Is Professional Home Staging Worth the Cost?

Home staging has become a "must-do" for many sellers, as 82% of buyer's agents said home staging makes it easier for prospective buyers to visualize the property as a future home. Staged homes have also historically sold faster and for more money than those that are not staged. Let's dive into the benefits of staging, the costs of having a company stage your home, and why for many sellers it is worth the cost.

Key Takeaways

  • Home staging is the curated furnishing and prepping of a home that is for sale on the real estate market.
  • The goal of home staging is to create a believable, clean, attractive living space that buyers can envision living in.
  • Proponents say that staging a home can increase a home's selling price and the likelihood that it will sell quickly as it helps prospective buyers better imagine how they can use the livable space.
  • Staging, however, comes with a cost: you will have to pay the stager as well as pay for the rental for furnishings and home accents while the house remains unsold.
  • While many have benefit from professional home stagers, you can choose to stage your home by yourself or rely on some feedback from your real estate agent.

What Is Staging? 

Home staging is a marketing strategy that temporarily refits your home with furniture, art, and other décor to make the visual space more appealing to prospective buyers. The goal of staging is to flatter the property, accentuate the strengths of the home, and give interested parties the ability to visualize themselves living in the space.

Good staging companies strive to make over a property without being obvious. A high quality staging job is beautiful without being obvious, as the intent isn't to deceive a buyer or have an interested party feel like a staging job is attempting to hide a home's flaws.

Staging is also practical as it allows other people to see spaces and how they may be used. Using furniture and property that you do not own, staging companies can demonstrate how awkward spaces can be used, what pieces go well in what areas, and how to most efficiently lay out a room.

How Home Staging Works

Home staging isn't putting a bunch of fancy furniture in your home. It's a deliberate marketing strategy with specific objectives that drive a higher real estate prices. Home staging may be more appropriate for home buyers that think they may benefit from any of the following improvements. Home staging:

  • makes your home look clean and organized.
  • strives to have rooms look bigger.
  • makes your home feel more welcoming.
  • utilizes all space, adding functionality to each room and corner.
  • modernizes your living space through new, creative furnishings.
  • depersonalizes your home and attempts to have the buyer image themselves in the space.

Home staging companies often have a number of requirements and clauses in their contracts. Make sure you're aware of whether they require all utilities to be connected, what notification periods are needed, and what cleanliness requirements they have prior to staging.

Benefits of Staging

Sellers often pursue home staging for several specific benefits. For one, staging makes it easier for potential buyers to see themselves in the home. Instead of having an empty space, staged homes have dining rooms, bedrooms, and other personal settings set up for buyers to see and imagine themselves in.

Staged houses also have the benefit of appearing clean. Staging companies own a plethora of furniture and goods, and they often ensure all property is maintained and looks professional. A staged home reduces clutter, removes personal items of the seller, and likely involved cleaner furniture than what the seller owns.

A stager can help with your online listing, too, as 93% of home buyers use the Internet during their home search. That means your home had better show really well online. Staging and photos by a professional can help create a beautiful digital marketing portfolio that entices buyers without needing them in the physical space.

Staging is used to demonstrate that a home is move-in ready. By demonstrating that the house can be set up and livable, staged homes are often more appealing to buyers as these houses may come across as needing less repairs or maintenance prior to being fully useful.

How Staging Affects Time on Market

The Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) has a staging savings calculator that lets you figure out how much time and money (mortgage payments, carrying costs, etc.) you save if you stage your home before listing it. They found that homes that had not been staged before listing sat on the market for an average of 143 days. Once these homes were staged, they sold in 40 days. In addition, homes that were staged pre-listing averaged just 23 days on the market. Though every market and property is different, a home is more likely to sell faster if it is staged.

Timelines will vary greatly between markets, especially during busier or slower seasons. In general, an average home can be staged in 1-2 days. It's advised to contact a stager at least 2-3 weeks prior to a listing to ensure ideal inventory is on hand for your home.

How Staging Affects Sale Price

Staging a home also impacts the sale price. According to the National Association of Realtors, 23% of buyers' agents said that home staging raised the dollar value offered by between 1% and 5% compared to home that had not been staged. 18% of agents believe home staging increased the dollar value offer between 6% and 10%.

Downsides to Staging

The obvious downside to home staging is the cost. We'll talk more about the cost below, but it's important to note that whatever you spend, you are incurring an optional expense that is not required to sell your home.

You may encounter the issue of needing to store your belongings in preparation of a stage. Staging companies will often require your items are removed prior to their furniture being brought in. If you're not quite at the stage of having a new home lined up, you may be forced to expedite packing and incur additional costs to have your goods held off-site.

While staging may mask or cover some of your home's flaws, it doesn't fix them. In addition, they may even call attention to deficits of your home depending on how the home is staged. For example, you may have used furniture to cover poor paint jobs or scratches on the walls or floor. Staging companies often use a minimalist approach that may not cover all of the blemishes you once hid.

Staging often gets your house off the market faster. However, it also takes longer to get staged homes onto the market. In addition to removing all of your belongings, coordinating with a staging company takes planning. You may also decide to undertake repair and maintenance based on how a staged product will appear.

The Cost of Staging

The cost to stage a home is very specific to geographical location and specific real estate markets. In addition, staging expenses will vary throughout the year, as companies will be more in demand during the peak selling season. While you might be able to secure a contract, you may be faced with furniture charged a premium.

According to HomeAdvisor, the national average home staging cost is $1,608. Homeowners typically pay between $741 and $2,644, though full furniture rentals for extended periods can cost over $6,000.

Home staging can be done while you are still living in the house. However, you may be contractually obligated to keep your home clean and responsible for any damages to furnishings while you're temporarily occupying the space.

Other Considerations

Consider the design skills, time and energy that staging will require and be realistic about whether you could undertake the task yourself. Professional companies have expertise and inventory in the field; however, many choose to design the layout of their home themselves and utilize the furniture they already own.

In addition, you can opt for your real estate agent to help stage your home, though it's traditionally not within their role to do so. Your real estate agent is motivated to sell your home as quickly as possible for as much as possible, they so may have recommendations based on what they've seen work on other listings.

Unlike some professions, there is no official licensing entity and no licensing exam for staging. Just about anyone can call themselves a stager, so the best way to find a good one is to get referrals from a seller you know who has used and found success with a particular stager or from your broker. A good broker will have connections to good stagers. 

What Is the Process of Staging a Home?

If you hire a staging company, the company will require you to remove your belongings from the site. They will often take a tour of your property, take measurements, and work with your real estate agent on obtaining information about your home. The company will then deliver furniture to your home, stage your property, and remove the furnishings at the end of your agreed-upon contract.

Is Home Staging Worth It?

For many, home staging results in a higher selling price and a quicker home sale. There are downsides to home staging such as more work prior to listing and ancillary costs like storing your property, but these downsides are often outweighed by the benefits of staging.

Is It Better to Sell a Home Staged or Empty?

Every market and property will have different strategies. In general, it is often best to stage a home to maximize bid prices. If you are looking to sell a property quickly, be mindful that there is considerable planning and coordinating prior to listing, so selling a home empty may be best in some situations.

Am I Required to Stage My Home?

You are not required to stage your home. Home staging is an optional marketing strategy used to maximize buyer interest in your home.

How Can I Stage My Own Home?

Should you choose to stage your own home, it's most often advised that you begin by simply cleaning and de-cluttering your space. This includes performing cosmetic repairs and maintenance on both the interior and exterior of your home. Remove personal items that make it more difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Consider borrowing furniture from friends or family.

The Bottom Line

The cost of staging by a professional—someone who has a great track record in the business—can mean a higher selling price for your home. For many, having a professional bring in their own expertise and furnishings leads to a more successful home selling experience.

Article Sources

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  2. National Association of Realtors. "Staged for Success."

  3. National Association of Realtors. "Real Estate in a Digital Age 2019 Report," Page 7.

  4. Real Estate Staging Association. "The Consumer's Guide to Real Estate Staging," Page 6.

  5. Real Estate Staging Association. "The Consumer's Guide to Real Estate Staging," Pages 6-7.

  6. National Association of Realtors. "NAR Finds Home Staging Helps Buyers Visualize, Home Sell Faster."

  7. HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost To Stage A House?"