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How to Stage a Rental Property

When it comes to staging a property, most people think in terms of listing a home for sale. But did you know that you can also stage rental properties in order to find the right tenants? The key is to know when to stage, as well as how to execute. In this article, we’ll cover both. 

When to Stage a Rental Property

Staging a rental property is only recommended in certain situations:

  • Competitive market. If you’re in a highly competitive market where there’s excess inventory and not enough renters to go around, staging can help you differentiate your listing and attract more applicants. 
  • High-end. If you’re leasing a luxury rental, staging is almost always a good idea. Not only do high-end renters expect to be wowed, but you probably have fatter profit margins that allow you to splurge.
  • Everyone else is doing it. This is one situation where you should follow the crowd. If everyone else in your market and price point is staging, you probably need to as well. Otherwise, you end up looking like the bozo who showed up to a black tie event wearing cargo shorts. 
  • Small space. If you have a small rental property – like a studio apartment or one-bedroom house – staging can help you enhance the look (which takes focus away from the tiny size). It’s also not very expensive, so it won’t hurt your wallet. 
  • Worried about vacancy. If you absolutely can’t afford to have your property sit on the market for a few weeks, staging can help you generate faster results. You’ll pay for it, but it might be cheaper than an extended vacancy. 

Ultimately, you’ll have to be the judge of whether staging makes sense. Because when you boil it down to the real issue, it’s all about ROI. If you can generate a positive ROI on staging, go for it. If you’re going to lose money, it probably doesn’t make much sense to go through the trouble. 

5 Tips for Staging a Rental Property

If you do decide to stage your rental property, here are a few helpful tips that will allow you to maximize your rate of return:

  1. Hire a Professional

You’re free to do your own staging, but you might be better off hiring a professional. If you’re already working with a property management service, they probably have a reliable contact they can put you in touch with. 

  1. Focus on the Money Rooms

You don’t necessarily need to stage every room. (Or if you do, you can go lighter in certain areas.) What you really want to focus on are the “money rooms.”

Money rooms are the spaces that people care about and immediately gravitate towards when seeing a property. The kitchen is the first thing, but the master bedroom and bathroom aren’t far behind. If you have outdoor living space – like a screened porch – this could also be considered a money room. 

  1. Know Your Audience

It’s always important to know who your ideal renter is. This will help you select the right staging strategy. For example, there’s a big difference between targeting 22-year-old recent college graduates and 65-year-old retirees. Knowing your audience will make choosing staging options a breeze. 

  1. Keep it Airy

Avoid the temptation to go overboard with staging. Filling every corner and shelf will lead to a crowded appearance. It’s much better to prioritize quality over quantity. A couple nice pieces of furniture in each room, plus a few tasteful accents, will go a long way. Keep things open and airy – allowing prospective renters to let their imaginations run wild. 

  1. Don’t Forget Curb Appeal

In addition to staging the inside of your property, don’t forget about the importance of curb appeal. Good curb appeal – meaning clean landscaping and an inviting entryway – will set a positive first impression. This will amplify your interior staging efforts. 

Can’t Put Lipstick on a Pig

Many property investors think they can use staging to cover up warts and fundamental property issues. But in reality, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. Staging should be done as a complement to the property – not a coverup. Use it wisely and ethically and you’ll see positive results.

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