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Rental properties need home staging too

In the Washington DC metro area, you may notice a few more “For Rent” signs than “For Sale” signs. In fact, “1 in 3 homes is a rental” according to a 2013 American Housing Survey. It can be due to any number of reasons; a person owns a home but had to move for another job and plans to come back to the DC area or it’s an investment opportunity in a nice suburban area with lots of transient families. Whatever the reason, those homes still need to show their best foot forward and the best way to do this it to stage a rental property.

A rental property can be a single family home or a typical apartment. In this case, I will focus on single family homes. Recently I saw a home for rent in well-established suburban area in a sought after neighborhood. It was situated in a cul-de-sac with 4 bedrooms and 2+ baths however it took over 2 months before it was rented out. So I went to investigate and learned a few things the homeowner did well and some things they did not do well. This explains why it took so long to rent a nice home. Just because a house is put up for rent does not mean you shouldn’t stage a rental property.

The homeowners were aware that curb appeal was a priority and hired a landscaping crew to maintain it while the house sat empty. The homeowners also repainted the walls on the first floor to refresh an outdated beige color. However, by just looking at the pictures online there were several areas that needed help and why a rental property still needs to be staged. Staging doesn’t mean just adding furniture – it’s a whole picture to show a buyer that it is move-in ready.

  1. Outdated kitchen. Its cabinets were old and well used. A coat of paint and some new hardware would do wonders for the space. I understand some rental properties won’t put in new appliances for fear of tenants damaging them. However, newer ones are more energy efficient and less likely to lead to phone calls for that broken dishwasher.
  2. Old pictures online. The homeowners took pictures of the home with their furnishings which is fine but when they moved out, the rooms were repainted and left empty. Repainting was a great idea but you need to show any improvements through the online pictures. Bring back the furniture or rent some furniture so you can define the space and not let buyers guess what kind of room it is.stage a rental property
  3. Attention to detail. In one bathroom the light fixtures only had 4 of the 8 light bulbs installed! The walk out basement walked out into a field of weeds and some of the rooms showed too much furniture (before they painted) and looked cluttered. If buyers notice these items, they will wonder what other maintenance has been overlooked if you can’t replace a simple light bulb. Again over 80% of people look online first before visiting a home in person. Make that first impression count!

A real estate agent may have suggested some of these changes but the homeowner may not have been willing to invest. Investment may be less than a monthly mortgage and isn’t that what an owner is trying to get a renter to pay? Recoup those costs by staging the rental property and get your tenants in faster.