Staging a Rental Unit

When you’re marketing your rental property and looking for new tenants, staging your unit can make a huge difference.

Why Stage?

Staging your rental unit is a sure-fire way to attract potential tenants; it’s the process of preparing a property for showing and making it as appealing as possible. You should host a showing — an “open house” for your property — to display the highlights of your units to rental-searchers. Staging is usually a common practice for people trying to sell their properties, but it can be increasingly helpful for landlords trying to rent as well. People want to be able to visualize themselves living in a property, and staging is the perfect opportunity to paint the picture of “home” for potential tenants. Also, if you own a multi-unit property like an apartment complex, having a permanently staged model unit is a great idea.

Staging is by no means necessary and if your unit is in a competitive rental market, you probably won’t have much trouble attracting renters. However, staging can really give your property that extra bit of flair that’ll encourage the presence of long-term tenants.

Keep it Simple

In order for potential tenants to envision themselves living in your unit, it’s important to keep the environment simple. Over-the-top decorations and clutter are likely to set people off. So, when you’re getting ready to stage, make sure to put all those eclectic knick-knacks away. Decor should be very minimal and all colors should be neutral. Small changes like a fresh coat of white paint or a cute “Welcome” doormat can really give a space a whole new vibe. Here’s what you can do for each room in your rental.

  • Make the bed. Choose a contemporary comforter set and lots of matching throw pillows. You want to make the bed look fluffy, cozy, and comfy.
  • Place nightstands on either side of the bed. Make sure to put some elegant lamps on top of them too.
  • Put out fresh towels. You should neatly fold up some fresh, white towels and tie them with a ribbon. Hang some up on a hook behind the door too.
  • Hang up a modern, trendy shower curtain.
  • Place a dish of soaps by the sink. Make sure to have brand new hand soap on the counter too.
  • Get rid of all personal toiletries. No one wants to see a half-used bar of soap on the corner of the bathtub…
  • Hang a nice tea towel from the oven door.
  • Place a matching rug by the sink.
  • Put some clear jars full of cookies or cereal on top of the counter. Make sure to get rid of other random kitchen items that may be scattered around.
  • Stack some cookbooks or put a cookbook on a stand. This will give the unit a much more “homey” feeling.
  • Set up a small dining table and chairs. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just somewhere to sit.
  • Get some planters. You can use fake flowers, but make sure to have some greenery around.
  • Place the barbecue in view. If you have a barbecue or grill, place it by the seating area. This will get people thinking about having fun, family cookouts on hot summer days.
For the Entire Property

In addition to the aforementioned tips, you should:

  • Install light, thin curtains. During the showing, make sure the curtains are open. You want to let in as much light as possible. (Studies show that good lighting is one of the top priorities for rental-searchers).
  • Turn on the lights. Make sure there is adequate lighting throughout the whole property. Install some new light bulbs if you have to. All the rooms should be bright and inviting.
  • Use mirrors. Small rooms can definitely benefit from mirrors. They add the illusion of more space and more light.
  • Showcase storage capabilities. Hooks on the walls, shelving units, and bookcases are all ways you can display how much storage your unit can offer.
  • Place area rugs in each space. Area rugs can add a lot of dimension, especially if a certain area is looking a bit sparse.
  • Put house plants everywhere. As mentioned before, these plants can be fake. Although, you should make it a rule to have at least one house plant in every room. They add a natural element to the space that contributes to the cozy factor. (It also makes people think that the place has enough light to support all these plants.)
  • Get some accent pieces. A trip to the nearest thrift or dollar store can result in some great discoveries. Try to keep a central decorating theme for the whole property and find simple, cheap accent pieces to jazz up the interior.
  • Remove personal items. If your unit is currently lived-in, get rid of those family photos and kids’ drawings on the fridge. Again, people want to imagine themselves in the unit, and that may be hard to do when a picture of your grandma is on the mantle.

The Bottom Line

Staging isn’t for everyone. However, if you think your rental unit would benefit from staging, give it a try. Just set aside a specific budget and monitor your purchases. If you don’t want to completely stage the unit, there are a few alternatives. You could consider hiring landscapers, professional cleaners, or a photographer. All of these will help make your property more appealing and get renters through the door.