Understanding How Home Staging Works

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Real Estate

If you’re planning to sell your house, you may need to consider home staging to increase the chances of a successful sale. In a slow real estate market, simple steps like putting up a for sale sign may not be enough to attract potential buyers. Home staging involves organizing furniture and decor to showcase a house for sale. It can be as simple as cleaning and decluttering, or it may require some financial investment like painting and adding new furniture to give buyers an idea of what their new home could look like. However, it’s not decorating but rather depersonalizing a home to enable prospective buyers to imagine themselves living there. This could include removing family photos, newspapers, and even the cat’s litter box, and adding neutral-colored paint and carpet and new appliances. Home staging has become a popular way of increasing a home’s selling price and decreasing selling time.

Hiring a Home Stager

Professional home stagers are known as Accredited Staging Professionals (ASPs). They often have their own supplies, including furniture, rugs, and art, which reduces the time and money spent looking for neutral items. They also provide objective insight. Your real estate agent could be able to help you stage the home, or recommend a stager. While adding another person to the mix may not be feasible for those already strapped for cash, many sellers end up lowering their price about $5,000 to $10,000 from the initial offering, making the average home-staging fee of around $500 to a few thousand dollars for a home that’s priced at less than a million dollars worth it. However, if extensive staging is necessary, like new paint and furniture or expensive landscaping, that price can quickly go up.

To find a home-staging professional, you can ask your real estate agent or search online, but make sure to check their credentials and references. Alternatively, you can stage your home yourself by following some tips from the pros. One trick is to place ice cubes on furniture dents on the carpet, which will lift the fibers when the ice melts. If you’re going DIY, ask for honest opinions from family and friends, as they can provide objective feedback. Most homeowners are too personally attached to their home’s contents to be objective. According to professional home stagers, you don’t need to spend much money on extra furniture and accessories, except if you’re selling a multimillion-dollar property, have outdated appliances, or extreme color in your home. Renting upscale furniture and investing in neutral paint and floors can do wonders. Also, renting storage space is a good investment to free up space for buyers to see the home. To enhance the home’s exterior or “curb appeal,” consider what you see from across the street.

The outside of a house can be staged by trimming hedges, trees, and grass to create a “framed” appearance, similar to a photograph. Messy hedges can be shaped to look more uniform, and flowers can be added for color. It’s best to limit the number of colors used on the house to three, or even just two, if possible. If painting isn’t an option, pressure-washing can help spruce up the exterior. Artificial flowers, shrubs, and trees can be added to create a more inviting atmosphere, and spray-painting dead patches of grass can give it a more vibrant look. The yard should be well-maintained, with toys and pet accessories removed. Staging the interior of a home involves cleaning every nook and cranny, including under countertops, grout between tiles, and even closet interiors. A professional cleaning service may be worthwhile. Home staging courses are available online, with Staged Homes being the only one that trains accredited staging professionals.

When staging your home for sale, it is important to sell the space rather than the items in it. This means removing all personal items, such as family photos and memorabilia, to prevent potential buyers from getting distracted. Some stagers even suggest removing mirrors to avoid buyers getting sidetracked, while others argue that mirrors can make a room look larger. Clearing kitchen counters of appliances is also recommended to sell counter space instead of the appliances. After decluttering, you may be left with empty walls, but cheap art can be found outside and framed to fill the space. Depersonalizing bathrooms by replacing personal hygiene items with plants or pottery is also recommended.

Furniture should be arranged in a way that makes it easy for potential buyers to navigate the room. This may involve removing furniture and paying attention to the overall balance of the room. Grouping decorative items in threes at varying heights is also recommended to make them pleasing to the eye but not overwhelming.

Maximizing natural light is important, so opening curtains and shades is recommended. If weather permits, opening windows can also let in fresh air and remove any lingering scents. Turning on all the lights in the house can also make rooms appear brighter and larger.

According to some professionals, staging a home can bring in 6 to 20 percent more than an unstaged home. In a slow market, it may be important to retain as much of the original price as possible, and home staging can help with that. Professional home stagers usually charge less than a 3 percent reduction in home price after a few months on the market. 91 percent of homes staged by accredited professionals sell in one month or less, which could save homeowners from a price reduction.

According to most reputable stagers and real estate agents, staging can only do so much to sell a house. If no one is coming to look at the property, it is likely due to the price being too high. However, if many people are interested but not making offers, staging can help incentivize them. A more attractive presentation can help buyers envision the value of the home. Check out the links on the following page for more information on home staging.

When staging an open house, use your senses to make the home more inviting. Stagers suggest baking bread or cookies to create a comforting aroma that makes buyers feel at home. Additionally, providing freshly baked treats and coffee can encourage visitors to stay longer and consider the property. This article was originally published on January 17, 2008.

Common Questions About Home Staging

Is it worth staging a home for sale?

Home staging has become an essential step for sellers, whether they plan to do it themselves or hire a professional. Removing personal touches from a home allows potential buyers to envision themselves living there, resulting in faster sales and often higher prices. According to Stagedhomes.com, a staged home can sell for 6 to 20 percent more than an unstaged home.

Do you need certification to become a home stager?

There is no mandatory certification or licensing required to become a professional home stager. However, taking a three-day course at Stagedhomes.com to become an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP) can be beneficial in many ways.

What is the cost of staging a home for sale?

According to Realtor.com, the average cost of home staging is between $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation and $500 to $600 per staged room per month, but this amount may vary depending on your location. If your home sells within a week or less, the final bill may be less, which is common in hot markets.

What is the salary of a home stager?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a specific category for home stagers but groups them under interior designers. The median annual salary for interior designers in May 2019 was around $56,000 USD.

What does the home staging process involve?

Home staging involves removing any personal touches and arranging furniture and d├ęcor to showcase the home for sale. Many professionals have their own supplies such as furniture, rugs, lights, art, and more that have a modern, clean, and mass-appealing look.

Learn More About Home Staging

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • How Selling a House Works
  • How Buying a House Works
  • How House Construction Works
  • How Feng Shui Works
  • What’s the one thing you can do to increase the value of your home the most?

More Great Links

  • Cost Vs. Value
  • “Designed to Sell”
  • Staged Homes
  • Home Seller’s Information Center


  • Barta, Patrick. “How to Decide When to Lower Your Price.” The Wall Street Journal Guide to Property. http://www.realestatejournal.com/columnists/housetalk/20031107-barta.html
  • Center Stage Home. http://www.centerstagehome.com
  • “Designed to Sell.” http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_hdts/
  • Doerfler, Sue. “Staging the Sale: A professional makeover can add sparkle to houses that linger on the market.” Arizona Republic, Nov. 4, 2006.
  • Hodges, Jane. “Staging: A home makeover in a few hours.” Seattle Times, Aug. 26, 2007.
  • National Association of Realtors. http: www.realtor.org
  • Owens, Donna M. “Setting the Stage: In a buyer’s market, smart home sellers know the right scenery can make all the difference.” Baltimore Sun, Oct. 21, 2007.
  • Remodeling Online. http://www.costvsvalue.com/index.html
  • Schwarz, Barb. “Home Staging: The Winning Way to Sell Your House for More Money.” 2006.
  • StageHomes.com. http://www.stagedhomes.com
  • Stark, Judy. “Identify the values in remodeling.” St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 15, 2007.


1. What is home staging?

Home staging is the process of preparing a home for sale by making it more attractive to potential buyers. It involves arranging furniture, decluttering, and adding decorative elements to create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.

2. Why is home staging important?

Home staging is important because it can help sell a property faster and for a higher price. By making the home more visually appealing, potential buyers are more likely to be interested and willing to pay a higher price.

3. Who can benefit from home staging?

Anyone who is selling a home can benefit from home staging. Whether it’s a homeowner trying to sell their property or a real estate agent trying to sell a client’s property, home staging can help make the home more attractive to potential buyers.

4. What are some common home staging techniques?

Common home staging techniques include decluttering, rearranging furniture, adding decorative elements such as plants and artwork, and creating a focal point in each room. It’s also important to make sure the home is clean and well-maintained.

5. How long does the home staging process take?

The length of the home staging process can vary depending on the size and condition of the home. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to complete.

6. Do I need to hire a professional home stager?

While it’s not necessary to hire a professional home stager, it can be helpful. A professional home stager can provide expertise and experience in creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that will appeal to potential buyers.

7. How much does home staging cost?

The cost of home staging can vary depending on the size and condition of the home, as well as the extent of the staging. On average, home staging can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

8. Is home staging worth the investment?

Yes, home staging is often worth the investment. By making the home more visually appealing, potential buyers are more likely to be interested and willing to pay a higher price. In many cases, the cost of home staging can be recouped through a higher sale price.

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