Here’s exactly how much home staging costs — and when it’s worth it

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If you’re selling your home, you want to help buyers picture themselves living in it. Home staging is one of the best ways to do that, helping to make your place stand out in online searches, shine during open houses and secure competitive offers sooner.

How much does home staging cost?

Home sellers typically pay somewhere between about $590 and $2,210 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 as much as $6,000.

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 your home — 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. 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 0.75 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 be $2,400.

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.”

Virtual staging is a cheaper option, with some companies doing renderings of rooms as inexpensively as $35 a room, says Tiberia, who typically does a combination of occupied and vacant staging. For buyers browsing online, those virtual staging efforts can help entice them to see the property in person.

How home staging works

Eighty-two percent of buyer’s agents report that home staging makes it easier for homebuyers to visualize a property as their future home, according to the National Association of Realtors 2021 Profile of Home Staging. Home staging offers a new outlook on your home, and each stager offers their perspective and different services. Some offer services like shopping and incorporating recommended items, such as a new shower curtain, accent pillows and 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:

  • Discuss how best to furnish a space and recommend which furniture should be removed or added, along with accessories, art and styling items.
  • Point out any noticeable repairs or maintenance issues.
  • Recommend best spaces within the house to be staged, particularly in vacant staging. Not all rooms need to be staged, typically.
  • Advise homeowners on defining ambiguous spaces and how to stage them. Some homes with extra rooms or funky floor plans can be solved by creative staging and furniture placement.
  • Talk about removal or changes to window treatments to lighten a space.

With virtual staging services, on the other hand, 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:

  • Paint color and floor changes
  • Removing existing furniture from a photo and adding in digital images of new furniture, artwork, plants and more
  • Changing the visual views from the windows

Is home staging worth it?

Several studies have shown home staging can be a worthwhile investment.

Eighty-five percent of staged homes fetched offers between 5 percent and 23 percent over list price, according to 2020 data from the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), and by investing 1 percent of the home’s value in staging, 75 percent of sellers saw a return between 5 percent and 15 percent.

Similarly, 23 percent of buyer’s agents in the NAR report indicated staging helped increase offer amounts anywhere from 1 percent to 5 percent.

The adage of time is money applies here, too: According to HomeAdvisor, staged homes spend between 33 percent and 50 percent less time on the market.

“In either market, a buyer’s or seller’s market, the better a home presents, the more perceived value it has, which typically makes it sell faster and for more money,” says Tiberia. “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.

Tips to stage a home for sale

While home staging is often well worth the cost, it’s still an expense. Here are some savvy strategies to save money:

  • Get the ideas without paying as much as you need to. 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. This could be an option for you if you’re looking to save considerably.
  • 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, you might need to negotiate 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 five days, you don’t want to be on the hook for unnecessary rental charges.
  • Consider virtual-only. Virtual home staging costs around 10 percent of what a physical staging will run you, according to New York-based Barion Design, a virtual stager.
  • 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. Otherwise, you can give items away or sell them.
  • Do the paint job yourself. Painting interior walls yourself (hiring a painter comes with an average price of $1,750, according to HomeAdvisor) with a white or off-white color can change things dramatically. You might also want to hire a professional window cleaning company to help showcase your home’s natural light.
  • Let there be more light. Updating lighting and fixtures can enhance rooms and make them seem more open, notes Tiberia. You can also add decor such as mirrors or floor and table lamps.
  • 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.

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