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How to Stage Your Rental Property

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Your property might look great on paper, but if potential tenants aren’t eager to sign the rental agreement after a walkthrough, you may want to reconsider your tactics.

Enter: home staging; the process of preparing a property by enhancing its visual appeal. Staging is a tactic that’s sometimes used when selling a home, but landlords can do the same when showing units to potential renters.

An empty rental feels like a blank slate, but the downside is that it could also appear cold and uninviting. But when you set up the space to make it look like a cozy home, renters can easily imagine themselves living in it. Staging also lets them see the true potential of your unit.

In this article, we’ll dive into how you can stage your rental.  We’ll share some do’s and don’ts of home staging, plus tips on easy, cost-effective ways that will induce wows during walkthroughs.

Why Stage Your Rental?

Staging your rental property can be a smart strategy. For home sale, staging can be effective. In a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 58% of buyers’ agents say that home staging has a positive effect on a buyer’s perception. Twenty percent of agents also noted that compared to a similar non-staged home, staged ones received increased dollar value offers between one and five percent.

Staging can be a good strategy for rentals as well. When your rental feels more desirable, you may be able to attract tenants more quickly. While ultimately, the market rate will determine how much you can get for your property each month, showcasing your rental in the best possible light can help you to command the best price possible.

Effective home staging involves a combination of interior design principles and marketing strategies to create a compelling and welcoming environment. The goal is to make the space look more attractive and liveable to potential tenants. 

Keep your property rented. Read Reducing Vacancy Rates: Tips for Keeping Your Rental Property Occupied.

8 Tips for Staging a Rental Property

With rentals, there’s a lot that you can do to make your rental look more appealing. The good news is you don’t need to spend a fortune to get your rental in show-worthy condition. When staging a rental, you may want to use less furniture and fewer decor items then you would when staging a home for sale, and instead look to clean the property, update outdated fixtures, apply a fresh coat of paint, and invest in a few key pieces that can help your place to shine. 

  1. Begin With a Clean Slate

Successful staging begins with a clean, clutter-free property. Start by decluttering and depersonalizing the space. Remove personal items, excess furniture, and items that may not cater to a broad audience.

A deep cleaning is also essential to ensure your rental property shines. Scrub all surfaces, including countertops, appliances, and baseboards, to remove any built-up grime. Pay special attention to high-traffic areas like the kitchen and bathroom. Don’t forget to clean windows and mirrors to let in as much natural light as possible.

In addition to surface cleaning, consider professional carpet cleaning or floor polishing if necessary. Fresh, clean carpets and gleaming floors contribute to the overall tidiness of your rental property.

You may also want to consider hiring professional cleaners to deep clean your property. This will save you time and effort and can help your property to look its best.

Is your tenant moving out, and you need to prepare the unit for the next renter? Check out How to Prep a Rental After a Tenant Leaves.

  1. First Impressions Matter

In real estate, first impressions do matter. You want to impress potential tenants as soon as they see your property, so don’t underestimate the exterior condition or its “curb appeal.” 

Maintain a well-kept lawn, clean pathways, and a freshly painted front door. Adding potted plants or planting low-maintenance flowers and shrubs makes it more inviting. Replace any worn or outdated hardware, such as doorknobs and house numbers. Consider adding outdoor lighting to create a welcoming ambiance during evening viewings. Lastly, ensure the mailbox and any signage are in good condition. These small but impactful improvements can enhance the curb appeal of your rental property, making it more attractive to prospective tenants.

  1. Soft, Neutral Color Palette

When selecting colors for your rental property, neutral tones such as white or off-white are typically the way to go. You could also add in neutrals like beige, greige, or soft gray. Neutral colors create a blank canvas that allows tenants to visualize their own furnishings and decorations in the space. Bold or overly personalized color choices can limit the property’s appeal.

  1. Thoughtful Furniture Arrangement

When staging, look for pieces that are small and portable. A few good mirrors, a small dining table and chairs set, and a small sofa or lounge chair could be enough pieces of furniture to stage a rental. Remember: you don’t need to fill the rooms with furniture, even having a few pieces of furniture throughout, tastefully decorated, can help to add a sense of welcoming to the home, making it more inviting and helping renters to envision themselves there.

  1. Optimize Lighting

The right lighting can transform a rental property, making it feel more spacious and inviting. Ensure that each room is well-lit, combining natural light with strategically placed indoor lighting. Look for warm white bulbs when staging and avoid harsh, cool lighting. They’ll add a warm, cozy feel to the space. Don’t forget to leave the curtains or blinds drawn to let in as much natural light as possible.

  1. Modernize Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms often play a decisive role in tenant decisions. If it’s time to upgrade your rental’s kitchen, consider investing in modern appliances and fixtures, such as stainless steel appliances. Ensure that fixtures, plumbing, and electrical systems are in excellent working condition to prevent issues down the road as well.

  1. Show the Property’s Potential

When staging, consider how extra rooms or spaces can be utilized creatively. For instance, you could create a cozy reading nook in the living room by arranging a few books and a cozy chair next to a large, open window that gets plenty of light. Highlighting the versatility of your rental property or drawing attention to its best features can help to boost its appeal.

  1. Professional Photography

High-quality photos are indispensable for marketing your rental property effectively online. Consider enlisting the services of a professional photographer who can capture the property’s best angles and lighting. Use these photos in your online listings to attract potential tenants.

8 Things to Avoid When Staging Your Rental

  1. Don’t Over Personalize the Space

Personal touches can add character to a home, but be careful not to overdo it when staging a rental property. Avoid overly personal decor. These can make potential tenants feel like they’re intruding on someone else’s space, hindering their ability to visualize themselves living there.

  1. Don’t Overcrowd Rooms

One common mistake in staging is overcrowding rooms with furniture and decor. Don’t cram too many items into a space, as this can make it feel cluttered and smaller than it actually is. Opt for a minimalist approach that allows for a better flow and a sense of spaciousness.

  1. Don’t Neglect the Maintenance Details

While focusing on aesthetics is essential, maintenance details of your rental property shouldn’t be neglected. Never conceal existing issues, such as a leaky faucet or a malfunctioning HVAC system. Tenants are likely to notice and may assume that you’re cutting corners on maintenance.

Regular property inspections keep maintenance issues at bay. Read The Importance of Regular Property Inspections: Identifying and Preventing Issues.

  1. Don’t Use Strong or Unpleasant Scents

Scent can have a powerful impact on how people perceive a space. Don’t use strong or unusual scents, such as heavily scented candles or air fresheners, during walkthroughs. These can be off-putting to some tenants and may mask underlying odors. Instead, aim for a neutral and fresh-smelling environment.

  1. Don’t Overlook Natural Light

Natural light is a valuable asset in any rental property, and if your unit has it, be sure to flaunt it! Avoid heavy or overly dark window coverings that block out sunlight. Choose light, sheer curtains, or blinds that allow natural light to filter in, creating a more inviting space. Or forgo window coverings altogether and let the natural light pour in.

  1. Don’t Neglect Storage Solutions

Storage space is essential for most tenants. Drawing attention to shelves, cabinets, or built-in storage solutions can help to showcase the property’s potential for organization and tidiness. Consider placing a few decorative baskets on shelves. You may also want to consider adding in a shelving unit to add to the property’s storage solutions and help make the property more attractive at the same time.

  1. Don’t Forget About Safety

Safety should always be a top priority when staging a rental property. Consider potential safety hazards, such as loose cords, unstable furniture, or exposed electrical outlets. Ensure that the property is free from hazards and complies with safety regulations. If your unit has security features like alarm systems, security cameras, and special locks, be sure to highlight these.

  1. Don’t Overspend on Staging

While staging is essential, you don’t want it to eat into your profits. It’s possible to create a clean, aesthetic look on a budget, so don’t cash out on expensive furniture and decor. Choose cost-effective solutions that provide value without breaking the bank.

Tips for Saving Money When Home Staging

Now, let’s explore some practical tips to help property investors and landlords stage their rental properties effectively while keeping costs in check:

  • Shop Smart: When purchasing items for staging, look for budget-friendly options. You could opt for smaller portable pieces so that you can reuse them easily on other properties.
  • Repurpose Existing Furniture: Use furniture and decor items you already own. With a bit of creativity, you can repurpose existing pieces to fit the staging theme and reduce the need for additional purchases.
  • Rent Furniture: Don’t want the hassle of buying furniture? Another alternative is to rent pieces for the duration of the staging. This can be more cost-effective and allows you to switch out furnishings.
  • Focus on High-Impact Areas: Rather than staging every room, concentrate your efforts on key areas that make the most significant impact. The NAR says that the most common rooms that are staged are the living room, kitchen, master bedroom, and dining room.
  • Freshen Up with Paint: Don’t have the budget for a complete makeover? Instead of painting every room, prioritize areas that need it most, such as the front door, high-traffic areas, or rooms with outdated color or dirty walls.
  • DIY Home Repairs: Save on maintenance and repair costs by tackling minor fixes yourself, such as patching up holes, fixing leaky faucets, or replacing worn-out door knobs.
  • Utilize Natural Elements: Incorporate natural elements like potted plants and faux flowers to add a touch of elegance and freshness to your staged property without breaking the bank.
  • DIY vs. Professional Staging: Consider whether you can handle the staging process yourself or if it’s more cost-effective to hire a professional stager. Small-scale DIY projects can save money, but larger and more complex staging may benefit from professional expertise.

Staging is more than just a way to flex your interior decorating chops; it’s also a strategic tool for marketing your rental. Aside from enhancing a unit’s visual look, rental home staging also communicates the property’s value and potential. Making minor, strategic upgrades can go a long way in today’s competitive rental market. So roll up your sleeves, get creative, and have fun staging your rental!Looking for more advice on how to make the most of your investment property? Check out our Education Center: Investor Tips for more resources. And if you need help managing your rental properties, we can help. Get started today with your FREE rental price analysis, and see how much your property could be renting for.

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