Let’s continue our discussion on how to show your rental. To recap, you are showing your house to pre-qualified tenants and you have taken safety precautions like the ones discussed in the previous post.
I made a reference to this in one of the earlier posts but may be now’s a good time to take a brief detour and talk about staging. Staging is the process of setting up furniture and decorating your house after rehab is complete to highlight its good features and to help viewers picture the possibilities. Staging for a rental does not have to be as elaborate as staging for selling. Most prospective tenants will be happy to find that the house is all updated with fresh paint, fixtures, fans, appliances etc. and is clean and functional. Staging is just the icing on the cake.
However, I like staging for its practical aspects. It provides some minimal furniture to sit down and talk or fill out an application form. So, this is what I recommend.
- Pick one living area and set it up with a two seater couch, a side table, a coffee table and a side chair. Add some small decorative items on the tables. You can use a rug to tie it all together.
- Set up the informal dining area with a small table and 4 chairs. This will come in handy while filling application forms.
- Arrange some decorative items on the kitchen counter and light weight fake plants over the cabinet.
- Use candles and fake plants in the bathrooms. Lighting the candles during the showing is not necessary. It’s a fire hazard if you forget to put it out and could be a safety issue if kids are present at the showing.
- If there is a patio, set up a small table and two chairs.
This minimal set should make the common entertaining areas present nicely and there is no reason to stage the bedrooms. Let them show off their newness. Keep pens and blank copies of your application form along with application instructions in the kitchen counter by the table.
Presenting the House
As a new investor you may want to walk your house with a friend and rehearse your showing. Refresh your mind with your rehab list and as you walk the house, room by room, talk about everything you have done. It is not necessary to discuss how it was when you bought it. No one wants that image. Just stick to the present. Feel free to repeat items in each room, like “again, new carpet, new paint, new fans and lights”. Show them the garage and the backyard. Talk about convenience and energy saving features like a full sprinkler system or a high seer A/C. When you are done showing the house, walk back to the kitchen table and show them a print out of the list of other rental houses on the market along with their asking price. Point out that your rental is priced at a discount and – “as they can tell” – it’s in the best shape of all. Tell them your rentals move very quickly given the condition and the price. Then ask them what they liked about the house. Agree and reinforce every nice thing they say. Then ask them if they have any concerns. Address, their concerns. You don’t need to over improve or customize your house. If they don’t have any concerns or after you have addressed them, present them with the application forms and have each applicant fill it out in full. Collect the application fee. We will discuss the application process in detail in the next post.