Step by Step Guide to Staging a Home for Rent

Step by Step Guide to Staging a Home for Rent

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So, you’ve done all of the hard work that goes along with finding and acquiring a rental property. You’ve looked at all the listings, made all the offers and finally gone through closing. You have a shiny new rental property all ready to begin generating income for you for years to come, but there’s just one last thing—you need a tenant! Finding quality tenants is one of the neverending struggles that go along with being a landlord, but you can increase your likelihood of attracting them with some key steps. Staging the property is a great way to demonstrate to tenants that you’re a committed landlord, while also giving them the chance to picture themselves inside of the space and see how they can project their dreams onto it.

Table of Contents - Step by Step Guide to Staging a Home for Rent

Why stage a home?

Staging a home is essentially adding furniture to a vacant space (or using different furniture in an occupied, cleared-out space) to show potential occupants what the space could look like. This serves several purposes—it looks much more “homey” than a vacant space, it shows that you care as a property owner about what your units look like and it can help your place stand out from competitive units in the area. Staging can seem like a big pain, but it’s not difficult once you get the hang of what you’re trying to do.

Establish a budget

Before you go about staging a rental property you should take a step back and think about how much you should be willing to spend on the endeavour. Finding a tenant should of course be your priority, but if you spend a sum that surpasses the income potential of the unit, then you haven’t done yourself any favours. It’s best to figure out how to do it on the cheap no matter what, but you want to be doubly sure that you’re not putting yourself in a position to spend so much that you’re chipping into your earnings.

Clean, clean, clean

A staged home should be spotless. You don’t want anything visible that will distract the potential tenants and get in the way of them picturing themselves and their loved ones in the space. As a rental property owner, it’s truly in your best interest to either hire a reputable cleaning service or scrub every inch of the unit. Ensure that there’s no stray dust in corners, or dried grease spatter on stovetops. Small, grungy details like this can prevent tenants from feeling a connection to the unit. Don’t let this be the step that you leave out just because it’s a pain—take the time to give the entire place a thorough cleaning.

Pro tip: some easy cleaning solutions to remember include solutions of half vinegar and half water for counters, and half a cup of borax mixed with two gallons of hot water to clean your linoleum, vinyl and synthetic floors.

Don’t forget your nose

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential tenant and think about how the unit smells. If a previous occupant was a smoker or owned pets, chances are that there will be some unpleasant lingering odours that you need to address. Scented candles only cover up bad odours, so clean thoroughly and use artificial scents sparingly.

A fresh coat of paint on the walls can also go a long way towards the place smelling fresh and clean. Even if an entire coat isn’t necessary, an old realtor’s trick is to paint a bit of the wall near the main entrance—it provides a quick boost when potential tenants walk in and makes them realize that they’re walking into a rejuvenated and welcoming space.

Budget solutions can be your friend

There are some inexpensive tips that you can use in place of expensive professional staging. You can “soften” outdoor spaces that might not seem especially cozy by putting down an outdoor rug under furniture—it will make the space seem more composed and welcoming.

You can also make the place look like it’s ready for entertaining. Most people love to use their homes as staging points for entertaining loved ones, so you can play off that by having the scene set for a dinner party or a small cocktail party.

Additionally, you should never skimp on having enough lighting—especially if your showing is going to be in the evening. A dark home feels unwelcoming and cold, so you want it to be lit up enough where potential tenants can see a comfortable and welcoming space.

Curb appeal matters when staging a home

No matter if you’re renting out an apartment in a multi-unit building or renting out a single-family home, it’s important to remember the exterior and the path to the home. Curb appeal is a big part of how tenants can picture themselves in a home, so it can’t be neglected. Put yourself in the shoes of the tenant and take a look at your property. Are overgrown shrubs blocking out natural light from entering the home’s windows? It’s likely time to prune them back or rip them out and replant new ones. Is an unsightly air condenser visible from the street? It could be time to plant a new shrub to obscure it. Don’t forget to weed any beds and add lighting to any pathways, especially if your showing is going to be in the evening.

Staging a home is something that gets easier and easier with time for most rental property owners. It’s an investment of time and money, but it’s one that will quickly pay dividends. Your unit will be far more appealing to potential renters, giving you access to a deeper tenant pool who are attracted to your unit—which is, after all your efforts, clearly in top condition.

How to Stage Your Home Like a Million Dollar Listing on a Budget


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Scott Dillingham

Scott Dillingham

I have been investing and lending to real estate investors for nearly 10 years now. After thousands of successful deals between flips, rent to owns, student properties and commercial assets I have developed a deep knowledge of real estate investments and have a passion of sharing this information with the world! If your looking for a lender who specializes in rental property financing you're going to want to connect with me at team@lendcity.ca.