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How To Prep Your Rental Home To Sell

sell rental property

Have a rental that you're ready to put on the market? There are a lot of reasons why you might decide it's time to sell properties you've been managing as rentals.

You could just want to take advantage of a hot market. Or, you may be ready to move on from managing tenants. We also work with a lot of companies that sell rental properties in order to invest in larger investment properties or more flips.

Whatever your reasons are for selling that rental, we've got the tips that will help you prep it, list it, and sell it fast.

Do you have to update rentals before you sell?

While you certainly don't have to make any improvements to list and sell, you should if you want to get the biggest return on your investment. There are home improvements that have been proven to give you a greater return than the cost, so these are the ones that we always recommend to our clients who are ready to sell off rental properties.

Let's get started!

1. Update Paint:

sell rental property

Updating paint throughout to a white or gentle gray will make a space look larger, brighter and more welcoming. This also removes any old paint, distracting paint colors, and damage to the paint that would distract from the floor plan. Plus, you'll be able to fill any holes in the wall as well, giving the entire home a refreshed appearance.

The difference that paint makes might surprise you. It can really have a profound effect on how a space appears and how potential buyers respond to the property.

We've seen it time and time again, which is why updating the paint is always one of our first recommendations for how to prepare a rental property to sell.

2. Update Lighting:

sell rental property

Another quick fix with a big payout is updating lighting. Lighting fixtures can date a space really quickly. Luckily, replacing them is quick, easy and pretty affordable.

You want fixtures in a classic style and with a similar look/aesthetic throughout to create cohesion. While you're at it, replace light switches, backplates and plugs, too, if the existing ones are dirty or aged. Don't spend a ton of money, either, since the new owners will likely want to swap them out.

For lighting ideas, consider walking some model homes or homes on the market in your area to get a feeling for what is appealing to buyers. Home stagers are always going to have their finger on the pulse of what's hot in that market. On that note...

3. Invest in Home Staging:

sell rental property

We believe in this one so much, we wrote a whole post on the benefits of home staging! And, we also shared tips on how to use home staging tips to prepare your home to sell.

All of these tips are invaluable when turning over a rental property. Home staging allows you to have a design professional bring in rented furniture and decor that will compliment the space, show how it can be used, and make the space look as attractive and inviting as possible.

Many buyers struggle to imagine how a space can be used - especially if there is a unique floor plan involved. Home staging is an investment that has been proven to help a property sell faster and for more than if it had not been staged.

4. Update Flooring:

sell rental property

Another big one, especially since buyers typically do not want to deal with the hassle of updating flooring as this will either delay their move-in date or mean that they will have to keep moving things in and out of rooms while flooring is installed.

Fix flooring in advance and see the difference it makes with your buyers! Consider flooring that is resilient and neutral and keep it consistent throughout the space. For example, if you decide to do carpet in the bedrooms - make sure it is the same carpet in each bedroom. If you install wood lookalike floors, use them in all spaces where you remove the current flooring, not just one room.

If you decide to repair existing flooring, make sure to use flooring experts who know how to properly resurface and clean existing flooring to really make it shine. Even tile can be professionally cleaned for a fresh look that might surprise you!

5. Update Kitchen:

sell rental property

The kitchen is the heart of the home! Potential buyers will spend more time in the kitchen than any other room in the house (statistically speaking).

A minor kitchen remodel with mid-range finish selections can definitely help you sell your home faster and for a premium. Appliances, in particular, are a great place to start. Cabinet refinishing or replacement is often a worthy investment. Even updating cabinet hardware can help modernize an older home. Look at what is selling in your area to determine if this is going to be important to your buyer and to reach your goal asking price.

6. Update Bathrooms:

sell rental property

Kitchen might be number one, but bathrooms are number two - particularly the bathroom in the primary suite. Look at everything as you make a list of what needs to be updated - including the tile, counters, cabinets, shower, fixtures, hardware, floors and lighting.

What upgrades could you make to this space to make it as appealing as possible? With everything else, consider cohesion throughout the property, as well as how to make the most of the space. When you think of the potential buyer, imagine how they might use the space - how many people might be living in the home - and make choices that will make those bathrooms feel like the perfect fit.

7. Consider Curb Appeal:

sell rental property

Curb appeal is the first impression the property will have on potential buyers. The front yard is especially important to creating that first impression.

So, walk out to the curb and take a look. What needs work? How could you upgrade the curb appeal? Sometimes, simple fixes will really make it shine.

In other cases, you'll need to do more upgrading to really make the landscaping look its best. If this is something you'd like to think more about, check out our detailed post on how to up your curb appeal and really attract buyers.

8. Is It Broke? Fix It:

sell rental property

Another simple task that makes a property much more attractive to buyers is fixing all the little things. From patching holes in walls to repairing those squeaky stairs. Whatever little things need to be replaced, patched, or repaired - it's time to do it.

To get started, just walk around and make a list of all the things that you would notice as a potential buyer. Then, hire someone or take care of it yourself. We wrote a whole post on the little things you need to do before listing a property. Check it out here.


With these 8 steps, you'll have your rental sparkling and ready to list in no time.

Of course, most of this can only be done if the unit is vacant, which is ideal if you're listing a rental. We'll be back soon with a post on how to sell a rental if it's currently occupied. Sure, this makes things a little bit more complicated and you'll definitely want to enlist the help of an experienced realtor who knows how to handle this type of listing, but it can certainly be done and we do it all the time.

If you have any questions we didn't answer about how to sell a rental property, give us a call and we'd be happy to help: 916. 524. 9733.

Thanks for reading!


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