Staging for rentals?

“Curb appeal is a wow factor and staging, both inside and out, creates the kind of impression that allows me to increase my cash flow beyond what I otherwise would be able to,” said Jane Killeen-Payne, a Halifax-based investor having amassed eight doors in five years. “In fact, I would rather let the unit sit vacant for a month rather than show it without the staging.”

More and more investors, even in markets with perennially low vacancy rates, are coming around to the same way of thinking in order to win higher rents, but also more discerning tenants.

Killeen-Payne and husband Richard even use staging on their student rentals, a way of attracting mature students looking for a home and not just a place to flop.

A small investment here has the potential to win big dividends for property investors facing increasingly small cap rates as acquisition costs skyrocket.

“In terms of rentals, staging is an often overlooked aspect and just a $100 can generate a return on investment two or three times that,” Killeen-Payne, co-owner of Invicta Property Investments, told CREW Online. “People will just pay a little bit more because the place has been staged.”

That "$100" is no understatement. While Killeen-Payne focuses on painting walls, interior woodwork and sprucing up building exteriors, her interior staging is usually accomplished with inflatables, fabric-draped cardboard structures as well as furniture pieces from her existing inventory, brought in to fill an empty room.

That work can usually be done in a couple days after a tenant vacates, although the investor will allow units to sit vacant for a month rather than show them without the staging. She has also had standing tenants allow her to come in and stage in order to show.

Either way, costs are kept to a minimum, something, she concedes, other investors may doubt.
“I think that’s why they don’t stage because they think it costs,” she said. “That’s not the case.”

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