Skip to Main Content

Home staging: What it is and how to know if it’s right for you

A master bedroom with beach-inspired decor
LOOK Photography/Getty Images

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

Your home might feel perfect for you, but what you care about doesn’t really matter when selling it. Instead, you need to think about how to give the property a shine that’ll immediately catch the eyes of prospective buyers, who will likely use the space in different ways. One of the ways to do that is by home staging.

What is home staging?

Home staging involves dressing up your home to make it look and feel better to homebuyers. Rather than leaving your home as you use it on a regular basis, a professional home stager works to transform the environment into a more appealing layout designed to wow anyone thinking about spending the money to make it their own.

Types of home staging

There are different options for home staging for various budgets and needs. Traditionally, it involves renting furnishings and decor, along with decluttering and organizing, to reimagine the layout and look of the home.

Not every home needs a complete makeover, however.

“Homes in good condition may already contain tasteful decor and trendy furniture that suits the style of the home,” Erin Shinn, a Realtor with RE/MAX Key Properties in Oregon, says. “Unlock all the potential by hiring a stager to declutter and remove personal belongings that help enhance the home for professional photography and video.”

Your real estate agent can help you find a company to help remove some of the clutter in your space.

Nowadays, you can also use software to virtually stage your home for better listing photos online.

“If the home you are selling is vacant, consider virtual staging to help make listing photos pop and to help buyers envision themselves in your home,” says Shinn. “Virtual staging is typically a fraction of the cost of traditional staging.”

How much does home staging cost?

How much you’ll pay for a home staging service depends on the type of staging, the size of the home and the time it stays on the market. HomeAdvisor data pegs the average cost of home staging at $1,600, which includes decor and furniture rentals. According to the home improvement website, staging a 2,000-square-foot home with furnishings typically costs $2,000 a month.

“Cost savings can be found by staging only the most important areas inside a home,” says Shinn. “Consider staging the living room, kitchen and primary suite. Sellers can also expect to save on long-term staging costs because homes are selling quickly.”

Benefits of home staging

While home staging will cost you some cash, the investment can be well worth it. Here are the pros:

  • Your home could sell faster: Staged homes look better, so buyers might want to close and move in quickly. In fact, HomeAdvisor estimates that staged homes spend between 33 percent and 50 percent less time on the market.
  • Your home may command a higher price: Data from the National Association of Realtors shows that staging a home can lead to more money, with 23 percent of buyer’s agents reporting that it increased the dollar amount of offers between 1 percent and 5 percent. In some cases, staging can even lead to supersized gains. “One of our best projects had a projected sale price of $1.195 million,” Jason Saft, a real estate agent with Compass and founder of New York City-based staging firm Staged to Sell, says. “We staged this home and it sold for $1.701 million with close to 20 offers, many of them sight-unseen.”
  • Your home might stand out more online: If buyers can’t see the property in person, the pictures and video are going to need to tell the story. Staging can help do the trick. “In an age of FaceTime showings and offers being made sight-unseen, having a properly staged home is critical to achieving the highest ROI for sellers,” Saft says.

Is it necessary to stage? 

Ultimately, figuring out if home staging is necessary relies on being honest with yourself about your home — a hard thing to do since it’s, well, yours. You might not be able to admit that your living room furniture is outdated or the extra chairs in your guest bedroom make it look really small. Ask your real estate agent for input on how the interior of your property stacks up to similar homes.

It’s important to note that interest rates are rising, which means that prospective buyers are going to pay more money for their mortgages. Home staging can be the spur that helps convince someone your property is their dream home.

Is home staging worth it? 

The return on investment with home staging will reveal itself when you learn your bottom line. For example, if you pay an average $1,600 to stage your home, and you wind up with offers $10,000 above your listing price, you might consider the investment a good move.

If you’re thinking about hiring a home stager, ask to review photos of their recent work and for any information on how quickly those homes sold, and for how much. Do some research on your local market to get a feel for the pulse of buying activity. For example, are listings being snapped up within a few days?

“Look at the average price point in your neighborhood, and do the math to help you make a good decision when deciding to stage your home and which option makes the most sense for you when considering listing your home for sale,” says Shinn.

Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Mortgage editor