11 Tips for Staging Your Apartment Rentals (+Free Checklist)

11 Tips for Staging Your Apartment Rentals (+Free Checklist)
January 7, 2021 Levi Olmstead

Staging a property is a common occurrence for those selling a home. It provides a great first impression of a property and gives interested buyers an idea of what living in a potential new home could look and feel like.

But what about staging rental units and apartments in multifamily communities? While not as common as staging for sale homes, it’s still a multifamily marketing practice many leasing agents and property managers take advantage of before they list units, film virtual apartment tours, and take prospective renters on showings.

Staging a rental unit is one of the best ways to stand out above the competition – but it needs to be done correctly.

Download your free rental staging checklist template now!

What Does It Mean to Stage an Apartment Rental?

Rental staging is where a landlord or rental company will decorate an apartment unit or rental property before showing it to prospective renters. This involves adding furniture, art, plants, and other things to show how space could look when they are moved in. It is similar to how a seller will stage their home before showing it off to potential buyers.

Apartment staging can help wow potential renters and show them the potential of the space. Staging can also help find a renter more quickly and get a fair price. When staging for rent, it’s a good idea to keep things relatively neutral, to ensure you don’t turn any potential renters off of the unit.

How Much Does It Cost to Stage a Rental?

The national average for staging a one bedroom rental property is $800 to $1200.

The initial design service and consultation averages between $300 to $600, while the average per room staged in a rental unit is $500 to $600.

While staging is often a good idea and can help your rental units stand above the competition, it isn’t cheap. You will need to pay or rent the furniture, decor, and other items you want to include in the rental, and may also need to pay a fee if you have a professional handling the design and set-up/takedown.

Some property managers may already own these items that can be used in the staging process, but many others will need to be rented. This can include art, furniture, rugs, and various other pieces of decor to show off the potential of the rental unit or home. The costs of staging can vary greatly depending on the size of the home, how many items are being included, and the quality of the items being included in the staging.

Is It Worth It to Stage Your Rental Units?

While each rental property is different, staged rentals spend 33% to 50% less time on the market than non-staged rental properties. Combine that with the fact that staged rentals go for 20% higher rent than their non-staged counterparts, and it makes it quite clear: for the majority of cases, staging a rental property is well worth the expense.

3 Reasons You Might Not Stage an Apartment Rental

While there are good reasons to stage your rental, it is not always required. There are also reasons why people may decide against staging a rental.

1. Your selling to renters, not buyers

The people you’re showing the unit to are only renting and may not be as concerned about the overall potential of the apartment unit. When someone buys a home, they’re much more invested into the overall potential because they could live there for several decades. This means they want to see the potential of the home and ensure it fits their needs. 

Renters on the other hand will only stay in a specific unit for a couple of years at most, and are not as concerned with how the unit looks when it is fully decorated. In general, most renters aren’t as invested in a space as buyers are, which can mean property managers could waste money on unneeded staging costs.

2. Staging a rental can be expensive

As we mentioned earlier, staging a rental isn’t cheap. While they aren’t always expensive as staging a for sale home, they certainly can be. This is especially true if you require a larger or upscale rental home or unit to be staged, or if it goes unoccupied for many weeks or months and requires staging throughout the duration of that time.

3. It’s time-consuming to stage rentals

The act of rental staging is not an easy task and takes both time and effort to do a proper job of staging. While the time and effort can vary depending on the unit, property managers and leasing agents have to account for designing the layout of the space, renting the furniture, transporting the items, and actual set-up of the staging.

11 Tips for Staging Your Apartment Rental

If staging your rental is the right choice, then you need to do it right. Let’s take a closer look at helpful staging tips to ensure your rental’s decor is as high-quality as possible.

1. Keep the apartment's theme neutral

Everyone has different tastes. Some renters like a lot of color, while others prefer something a little more neutral. In order to get the best results, we recommend keeping the walls, furniture, and the rest of the decor fairly neutral. This is done to appeal to the largest number of people as possible. However, neutral doesn’t have to mean plain or boring. There are several neutral tones that can still show off a bit of color without being too much.

2. Stay within your budget

Before you go about staging your rental properties, you need to create a budget. Plan accordingly based upon your goals and the potential unit has. Do all you can to ensure your staging costs stay within your budget. 

While your unit might look great with some expensive furniture or art inside it, you don’t want to spend too much. This could potentially hurt your finances when a rental property is supposed to help them.

3. Choose a balanced color scheme

Small things make a big difference in home design. For example, having colors that don’t pair well together can produce and eye-sore that devalues your rentals. Find and use colors that work well together. You can use one of the many color scheme generator websites to help pick colors that complement each other well in a balanced scheme.

4. Take advantage of natural lighting

Lighting is an important feature many renters look for in a unit. It also is a simple tip to making a unit shine. Using lots of natural lighting allows all prospective renters to see everything the renteral has to offer – in beautiful, natural sunlight. Natural light is soft, and many prefer it to artificial lights that can be too intense. Be sure not to block sources of natural light, and keep windows open.


5. Highlight the units top selling points

Be sure to show off and highlight the top-selling points of your rentals. This could be the kitchen, the large closets in the bedroom, the window view, or anything else that is a marketable-asset of the unit. Make these features the showcase of the rental, and build your staging design around these elements.

6. Know your rental audience

Different units or locations attract different people. Some might be more family-oriented, while others might be aimed at young professionals. You need to be aware of the audience that would prefer your area and type of rental. Once you know them, you can do your best to stage your home in a way that can appeal to and excite them.

7. Keep it clean and tidy

Be sure to keep the rental clean and tidy throughout the showing period. You can save time by having a frequent cleaning schedule every few days. This allows your rental to be ready at a moment’s notice to show to a potential renter. With a frequent cleaning schedule, it also means you are spending a small amount of time every few days on cleaning tasks, instead of holding off until you need to spend an entire day on cleaning up a rental unit.

8. Don’t forget to touch up the exterior

While staging the inside of the rental is important, it is also crucial to give a facelift to the property’s exterior. Curb appeal is an important part of renting out a home or apartment, as the first impression a person has can influence the rest of their viewing. Ensure the outside of the rental is clean and touched up. You can paint the siding, clean up the pathway, and try a variety of other things to ensure it looks great.

9. Light candles

Not only can this give off a very comforting and pleasant aroma, but the soft light of a candle can also help make space feel a little cozier. In a similar vein, many property managers and real estate agents like to bake cookies to fill the home with a lovely scent.

10. Bring in furniture and accessories

If the unit is bare or unfurnished, you’ll need to bring in extra furniture and home decor accessories. If you’re working with a design professional or service, consult with them before making purchasing or rental decisions. 

If you’re a property manager of many units, it’s recommended to buy furniture and decor that can be used across all of your rental properties during staging times. Be aware of this when purchasing the decor, as you’ll want furniture and items with neutral designs that will match the vibe of any unit.


11. Show prospective renters how they would use the apartment

Property managers should do their homework when preparing to show a rental. Understand how the rental space could be used to maximize its potential, and use examples when touring the property with potential rentals. 

Be sure to show them different features of the home and describe the rooms and how they could be used. It can help them feel more connected to space, as they are seeing and/or visualizing the things they can do in the rental.

Free Apartment Staging Checklist Template for Managing Your Rental Stagings

Without coordination, staging your rental apartments can quickly become disorganized and hectic, leading to poorly staged rental units. That’s why we’ve created a checklist for property managers and leasing agents managing the staging of rental units across multiple apartment buildings and multifamily communities.

This checklist is a hub for the entire staging process – from centralizing your goals, identifying target persona, staying within budget, managing tasks, hitting deadlines, buying decor and furniture, and staying on top of third-party services contracted to help with your rental stagings.

Apartment Staging Checklist
Centralize goals, stay in budget, manage staging tasks, hit deadlines, buy decor, and manage services with this all-in-one staging checklist for property managers.

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