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While some might think that the added process of staging rentals is only important for selling homes or renting big complexes, large or small, a tenant’s first impression is something you can never get back. It’s hit or miss, and when you’re looking to have someone sign on the dotted line today, it’s important that you hit from the moment they walk in. According to celebrity stager Meredith Baer, staged homes sell 88% faster and usually collect 20% more on asking price. Apply that theory to your rental and you’ll be signed and off the market in no time.

So, where do you get your professional hollywood stager? Spoiler alert: you don’t need one. According to the National Association of Realtor’s 2017 Profile of Home Staging, tenants are more focused on the tidiness and overall condition of the apartment, rather than any decorative additions. Simple things like cleaning and de-cluttering helped 77% of clients to more easily visualize the property as a future home. Read on to find out how you can make these small changes to deliver a big impact.

De-Clutter: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Typically, tenants are required to take everything with them when they go; however, there is the occasional tabletop or wall-mounted storage that sneaks it’s way in. Be sure to clear everything from the apartment before staging rentals so that your future tenant can let his or her imagination run wild. If they’re going to make it their own, they’ll want to start with a blank canvas. And if you’re showing a property that is currently under lease, be sure to remind your active tenant to tidy things up. This shouldn’t be a big deal if you’ve focused on communication and maintaining a positive relationship with your current renters. If handled correctly, staging rentals that are already filled can offer your potential tenant a homey way of envisioning themselves in the space.

Additional Reading: The Dos and Don’ts of a House Showing

Clean: Make a Fresh Start

This is a simple one and should go without saying, but with 89% of buyers noting it as a priority, it’s an important one: make sure the unit is clean. If you want to make sure it’s done right, but don’t want to do it yourself, hiring a maid service is always an alternative. For an apartment, they cost anywhere from $25-$35 per hour and typically come with some kind of guarantee so you know you’ll be getting bang for your buck. Chalk this up under your turnover and marketing budget. It’s well worth the investment.

Paint: Set the Scene

If necessary. According to a 2017 Zillow study, paint color can have a huge emotional impact on potential tenants. But you want to make sure it’s the right emotion. The goal here is calming neutrals that will play as backdrop to whatever dream fantasy space your renter is envisioning. Professional Stager and RESA Innovator of the Year, Audra Slinkey, recommends colors with a cool, blue tone in shades of grey and white. This achieves the goal of remaining low-key, while also subtley introducing the emotional quality of serenity and tranquility. Peace of mind for you and the renter!

Light: Show the Potential

If you’ve ever watched HGTV, you know that, along with hardwood floors and high-ceilings, natural light is one of the most sought-after features in a space. So if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Before showing your apartment, make sure you have all blinds and curtains open and ready to let that beautiful light come through as much as possible. What if you don’t have this luxury? Natural light can be especially challenging for some older apartment units; however, hope is not lost. This is where you can bend a bit on the clutter rule and add some of your own interior lighting. Having a floor lamp in the corner may seem awkward to you, but this is all about the tenant being able to visualize the space. Light up the space so your tenant can see the potential.

Additional Reading: Efficient Growth: When Should Landlords Look For Software?

At the end of the day, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make your space look a certain way. Staging rentals isn’t at all about glamour and design, but rather the ability to allow your potential tenants to envision your empty space as their future home. You don’t need to over decorate or feng shui your way to a sale. Just like in life, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

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