A guide to home staging

centerpiece on coffee table beside sofa with three pillows

What to know about home staging that could help you sail through showings 

By Scott Dylan Westerlund

What do people see when they look at your home? It’s hard to view our homes objectively because of the memories associated with them. Enter the professional home stager. Home stagers know how to make a memorable and emotional first impression. They turn your floor plans into an experience that looks great in person and in photos. Home staging is a great investment in the future sale of your home, but knowing a few things could save you money and time while making it go a lot smoother. 

In this article 

Home staging is more than just moving furniture and taking pictures. This is our guide for finding the right stagers at the right price so you can prepare your home for maximum profit. We’ll discuss budgets, costs, fees, and strategies for saving money and time. 

What Is Home Staging? 

Home staging is a marketing tool. In fact, it’s one of your most powerful marketing tools aside from quality pictures because it shapes how a buyer pictures herself in your home. 

Home staging strips away the owner’s touches. But it’s not as simple as creating a blank canvas that erases the person or family currently living in the home. It’s also about creating a beautifully cultivated space that invites buyers into a well-lived life. 

The reality of home staging is that it’s not meant to convince anyone that nobody has ever lived in the home. Staging done well creates the perfect mixture of a blank slate and an invitation to feel at home to potential buyers.

Is home staging worth the investment? 

Staging isn’t just a luxury for buyers with extra time and money. Staged homes sell 88 percent faster on average. Those quicker-selling homes don’t just fly off the market sooner. They also fly off the market for more. Staged homes pull in 20 percent more than non-staged homes. And you always save more when you don’t have to pay your mortgage, taxes or utilities one extra day.

How do you stage a home?

What exactly are you paying for with staging services? Consider home staging a process. Here’s a rundown 

  • Start with an assessment. Expect your stager to do a full walkthrough while taking some pictures, making notes, and asking questions.
  • Next, your stager will provide you with a detailed analysis of your staging technique. This may include some charts and visuals that lay out furniture configurations, theme ideas, color ideas, and more. 
  • You’ll also get a list of what needs to go. This includes personal photos, pieces of décor, pieces of furniture, and more. 
  • A home stager dives in by helping you declutter and organize each room of your home to prepare for the new version. 
  • Next, your stager will shop for new pieces to bring into the home. The tactic here varies by staging service. While many home stagers purchase pieces, others will rent them on your behalf. This includes bedding, furniture pieces, art, plants, area rugs, pillows, and more. 

While your home stager will do the heavy lifting, they will give you homework to de-clutter, rearrange rooms, and relocate big pieces of furniture. In many cases, your stager can advise you on how to put larger pieces into storage until your big move. But one of the most important services a home stager brings to the table is brutal honesty

A home stager will tell you what’s going to stop your home from being sold because they’re in the business of helping you to maximize profit. While it may not feel great to hear that an old, heavy heirloom hutch might cause buyers to back away, it’s very necessary to hear the hard truth from an unbiased source. You can always reunite with your cherished hutch in your next home after taking it out of storage.

two black suede armchairs during daytime
A home stager removes existing furniture and adds specific pieces in order to tell a story

How much does staging a home cost? 

The window is between $600 and $2,300 for most homeowners in most markets. However, home staging pricing packages can cost around $2,000 to $2,500 per month when furniture rentals are involved. Costs are all over the place because there are so many different options and packages. For instance, a seller with a larger home who chooses to rent furniture for staging might pay more. A seller who asks a stager to focus on simply removing what doesn’t work in a home will pay on the lower end. Many home staging contracts require three-month commitments to ensure the stagers get paid even if your home sells within days of listing. So you could be locked into a home staging package even if your home sells quickly. 

Are there added fees to home staging? 

There is usually a consultation fee when hiring a home stager. While different staging companies have different policies, stagers generally charge fees for consultations because of the value of their time. They also tend to provide valuable insights during consultations that are beneficial to sellers even if they don’t sign on for 

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services. Aimee Lockwood at Eden Home Staging provides insights into how home staging quotes work. 

She says that her company charges $125 per hour during a consultation for a home still occupied by the seller. However, her company doesn’t charge a consultation fee for vacant homes. 

“Our goal is to help our clients know what they should be focusing on before we would be able to come in to stage their home in an occupied home setting,” says Aimee. She also says that a consultation for an occupied staging requires quite a bit of one-on-one time. 

How do I save money on staging costs?

You can still use a professional stager even if you’re not exactly comfortable with spending thousands. The first step is a conversation with your stager about expectations. 

Use these estimates to decide what you can live without when staging your home.

  • $100—$500 for a consultation. This cost really can’t be skipped unless you can find a local stager offering free consultations. 
  • $75—$800 a room per month for furniture rentals. 
  • $200—$400 for furniture arrangement. 
  • $600—$1,000 per room for decluttering. Be sure to inquire about what’s included as far as hands-on work when comparing quotes from different companies. 
  • $2,000 for full-scale organization and design services. It’s important to ask about the hands-on element of the work here to see what you’re paying for!

Some home staging companies also provide blueprints that you can use to implement the suggestions of a stager for a flat fee. While you’re not getting the hands-on expertise of the stager at every step, you’re getting a solid foundation to work with. 

Use these tips for cheap home staging 

Use your listing agent. Your listing agent may absorb some of the costs of home staging. But you’ll never know if this is something your agent will agree to unless you ask. Most listing agents handle staging costs by simply covering the full or partial cost. Other agents may recoup the costs from the proceeds of your home sale. While this second method isn’t really free staging, it does help you to avoid spending money before you get your home sold. 

Be strategic about where you stage. Consider staging strategic parts of your home that are known to really sell a house. For instance, stage your home’s primary bedroom and en-suite bathroom while leaving the other bedrooms alone. There’s a good chance that a buyer who falls in love with a breathtaking bedroom for the adults isn’t going to be concerned if the other bedrooms aren’t perfectly styled. The kitchen and living room are considered the other essential staging zones with great return on investment. 

Try some proven staging techniques on your own. Start with some DIY home staging tips while you get your home ready for the market. See if you can recreate some of the magic that professional home stagers seem to have. Simply repaint the walls in your home for a fast transformation. Swapping bold wall colors for 

muted shades of eggshell, beige, or gray is best. You might want to consider this even if you do intend to bring in a home stager because there’s a good chance they’ll recommend new paint anyway. Get rid of the clutter that you know a home stager will bring up during your consultation, too.

Remember that you can always use staging to revive your listing in a few months if your home doesn’t get any viable offers after making its debut. In fact, people who breezed by online photos of your home before it was staged may not even realize that they passed up an opportunity for a showing once the power of staging works its magic. 

Home staging can also be tax deductible. Just make sure you’re not using any items purchased or rented for staging for personal use. 

How do I find a good home stager?

  • Get multiple opinions. Side-by-side comparisons are essential to learn more about each company’s values. 
  • Ask about the furnishings they typically use. A home staging company should be more than happy to show off a portfolio full of work from past clients. 
  • Ask for specific details about how different furnishings and elements add value. It’s important to know why you’re paying for certain things! 
  • Ask about the stager’s plan for a walkthrough presentation. What strategy are they using to enhance the experience of traveling through your home based on the layout? 
  • Ask about how a stager plans for photography. Staging is one of your biggest online marketing tools because it impacts how your home appears in photos. 

Is home staging worth the cost? 

There are no guarantees but most sellers can be confident that they’ll make back what they invest in staging by getting their homes off the market sooner. A good home stager knows how to tap into the practical and emotional needs of buyers at first glance. Investing a little time and money into staging can help you start off on your next adventure without feeling like you’re dragging your current home around one minute longer than you need to. 

Points to remember 

  • Look at staging your home as an opportunity to sell your home for as much as possible.
  • Professional home stagers are not interchangeable with interior designers. They style homes strategically to appeal to what buyers want. 
  • There’s lots of flexibility in how much you want to pay for home staging. 
  • Working with a skilled home stager is everything! Make sure you know the specific questions to ask different home staging companies before choosing one. 
  • You might be able to get your home professionally staged for free. 

FAQs 

Who pays for the staging of a house?

Many listing agents will actually cover full or partial staging costs. Many of the ones who don’t will ultimately pay for staging fees with the expectation that they’ll recover the money from your sale profits. However, it’s not guaranteed that a real estate agent will pay for home staging. Some sellers prefer to get their homes professionally staged before they even meet with listing agents. 

How much does it cost to rent furniture for staging?

Most homeowners pay between $70 and $800 per month for furniture rentals for staging. A total-home staging that includes furniture rentals could cost as much as $2,000 to $2,500 per month. 

Where can I rent furniture for staging? 

When you work with a professional home stager, they will source furniture rentals for you. This is one of the benefits of working with a pro. It’s also possible to simply rent furniture on your own from a local furniture rental company. However, this can often cost just as much as working with a stager without the benefits of all of the other services that are bundled into a staging package. 

How much faster do staged homes sell? 

According to Realtor.com, staged homes sell 88 percent faster for 20 percent more than non-staged homes.

About the author: As the son of a construction contractor and a former property manager, Scott knows how to keep the lights on and the water running. In addition to Flyhomes, he has written for Angi, HomeLight and HomeAdvisor. His hobbies include fixing things around the house, baking things up in the kitchen, and spending quality time with his wife and daughter just about everywhere.

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