Even though a tenant isn’t looking to buy, they still want to live in a clean, comfortable home. They want to be proud of where they live, even if it’s not their property. If you want to maximize your rent in a competitive market, or make your property more appealing in a slow market, consider home staging. Impressively, this can significantly decrease vacancy time between tenants.
While the majority of statistics related to home staging are gathered from for-sale properties, similar results can be expected for rental properties in most markets. Homes staged prior to being placed on the market sell, on average, around 73 percent faster than similar, un-staged homes. Can you imagine the benefit of reducing vacancy times by nearly 75 percent? That’s more cash in your pocket and less time spent worrying about how to properly advertise your properties.
Additionally, landlords who have successfully staged properties in the past report finding better, more long-term tenants across the board. That means less turnover and fewer problems down the road. What landlord doesn’t want that?
While shorter vacancy times and lower turnover rates sound great, you must be willing to put in the time, money, and effort to take on home staging. It’s not necessarily a cheap endeavor, but the front-end costs are almost always regained on the backend. In terms of staging a for-sale home, reports suggest that $550 spent on staging can net an additional $2,000 at the closing table. Would a few hundred dollars be worth it if you could get tenants into properties faster, charge a premium rent, and keep them longer? Most landlords would likely say yes!
The key to successfully staging a home is making a good first impression. You want to show potential tenants that the home is clean, desirable, and better than comparable properties. Here are some tips to get you started:
• Spend time landscaping. Always start with the front yard. It’s the first thing potential tenants will see and you want to draw them in from the start. A poorly-kept lawn will lower a potential tenant’s expectations and may be hard to overcome. The good news is that you’ll probably get a higher ROI from the effort you put in here than anywhere else. Fixing up the front yard is cheap and relatively easy. Simply make sure the lawn is cut, cover beds with pine straw or bark, plant some flowers or greenery, and ensure the driveway and sidewalk are clear of debris. You may also want to give a little TLC to the mailbox and exterior light fixtures.
• Make a grand entrance. Much like the front yard makes an impression, the home’s entrance will have a significant impact on how potential tenants feel about the property. What do you want renters to see as soon as they open the front door? Make it welcoming, inviting, and warm. Eliminate any clutter, display fresh flowers, and even burn a candle for a multi-sensory effect.
• Focus on the kitchen. When you think about your own home, what’s the most heavily-trafficked room? Chances are it’s the kitchen. From cooking or eating, to drinking your morning coffee or entertaining friends, the kitchen is typically the crown jewel of the home.
That’s what tenants are thinking as well, so make sure the kitchen is clean, well-lit, and homey. The countertops should not be cluttered, but include some staged items to give potential tenants an idea of how they could use the space. Add some hand towels, position a couple of countertop appliances, and even put some freshly-baked cookies in the oven. As an added touch, implement place settings at the kitchen table.
• Freshen up the walls. One of the most cost-effective things you can do is apply fresh paint to the interior of the home. It’s relatively cheap, and can have a significant impact. According to Lori Matzke, a home staging expert in Minneapolis, “Fresh paint is a really good seller. Do it in trendy neutral colors.” Other valuable investments are wall art, paintings, or pictures. Instead of leaving large spaces blank, add a touch of style with some neutral art that compliments the new paint.
• Keep things open. In the world of home staging, a major downfall can be overdoing it. People often have a tendency to ‘over-stage’ and the home ends up looking cluttered. When in doubt, less is better. Remove furniture that blocks walkways and don’t distract from key focal points like fireplaces or windows with views.
• Pay attention to the details. When home staging, your focus should be on making the house look livable. That means focusing on the smaller details like throw pillows, towel sets in the bathroom, a computer in the office, and other features that show the practicality of various spaces.
How to Find a Home Stager
When deciding to stage your rental property, you have two choices. You can either do it yourself or hire a professional. For the latter, check with some local real estate agents, as they may be able to provide you with a reputable local stager. Otherwise, an online search may give you an idea of your different options. If the job is small enough, you may be able to do it on your own. Keep in mind that you should always get a second opinion before showing your rental property to prospective tenants. What you might think is great staging might not look so appealing to others, including possible renters.
At Green Residential, we’ve offered superior property management services in the Houston area for more than 30 years. Over that time, we’ve built some of the best connections in the industry. If you’re interested in handing your property management duties over to a professional, please don’t hesitate to give us a call today. We would be happy to discuss home staging, tenant screening, property inspections, or anything else you’re interested in learning more about.