You never have a second chance to make a first impression. 

With the gaining popularity of reality TV shows like Fixer Upper, Million Dollar Listing and Flip or Flop, many buyers have elevated expectations for their home shopping experience. A clean, well staged home can make a home more appealing and therefore more sellable. It can also help offset some unappealing areas of a home by helping the buyer see the home in its best light. This gives the appearance that the home has been well cared for and that translates into the perception of the home's value. 

What is staging? 

Different stagers have varying levels of services. If you were to see your home through a stager's eye, they would be looking for the best way to declutter your home, make it look bigger / cozier, contemporary, clean and desirable to the average buyer. That may mean that they offer those services or make recommendations. Those recommendations may also include painting suggestions, depersonalization, etc. 

Stagers can work with an empty house and do a full stage / partial stage or work with a full house and do partial staging where they take out furniture / decor and bring other furniture / decor in. 

Staging before and after photos

Staging before and after photos

Staging before and after designs

Before and after living room

Does staging really help sell a home? 

Real Estate Staging Association, homes which are staged before going on the market sell 90% faster, on average, than their non-staged counterparts.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) has the following infographic which shows strong results for staging.

Does staging really help sell a home faster and for more money?

How much does staging cost? 

While NAR claims that the average cost of staging is $675, I would love to see what that gets you. Here in the Tacoma / Olympia area, a well staged home could cost upwards of $1,500 to $2,500 and it depends on what your home is staged with (quality/quantity) and how long you rent it for.

Who pays for staging? 

Well, it's in the best interest of the home owner who is selling to stage their home and prep it for selling at the optimal price and for selling as quickly as possible. If, in fact, you could command at least 1% higher if you stage it before you list it and your home is, let's say, an average price of $300,000, then you stand to make $3,000 more if you stage. If it's 5%, then you could literally pay for your agent's commission with the $15,000 additional money you made from staging your home! You can see how the math goes up with higher priced homes. Many agents claim to only do staging for their higher priced homes - because it's an expectation. 

With such a hot seller's market, people can put on sub-par photos of a house and expect to get multiple offers, why should I stage? 

Again, staging means a bunch of different things, but the above statement isn't necessarily true. And, it's not doing home seller a service by shoddily marketing the property. Because... instead of 3 offers, perhaps you could have 5-6 and drive up the price even more or get better terms on the offers. But, at least you would have your pick. 

Poor real estate photos don't sell homes. Don't ever let a real estate agent tell you that they take pictures with their iPhones and it's good enough - "especially in this market." EXAMPLE: I had a client who wanted us to use her photos. She had good taste and a lovely home and truthfully, I don't think she wanted to get the house ready for professional photos. She provided me the photos and they were dark, didn't show off the features of the home (aka the flooring) and it looked crowded and small. Plus, the photos weren't crisp or at the right angles. 

My team and I came in and decluttered, added a few items and moved things around or out and had professional photos taken. The result was an all cash offer within 6 days. Afterwards the buyer told us that it was the hardwood floors that sold him on the house. He fell in love with them right away. Had we not removed the large rugs, moved out the furniture and taken professional photos, he wouldn't have been able to see the floors in all their true glory and we might have missed out on the best offer - which wasn't the highest (we had one $20,000 over ask)! 

Staging before and after living room

Staging before and after living room

And, remember, staging doesn't just apply to the inside! It's outside too... especially if you are selling the outdoor living aspect of the home. 

Staging before and after - patio

Before and after patio

The cost of NOT prepping / staging your home.

Lastly, I can't stress enough the cleaning/prepping part. I had a client that lost out on $4,000 during negotiations because they didn't get the carpets cleaned or have the exterior trim fixed and painted as recommended. If they would have done that in advance of listing, it would have net cost them under $2,000. Instead, it cost them $4,000.

Cost of not prepping your house for sale

In addition to the value perception and negotiations cost, as you can see in the RESA infographic above, the cost of not selling a vacant home (unless you own it outright), can be very costly. Even in this seller's market, houses do sit on the market for months. The longer your house sits on the market, the lower the price and weaker your negotiation position. All of that is a cost to you - the home owner.

If you only had enough money to either fix / clean or stage, which do you recommend?

I recommend fixing / cleaning - especially if it's an empty house. If it's an occupied house, I would go for fixing, cleaning and decluttering. 

Bottom line...

Your direct return will be a result of the effort you put into selling your home. It's a partnership between you and your agent. Your agent will be able to refer you to the appropriate resources to clean, prep and stage your home (inside and out). Pricing it right and getting as much exposure are the most important aspects of selling a home. Staging helps your agent price it and market it well. Consider selling your house with the right tools for success to begin with vs. trying to cut costs. This will save you tons of money and headaches in the long run!

Hopefully this article has been helpful to you!


Shane Klinkhammer
RE/MAX NorthWest
Call or text: 253-227-1609
shane at