Staging rental properties is a combination of cleaning and strategic decorating that encourages renters to develop a strong first impression of the property. It shows the rental in its best light so that renters are more appreciative of the positive aspects of the property, rather than focusing on some of its less attractive features.
Many strategies for staging rentals utilize what’s known as “priming.” Priming is a psychological effect that uses subtle messaging to influence someone’s subconscious. An example of priming might be placing a “welcome home” doormat on the doorstep of a rental. This simple fixture will be one of the first things renters see, and it will put them in the state of mind to be thinking about the rental as their home throughout the showing.
Staging and priming work together to help convince renters that your property is a good fit for them. Putting in that extra work to make them feel at home from the beginning can be the difference between renters signing a lease with you rather than your competitors.
Staging is especially useful in higher-end areas where renters’ decisions are based more on aesthetics than practical issues like the price of rent and number of bedrooms. In such markets, you must be competitive when marketing rentals. Smart staging could easily be the thing that gets your units filled.
If your local rental market has plenty of demand and you aren’t having issues locking down tenants, you might be able to get away without staging your rentals. Cleaning, painting, and other general upkeep should never be skipped, though.
Below, we go over everything you need to know about staging rental properties. Regardless of the competition in your market, implementing even just a few of these staging tips could help you lockdown tenants and fill your units.
Components of Staging
Staging strategies come at varying levels of importance. There are some things that all landlords should be doing during every period of turnover — we’ll call these the essentials. After the essentials, there are optional strategies that aren’t required but really enhance the property’s appearance — let’s call these the non-essentials. Beyond general staging tips, there are also specific strategies for staging certain rooms in a rental property — these will be called room-specific strategies.
Here, we breakdown the essential, non-essential, and room-specific strategies for staging rentals. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to stage your rental properties effectively and lockdown tenants with ease.
The essentials of staging tend to coincide with the mandatory tasks of turnover. They are not only the things that landlords must do to make the rental ready for new renters, but they are also the fundamental things that make a rental presentable. Let’s go over the essentials of staging.
Declutter the Rental
Staging is often equated with filling the rental with furniture and decorations. In reality, the first thing you should do when staging a unit is declutter the space. When renters come to walk through a rental, they need to be able to actually see the space. Too much clutter makes it difficult for them to see the features of the property. As such, you should remove all unnecessary items to increase visualization of the space.
Clean the Space Thoroughly
One of the most important aspects of staging is thoroughly cleaning the rental. When you clean for staging, you should go beyond wiping down countertops and cleaning the bathroom. Make sure all cabinets, floors, surfaces, and walls are free of dust and remnants of past renters. A squeaky clean unit will make for an impressive showing.
Sometimes all it takes to make an older property look new is a fresh coat of paint. Not only does paint reinvigorate a dull room, but it also makes the entire space look cleaner and well-kept. A fresh coat of paint may seem like a minor thing, but it certainly makes a tangible difference.
Add Lighting where Needed
To help improve not only the appearance of the rental, but also renters’ ability to see everything the rental has to offer, use lots of lighting. Make sure all light fixtures are clean and any burnt out bulbs are replaced. Cleaning the insides and outsides of windows also lets in more natural light. If rooms are still a little dark, bring in smaller desk lamps and light fixtures to brighten the rooms.
Now that we’ve covered the absolute essentials of staging a rental, let’s go over some non-essential staging strategies. It’s important to note that just because these tips aren’t required, doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing. It really is the small details that win over renters.
Display a Welcome Home Doormat
As we discussed previously, a “welcome home” doorstep by the front door does a lot to prime the renters into thinking of the rental as their home. When they’re already in that state of mind, they’ll be more excited about the property’s best features and less critical of its downsides.
Utilize Accent Pieces
Although it’s important not to overdo it, a few key accent pieces can help balance a room and draw attention to a rental’s best features. Simple things like stacking a few books on a nice bookshelf or placing a chair next to an impressive fireplace helps to highlight what you want renters to notice.
One of the best ways to encourage renters to envision themselves living in a space is to fill it with life. Including a few plants in your staging invigorates the space and demonstrates that there is plenty of natural light in the rental.
Mirrors are your friend when it comes to staging small rooms and units. Be careful not to turn your rental into a fun house mirror maze, but a few strategically placed mirrors help make a small space appear larger. The last thing you want is for renters to feel claustrophobic before they even move their stuff in.
So far, we’ve provided general strategies for staging rentals that apply to all areas of a property. Here, we offer room-specific tips for impressing renters.
The kitchen is one of the most important features of living space. Even if your rental doesn’t have a state-of-the-art kitchen, there are few simple tips to make it appealing to renters.
- Hang a hand-towel over the oven door.
- Place a matching rug at the bottom of the sink.
- Display a cookbook on a stand.
Aside from the living room, the master bedroom is one of the most lived in spaces in a home. As such, it’s important for renters to be able to picture themselves living comfortably in the room.
- Get a blowup mattress and position it on a few totes.
- Cover the “bed” with a trendy comforter and plenty of throw pillows.
- Place end tables by the bed if you have some.
- Simulate functionality of the bedroom closet with a few pieces of clothes.
There are lots of simple ways to enhance a rental’s bathrooms.
- Put out fresh white towels with a ribbon tied around them.
- Place a folded hand towel next to the sink to conceal imperfections on the counter.
- Position a dish with boutique soaps beside the sink.
- Set a small plant on the counter.
- Hang a trendy shower curtain and lay out a matching rug by the tub.
If your rental has an outdoor patio, deck, or lawn area, be sure to highlight it. In some cities, outdoor spaces are hard to come by with rentals, so be sure to play it up if your property offers it.
- Set up an outdoor lawn set or table.
- Place a few outdoor planters with flowers (fake plants work well).
You might have thought that staging properties was a strategy reserved for those selling homes — not landlords trying to fill units. In competitive markets, however, staging your rentals can be the difference between quick tenant turnover and long periods of vacancy. In other words, rental staging is worth your time and effort.