Staging a home for sale is all about making it inviting to the largest number of potential buyers. If a home is vacant, a stager will haul in furniture and décor so buyers can imagine themselves living there. If it’s occupied, the stager will declutter, neutralize and decorate for the masses. (See the related slide show: Real-World Examples of Home Staging for Less Than $1,000.)
Staging won’t make a home sell for more than it’s worth. But it can set your home apart and boost the selling price to the top of the range for comparable homes. It can also cut the time on the market. Because nearly 90% of home buyers start their search on the Internet, staging is a good way to make sure online photos pop.
Home sellers spend an average of $1,800 to stage a home, but costs can range from a couple of hundred dollars to $5,000 or more. Here are six ways to stage your home for less than $1,000.
Virtually stage your vacant property. Virtual staging is aimed at online shoppers who may quickly lose interest in a slide show full of floors, ceilings and bare walls. Sellers or their real estate agents send pictures of the empty rooms — a 2- or 3-megapixel camera is all you need — to a virtual stager, who sends back images of the same rooms, tastefully furnished, for use online and in marketing materials.
Ethical stagers won’t alter the color of floors or walls, improve the view, change light fixtures or fix imperfections. Nor will they work from photos of furnished rooms because they don’t know what lurks under the existing rug or behind the real-life sofa. Still, for buyers, it goes without saying that there’s no substitute for an in-person tour.
Virtually Staging Properties, in Atlanta, charges $225 for three virtually staged photos, $280 for four and $325 for five. Send in a high-quality photo (at least 5 megapixels) and for $50 you can get an 8-by-11-inch paper enlargement to mount on the wall so that open-house visitors can see an empty room’s potential.
Virtual Staging Solutions, in Cranford, N.J., recently offered three virtually staged photos for $197.
Pay for a plan, do the labor yourself. Many stagers work as consultants, touring your house and offering suggestions on how best to present it. Barb Schwarz, a longtime home stager and founder of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, says the average fee for a consultation is $350 and often involves a tour of the property that lasts two hours or longer, photos and a 30- to 50-page report.
No Vacancy in Atlanta, Virtually Staging Properties’ sister company, charges $250 for a three- to four-hour consultation split over two days — the first to give you ideas and the second a couple of weeks later to suggest finishing touches. In Minneapolis, Lori Matzke, founder of Center Stage Home, charges $250 for a 90-minute walk-through. Customers are in charge of taking notes, so she encourages them to follow along with a video camera.
When working with a consultant, you do the cleaning, the decluttering and the trips to the dump, or rental of storage space. Load up an 8-by-8-by-12-foot or 8-by-8-by-16-foot portable storage unit from PODs, which will deliver the unit to your driveway for $75, transport it to a secure storage facility for another $75 and charge you a monthly storage fee of around $150, depending on where you live, the time of year and other factors.
Among the accoutrements of home you’ll need to jettison or stow: family photos, magazines, toys, cosmetics and other grooming supplies in the bathroom, and countertop appliances and cutting boards in the kitchen. “Pretend you’re camping,” says Schwarz. Leave only necessities, and store them in cabinets.