Whether you’re a property owner looking to earn passive income from a rental unit or you’re a property manager or real estate agent handling all the details for the owner, one of your main goals is to attract and retain reliable tenants.
This goal is partially accomplished by a good screening process and a strong lease agreement, but first, you have to get serious renters interested. A good place to start is with real estate staging designed to show the property in the best light.
While an empty home can appear big and bright, it can be difficult for renters to imagine their stuff in the space.
Home staging provides much-needed perspective in terms of how each room looks with furniture and accessories, how the layout can be utilized, and the overall potential as a comfortable and inviting living space.
Whether you hire an interior designer, use home staging professionals from the Real Estate Staging Association, or go it alone, there are a few tips and tricks that will help you effectively stage your rental property.
How can you ensure maximum impact on potential buyers from your home staging efforts?
Is Property Staging Necessary?
Home staging isn’t always necessary.
If you’re in a booming rental market and you’re looking to save time and money, real estate agents might tell you that you don’t need professional stagers to attract renters or prospective buyers.
However, there are several benefits to using professional home stagers.
Not only does professional home staging create a more welcoming and attractive environment for in-person showings with potential buyers, but it makes your rental property look polished and helps you stand out, particularly in a competitive market.
Most importantly, real estate staging helps to display the full potential of the property, giving prospective tenants ideas for how they might arrange their own furniture, decorate, and enjoy the space.
Ultimately, staged homes can increase interest, attract quality tenants, and perhaps allow you to ask for more money.
Prepping the Property for Home Staging
Before a professional staging company starts filling your interior with furniture and accessories, it’s important to do some home staging prep work.
Even if your home is in good shape, you want every room to be as finished as possible so that when you secure a renter, you can simply remove the staging materials and the space will be ready.
What prep work should you undertake?
Cleanliness is vital when you list your rental unit, as any professional home stager will tell you.
No one wants to see signs of previous tenants, from personal photos to grimy grout, so before you get started with real estate staging, you need to pull out the cleaning supplies and deep clean every nook and cranny.
A top-down approach is best — this means attacking cobwebs in high corners and dusting ceiling fans and vents to start. From there you’ll clean and open windows to let in fresh air, then scrub cabinets and countertops before addressing flooring. Carpeting should be steam cleaned to remove stains, dust, and dander.
Deep cleaning could include cleaning inside, under, and behind any appliances included with the rental, as well as addressing any lingering odors.
Don’t forget utility spaces like the garage, basement, or attic if renters will have access. A spotless home is the ideal basis for effective home staging.
Address Cosmetic Flaws
The best time to address cosmetic flaws is before home staging, when your rental property is empty. Take this opportunity to replace old carpeting, address chipped or cracked tiles, repair minor cracks in walls, refresh grout and caulking, update deteriorated weather stripping, and so on.
Making your interior design look fresh, well-maintained, and move-in ready will appeal to even nitpicky renters.
Consider a Few Simple Updates
Along the lines of cosmetic fixes for home staging, you can also make a big impact with a few simple updates before you start the property staging process.
You may find that you have to address loose doorknobs or cabinet hinges, so this is a good opportunity to update hardware to reflect modern design trends.
You can also get rid of outdated or builder-grade light fixtures and choose options that better match the space or create a more modern aesthetic.
It’s often a good idea to update the paint. Nothing makes a space feel fresher than a new coat of paint in a contemporary, neutral palette.
A Note on Pricier Upgrades
If you have a budget for remodeling and you’re looking to increase rental costs, you can undertake more expensive upgrades like flooring, cabinetry, counter surfaces, and fixtures.
Kitchen and bathroom renovations tend to entail the greatest cost but also deliver the greatest impact and return. If your rental is small, you may want to invest in added storage space.
Tips for Effective and Eye-Catching Real Estate Staging
Once your interior is clean and prepped, it’s time to turn the empty space into a furnished tableau that prospective renters can actually see themselves living in.
While home staging with couches and beds isn’t difficult, you need to carefully consider how the size, placement, and number of items contribute to a welcoming and attractive space.
There are several ways to make each room feel bright, spacious, and appealing to anyone who enters.
Skip Window Coverings
It’s true that blinds and drapes add polish to a room and allow inhabitants to control lighting and privacy. However, they aren’t necessary for home staging, and all they’ll really do is limit the home’s natural light.
You want the interior to appear as bright as possible. Lots of natural light coming in is going to be far more appealing than artificial light, although you can certainly use all the lights available to maximize illumination.
A sunny interior has a fresh, joyful ambiance and natural light helps people feel calm and happy. This is definitely a vibe you want to capture when showing your rental property.
When it comes to adding furniture and accessories during home staging, real estate agents will want it to appear attractive, functional, and as large as possible. This means choosing pieces that are suited to the stature of the square footage you’re working with and editing to ensure there isn’t too much stuff.
Whether you’re working with existing furniture or installing new furniture in staged homes, it should be sized and situated to allow for easy movement throughout the space, with just enough to show the potential of the space in broad brushstrokes. Avoid outdated furniture, and try rearranging furniture in a variety of ways to maximize space.
Avoid Clutter and Personal Touches
Every real estate agent knows the importance of this rule in home staging. Your interior should appear bright, neutral, and largely generic.
A real home has personal touches that reflect the taste and lifestyle of the inhabitants. A staged home offers a basic foundation upon which renters can build to make the space their own.
Items like family photos, tchotchkes, collectibles, religious iconography, kid/pet toys, and even dramatic artwork can make a space feel cluttered or make it difficult for renters to envision their own personal items in the home.
Removing these items preserves the relatively blank slate that invites renters to make the space their own.
Keep Calm and Don’t Get Too Colorful
Many renters like to fill their living space with décor in colors, patterns, and textures that reflect their personal style preferences. You want to create a neutral space that serves as the backdrop for their life.
Any real estate agent can confirm that home staging should start with neutral paint colors and flooring, perhaps adding a hint of depth, dimension, and movement through an attractive counter surface in marble, granite, or quartz.
Furnishings should also remain largely neutral, although you’ll want to vary the tonality (light to dark) to create some contrast and visual interest.
As for color in the space, you should keep it to a minimum so as to preserve a sense of mainstream appeal for home staging. Color preferences are incredibly personal and may attract or turn off different viewers.
With that being said, if you want to create a fresh, modern aesthetic, choose just two or three trending and complementary colors for accessories like throw pillows, rugs, vases, and lamps, carrying the theme throughout the home for a sense of continuity.
Don’t Neglect Curb Appeal
First impressions are incredibly important, as real estate agents will tell you. Make sure to wow renters from the get-go with exterior property staging that includes a vibrant façade of spotless paint (power wash or repaint), modern fixtures and hardware, and plenty of well-manicured plant life (landscaping, planters filled with fresh flowers, etc.).
Staging with a Limited Budget
You’ve heard the old adage “You have to spend money to make money.” This could certainly apply to staging.
However, if you’re working with a limited budget, you might prefer to put it toward actual improvements to your property.
If you can’t afford to tackle home staging on your own, you might save time and money by hiring professional home stagers to do it for you. Or you could work with a virtual professional home stager that creates computer-generated listing photos to attract online browsers before they visit your property.
When you understand the fundamentals of preparing and staging your rental property, you have the best opportunity to attract quality renters, compete with other area rentals, and quickly lock in a lease agreement at your preferred price.