If you’re selling your home, you want to help buyers picture themselves living in it. Home staging, or decorating your home to make it more appealing to prospective buyers, is one of the best ways to do that. It helps your place stand out in online searches, shine during open houses and secure competitive offers sooner. In fact, staged homes sold for around $40,000 over the list price in 2021, according to data from the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).
How much does home staging cost?
Home sellers typically pay somewhere between $752 and $2,848 in home staging costs, according to data from HomeAdvisor — but the price tag can vary widely. For example, renting furniture for an extended period can cost $2,000 per month or more.
Generally, a home stager charges for an initial two-hour consultation, which can run between $150 and $600, according to HomeAdvisor. The size of your home and the scope of the project play a major role in determining the rest of your home staging costs. If your home is in good shape and your furniture looks appealing, you might only need to pay to rearrange the furniture layout and declutter the space — a service that averages a flat $800 total.
Let’s say you have an empty three-bedroom home, and the home stager recommends renting furniture for each bedroom and the living room. Based on HomeAdvisor data, the service fee alone can be between $800 and $1,000. Then, you’ll need to pay staging fees, which fall somewhere between $400 and $700 per room for the first month. You’ll also need furniture to bring those rooms to life, which can cost $500 to $600 per room per month for all those beds, a couch, tables and other design touches.
The cost of staging a home for two to three months typically translates to 1 percent of a home’s list price, according to Pam Tiberia, owner and designer of Spruce Interiors in Hampton, New Hampshire. So, if your home is being listed for $320,000, the cost to stage it for a few months would likely be around $3,200.
Luxury homes cost more to stage
For higher-end homes, however, the cost can be more.
“Typically, luxury homes range around 1 percent to 1.25 percent of the list price for staging,” says Tiberia. “These costs include labor, furniture rentals, movers and an insurance policy to protect the inventory.”
What does a home stager do?
Home staging offers a new outlook on your home, and each stager offers their perspective and different services. Some provide services like shopping and incorporating recommended items, such as a new shower curtain, accent pillows or updated bedding.
“Many stagers also rent these kinds of props and come in to style the home before photos and open houses,” says Tiberia.
Some other services a home stager might offer include:
- Discussing how best to furnish a space and recommending which furniture should be removed or added, along with accessories, art and styling items.
- Pointing out any noticeable repairs or maintenance issues.
- Recommending best spaces within the house to be staged, particularly in vacant homes. Not all rooms need to be staged, typically.
- Advising homeowners on ambiguous spaces. Some homes with random rooms or funky floor plans can be improved with creative staging and furniture placement.
- Suggesting removal of or changes to window treatments to lighten a space.
Virtual staging (in which photos of rooms are digitally refurnished) is a cheaper option, with some companies doing renderings as inexpensively as $35 per room, says Tiberia, who typically does a combination of occupied and vacant staging. For buyers browsing online, virtual staging efforts can help entice them to see the property in person.
With virtual staging services, most companies use photo editing software to render a conceptual view of what a room or the entire property can look like. Some of the editing techniques in virtual staging include:
- Changing paint colors and floors
- Air-brushing out furniture to make a room vacant
- Replacing existing furniture with digital images of new furniture, artwork, plants, etc.
- Changing the seasonal or time of day window views (i.e., putting leaves on trees or showing the sunset)
Is staging your home worth the cost?
Several studies have shown that home staging can be a worthwhile investment.
By investing 1.3 percent of a home’s value in staging, 73 percent of sellers saw a return of over 7.1 percent, according to RESA.
Similarly, in a 2021 National Association of Realtors (NAR) report, 23 percent of sellers’ agents indicated that staging helped increase offer amounts by up to 5 percent. 18 percent of agents said that staging increases offers by 6 to 10 percent, and 6 percent of them saw offer increases of 11 to 15 percent.
The adage “time is money” applies here, too: According to HomeAdvisor, staged homes spend between 33 and 50 percent less time on the market.
“The better a home presents, the more perceived value it has, which typically makes it sell faster and for more money,” says Tiberia. This is true in both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market, she adds. “Staging addresses many potential buyer objections, such as wall colors that are too specific, tricky floor plans or worn or outdated finishes.”
If you’re not sure whether staging makes sense for your home, ask your real estate agent for candid feedback on your property and the current market conditions in your neighborhood. Your agent should have a good understanding of how your home will look in the eyes of prospective buyers, and whether you need to spend on staging.
How to save on home staging costs
Here are some savvy strategies to save on home staging costs and keep more of your hard-earned money in your wallet:
- Get the ideas without paying to implement them: Many times, the home sellers stop at the consultation with a stager just to get ideas and then do some of the staging themselves, says Tiberia.
- Choose your rooms: See if you can negotiate with the stager to reduce costs by having only certain rooms staged.
- Ask about minimums: If you need to rent furniture, try negotiating how long you have to pay for it. Some designers have three-month minimums for furniture rentals. If your home flies off the market in a few days, you don’t want to be on the hook for unnecessary rental charges.
- Consider virtual-only: The cost to stage a home virtually is around 10 percent of what a physical staging would run you, according to New York-based virtual staging firm Barion Design.
- Clean up: Declutter and clean your home to make sure buyers can actually see what they’re potentially purchasing. Box up, clear out and spotlessly clean every surface to make it sparkle for tours. If you need to keep some items, you can rent a storage unit (although this can contribute to costs) or ask a friend or relative to store it in their basement or garage until you move.
- Paint it yourself: Painting interior walls with a white or off-white color can change things dramatically. And not hiring a pro painter — which comes with an average price of $1,900, according to HomeAdvisor — can help you save dramatically.
- Let there be light: A simple cleaning of the windows can help showcase your home’s natural light. Updating your lighting fixtures can also enhance rooms and make them seem more open, notes Tiberia. You can also add mirrors or lamps to help brighten things up.
- Move furniture away from the walls: This can communicate to buyers the ideal flow in each room, helping them envision how they can maximize the space.