Stand out in crowded search results. Get high-res Virtual Staging images for your real estate quickly and effortlessly. (Get started for free)
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true when it comes to renting out your property. Curb appeal is hugely important for attracting prospective tenants and convincing them your rental is the right fit. The exterior of your rental unit will likely be the first thing potential renters see, so you want to make sure it leaves a positive and lasting impression.
Curb appeal encompasses the landscaping, exterior paint and finishes, walkways, porch or patio areas, and overall aesthetic of the front exterior. It sets the tone for what renters can expect to find inside. A rental with great curb appeal looks clean, tidy, well-maintained, and inviting. It makes people eager to come inside and see more. On the other hand, a lackluster exterior may turn off renters before they even walk through the front door.
Boosting your rental's curb appeal doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Start with the lawn and gardens. Make sure the grass is mowed, hedges are trimmed, leaves are raked, and flower beds are weeded. Add a pop of color with some flower pots on the porch or front walkway. Wash the exterior siding, clean the windows, and touch up any peeling paint or worn finishes. Ensure the front walkway and porch are clear of clutter and debris. Finally, add some decorative touches like a welcome mat, potted plants, or outdoor lighting.
Amanda, who recently rented out her downstairs unit in San Diego, says focusing on curb appeal made a huge difference. "I power washed the siding, painted the front door, trimmed the bushes, and added some cute flower pots. The difference was amazing. I could tell prospective tenants were immediately more interested just by driving up than they had been previously."
Tom, a landlord in Chicago, agrees. "I used to not really pay attention to the outside other than basic lawn mowing. But when I started getting the exterior painted regularly, replaced the worn front walkway, and added window boxes with flowers, I noticed I started getting more applications than before. The curb appeal gave people a great first impression that made them excited to see inside."
A spotless, clutter-free rental is appealing and sets the right tone from the start. Prospective tenants want to envision themselves living in the space. It"s hard for them to do that if the current state is messy, dirty, or full of the previous occupant"s belongings. Decluttering and deep cleaning your rental before listing it helps prospective tenants picture the property as their own blank canvas.
Start by removing all personal belongings and furniture from the rental. Donate, sell, or store these items elsewhere so the property is empty. Next, do a deep clean of every room. Scrub floors, vacuum carpeting, wash walls and baseboards, sanitize bathrooms and kitchen, clean windows, dust lighting fixtures and ceiling fans, and more. Replace any worn out or damaged flooring, appliances, fixtures or hardware. Finally, consider having carpets professionally cleaned and painted walls touched up to look fresh and new.
A great tip is to declutter and organize storage areas like closets, cupboards, and pantries so they appear more spacious. Remove unnecessary hangers, containers, or shelving units. Categorize like items together and neatly arrange what remains. This small step makes storage areas look roomier and less cluttered.
Tom, a landlord in Denver, says decluttering was the key to renting out his basement suite faster. "The previous tenants left behind a bunch of stuff and it made the place feel small and messy. Once I cleared everything out, gave it a deep clean, and painted, it looked spacious, bright and move-in ready. I had more inquiries and leased it out much quicker than I expected."
For Amanda, painting between tenants made all the difference. "I used to just spot clean between renters to save money. But when I actually repainted the whole unit, replaced the worn carpets, and thoroughly cleaned everything, I was able to increase the rent by 10% and it rented out in under two weeks."
A fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in attracting renters and increasing profits for landlords. Sticking with neutral, inviting paint colors is the best approach when getting a rental unit move-in ready.
Bold or unusual color choices may be off-putting to some renters who can"t envision their own furnishings in the space. Neutral shades allow prospective tenants to picture the blank canvas as their own. Creamy off-whites, soft grays, warm taupes, and light beiges are safe bets that appeal to most.
If you want to incorporate color, use it sparingly in accent walls or small pops only. A sage green accent wall in the living room or robin"s egg blue in a bathroom can add personality without overwhelming.
When selecting a main neutral shade, appearance under different lighting is important. Some off-whites can read as almond or pink under lamps at night. Grays may skew blue or green. View paint swatches at all times of day to ensure the main color reads consistently neutral.
Flat or eggshell finishes hide flaws and keep the focus on furniture and dÃ©cor. Glossier sheens may show imperfections and make touch-ups between tenants more obvious. Matte finishes allow renters to customize with their own shiny accents if desired.
Painting with long-lasting, high-quality materials also sets the rental apart. Paints with built-in primers and stains blockers ensure the new color stays fresh longer. Antimicrobial additives inhibit germs in high traffic areas like bathrooms. Higher sheen trim enamels make doors, windowsills and moldings more durable and scrubbable.
Mary, who owns several rental condos, says a new coat of paint is a must between tenants. "I always repaint in a light beige or gray before listing. These shades work with any style of furniture prospects may have. It makes the condo look clean, fresh and move-in ready."
James rents out rooms in his 5 bedroom house while in college. "When I repainted the spare rooms in Sandbank off-white, I noticed I got more responses from potential roommates right away. The light color made the rooms look bigger and more inviting."
Strategically staging your rental with the right furnishings and decor makes a great impression on prospective tenants and can help your property stand out. While it"s not essential to fully furnish a rental, adding key accent pieces creates a welcoming atmosphere that showcases the unit's best features.
For vacant rentals, concentrate on outfitting the main living space, kitchen, and bathrooms. Fill the living room with an inviting sofa or sectional, stylish coffee table, media console, floor lamp, and area rug. In the dining space, add a table with chairs and decorative centerpiece. The kitchen should have classic stainless appliances, cute pantry containers, dishware and utensils, and a vase of fresh flowers. Bathrooms benefit from plush towels, scented candles, framed mirrors, soap dispensers, and other spa-like touches.
If staging a furnished rental, rearranging existing pieces can dramatically change the feel. Pull furniture away from the walls to create an open flow. Angle seating toward focal points like the TV or fireplace. Clear surfaces of clutter and style with decorative objects like trays, vases, bowls, or framed photos. Update bedding, towels, shower curtains and welcome mats with new, coordinating linens. Thin out overstuffed bookshelves and organize contents neatly.
Subtle accents like fresh flowers, scented candles, throws, and area rugs also help make the space more inviting without a major investment. Carefully chosen decor in neutral tones allows renters to envision their own belongings in the space.
When Rhonda in Phoenix staged her vacant condos with furniture packages, applications increased by 30%. "Renters could instantly envision themselves living there," she says. "The furniture vignettes made the condos seem warm, homey and move-in ready."
James, a landlord in Denver, noticed faster leasing after styling his empty basement with just a few key pieces. "I bought a cheap sofa and coffee table, added a couple of lamps and plants, and hung some basic drapes. It cost under $500 but made a world of difference in helping renters picture themselves in the space."
Quality photographs are one of the most important factors in capturing renters' attention and convincing them to tour or lease a property. With so many rental listings online, eye-catching photos give yours an edge. Investing a little time to photograph your rental like a pro will really pay off.
Lighting is critical for showing off a space at its best. Whenever possible, use natural light to illuminate and accentuate the property"s features. Open all blinds and curtains to maximize sunlight. For night shots, turn on all interior lights including overheads, lamps, and sconces. Avoid using a flash which can create harsh shadows or distortions.
Pay attention to lighting angles too. Direct sunlight streaming through windows can cast unflattering shadows or unwanted lens flares. Photograph facing away from windows for even, diffused light. Side lighting from adjacent windows highlights dimensional details and textures nicely.
Proper exterior lighting shows off the home"s architecture, yard, and curb appeal. Shoot in daylight for best results but time interior photos for later afternoon when the sun is lower on the horizon. This creates a warm glow both inside and out. For exteriors, keep the sun behind the camera to avoid squinting or shadows on the home"s facade.
Mindful staging ensures focal points and features stand out. Declutter counters, clear pathways through rooms, finely style furnishings and decor. Proper staging guides the viewer"s eye through the image"s most appealing elements.
Shoot from multiple flattering angles that highlight selling points like open floor plans, large windows and outdoor living areas. Vary wide shots to showcase entire rooms along with closer shots of special details like architectural moldings or a gorgeous kitchen backsplash. People relate better to spaces when some shots are taken from seated eye level rather than towering overhead perspectives.
When choosing compositions, the rule of thirds naturally draws attention to interior focal points. Imagine dividing images into nine equal boxes with vertical and horizontal lines. Important elements like kitchen islands, bathtubs or plush beds ideally align along these third lines.
John, who manages rental properties in Florida, says great photos made an enormous difference in generating interest. "I started really paying attention to lighting, de-cluttering and shooting from intentional angles that highlighted selling points like the view. My inquiry rates increased so much that the units rented more quickly."
Lisa, a landlord in Oregon, invested in a wide-angle lens to showcase small spaces. "I worried my studio basement wouldn"t rent quickly in a competitive market because of the size. But shooting from low, wide angles made it look bigger. Those photos really emphasized the cozy vibes and lots of light."
The written description of your rental listing plays a pivotal role in attracting qualified leads and persuading them your property is the ideal place to call home. Rather than just stating basic facts and features, inject personality and help renters envision the lifestyle they could have in your rental.
Start by painting a picture of what life could look like as a tenant in the unit and neighborhood. Highlight popular local amenities like parks, trails, dining, entertainment and recreation. Talk up attractions like waterfront access or proximity to downtown. Use descriptive language to set the scene. For example, "Sip coffee on the secluded front porch while enjoying tranquil garden views" or "Stroll just two blocks to the centrally located public library, farmers market and cafe district." Help prospective tenants see themselves living an appealing daily life.
For the unit itself, move beyond bare bones specs of bedrooms and bathrooms. Bring the features to life using vivid descriptions that help renters emotionally connect and imagine the possibilities. For example, "The spa-like master bath offers a relaxing oasis to unwind after a long day" or "The modern kitchen with stainless appliances provides a chef-worthy space to whip up homemade meals."
Inject style and personality through word choices that reflect the property"s vibe. A downtown loft could be described as urban, eclectic, and walkable while a cozy cottage may be homespun, charming, and snug. Use descriptive terms that appeal to the target renter"s lifestyle aspirations.
When showcasing amenities, emphasize convenience, comfort, and flexibility. For instance, note tech upgrades like smart lighting that simplifies living or a USB outlet that eliminates charger clutter. Talk up storage solutions, spa-worthy baths, and entertainer kitchens perfect for enjoying time with friends. Feature family-friendly perks like ample outdoor space.
Quotes from current residents can provide social proof and evoke emotions. "I love unwinding on my private covered patio with a glass of wine after work." Including feedback like "I"ve never lived somewhere so peaceful" helps renters envision how they"ll feel in your property.
Lisa"s beach cottage listing highlighted the relaxed, coastal lifestyle waiting. "I described the soothing sound of waves, provision of beach cruisers, and proximity to seaside coffee shops and restaurants. Applications poured in from renters who wanted an idyllic oceanfront retreat."
Setting the right rental rate for your property is crucial to attracting qualified tenants quickly in a competitive market. The ideal rent strikes a balance between maximizing your profits as a landlord and offering fair value to tenants based on location, size, amenities and condition. With more renters searching online, staying competitive means thoroughly researching pricing for comparable local rentals.
A rental priced too high will simply sit vacant, while an underpriced unit will attract bottom-barrel tenants and leave money on the table. Take time to browse current listings in your neighborhood with similar features. Consider size, layout, updates, outdoor space and other offerings. Factor in projected operating costs and your desired profit margin. While slightly undercutting comparable units may get your listing more visibility, going too low can leave income behind.
Professional property management companies can provide area rent surveys pinpointing average and median rents by neighborhood. Online tools like Rentometer allow you to enter details about your property and will suggest a competitive yet profitable rate based on local market data. If unsure, price a bit under market, then increase when renewing leases after establishing value.
Regular rental rate analysis ensures you keep pace with market trends over time. As surrounding rents increase with inflation and demand, yours should too. Boost rent modestly year over year to steadily maximize income without shocking loyal tenants with sharp spikes.
Of course, amenities and upgrades also justify increased rents compared to bare-bones units. Stainless kitchen appliances, built-in storage, high-end finishes, and tech conveniences command a premium monthly rate versus outdated or builder-basic rentals. Just take care to accurately represent offerings in listings to meet expectations.
Having the proper paperwork prepared in advance is crucial for protecting yourself legally and setting clear expectations for tenants. The rental lease agreement is the foundational document establishing rules, rent terms, timelines, and more. Invest time upfront finalizing a solid lease to minimize issues down the road.
Start with a standard lease template and customize it to your specific property and needs. Define all costs like rent, security deposits, pet fees, utilities, maintenance, late fees and more. Outline payment timelines, due dates, and accepted payment methods. Explain notice periods required for lease termination by either party. Include commencement and end dates for the initial rental term.
Address policies upfront regarding maintenance requests, guests, pets, smoking, subletting, property access and alterations. Detail if certain areas like storage or laundry are exclusive use or shared spaces. Specify who handles snow removal, landscaping, trash pickup and other duties.
Take time to understand local landlord-tenant laws regarding security deposits, discrimination, entry notice, evictions, and record keeping. Ensure your lease complies with all requirements and clearly articulates both parties" legal rights.
Carefully review the full lease before requiring tenant signatures so no questions arise later. Walk new tenants through each section in person to avoid misunderstandings. Encourage them to seek clarification on anything unclear before signing.
Supplementing the primary lease with additional rules helps further prevent disputes. For shared housing, consider a roommate agreement codifying expectations for cleanliness, guests, quiet hours, shared space use, parking, and expense contributions.
Provide tenants with written guidelines about proper unit maintenance, reporting repairs, trash disposal, recycling procedures, parking spots and common area use. Inform renters upfront about your inspection schedule and entry policy to head off later objections.
Misty, a property manager in Houston, learned the hard way after using flawed lease contracts her first year. "Once I started working with an attorney to create more airtight leases, I avoided so many headaches. My bases are covered if issues ever arise."
James in Denver created custom welcome packets for all new tenants outlining rules, policies, tips, and contact information. "It helps set clear expectations from day one which improves the tenancy experience for everyone."
In today"s on-demand world, renters expect fast responses when reaching out to landlords and property managers. Failing to reply quickly to inquiries and applications is a surefire way to lose top prospects to more responsive competitors. Make responsiveness a priority by responding to all rental leads within 24 hours or less.
When potential tenants ask questions or request showings, timely replies communicate professionalism and respect for their time. If interested renters don"t hear back promptly, they may assume you"re disorganized or don"t truly have availability. Without quick confirmation, eager prospective tenants may accept another unit rather than waiting in limbo.
Set up systems to enable fast response times, even when you"re unavailable. Email programs like Boomerang allow you to schedule messages to send automatically during your typical business hours. Apps provide renters with on-demand tour booking and Q&A so they don"t have to wait on hold or for emailed replies. Online listing platforms notify you instantly when new inquiries come in so you can respond right away during daily business hours.
Streamline and simplify forms to make it easy for prospects to provide information needed to process applications quickly. The faster you can screen applicants and approve them for tenancy, the less likely you"ll lose out to faster-moving competitors. Automated screening services can greatly speed approvals once digital applications are submitted.
David, who rents out his ADU in California, says responsiveness made a huge difference. "I downloaded a chat app so tenants could reach me instantly during the day. I also set up automatic replies when I was unavailable, so they knew I"d respond ASAP. Being accessible led to filling vacancies faster."
Linda manages properties in Florida. "We switched to paperless applications and online portals for maintenance requests. This allowed us to respond in real-time instead of waiting for paperwork submissions. Our residents are much happier with faster service."
Once a tenant is in place, continue providing responsive service when issues arise. Be available to quickly address maintenance emergencies or concerns. When problems are reported, have a 24-hour contact to immediately handle time-sensitive repairs before damage worsens or tenants grow frustrated.
Follow up the same day when tenants submit routine maintenance requests. Even if repairs take time to schedule, simple confirmation that the issue has been noted demonstrates you"re on top of things. Prompt responses to small concerns early on fosters positive relations that prevents bigger problems later.
Misty, a landlord in Houston, says making availability a priority prevents problems. "I give all my tenants my cell number and tell them to call or text any time with urgent issues. Replying quickly maintains good relationships."
Responsiveness also means promptly returning security deposits and providing statements for any deductions made. Following local laws for deposit returns and providing proper documentation on time shows good faith. Slow or ambiguous communication around security deposits often spurs legal action.