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How a Professional Home Stager Can Help You Sell Your House

How a Professional Home Stager Can Help You Sell Your House
How a Professional Home Stager Can Help You Sell Your House

Tour some homes on the market and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a home design magazine. Others, you’ll find, simply have too many magazines strewn about. The difference—besides house-cleaning habits—could be a home stager, a professional who comes in and makes a house look its best.

The results can drastically increase a home’s sale price. Half of sellers’ agents last year said staging increased what buyers offered by up to 10% versus similar homes on the market, according to a survey from the National Association of Realtors. And a third of sellers’ agents said that staging greatly decreases the amount of time houses are on the market.

“Home stagers are marketing experts, not interior designers or decorators,” says Shauna Lynn Simon, owner of BeyondtheStageHomes.com. “When it comes to staging for sale, it’s more about marketing than decorating. It’s decorating done in strategic way to show off the house and its features.”

Here’s what a professional can do for you and how much it will cost. If you’re more of a DIYer, try these tips first.

Consultations

Professional staging starts with a consultation at your home. For DIYers, this is a low-cost way of getting customized input on your home and its unique features from a professional. You can then decide which recommendations are within your time, effort and budget constraints. There are two types of consultations: verbal and written.

Verbal Consultations: A home stager will walk through the home and make recommendations to get the house market-ready with the homeowner or real estate agent. The advice may include small fixes, furniture placement, accessory suggestions and other staging details. A verbal consultation typically lasts between one and two hours, and homeowners should take their own notes. Homeowners can then decide whether to hire the stager or other professionals to undertake the recommendations.

Verbal consultations are the most economical professional staging service, ranging between $200 and $800, depending on the size of the home. Real estate agents pay for these services 89% of the time, according to a survey from the Real Estate Staging Association.

Square feet

Cost range

Under 1,000–2,000

$200–$500]

2,001–2,500

$200–$525]

2,501–3,000

$250–$525]

3,001–3,500

$250–$750]

3,501–4,500

$300–$750]

4,501–5,500

$300–$800]

*Source: Real Estate Staging Association

Written Home Staging Consultations: These consultations are more in-depth than the verbal ones and don’t require you to scribble down everything the home stager recommends. The stager will walk through your house, take photos, review them and then prepare a written, detailed report. Typically, a home stager will spend up to five hours preparing a written report. In it, there will be a to-do list for the homeowner, which typically includes the following:

  • Repairs

  • Cleaning

  • Landscape improvements

  • Decluttering tips

  • Furniture placement

  • Paint color recommendations

  • Accessory, light and art suggestions

Written consultations aren’t that much more expensive than verbal consultations and are less work-intensive for you. It may be worth the extra bucks to get a written consultation. In many cases, your real estate agent may cover the cost. Real estate agents provide these 79% of the time, according to RESA. When they don’t,here’s what you can expect to pay:

Square feet

Cost range

Under 1,000–2,000

$225–$595]

2,001–2,500

$245–$750]

2,501–3,000

$265–$750]

3,001–3,500

$300–$850]

3,501–4,500

$335–$899]

4,501–5,500

$365–$1,500]

*Source: Real Estate Staging Association

Home staging for occupied houses

If you decide it’s too much work to follow through on the staging recommendations from your consultation, you can hire the home stager to perform the work for you. Typically, stagers will use what you have in your home already and rearrange or edit your furniture and accessories to enhance each space and show off “wow” features. In some cases, a stager will bring in a rented item to complete a space if you agree to it. That will cost an extra fee on top of the pretty sizable staging fee. Here’s what you can expect to pay.

Square feet

Staging fee

Average rental fee

1,000 and under

$766–$3,200

$225 ]

1,001–2,000

$900–$3,200

$270 ]

2,001–2,500

$1,150–$3,700

$340 ]

2,501–3,000

$1,200–$4,200

$390 ]

3,001–3,500

$1,500–$5,500

$460]

3,501–4,500

$1,700–$6,500

$540 ]

4,501–5,500

$2,000–$6,900

$600 ]

*Source: Real Estate Staging Association

Home staging for empty houses

Perhaps you have already moved out of the house you want to sell and into a new one. You’ve probably taken your furniture and accessories with you, leaving behind a cavernous and empty house. You would be mistaken to think that this means you don’t need to stage the property, says Karen Otto, owner of HomeStarStaging.com.

“It may surprise you, but vacant homes are especially difficult for buyers to visualize living in,” Otto says, noting that empty rooms seem smaller and lack a focal point. “Buyers are often puzzled regarding flow, purpose and scale of an empty room and how their lifestyle will fit.”

If they don’t have their own inventory, home stagers work with furniture retailers and rental companies to help stage empty rooms. This, of course, is the priciest of a stager’s services, and real estate agents don’t typically cover this cost. If you’re on a budget, ask if there are tiered services, such as staging just the most important rooms or leaving out certain accessories. Otherwise, here are the average prices, according to RESA.

Square feet

Staging fee

1,000 and under

$1,995–$3,200

1,001–2,000

$2,400–$4,900

2,001–2,500

$2,900–$5,250

2,501–3,000

$3,300–$6,000

3,001–3,500

$4,000–$7,000

3,501–4,500

$4,600–$7,500

4,501–5,500

$4,500–$8,500

*Source: Real Estate Staging Association

Other services

** Quick combo**: Some home stagers like Otto may provide a quick consultation and staging service in one appointment that lasts no more than two to three hours. They run through a quick assessment, prioritizing the biggest changes each room needs. The remaining time is devoted to staging using your furniture and accessories. The stager may also leave with an additional checklist of changes you can make before each showing. This service can be more expensive than a verbal or written consultation, but still more affordable than a full staging service.

Photo styling: Most homebuyers start looking at houses online, so many stagers offer to help make your listing photos stand out. They will come to your house when your professional photographer is shooting and position furniture and accessories for optimum staging. Many only offer this service if you’ve already had a consultation or a home staging with them.

Staging from afar: Otto also offers staging recommendations for customers who live in another city or state. Other stagers may offer the same type of service. To do this, you need to provide measurements and photos of each room via email. She will assess and offer a written report of ways to stage your house yourself. Otto charges 25 cents per square foot for her e-staging consultations.