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February 13, 2024

How Much Does It Cost to Stage a House?

Home staging is a valuable technique for those who want to sell a property. Whether you’re selling your home or property on behalf of a client, understanding the costs associated with staging a home will help you make the best decisions when preparing a home to list.

In this article, we will break down the cost of staging a home. We will cover different techniques that realtors and sellers can use to stage a home for sale, ranging from low-cost do-it-yourself options to done-for-you professional services.

What is Home Staging?

Home staging is an interior decorating technique that real estate professionals and sellers use to make a home more appealing to potential buyers.

With home staging, the goal is to curate the space so prospective buyers can picture themselves living there. The purpose is to attract more buyers and increase the sale price of a property.

Typically, this involves adding and removing furniture and decor to create a neutral space. If the house is occupied, personal items, clutter, and signs of pets should be removed.

If the house is vacant, you’ll need to bring in furniture. Throughout this process, you should also invest in deep cleaning and make any minor repairs.

The Benefits of Home Staging

The overarching benefit of home staging is that it helps market your home more effectively. It typically improves the property's value by 1% to 5%, but in some cases, the value can increase by as much as 17%.

It helps prospective buyers see the property as a potential home for their families. In fact, 81% of buyer’s agents report that a staged property makes it easier to visualize the house as a future home. Plus, a beautifully staged home reinforces the idea that the house is move-in ready.

A staged home also tends to decrease the property’s time on the market by as much as 87%, putting money in the seller's and agent's pockets much faster.

3 Options for Home Staging

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Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits of staging a home, we’ll break down the three options for home staging. We’ll take a look at traditional home staging, virtual staging with a designer, and virtual staging with AI.

1. Traditional Home Staging

Traditional home staging involves physically staging the property with furniture. Taking this approach is ideal when you aim to provide prospective buyers with a more immersive experience when touring the home.

Here, you can pay a professional stager to curate the home with owned or rented furniture or attempt to do it yourself. Doing it yourself is cheaper, but it’s worth going with a professional if you don’t have interior design experience.

Traditional staging is significantly more expensive than the other options discussed in this article. It is best suited for listings with higher asking prices since the potential return on investment is much higher than on a smaller listing.

What Does a Home Stager Do?

A home stager is a real estate professional with an interior design background who uses furniture and decor to create a neutral, appealing space to attract potential buyers. They may use pieces owned by the homeowner or rely on rented furniture and decor.

A home stager is not responsible for cleaning or repairing the property, but they may advise the seller or realtor on these things.

Investing in a home stager can be quite costly, so it’s crucial to vet your options thoroughly. When hiring a home stager, you should review their portfolio, read client reviews, and confirm their background, experience, and certifications.

2. Virtual Home Staging With a Designer

Virtual home staging is a more affordable approach where a designer uses software to digitally render an image to look like a beautifully staged room. Typically, the designer will need several photographs from various angles around the room, and the room may need to be completely empty and clean.

Using high-quality images with adequate lighting is imperative, so using a professional photographer is a best practice.

There are a few benefits of using virtual staging with a designer. The primary benefit is the lower cost of this approach. Rates will vary from designer to designer, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $19 to $79 per photo. Revision requests may cost more.

Another benefit to virtual staging with a designer is the turnaround time. Depending on your chosen designer’s availability, you could receive renderings in a few days.

This approach appeals to sellers who have vacated their homes but want to avoid physically staging them.

On that note, remember that virtually staged images are great for online listings, but they will leave prospective buyers touring an empty property if they visit in person.

3. Virtual Staging with AI

Virtual staging with AI is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to stage a home. If you’re unfamiliar with AI algorithms, they can automatically detect and digitally stage rooms in a few seconds.

These tools are incredibly affordable and easy to use. Most tools allow you to simply upload a photo of a room and indicate the type of room (i.e., bedroom), and the image will be styled in no time. Some tools even give users the option to indicate style preferences.

This method is affordable because it’s algorithmically generated without any manual design. It’s extremely accessible since anybody can use it, regardless of their experience level. Plus, if you don’t like the staging of the rendered image, you can generate additional options in just a few more seconds.

While virtual staging with AI allows you to cater to buyers’ preferences and market trends to appeal to a broader range of prospective buyers, it’s not entirely without challenges. When interested parties visit the property, they won’t be able to see what they saw online in person.

However, real estate professionals can mitigate this hurdle by offering virtual tours and bringing technology (read: tablets) to showings so the buyers can visualize the space around them in the moment.

Virtual Staging with Virtual Staging AI

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One example of this technology is Virtual Staging AI. With this low-cost tool, generating perfectly styled images is extremely easy. The images rendered by Virtual Staging AI look sleek and realistic, making them ideal for online property listings.

Another remarkable aspect of this tool is that you can virtually declutter a room before staging it. This saves time if you’re virtually staging an occupied or furnished home.

The best part? You can test the product for free. Head over to the Virtual Staging AI home page, upload a photo, and choose a room type and style.

When you’re ready for images without watermarks, you can start with a Basic Plan and upload six photos a month for $12. At only $2 an image, that’s a fantastic investment for selling properties at any listing price.

Home Staging Costs and Factors

With the three types of staging in mind, let’s look at some specific cost factors that come with staging and preparing a home for sale.

Home Size and Layout

Size and layout are the number one factors to consider when staging a home. Obviously, a larger home with more square footage and rooms will cost more to stage since there is more space to prepare and furnish.

Typically, traditional stagers charge a flat consultation fee of up to $1000, then bill an additional $400 to $700 to design each room. Furniture rentals are another cost, but we will explore that shortly.

If you opt for virtual staging, these costs are significantly lower. Virtual staging with a designer costs an average of about $25 per image. If you only render one image per room, you’re looking at $25 per room. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll only request a single render per photo, and at $25 each, they add up fast.

Virtual staging with AI starts as low as $2 per image, so with the same formula, that would be $2 per room. And a huge bonus with Virtual Staging AI is that additional renders are free and unlimited, so you can feel free to look at all the options and pick your favorite.

Furniture Rental

Furniture rentals constitute a significant portion of the cost if you opt for traditional staging. Furniture rentals cost between $500 and $600 per room per month. Higher-end, luxury decor will cost more.

Professional stagers usually have connections with local furniture rental companies and may be able to leverage these relationships to get you a deal. However, keep in mind that any rental will be an ongoing monthly expense as long as your property remains on the market.

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As you consider furniture rental, also think about the art you'll display. The furniture rental company may also provide decor, but it may be worth partnering with a local artist interested in gaining exposure to their work. They may be interested in placing the art for free if they can sell their art to prospective buyers.

Depending on the listing price, you may purchase (rather than rent) furniture and sell the home furnished. This approach is more prevalent in higher-priced, specifically seven-figure listings.

Geographic Location

The cost of staging a house also depends on where you’re located. Some real estate markets are hotter than others, so staging costs vary quite a bit from place to place.

The average staging costs in some of the biggest cities around the country are as follows:

If you live in a rural area outside a major city, your traditional staging options may be more limited. Since the stager will need to travel and furniture rentals will likely need to be delivered from further away, additional fees may apply. Virtual staging is probably the way to go when local stagers aren’t available.

Repairs and Maintenance

Minor home repairs are essential in staging since they help eliminate any cosmetic issues.

Some repairs, upgrades, and maintenance to invest in before staging include:

  • Pressure cleaning the exterior (including siding, driveway, patios, etc.)
  • Updating electric receptacle and lightswitches as needed
  • Cleaning windows inside and out
  • Patching holes and painting
  • HVAC maintenance

Since the home-buying process is such a visual experience, it’s crucial to prioritize any visible repairs that may overshadow staging efforts. At the very least, you should add a fresh coat of paint wherever necessary.

You can do many of these things yourself to save on costs. However, it may be worth hiring a professional for more involved repairs. The bottom line is don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Whole-Home Staging vs. Room Staging

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One way to keep your home staging and furniture rental costs in check is by focusing on the most important rooms in the house, including the primary bedroom, kitchen, living room, home office, and dining room. The kitchen and primary bedroom are the two biggest hotspots in the home, but the other living spaces we mentioned are also significant.

If you are staging a large house, you can use virtual staging to stage other rooms, such as spare bedrooms, laundry rooms, etc. This will help you cut costs significantly.

Although those rooms will be empty when prospective buyers come to see the property in person, they will optimize the online listings by showcasing the potential of each room.

Home Occupation Status

The cost of staging will vary based on whether or not a home is occupied. Since an unoccupied home is probably empty, it’ll cost more to stage since you’ll need to rent furniture.

If the house is occupied, you can work with the existing furniture for the staging. You may need to supplement with some rental furniture, but it won’t be as expensive as furnishing an empty home.

However, it’s worth noting that staging a furnished home may require some of the occupant’s items to be put in storage. We’ll talk more about that in the next section.

Storage Unit Rental

Decluttering is a significant part of home staging. However, since prospective buyers typically like to look in closets and other storage spaces throughout the property, shoving your excess belongings in these spaces isn’t a great option.

The solution: rent a storage unit.

The cost of a storage space typically depends on its size, the security provided, and whether or not it has climate control.

The average cost of a storage unit is $180 per month. Many storage facilities charge administrative fees at the start of the lease.

If a homeowner sells their primary residence, they’ll move after the home sells. In this case, renting a storage pod that can move with them when they go may be worth it. Of course, you’ll have to consider the appearance of this item outside of the home, but it is practical for many sellers.

Labor and Other Professional Services

Labor is a significant cost to factor in when getting a home ready to sell. You’ll pay a fee for professional services, including a designer (for virtual staging) or stager (for traditional staging).

However, you may need to invest in various other professional services in addition to staging to prepare your property for sale. These could include cleaning, painting, photography, and more.

The costs vary for each of these services depending on the scope of each project and the experience of the professional rendering the service. Again, the cost of these services will depend on the home's size, location, and so forth.

It’s worth getting quotes from multiple service providers to find the best deal and a professional who best fits your project.



Who Pays For Staging a Home?

When it comes to determining who will foot the bill for staging, there’s no set standard. Sometimes, the seller will pay for it. Other times, the seller’s agent will cover the cost.

It’s also possible that both parties will split the cost. In some situations, the real estate agent may pay for the initial consultation but leave the remainder of the bill to the seller.

Some financial institutions offer deferred home staging loans, which allow either party to finance the staging of the property without paying until the home closes. With this approach, the loan is paid through escrow at closing.

Another common practice is for the realtor to reimburse the seller for the contribution they agreed upon at closing once they’ve received their commission.

Since this could go in several directions, sellers and their agents must discuss this before signing the listing agreement. Depending on the scope of the staging needs, it may be worth including a breakdown of the financial responsibilities in the listing agreement.

Are Home Staging Costs Tax Deductible?

In many cases, home staging costs are tax-deductible.

However, before you spend a large amount of money in hopes of a sizable deduction, it’s vital to consult your accountant to learn how much you can deduct and how the expenses should be documented to ensure the deduction.

It’s also worth noting that not all investments associated with staging are deductible. For example, most people believe some minor repairs fall under the general staging umbrella, but the IRS may disagree. Your accountant is the best source of information on these nuances.

Depending on your accountant’s advice, you can determine the most beneficial budget for your home staging from a tax perspective.

Is Staging a Home Worth the Cost?

Earlier, we discussed some of the major benefits of staging a home. Now that you have a better idea of what it could cost to stage your home, you may wonder if it’s worth the investment.

The answer here isn’t black and white. Determining whether the costs associated with staging a home are worth it depends on how much you expect to make on the sale and which staging method you want to use.

A small property listed for $200,000 probably doesn’t warrant the investment in traditional staging because the ROI won’t be as great as it would be on a seven-figure listing.

We covered a few statistics earlier on how staging a home can help sell it faster and for a higher price, typically resulting in a sale price of 1% to 5% higher than if it hadn’t been staged. If you can keep your staging costs below this range, you should have a positive return on investment.

You can conduct a cost-benefit analysis on each of the staging factors we’ve covered to determine what is valuable and necessary for your listing. Look at each factor through the lens of your own situation. If you are a seller, don’t be afraid to consult with your realtor as you weigh your options.

The Right Cost-Benefit Ratio

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to staging a house. Understanding the costs involved will help you identify the right cost-benefit ratio and make informed decisions when selling a home.

As you approach these decisions, it’s essential to remember the options you have available. Virtual staging is a great way to keep your expenses in check, and traditional staging is valuable if you focus on creating a more immersive experience during tours.

It’s time to save money by leveraging virtual staging software. Go to Virtual Staging AI’s home page and upload an image to try the technology for free.