our top 6 staging tips and tricks for a rental property!
1. Choose suitable furnishings and accessories
Tailor your furnishings to your prospective rental market. This means that if your rental units are located in the downtown area or an up-and-coming neighborhood, chances are that your potential tenant can be a young executive or a busy couple. So in order to make the unit appealing to them, you need to use furnishings that reflect their lifestyle, needs and interests, for example, a casual dining set and an open entertainment area. Look for small items like fancy cabinet pulls or electric switch plates to spruce up the unit at virtually no cost. Also be ready to rotate your décor and accessories in accordance with the season.
2. Show your tenant how to use the room
Staging gives people a chance to envision themselves living in that home. Don’t waste space in your rental unit by not assigning a definite use for each room. For instance, a spare room can be set up as a home office if your clients are most likely to be young couples. But if you are managing a property in a great school district, your tenants are most likely to be families who would be more impressed if you turn that into extra room into a kid’s bedroom and the under-the-stair closet space near the entrance into a useful catchall for a family of five.
3. Emphasize your property’s top selling points
Focus your staging efforts to enhance your property’s top selling points. Do you have a fireplace? Use lighting that helps highlight it as a focal point in the room. Do you have some lovely built-in bookshelves in your units? Draw attention to their utility by placing coordinated groups of books or other accessories. However, avoid clutter. You don’t want the tenants to be more focused on the accessories - their attention should be on the possibilities. If you have a huge bedroom in your unit, don’t leave it empty. Instead use a king-sized bed and matching dresser-nightstand combo or a small seating area to highlight the all that extra space and comfort. Remember that it is difficult to gauge the size of a room or understand how much furniture it can hold when they are empty.
4. Get rid of the nasty odors
An empty rental unit that hasn’t had any people living there for a long time can have a very musty and damp smell. And if your last tenant was a heavy smoker, that’s just going to add to that terrible odor that hits you the minute you walk in through that door.
So if you don’t want your prospective tenants to run in the opposite direction before they even have a chance to see the rest of your property, do something about it. Air out the property well and give the carpets a thorough cleaning. Repainting the walls will also help remove most odors and smells. When you have a scheduled showing, make sure that you arrive at least 30 minutes early so that you can light some scented candles. This will impart a pleasant smell to the unit and also add to the homey factor. And yes, don’t forget to leave the air conditioning on!
5. Place yourself in your tenant’s shoes
Finally, walk through the property once as though you were a prospective renter. What do you see? Is there too little light? Do the rooms appear inviting or stark? Does everything look bright and clean? Do the rooms appear small or just right? Do the fixtures in the kitchen look too worn out? Are there any appliances that can benefit from an upgrade? Remember your prospective tenants may have a long list of rental listings they’re considering in addition to your property. So if your budget allows, enlist a staging expert for advice or help to showcase your unit to its maximum potential.
6. Don’t forget curb appeal
Your rental unit not being occupied is no reason to let the landscaping run wild. Curb appeal is as important to renters as to buyers. It is your chance to make a great first impression.
So when you prepare a home for showing, make sure that you stage the outdoor areas too. Get someone to trim the plants, pull out the weeds, cut down any wayward tree branches, plant some seasonal flowers, and clean up the exterior lighting fixtures. If your unit has a good-sized patio or balcony, choose suitable patio furniture and accessories that help them see the possibilities of that space for relaxing and entertaining. A lovely wreath on the front door can be a nice way to welcome potential tenants into your property.
If you are still wondering whether all the time, money and effort that you would have to invest in staging will actually prove worthwhile, here’s something to cheer about. Property managers who have successfully used staging in the past say that it has helped them attract better tenants who ended up signing long-term leases. That means more rental income for your landlords, lesser turnover and lesser marketing efforts. Now that’s something we can all get behind, can’t we?
Kurt Jacobson is a snowboarding enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 11 times in the past nine years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding the mountain, he writes about all things rental related for the website RentFinder.co and serves as a thought leader in the real estate industry.