Real Estate News

Staging Homes for the Summer Rental Season

“The rental market is off to a fast start in 2015. All the good properties that were rented last year are already rented with repeat renters,” says Bob Murray, associate broker, The Corcoran Group, Westhampton Beach. “So the inventory that is on the market has to look sharp, clean and inviting if you want to get top dollar.”

If you want your home to stand out from the competition and be “snapped up,” there are a number of easy steps you can take to make it more attractive to renters.

It’s a fact: certain homes rent immediately for the entire season and for top dollar while similar rentals (in the same price range and geographical area) languish. Many homeowners end up accepting low-ball offers as summer approaches out of desperation. Here are some tips to help keep your listing from being left high and dry.

The first thing to do is to take an impartial look at your home—view your home through the eyes of potential renters. This sounds easy, but people love their own homes and their own stuff. Our stuff represents who we are and it’s tricky to see our homes with emotional detachment (hence professional stagers).

One way to do this is to step back and snap some photos of your house. Since more than 95% of all renters will be seeing your online listing photos before ever viewing the home, this has several advantages. You will see what they will see. How does it stack up? Does your home look clean, well kept and uncluttered? Does it look like a location where you would want to spend money to vacation?

That secret “something” that many popular rentals tout is vacation appeal. Think bed and breakfast. Think luxury, think spa. Take an inventory of your house. Is the bathroom sporting big, fluffy, clean towels? Are there fresh, cool, white (or neutral) sheets? Or is your bathroom filled with your toothbrushes, prescriptions and shampoo bottles? (This is a no-no.) Is the kitchen organized and user-friendly with clear counter tops, matching full sets of dishes and glassware?

Does your home sport lifestyle amenities? Can I make a margarita? Martinis? Think vacation mode activities. Does your home reflect the fabulous Hamptons way of life? Summer vacation is the beach, poolside, BBQs, and a relaxed, elegant, casual lifestyle.

Some must haves for renters:

•Pool and beach accessories and towels
•Plenty of outdoor seating
•Games (board and lawn)
•Great reading material
•TV/entertainment/sound system (indoors and outdoors)
•Gourmet kitchen equipment
•BBQ accoutrements

I frequently tell my clients, “No one wants to live in YOUR home. They want their own space.” Remove Grandma’s photo and your family portraits. Paint over the pencil marks with your kids’ heights. Put away the bowling trophies. Are your beloved houseplants hanging on for dear life? Toss them and buy new ones. A number of Hamptons homes I’ve seen have a room in which owners place all their personal items and lock them away while the house is rented—everything from photos and linens to toiletries and medicines and kitchen pantry items. This way the house truly feels “fresh” to the people renting it.

Your home is now a product to be marketed. Your “product” is competing with a number of other “products,” and what you do to improve it is an investment in getting it rented.

Strive for that summery feel. Yes, this may translate into seashells and accessories with fish/boat motifs…but be subtle. It also means cool, refreshing wall colors. It means repainting those walls a soft neutral color and replacing heavy draperies. It means bringing in natural textures like wicker and sisal. Good “summer” colors are sand, gray, taupe, beige, white, blues, greens and “beach glass” colors.

These are a few generic ideas to get you on the right track. Every house is unique and, depending on the price range, your home may require more upscale tweaks. A professional home stager can do all of this and more, transforming your home into a place renters will fall in love with and, as an added bonus, creating a home or you that will feel like a vacation all year.

Allegra Dioguardi is the president of Styled & Sold.

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