Landlord’s Q&A: Blank canvas Vs. Furnished properties

Q: Do tenants like a blank canvas and am I wasting my time furnishing a property?

A: No and no. Tenants appreciate a well-furnished home and here’s why. Renting is changing, as more people view buying as an unrealistic option, renting is no longer seen as a short-term solution while tenants save up for a deposit. As a consequence, tenants don’t want something that is simply a stop gap, they want something that reflects their lifestyle and professional status.

A property that is beautifully designed, decorated and furnished says ‘home’ to prospective tenants far more than an empty box. It’s unlikely they will want to buy furniture that they’ll only have to sell or store when they move. The same is true for white goods, appliances, soft furnishings, even crockery. A property that is presented as a complete package will be highly desirable and be able to command higher rental premiums.

In an experiment by Upad, the same property was listed as furnished and unfurnished on property websites. After a three-week period, 25 per cent more people clicked through to look at the dressed property than had done for the other, and 75 per cent more enquired about the property from the furnished listing than the unfurnished. What’s more, the successful applicant had come from the dressed property listing. Even if tenants are foregoing the idea of ever being property owners, they still want to live in an aspirational home.

That’s why it is important to present the property in its best light. If you are looking to rent to premium tenants then they expect a furnished, well-planned scheme with a harmonised colour palette and high-quality touches. Something that simply looks like an Ikea showroom is unlikely to wow.

The property should have enough character to make it memorable; tenants may have visited many throughout the course of their search, but not too much that they can’t see themselves living there.

Consider decor and furnishings that still allow tenants to personalise the space. Perhaps giving them the option to change the soft furnishings and pictures or providing shelves with books and ornaments that can be put into storage as they become settled is a good compromise.

It could be that they don’t have much inclination in personalising the space at all. They may have such a busy lifestyle that making the space ‘ready-made fabulous’ takes the responsibility off their shoulders. If this is case, then it adds further weight to the argument that tenants will be prepared to pay a greater rental premium for a property with an instant wow factor that they can just move in to and get on with their busy lives.

If you would like further advice on how best to present your property, contact InStyle Direct’s design team.

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