Stage Your Home for a Faster Sale

Apr 1, 2013

Imagine a $300,000 home that languishes on the market for six months. The seller and real estate agent become frustrated and consider dropping the price $15,000 (5%). Now imagine investing only a fraction of that sum in staging and selling the home much faster.

That’s the value of staging, which is not decorating. “Decorating is personalizing your home, staging is depersonalizing the house to show it as a product,” explains Barb Schwarz, president and CEO of

According to Schwarz, that means creating space and providing inspiration so they can imagine the home as their own. She offers seven “Cs” to staging success:

  1. Clean—you may be used to certain odors in your home (pets, smoking, cooking, and even mildew), but they will send a potential buyer out the door. Cleanliness, down to the smallest detail, is crucial: Help give buyers confirmation the house is well cared for.
  2. Clutter-free—fewer pieces of furniture makes a room seem larger, ditto for outdoor spaces. ”Clutter eats equity,” explains Schwarz.
  3. Color—go for neutral walls and “movable” color accents (area rugs, artwork, bedspreads, towels, toss pillows and throws).
  4. Creativity—choose focal points for each room and arrange creatively, using three to five items and thinking about three visual levels (tall, medium and short). Set scenes a dining room table set for a romantic dinner, a board game in the family room.
  5. Compromise—invest for maximum value. If your bathroom floor is pink, but the kitchen floor is brown tile or vinyl and cracked, replace the kitchen floor and go retro with the bathroom.
  6. Communicate—if you use a professional stager (see below), communicate your goals to the stager and your real estate agent so everyone works together.
  7. Commit—don’t stage one room or area. “Detail your house like you’d detail your car…go all the way!” advises Schwarz.

Get Help

If cleaning, de-cluttering and the rest sound like a lot of work, consider hiring a home staging consultant. You may find a consultant in your area by going to the website, For $250 to $500 the consultant provides recommendations you can do yourself. Most also offer an option to come back and “fine tune” (for a small fee). With this arrangement, the stager can place the home on The International Association for Home Staging Professionals’ website at no additional charge, giving the seller one more marketing channel.

To have the stager do the work outlined in the plan ranges from $500 to $5,000+ or more, for large houses with many rooms/floors, etc. If rental furniture needs to be brought into a vacant house, that adds to the total fee of the bid and fee. There may also be one-time fees for staging and de-staging the home, once it’s sold.

Because You’re Worth It

Schwarz thinks it’s worth the investment. “A house that does not appeal to buyers will sit on the market for months and often will require a significant price reduction to eventually sell. Staging is an investment that will set your home apart and help you sell faster.”

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