How to Rent Furniture for Staging: A Guide for Home Sellers
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- 10-11 min read
Evette Zalvino Contributing AuthorCloseEvette Zalvino Contributing Author
Evette is just your average HGTV fan who dreams of having a home worthy of being on one of those shows. When she isn't writing for HomeLight, she's working at her local real estate office. In her downtime, you'll find her searching for the next great hiking trail in her area.
Christopher Rogacz Former Associate Editor, Seller Resource CenterCloseChristopher Rogacz Former Associate Editor, Seller Resource Center
Christopher Rogacz is an associate editor for HomeLight's Seller Resource Center based in Washington, DC. His background is in journalism, architecture, urban policy, and housing. He holds a master's degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.
There are more than 16 million vacant homes in the United States, so buyers will likely see an empty house or two during their house hunt. But, as a homeowner preparing their home for sale, having a real estate agent show an empty home could hinder the buyer’s ability to see the home’s potential. “If I walk into a vacant house and I believe buyers are going to have a challenge seeing the furniture layout in a room that’s small or awkward, I’m going to recommend staging right up front,” says Chris Pappalardo, one of the top 2% of agents in Greensboro, North Carolina. Investing in furniture rentals for staging isn’t just for the buyer’s benefit — it can be essential for sellers looking for a successful home sale.
The benefits of renting furniture for staging
On the surface, showing an empty house might seem a good idea because the space is clean and uncluttered, and buyers can see how much space the room has. Essentially, it’s a blank slate. An empty room feels cold and unwelcoming. Buyers find it harder to visualize how to use the room or their furniture.
Nicole Gittens, a New Vision Interiors and Events staging designer shares an example of how staging can change a room’s feeling.
In the “before” photo, you wouldn’t overthink about the built-ins in the previous photo because you might be too distracted by the big black fireplace. It doesn’t look like a room you’d be too thrilled to spend much time in. But in the “after” photo, the fireplace has been completely changed, and the furniture makes the room feel warm and inviting.
Now ask yourself, if you were looking at a listing and only saw photos similar to the “before” photo, would you see a future home? Whereas if you saw a listing and the photos looked like the “after,” you (along with 41% of buyers) may want to see the home in person. That’s the power of staging.
Another reason homeowners should stage their homes is buyers may offer more for your home. According to the National Association of Realtors®, 23% of buyer’s agents said staging a home increased the dollar amount buyer’s offered between 1% and 5% compared to similar homes that hadn’t been staged.
“Let’s say the furniture rental will be a minimum of $900. When the buyer walks in and sees where their furniture can fit into your house, they’re going to be excited,” says Pappalardo. “They may pay $5,000 to $10,000 more because they’re excited about the property, so $900 is worth it.”
Benefits of staging a house:
- A staged home grabs a buyer’s attention.
- Staged homes can sell 2 to 11 times faster than unstaged homes.
- Buyers can visualize how their furniture will fit within the space.
- Good staging makes for better photographs for marketing materials.
- Staged homes can sell for 1% to 20% above the price.
Choosing a good staging company
“Homeowners should be sure to choose a reputable company, as the quality of the furniture can make or break a sale. Furniture rental companies will often have package deals that include everything from sofas and chairs to bedding and rugs,” Chloe Hughes, the Editor-in-Chief at Foter.com, a premier architecture, decoration, interiors, and design website, says.
Investing in furniture rentals for staging your home doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The average cost to stage a home is $1,600, but it can range between $745 to $2,700. So the question is, what should you look for when hiring a furniture rental or staging company?
Alexis Peters, the Strategic Interior Design Advisor at Real Estate Bees who won the “Best Designer” award from the Academy of Interior Design in 2020 and has designed sets for Hollywood feature films, advises:
“When searching for a staging company, ask for all the options. Many companies will charge less for vignettes vs. styling an entire room. For instance, suggesting minor styling to a room can save the customer so much money because a vignette will only be minor items such as a chair and a lamp and pillow vs. styling a complete room top to bottom and still adds beauty to the space because it suggests what the room can be used for.”
A staging or furniture rental company usually offers different tiers of service. Here are two examples of what type of services home staging companies offer:
Home Styling by Alexis offers three service options:
- E-Design is a virtual consultation where:
- Inspiration Board is designed.
- A measuring appointment is scheduled.
- Design Board is created using EXACT pieces for the room.
- Furniture & decor links are sent, and YOU purchase all items.
- Once items arrive, YOU place them in the room.
- Local Design is an in-home service for homeowners in the Greater Chicago Area. This service features three design categories homeowners can choose from:
- The Blank Slate (starting from scratch)
- The Re-Design (some of your items will stay, but new items may be bought, too)
- Furniture Rearrangement (rearranges existing furniture for a new look and feel)
- The organization is a service to help you go through your belongings using either the KonMari® Method or the “1 room method,” where the organization is focused on just one room of your choosing.
MHM Professional Staging LLC offers three tiers of service:
- Home Staging service with rental furniture and also includes:
- Ambiance package: an aromatherapy pod and music player for your open house.
- Photo package: 30-50 high-quality interior and exterior images.
- Soft Staging service with accessories and artwork but no furniture rentals.
- Moving and Storage service where your belongings can be packed, moved, unpacked, or stored in a clean, safe, and secure unit for long-term or short-term storage.
Scott Langmack, the COO of Kukun, a source for top-notch real estate analytics and data, sums it up, “Home price ranges aside, the different service levels then apply to home much work is done. Is it a decluttering and new wall art only, without furniture? That’s one price. Do you include furniture in only the most important rooms — living room, family room, breakfast nook and primary bedroom? That’s another price. Do you move every single thing you own out of the house and re-set the house with everything? That’s the full price.”
How staging works
The logistics for home staging are going to vary from company to company. However, here’s the typical process of staging a home.
Step 1: Deep clean and declutter the home
“A deep clean is always a good idea whether the homeowner is living in the home or has already moved,” says Peters. “Clearing the home of family photos and unnecessary clutter is the best way to show a home while still living in it because it appears less lived in and clean, which is prettier to look at vs. a home full of personal items.”
Langmack adds, “The ‘new model home’ look is strikingly empty when compared to a well lived-in home. Your stager and potentially your Realtor® will be able to guide you on all the things to remove. The easy way to think of it is that you will be removing somewhere between 80% and 100% of your personal items. Get all your family photo’s off the walls — those are a signal that it’s someone else’s house and they really hurt buyer home adoption. Decluttering means everything, wall art, stuff on shelves, stuff in closets, furniture, area rugs. Everything.”
Step 2: Preliminary consultation
The first consultation (usually on the phone or virtually) with the furniture rental company or home staging professional to discuss the project’s scope and see if the company is a good fit for your needs. During the consultation, you’ll want to ask:
- What services do you offer?
- Can I see your portfolio of recent projects?
- Do you have any referrals or testimonials?
- What are your delivery and installation policies for rented furniture?
- Do you offer free consultations and/or pricing quotes?
- What are your terms for furniture rentals for staging?
- How comfortable are you working with design styles than what’s in your portfolio?
“Some staging companies want to charge as much as $1000 for an upfront consultation, which is hard because if you decide to go with a different firm, you have just paid a lot for very little in return. So avoid stagers who have high set initial consultation fees,” Langmack warns.
Note: During the initial consultation, this will be when you discuss the logistics regarding your furnishings, i.e., if you will use your existing furniture, if you’ll need to move it to storage yourself, or if moving and storing your belongings is a service the stager can provide.
Step 3: In-person visit
Schedule an in-person visit to see the house, the neighborhood, who the target buyer may be, and what design styles will work best. The professional will recommend which rooms should be staged and the best decor style for your home and the neighborhood. They will also present you with a proposal outlining prices, the arrangement terms, what items will be used to stage your home, and so on.
Step 4: Design and prep
During this time, the staging company will refer to the proposal to pull and prep the items from their inventory of furnishings and decor. Next, they’ll work off your home’s existing color scheme, finishes, and other architectural details.
Step 5: Staging
The exciting part of the process is finally here! The furniture rental company or home stager will come before the moving company to ensure everything is ready. When the movers arrive, the home stager will direct the movers where to assemble the furniture. After the large pieces are installed, the stager will go through and add finishing touches.
Step 6: Marketing
This step may or may not be included with your service package. Ideally, the company you’re working with will photograph your newly staged home. You’ll then be able to give the photos to your real estate agent, who will then use them for marketing your home.
Step 7: Packing up
Once everything is in place, the items will stay for however long you agreed to or until the home is sold (this will be outlined in the proposal). Then, the stager will make an appointment to de-stage the house when the house is sold. Then, they’ll come to your home and begin packing and removing everything you rented from the company.
Tips for DIY staging
“Renting furniture from rental companies has its pros and cons,” says Gittens. “Although rental companies typically have a vast inventory selection, their higher fees can add up in the long run.”
If you’re trying to stick to a budget and want to stage your home yourself, here are a few tips for staging the most important rooms, according to the NAR’s 2021 Profile of Home Staging report.
- Living room:
- Remove unnecessary furniture (keep sofa, coffee table, and two accent chairs)
- Replace dark curtains with gauzy neutral ones
- Update lighting and install LED bulbs
- Hang a large piece of art on the most prominent wall
- Main bedroom:
- Change bedding to light-colored neutrals to make the room feel fresh
- Add pillows and throw blankets
- Add a headboard if you don’t already have one
- Remove personal items and declutter closets
- Clean the refrigerator inside and out
- Clear counters except for a fruit basket, cookbook, or a vase of flowers (optional)
- Replace cabinet hardware, knobs, and sink faucet
- Declutter and organize cabinets and pantry
- Dining room:
- Update lighting and install LED bulbs
- Add a dining table and chairs
- Set the dining table with placemats, napkins, and a centerpiece
- Open window coverings to let in lots of natural light
- Outdoor space:
- Mow the lawn and trim bushes
- Decorate porch, patio, or deck with potted plants
- Add seasonal (but keep it simple and neutral) decor
- Replace mailbox and update house number
- Main bathroom:
- Recaulk where necessary
- Replace showerhead and sink faucets
- Clean grout if necessary
- Hide the wastebasket
- Hang clean towels and a new shower curtain in a neutral color
Furniture rentals for staging are a wise investment!
“Renting furniture from rental companies has its pros and cons,” says Nicole Gittens of New Vision Interiors and Events. “Although rental companies typically have a vast inventory selection, their higher fees can add up in the long run.”
However, when working with a professional stager, you can save money because the stager typically can get discounts on furniture rentals for staging. Whereas if you rent furniture directly from a furniture rental company, you’re more likely to pay a lot more!
“The benefit of working with a stager is that they will have their own furniture inventory or existing relationships with companies who rent items,” advises Gittens. “Stagers with their inventory can keep your costs down, especially if your rental needs to go beyond 30 days.”
Header Image Source: (Taylor Hernandez / Unsplash)
- "16 Million Homes Vacant in U.S.," National Association of Realtors® (March 2022)
- "Profile of Home Staging," National Association of Realtors® (2021)
- "Home Staging Industry Statistics," The International Association of Home Staging Professionals IAHSP® (2022)
- "How Much Does It Cost To Stage A House?," HomeAdvisor (January 2022)