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Home Staging 101: What is Staging and is it Necessary for Selling Your Home?

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.

You’ve seen pictures of gorgeous homes everywhere: in the pages of glossy magazines, online on Facebook, while perusing the Pottery Barn website, on HGTV. Your home needs to look like that before you sell it.


According to the National Association of Realtors, 31% of buyers increased their offer on a home 1-5% because the home was staged. 77% of buyers felt more able to see themselves moving into a staged home, and 40% were more willing to get in the car and visit a staged online find.

And, according to a study done by scientist Sandy Bond of Curtin University of Technology, Feng Shui (the act of arranging a home’s layout and furniture to make way for energy flow) has a positive effect on the sale price of homes.

If you’re flummoxed on how to stage a home, don’t know what home staging is, or need to know whether you’re up to the task or should call in a professional, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through it all.

  1. What is the definition of home staging?
  2. What does home staging entail? What does a home stager do?
  3. Is home staging even worth it?
  4. Can I stage my home myself?
  5. Ok, ok, I get it. How do I hire a professional home stager?

1. What Is Home Staging?

Home staging is the process of adding decor, rearranging furniture, and expertly dressing up the home to make it look stunning for listing photos and walkthroughs. Home staging is a marketing tactic that can make even the most dark, drab space feel bright, energetic, and homey.

The reason home staging is so important is that it can turn around a sale that otherwise wasn’t moving. It draws more buyers in from online listing photos and makes the home look like a space that Pottery Barn would feature in a catalog.

2. What Does Home Staging Entail?

If you are selling an empty home, in most cases you or your real estate agent will need to call in a professional home stager to bring in furniture and home decor to set up the space.

If you plan to live in your home during the selling process, most real estate agents recommend using your existing furniture and home decor to keep cost low.

A top agent experienced in home staging will be able to walk into your home and help you compile a list of everything you’ll need to do to stage your home. They might suggest that you:

  • Move around furniture to create a better layout that gives the illusion of more space
  • Use your existing home decor items like throw pillows, candles, vases, serveware, etc. to add homey touches that pull together the entire room
  • Clean, clean, clean until you can’t clean anymore
  • Reduce your personal items to ⅓ of what you had in each room before you decided to list the home to eliminate clutter
  • Add a reed diffuser to make your home smell amazing

Take a look at the below video for more examples of what your real estate agent might ask you to do when you stage your home.

3. Is Home Staging Worth It?

Home staging is absolutely worth doing, and for a variety of reasons. Let’s break down the home seller concerns that staging a home can ultimately solve.

I’m Worried My Home Won’t Sell for Top Dollar

The 2017 Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of Realtors found that 31% of potential buyers increased their offer on a home from 1-5% because it was staged. Take the current average national home price of $268,500, for example. Based on NAR’s survey, you could make $2,685 to $13,425 more on a home that’s been staged.

If your home is worth more, that just means you can make more in the long run.

What If No One Comes to See My House?

NAR also reported that home staging convinced 40% of potential buyers to go check out a house they had found on the web. That means staging your home will entice a ton more buyers to come check out your home after they saw your gorgeous listing photos. You have nothing to worry about!

What if Potential Buyers Don’t Get That “Homey” Feel?

Home staging made 77% of potential buyers more able to imagine themselves living in the house. That connection is essential to the purchase of a property: buyers don’t put in an offer unless they feel emotionally invested in a home. Staging helps it get there.

4. Can I Stage My Own Home?

Yes, but you’ll need some help. Even if you’re a professional interior designer, only an expert real estate agent or a professional staging company will know everything there is to know about staging your house to sell.

For example, top 1% real estate agent expert James Knurek took on a home that had been listed previously with two other agents and had not sold. After putting in some serious time and updates, Knurek called in the professionals.

“We brought a stager in and did a lot of painting…[the client] did have a lot of nice furniture. We did a lot of repositioning and hired a high end photographer. We just came on the market this week and I’ve taken a few people through there. I’ve gotten feedback from other agents that they open the door and think, ‘wow!’ Literally, someone said that! People came in and said…This is a showpiece home….it shows like a magazine.”

As you can see from this example, even Knurek, who is a pro home stager himself, brought in a staging team to tackle this particular home.

Want to see an example of a staged place? We put together a home staging before and after shot and will walk you through what went wrong in before and what worked for after.

Home Staging Before and After

before home staging
Source: (HomeLight)

What’s wrong with this home staging before shot?

  • The room is a total mess
  • TV is on
  • Scattered clutter
  • Dead, smelly flowers
  • Visible Wi-Fi router, other electronics
  • Pet bed and toys visible
  • There’s a dog!
  • Room is dirty
after home staging
Source: (HomeLight)

What we changed:

  • Cleared all clutter
  • Cleaned, wiped down, dusted, and disinfected all surfaces, and vacuumed
  • Removed all extraneous decor items
  • Opened the blinds for better natural light
  • Picked a few simple decor pieces for the coffee table
  • Removed all pet items and evidence of pets
  • Brought the pup with us as to ensure any prospective buyers afraid of dogs do not feel uncomfortable
  • Made sure all plants were well watered, alive, and well taken care of

Stuck? Call in a Professional

The best first step to getting home staging help is to chat with a real estate agent. Most top agents will provide you with a home staging guide specifically tailored to your space. They also should have a Rolodex of top professional staging companies they know are reputable and have worked with before.

Article Image Source: (ErikaWittlieb/ Pixabay)