It's Not All or Nothing: How Home Staging Works

Whether your home is empty, cluttered or somewhere in between, a home stager can get it ready for sale.

U.S. News & World Report

It's Not All or Nothing: How Home Staging Works

Home staging isn't just for an empty house.(Getty Images)

Homeowners and real estate agents alike often assume staging is all or nothing, but that’s simply not the case. There are many different ways you can work with a home stager to properly prepare a home for sale.

Every home can benefit from some form of staging. Sellers may just need some advice or an action plan to follow, while others may need the stager to actually complete the work or coordinate rental furnishings and design the space. The seller can be as involved as they want depending on their needs and budget.

Real estate agents often believe home staging should only be used if the space is vacant, because very few buyers can visualize the potential of a space. A vacant staging is when the stager will rent furniture and accessories to dress up an empty space. The stager will be there for the delivery and set everything up so it’s ready to show off.

A vacant staging is the most expensive for sellers according to the Real Estate Staging Association, which has a pricing breakdown that factors in the varying types of services a home stager provides. This service, of course, is the most expensive because a stager has to bring everything in to make the space feel at home. A 2015 RESA report on staging pricing found that a vacant staging is an investment that ranges between $1,995 and $8,500 on average. High-end properties and in specific locations this service may cost more for home sellers.

But real estate agents and sellers shouldn’t overlook the other services home stagers provide:

Consultation. One of the easiest ways to incorporate home staging when selling is the purchase a home staging consultation – that’s when a home stager will enter the home for a short period to assess the space and determine what needs to be completed. The stager will either tell you or write out their findings, and usually put a proposal together for further work. You can also do this online in an e-staging consultation by providing the stager photos of the property.

For a two-hour walk-and-talk consultation, the RESA report found that this cost varies from $200 to $800, depending on the home’s square footage and agents pay for this service 89 percent of the time.

The report also notes a written consultation costs between $225 to $1,500, again depending on the home’s square footage because it can take up to five hours to create an action plan for the home. More than 75 percent of real estate agents will pay for this service to be completed, according to the report.

Occupied Staging. If the seller is living in the home while on the market, stagers will use the homeowner's belongings to prepare the home for sale, called an owner-occupied staging. With this service, the stager will rearrange and remove items, accessorize and sometimes complete small repairs.

The stager will use what’s already in the home, but may also bring in key accessories to update and complete the look buyers will appeal to. Many times, the seller will have homework to complete – like cleaning, packing or organizing items prior to the staging day.

Square footage always plays a role in pricing, and for occupied staging can cost between $776 and $6,900, per the RESA report. As mentioned in this process, a seller may also need some of the stager’s rental accessories, which can cost a few hundred dollars per month while the home is on the market.

Regardless of whether a home is vacant or filled with clutter, clean or a complete mess, maintained or filled with projects that haven’t been completed in decades, a seller should consider consulting with a home staging company if they want the maximum return on investment for the property.

A home stager may offer customizable solutions for sellers, like hiring them for a few hours before a photo shoot to spruce up the place. Maybe the seller needs help tackling specific organizing tasks, managing repair projects, or interior design services.

So, the next time you think home staging is just cleaning and decluttering, suitable for only vacant spaces or luxury properties consider contacting a home stager in your area, qualified to provide you with expert advice to get a home on and off the market quickly for the biggest return on your investment.

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