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  • Writer's pictureKeith Wood

8 Ways to Get Your Rental Property Ready for Showing

The tenants just moved out, and your rental is vacant for the first time in years. It’s been so long since you marketed this rental that it’s almost like starting over from scratch. You know you need to get things done before you show it to potential tenants, but you’re not quite sure where to begin.

If you want to attract a higher caliber of tenant or justify a higher rent than you’ve charged in the past, you’ve got some work to do. Before you put your rental back on the market and schedule showings, here’s what you need to do.

1. Repair Any Damage

Upon move out, you should have done a thorough inspection of the property. Go back through and repair any damage you found. This includes nicks or gouges in the walls, broken light switches, leaks, loose or cracked tiles, and anything else you’ve discovered. If it’s been a few years since you’ve been able to get in and look around, you might want to consider an inspection by a professional to find any big problems you can’t see on your own.

2. Fix Normal Wear and Tear

Even the best tenants will leave behind small damage from the normal wear and tear of living in the property. Fill in holes from anything previously hung on the walls. Replace worn carpet. Paint the walls and the baseboards. Deal with scuffs and nicks on hardwood floors. Clean the grout on tile floors. Re-grout in the bathrooms if necessary.

3. Upgrade Where Necessary

If the kitchen appliances are 20 years old or you’re tired of replacing carpet, this is the time to make some upgrades. Your rental is empty, and the job will go quicker without people in and out all day long. It’s not just appliances and flooring that need upgrades. Change out old ceiling fans for new. Replace dated lighting for nicer, cleaner, and better styles. Consider the age of the HVAC system and replace it if it’s nearing the end of its life. This can save you from expensive repairs later.

4. Clean Everything

For the sake of time and being thorough, consider hiring a cleaning service to do this for you. If you partner with a good company with a great reputation, you’ll get a top to bottom cleaning that’s better than anything you can do on your own. If you’d prefer to do it yourself, touch everything -- ceiling fans, baseboards, walls, corners, shelves, flooring, cabinets, countertops, toilets...everything. Pull the appliances away from the walls in the kitchen to clean, too. Just because it can’t be easily seen doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be clean.

5. Create Some Curb Appeal

Remember you’re trying to attract tenants who will take care of your rental and pay the price you’re asking. Curb appeal matters. Mow the lawn and trim the bushes. Consider putting down sod to deal with bare dirt patches. Repair the roof (or replace it if it’s nearing the end of its life). Deal with broken shutters, faded or cracked paint, and damaged gutters. Your rental should look like a home someone would be proud to live in and willing to pay a higher rent for.

6. Stage for Marketing

If you’ve never considered staging your rental before, now may be the time to begin. Just like home buyers, renters want to imagine themselves living in a property. You also want to show off it’s potential when people see pictures for the first time online. Staging your rental can be something you do for a single day, just long enough to take marketing photos or you can keep it staged until you rent it. If you do this, be sure to make it very clear that the property is rented unfurnished.

7. Have Photos Taken

You might be wondering what photos have to do with showings. To attract a certain kind of tenant at a certain price point, you’re going to need to do some marketing. Once you have the attention of a prospective tenant, then a showing can be scheduled. Professional photography makes your rental look good and attracts the right kind of attention. Yes, you can DIY photos on your smartphone, but if you want your rental to stand out and get the right kind of attention, professional is best.

8. Figure Out Your Schedule

Your rental is ready for new tenants. Marketing photos have been taken. Your property is about to go online. Now you need to figure out how you’ll handle showings. When will you be available? Will you use a lockbox to let people in? Do they have to meet you first? Will there be a pre-screening option? You’ve got a lot to consider before the first showing is scheduled, and it’s best to know the answers before you talk to potential tenants.

If it sounds like a lot to get your rental ready for showing, it is. You don’t have to do it alone, though. Work with a property management company and team that has the resources, time, and experience to help you. At ERA American Real Estate, we help you get your rental ready, find the most well-qualified tenants, and charge a competitive rent.

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