Home Staging: What It Costs and If It’s Worth It

staged

Excuse the cliché, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true when showing your home to potential buyers. Obviously you want to accentuate all the positive aspects of your home while hiding any potential drawbacks.

While a fresh pot of flowers, home baked cookies, or light music may liven things up, these days it may not be enough as sellers have become increasingly picky, and an oversupply of homes continue to stagnate on the market.

Keep Your Home Inviting!

If you speak to any given real estate agent, they’ll likely tell you to keep your house intact, even if you’ve found a new place to live.

Remember, it’s a lot harder to sell an empty house than a fully decorated home. In other words, don’t pack your bags until your current home is sold or at least under contract!

So you may be thinking, I’ve left my home as is and even added flowers, a new rug, new paint, candles, etc., but still no takers.

Well if you feel stuck, you may want to consider “home staging”, a professional service that preps and organizes your home to be shown in its best light to prospective buyers.

Enter the Home Stagers

These “home stagers” will come to your home, evaluate your needs and consult with you, and then make a number of changes to make your home sell fast and ideally at a higher price.

These changes could range from a few rearrangements to a complete overhaul, depending on the situation and the amount of money you’d like to spend.

For example, a home staging company may enlist painters or contractors to make major changes, or they may simply bring in their own inventory of furniture and fixtures to spruce up your home and make it appealing to buyers.

Typical Home Staging Services

  • Removing clutter
  • Basic maid service to clean the home
  • Adding fresh paint in key areas such as the entrance way
  • Adjusting the lighting of the home
  • Disguising any unpleasant odors
  • Adding, removing, or rearranging furniture an fixtures
  • Playing music
  • Gardening (new sod in the yard and/or adding fresh flowers)
  • New house numbers (boosts curb appeal)

How Much Does Home Staging Cost?

  • Consultation fee
  • Furniture rental (monthly)
  • Interior design recommendations (room edits)
  • Other services (potentially contracted out such as painting)

Typically, the cost of home staging is fairly expensive, but they say the potential return more than makes up for the cost. For a one million dollar home, you may be looking at a cost of $10,000, or 1% of the listing price. While it may seem pricey, the benefits of a “staged home” could result in a selling price 5-10% higher than what you anticipated.

The cost of home staging will vary based on the location of the home, the size and prospective sales price, and the scope of the work.

If we’re talking about a small home in Nebraska that just needs an updated look, you might be looking at just a few hundred dollars a month to stage it.

Conversely, if it’s multi-million dollar home in San Francisco in need of a major update, you could be looking at thousands of dollars a month.

And yes, home staging companies may charge you on a monthly basis, so hopefully your staged home sells quickly!

These home staging companies will charge you to “edit rooms,” aka give them a fresh look, and also to rent furniture if necessary. So if you’ve got an empty home, you might be renting couches and dining room tables from their stable of inventory for a number of months.

Additionally, many home staging companies charge a consultation fee of several hundred dollars just to discuss the plan, whether you go with them or not. Be careful not to pay upfront unless you’re sure you’ll use the company.

Is Home Staging Worth It?

There have been a number of studies conducted regarding home staging which appear to be fairly optimistic. In fact, in some of the studies, homes that were staged seemed to sell twice as quickly as those that weren’t, while also fetching a higher selling price in the process.

Unfortunately, these studies tend to be conducted by home staging trade groups, which would make you question their objectivity in a hurry.

Other, more objective studies on the matter have discovered that home staging makes no difference in what a home eventually sells for. Ultimately, its price is dictated by the market, these studies conclude.

Personally, I think a better looking home will sell faster and potentially at a higher price (or allow you to list the home at a higher price from the outset). But I do believe there’s a fine line here. You may not want to pour money into a home you’re thinking of offloading.

How to Stage Your Home Yourself

  • Clean your house thoroughly!
  • Remove the clutter and junk from ALL rooms
  • Add odor neutralizers and/or candles (also air the place out)
  • Hire a gardening company for upkeep and/or landscaping
  • Clean the pool!
  • Put fresh towels, rugs, soap dispensers in the bathrooms
  • Put a new rug in the main living areas (and new pillows on the couches)
  • Add mirrors to make your place look bigger, more open
  • Ditch dated items like window curtains and doilies
  • Fix the little imperfections with spackle and slap on fresh paint
  • Use neutral, modern paint colors and get rid of quirky designs
  • Clean up the main entryway, dust and wipe down, add fresh pots of flowers
  • Install a new kitchen faucet that looks expensive (those coiled ones are cool)
  • Buy simple items like a fancy chrome toaster oven to liven up the kitchen
  • Buy new artwork that gives the place new life
  • Change light fixtures with updated, modern ones
  • Put on shiny new house numbers, install a new mailbox, repaint the street numbers

However, you can do some simple stuff to stage the home yourself, without spending big bucks. Simply clean up (yes, clean the house), put the clutter away, slap on light and bright paint colors, and remove anything unsightly or weird (even if you think it looks cool). Avoid quirky stuff and stay on trend.

You may not actually need a home stager to do all this stuff – an experienced real estate agent worth their salt should be able to give you valuable pointers to get the house into adequate shape before listing it.

You can also sit down and brainstorm with a friend, family member, or spouse to discover what simple changes will add value to your home. Ask people what they honestly like and dislike about your home, then fix the bad and accentuate the good.

Of course, if you’re looking for convenience, and don’t mind spending some money, you may want to leave it to the professionals.

If you’re thinking about some DIY before you sell your home, take a look at our list of the best and worst home improvements.

Not all changes to your home equate to better asking prices and quicker sales. Make sure you know what works and what doesn’t. It’s not universal, and will vary from region to region, and home to home.

Lastly, remember that you can only boost your home value so much because it’s ultimately determined by recent comparable sales in the immediate area. In other words, don’t go overboard!

(photo: jinkazamah)


One Comment

  1. Kay March 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm -

    I stage homes. Contact me for details!

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