Staging a Home for Sale: The Cost, Reason & Value

Staged living room and kitchen area

Listing your home can elicit a lot of emotions. Excitement for a new adventure, sadness toward memories being left behind, even anxiety over the amount of money you’ll make (or lose) on the home sale. But it’s not just about you. Think about your home’s new owner. What emotions do you want them to feel, and how can you be sure they’ll feel that way as they walk through your home?

Enter home staging. A well-staged home is aesthetically pleasing. It’s inviting, it’s desirable, it’s comforting, and it’s sometimes pricey. So what are your options — and related costs — when it comes to home staging? Here’s what you need to know.

Home staging defined

Home staging is a strategy that allows you to showcase your home’s best assets. Your home looks its best without the added costs of renovation. Instead, a home stager can accentuate existing space with trendy decor and new furniture (all of which can be rented). The goal of home staging is to appeal to any and all buyers, setting yourself up for the best purchase offer.

The basics of home staging

Home staging is more than cleaning and decluttering, and it goes beyond interior design. It's about making space feel comfortable and inviting. If you’re not ready to hire a home stager but are interested in dabbling in some basic techniques, give these projects a try.

Make it less personal 

You want the prospective buyer to picture themselves in your home, so don’t let family pictures distract their vision. Replace tabletop photo frames with knick-knacks. Consider using a small mirror or wall sconce to replace framed wall photos. If it makes sense, leave the space empty. Less can be more.

Give each room a purpose 

Understand the latest color, accent decor, and room layout trends. Paint your main living area with neutral colors, but use pillows with bright colors as accents. Turn unused kitchen space into a breakfast nook. By creating space or provoking feelings of comfort, you make it easy for the prospective buyer to fall in love with your home.

Don’t forget about the home exterior

Curb appeal, well-kept landscaping, and a welcoming front entry can lure the right home buyer. So keep your home exterior clean, colorful, alive, and inviting!

Stage your home for less

Once you’ve completed the above “basic” projects, you may spark an interest in doing more. Don't let worries about money get in the way. There are affordable ways to stage your home without breaking the bank. Consider one (or some) of these strategies.

Stage important rooms first

You don’t have to stage every room in your home to enjoy the benefits home staging can offer. Start with the living room, followed by the master bedroom, and the kitchen. You’ll receive the most attention and the most value when it comes to your investment.


Are you handy or creative? Why not try your hand at staging? It may be an easy way to save time and money. Consider new rugs or window furnishings, maybe add a few mirrors or lamps. Find even more ideas by doing a simple “home staging” search on Pinterest.

Ask your Realtor® for help

According to the National Association of Realtors, 35% of Realtors have offered to personally stage their client’s home or have connected them to a home staging service. You may find a better value by using their services or using the company your Realtor recommends.

Alternatives to home staging

For those of you who are not convinced that home staging makes a difference in the home sales process, there are alternatives to consider. For example, you can:

Leave everything as is

Whether you’re a little biased toward your current home decor or you’re just uninterested in putting forth effort for a short-term change, leaving your home “as is” is perfectly fine. Prospective buyers are still able to walk through and see possibilities when it comes to interior design and use of home space.

Show your empty home

Maybe your next home was too good to be true, you just had to move everything in ASAP. It could be a shorter commute to work, or much needed extra space, even a cross-country move. All things considered; it would be helpful to have your bed, TV, and a couch or two. When you think about moving expenses, it may make the most sense to move everything at once versus a little at a time. If that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with having a Realtor® show your empty home, especially if you’re in a seller’s market where homes are moving fast!

Incorporate virtual staging

Virtual staging is exactly what it sounds like — it’s staging your vacant home through the use of technology. What makes it a great option? It’s less stressful for the seller, especially if they are not interested in having large furniture moved into and out of their home. As far as the prospective buyers go, it’s more useful than seeing an empty home. While they still see a physically empty home when visiting in person, they at least have the technology at their fingertips to see the home’s potential.

The value of home staging

In a recent Profile of Home Staging prepared by the National Association of Realtors, 22% of sellers' agents reported an increase of 1% to 5% of the the dollar value offered by buyers and 17% reported an increase of 6% to 10% in comparison to similar homes. That means if you’re listing your home for $350,000, 5% could be an extra $17,500 in your pocket and 10% could mean an extra $35,000.

You won’t just make money, though. You could also make “time.” According to a 2019 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Staging report, 28% of sellers’ agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market.

When you consider those results, you can say you get what you pay for when it comes to "staging investment.”

Where to start

Are you interested in professional home staging, but are not sure where to start? We always recommend asking your Realtor® for recommendations. You can also search online home staging directories to find accredited home stagers who are licensed and insured. It’s important to work with someone who is licensed and insured, so you have liability coverage in the event something (that doesn’t belong to you) gets damaged. Last but not least, be sure to check your selected home stager’s Google reviews and Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile. You can read recent customer reviews and be confident that the business you choose for home staging is highly rated and respected.

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