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Traditionally, staging has been limited to the real estate seller and vacation rental market. But today, more landlords are dressing up an empty, vacant property with basic furnishings to help convey that homey feel to renters. The results speak for themselves when the lease gets signed.

Staging a Rental: The Basics

• Freshly painted white walls.
• Neutral carpeting or well-cleaned hardwoods.
• Freshly mowed grass and trimmed hedges.
• Make sure the unit is well cleaned: floors, bathroom, windows, kitchen, and appliances.
Unpleasant odors can make a bad first impression on renters. Place a shallow pan with vanilla extract in the oven and heat it up to make the home smell like vanilla. It does not need to be pure vanilla. Imitation works just fine and is much cheaper.  

Advanced Staging:

• Have a set of furniture that you can rotate throughout vacant rentals as they become available.
• Try to collect modern looking, newish and color-coordinated furniture for at least three main rooms: the master bedroom, living room and kitchen/dining room.
• Provide your tenants with a nice modern color palette.
• Always paint your walls with a neutral color paint. White walls can seem cold.
• Avoid flat paint. It is very hard to clean, looks dull, and over time will show more wear and tear on your walls.
• For smaller homes, create an inviting outdoor living space with a small table and a few chairs.
• Stainless-steel appliances are definitely in with renters. Instead of buying a new dishwasher, here is a low-cost way to reface an old one: First, remove the front panels, and clean them. Next, apply a stainless-steel stick-on covering, and cut it to size. For just $20 your dishwasher will go from outdated to ultra-modern.
• Unpleasant pet odors can make a bad first impression on renters. Be sure to get rid of old carpet that can trap offensive smells. Replace it with fresh new carpet in a neutral color.

How Much Will It Cost?

There may be a local home stager who can lease furniture and accessories for your home showings. Consultations may cost $100-300, while a full-treatment may run up to $3000.  If hiring a home stager is not in your budget, educate yourself. Do a Google search for “Home Staging” and you’ll see some great examples and testimonials supporting this strategy. Staging your rental could help you change the vacancy period from months to weeks to even days!

If you manage multiple properties, it may be worth putting a month’s rent into some furniture you keep in storage for when a property needs staging. If you only manage a few properties, you could obtain inexpensive furniture from scratch and dent sales, storage rental auctions and Craigslist. You could even put a few of your own pieces in the property.

Remember, renters are looking for a home to live in, not an empty box.  The more you can convey a sense of home and show just how nice the unit looks furnished, the faster you may be able to rent your property.

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