Staging a house means preparing a home for sale by making it appealing to the largest number of people possible. Studies show that it gets results.
For someone to buy your home, they must be able to see themselves in it. Staging a house makes it much easier for them to do that. It also can help you get the highest possible selling price.
Why Is Staging Important When Selling a Home?
Stand in front of a big mirror. Tape several family photos to it. Smear it with dirt. Hang some of your favorite colorful scarves on it. Drape some dirty towels over it, too. Now, place a couple of plants and your dog in front of it. Can you see yourself in the mirror?
Just as you would like to see yourself in the mirror, a homebuyer would like to see herself in your home. Staging makes that possible.
Before someone can see themselves living in a home, they have to actually see it. Staging, traditional and virtual, increases the odds that someone will look at a listing.
Second, by clearing away as many distractions as possible, staging makes it easier, psychologically, for them to imagine living in the home.
Finally, by cleaning and fixing up the house as much as possible, staging allows them to see that it will be physically easy to move into that home. Otherwise, they dwell on all work that has to be done before they can even begin to feel comfortable.
The house literally repels them. Sure, they like the floor plan and the neighborhood, but they decide to look at another place or two. Meanwhile, they are doing some math in their heads. They add up the cost of new carpet and paint and the time it would take just to clean it up, then subtract the total from the asking price.
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most people ever make. Staging clears a path for them to make it.
What Is Staging a House?
Home staging means preparing a home for sale by making it appealing to the largest number of people possible. Oddly enough, the process might make your home less appealing to you. But you are moving anyway. You might as well part with a few things when it can save you time and make you money.
A professional stager or a seller working alone wants to arrange the house in a way that accents its very best features. Your home no longer needs to reflect your whimsical tastes and love of knick-knacks. (Do that in your new place.)
Part of staging means removing some of the personality. It distracts buyers who are trying to envision what the place might look like for them.
However, you don’t want to take away all the personality and charm. In fact, sellers of empty, unfurnished homes are prime customers for staging services that will add rented furniture and decorations to make the home feel warmer and more desirable.
Virtual staging has become more popular since COVID-19 came on the scene. It involves taking pictures of the house, with the rooms empty, and using digital tools to add furniture and decorations. It can even allow potential buyers to “try on” different colors for walls and floors. Virtual staging typically costs one-tenth as much as standard staging.
Traditional staging can be as little as a consultation, with the stager suggesting what needs to be done.
A professional can redecorate the house, re-purposing existing items or bringing in new ones. The service also can include rearranging furniture or bringing in new pieces to replace tired old pieces. The stager suggests painting and repairs that will add appeal and advises homeowners on the level of cleaning and de-clutter work that is needed.
How Much Does It Cost to Stage a Home?
The average cost in the U.S. for staging a home is $1,452, including rental costs for furniture and decoration, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
The price depends on whether the seller hires professional help, how many services a seller needs, how much he does himself, whether he rents furniture, buys appliances, and does repairs and renovations, and other factors.
Also, the higher the cost of the home, the more staging is likely to cost.
The range of spending for typical homeowners is $631 to $2,313, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
Full furniture rentals can cost $6,000 or more for extended periods, according to the website. Sellers can save money by staging only a few key rooms, like the living room and kitchen.
The website listed some other average national costs:
- Stagers charge $150 to $600 for a two-hour consultation to get things going.
- They typically charge another $500 to $600 a month for each room to set up and maintain the staging materials. Stagers often charge for an average minimum of three months for decor.
- Renting furniture for a 2,000-square-foot home costs around $2,000 for the first month. Rent averages from $2,000 to $2,400, and there is typically a three-month minimum.
How Do You Stage a Home?
Sellers can do many things themselves at minimal expense. Here are a few ways to improve the appearance of your house without having to do a major overhaul.
Clear out half of your stuff. Then clear out half of what’s left. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll sell things on Craigslist after you move. If you can’t sell it immediately, give it away or rent a storage locker.
Remember that clutter affects every room, hallway, closet, cupboard, porch, and shed. You are selling a house, not your stuff. And your stuff keeps potential buyers from seeing your house. Clear appliances and cutting boards off of kitchen countertops and personal items from bathroom shelves. In short, remove from every horizontal surface as much as you can. And don’t stuff it all into your closets, which you have to clean thoroughly. They look their largest and most attractive when they have just a few things in them.
Clean every bit of your house. Clean as if every dusty ceiling-fan blade, dirty window, and grimy line of grout will take $1,000 off your asking price. Then keep it clean. If you lack time, you might hire a professional cleaning service. But you will have to follow up until the house sells.
Ask Your Real Estate Agent for Advice
Your real estate agent might not be a home decor expert and has plenty of other things to do, but most likely can suggest several things that will boost your home’s curb appeal and its chances of making a good first impression.
Once you have decluttered, you likely will have some space to move the furniture to accentuate the space and lines of your home. This might involve removing some furniture entirely, so you can either move it to your storage unit for your next house, sell, or give away.
Paint and Patch
This is one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your home’s appeal. That bedroom you painted pink and green when your daughter was in grade school? Paint it a nice neutral color.
Examine each wall and patch all those nail holes, scratches, and dents caused by doorknobs.
Dark and dreary cabinets, especially in the kitchen, are a downer. They are not easy to paint, but brightening up a kitchen can pay big dividends. Another way to spruce up kitchen cabinets is to remove the doors, paint the rest of the cabinets and put up new doors. It’s more expensive than painting but much less expensive than new cabinets.
Take care of leaky faucets, overhead lights that don’t work anymore, the mailbox that leans like the Tower of Pisa, and other ankle-biters.
Attend to the Outside of the House
This gives the first impression. Clean, declutter, patch and paint, mow, trim. Landscaping can become expensive very quickly, but if the season allows, plant new flowers, or hang a flower basket.
Back inside, fresh flowers lend class and a feeling of comfort to a home. Use them for showings and open houses.
Clear the Air
You might not notice the overall atmosphere of your house, but potential buyers will. This can be a particularly big problem for pet owners.
Open the windows as much as possible. Use a diffuser to give off a nice aroma. You need not bake cookies nonstop from the time you put your house on the market until you have a contract. An easy way to get the same effect is to sprinkle a bit of all-spice or cinnamon in a small pot of water and let it simmer for several minutes before a showing or open house.
Renovations and Appliances
These things drive up the average cost of staging but can pay big dividends. Try to look at your home as a stranger would. How welcoming is that stained, frayed, smelly living room carpet? How do the dented, corroded refrigerator and stove make you feel? How about the moldy old sink and cabinet in the main bathroom?
A good real estate agent can help home sellers decide which big-ticket items will give a good return on investment. It’s the sort of work that can boost an appraisal.
According to the 2021 National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Staging, the most common home improvement items agents recommended to sellers were decluttering the home, 93 percent, entire home cleaning, 85 percent, removing pets during showings, 81 percent, and improving curb appeal, 78 percent.
Is It Worth It to Stage a Home?
That NAR report also found that 23 percent of buyer’s agents said staging a house increased the dollar value offered from 1 percent to 5 percent, compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged. Another 24 percent said it increased the value even more, by as much as 16 to 20 percent.
Twenty-three percent of seller’s agents said staging a house increased the value 1 percent to 5 percent; 18 percent said it raised the value 6 percent to 10 percent; 6 percent said it raised the value 11 percent to 15 percent, and 3 percent said it raised the value 16 percent to 20 percent.
For perspective, 1 percent to 5 percent for a $300,000 home equals $3,000 to $15,000.
In that same report, 47 percent of buyer’s agents said home staging affected most buyers’ view of the home. Eighty-two percent of buyer’s agents said staging a house made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
They also said buyers found that staging the living room was the most important, 46 percent, followed by the master bedroom, 43 percent, and the kitchen, 35 percent.
Also, staged homes spend 33 percent to 50 percent less time on the market, according to HomeAdvisor.
To Stage or Not to Stage
One important consideration is whether you are in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market.
If supply is outstripping demand and homes are lingering on the listings for months, good staging can make all the difference.
Are home sales red hot, with potential buyers getting into bidding wars?
In that climate, you might not need to spend much on staging.
But you still might want to de-clutter and clean up.