When you’re marketing a property to prospective residents, it’s important that you make them feel comfortable within the home. The first thing most prospective residents will do is visualize themselves, and possibly their family, inside of the home.

1. Remove all items from the prior resident.

All of these items will serve as barriers to your prospective resident’s imagination. When at all possible, avoid showing a unit or home when the prior residents are still living in it. While some property owners do want to keep a unit filled the entire time, it’s extremely difficult to show off the best features of a unit when someone else is still occupying it.

2. Know the neighborhood and emphasize its strong points.

If your primary renters are crazy college kids, you don’t want to emphasize the family-friendly nature of the suburban neighborhood. Instead, get their imagination going by letting them know about all of the fun venues that are in the area. Likewise, when walking a family through the home you can mention the playgrounds in the area and how the school system has performed. A family with pets, such as dogs, might be inclined towards a rental that is close to the dog park. Many residents choose their homes not based on the place itself but by the location.

3. Consider staging the unit.

Just as with home sales, staging a unit can be incredibly beneficial, especially for higher priced listings. Some basic contemporary furniture can bring an empty unit to life. You can store this furniture in an inexpensive rental unit when not in use and foster a relationship with a moving company or handyman to bring it in and out.

4. Prepare the rental as though you live there.

Before walking through the unit with your prospective residents, you should take a walk through the home yourself. Open any blinds or windows that would let light in and adjust the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. An empty, dark and cold home isn’t going to incite passionate feelings. When at all possible, try to show units during the day. Bright sunlight has an incredible effect on mood. Candles and scented light fixtures are also a fantastic way to make a unit feel lived in without being overly obtrusive.

5. Learn about the prospective resident and tailor your presentation to them.

When showing a property, your words are the best tool in your arsenal. When you first meet your prospective residents, ask them questions about their lives, their work and their hobbies. Walk them through each room and be very specific about the potential behind each room. An empty room becomes an exercise room for a military resident or a drawing room for an artistic resident. A newly married couple may be excited to know that one room could be used as a nursery. Don’t forget about the importance of children throughout this process. You can inspire their imagination by pointing out which rooms would be theirs and why that room is fantastic.

Sometimes things simply don’t work out as you wanted them to. You might end up having to show a unit with a previous resident still in it, or you might have to rush to another meeting. If this occurs, you should always confront the difficulties head on. Acknowledging these issues will make the prospective resident feel more secure about the property and your own honesty.