Dear Angie: Is home staging worth it? — Martha M., Smyrna, Ga.
Dear Martha: The answer, say highly rated real estate agents my team recently interviewed, is a definite "yes" — provided you don't overspend.
They agree that staging — setting up a home's furnishings and overall look to enhance buyer appeal — is just the ticket for helping homes sell faster and for more money than they might otherwise have garnered.
There are two general types of staging, both of which aim to help prospective buyers imagine themselves living in the home:
Reorganizing an occupied house. In such cases, a staging consultant offers ideas for decluttering and depersonalizing, often through "editing" and rearranging furnishings and accessories. The goal is to appeal to as many people as possible.
Decorating and furnishing an otherwise empty house. Agents say potential buyers have trouble envisioning themselves and their possessions in a bare environment.
Staging costs can range from $150 to thousands of dollars. At the lower end of the price scale, you might pay up to $500 for a home staging consultation.
You can spend significantly more, especially if you hire a stager to handle such work as painting, leasing furniture, etc.
Highly rated real estate agents say sellers can generally recover the cost of staging with a higher sales price, but they should avoid overspending. As one agent told our team: "A good stager will take what you have and make the most of it."
To find a reliable, experienced home stager, get recommendations from family, friends and real estate agents and check client experiences. Be aware that some real estate agents include a staging consultation in their package of basic services.
Ask a stager you're considering hiring whether he or she has special training or certification. Request and check references, and take time to review "before" and "after" photos of the stager's work.
If you're still unsure about staging's value, put it to the test. Place your home, unstaged, on the market. If you don't get a solid offer in a month, stage it and try again.