The last time you showed a buyer a model home, it was undoubtedly staged to show off the home’s potential. So why don’t all sellers stage their homes to sell?

It comes down to cost. Individual sellers are unwilling to shell out thousands of dollars to fill a home with new furniture, re-paint the walls and hang neutral paintings. It’s difficult to see how re-decorating their well-loved space will recoup their investment.

How does the seller know if the investment will pay off?

High-tier home sales benefit the most from home staging. When dealing in the many hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, a few thousand spent to spruce up the space won’t make much of a dent in the seller’s profit. Further, when considering the loss experienced due to a price reduction, the cost of home staging can be well worth it.

One rule of thumb when deciding whether staging will pay off is to compare the staging costs with the price reduction that will need to occur if the home continues to sit on the market. For example, consider an empty home that has sat on the market for 60 days. You suggest reducing the asking price by $20,000. Or, before reducing the price the seller can try staging, which will cost $5,000. While both choices will reduce the seller’s profit, staging is the less costly option.

Types of staging a seller may complete — or hire a staging company to complete — include:

  • renting furniture in an empty house, or a home with outdated furniture;
  • refurbishing cabinets;
  • painting;
  • updating appliances;
  • adding plants to the interior;
  • hanging art;
  • replacing fixtures;
  • adding window treatments;
  • replacing carpet;
  • sprucing up landscaping and outdoor spaces; and
  • adding crown molding.

These improvements will cost anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. Anytime a professional needs to be hired to make home improvements, it starts to get expensive. Do-it-yourself fixes like painting are cheaper, but extremely outdated houses often need a professional touch.

Or, if the seller’s home is furnished and they want to save, a simple consultation with a professional stager will help the seller know what pieces to move (or remove) and what other small touches they can make on their own to help it sell. This service typically costs about $200.

Ultimately, whether a home will benefit from staging depends on each home. As agents, your instinct — born from experience — is usually right.

Agents: In what circumstances do you suggest home staging for your clients? When do you think it’s worth the extra cost? Share your experiences in the comments below!