TLDR: Hire a stager when your property is already stylish, vacant, clean, and ready to be photographed.

Staging is adding trendy furniture and decor to a vacant house in order to enable buyers who are walking through to better envision their own furniture in the house, and to provide a better sense of the house's size. Rooms can often feel bigger with furniture in them, which is almost always a plus for buyers. You'll want to hire a stager after cleaning and repairs have been completed, but before you schedule a photographer so that the rooms will be decorated in the photos that buyers see. 

How does staging work and how much does it cost?

First, you'll need to call up a stager and ask for a quote. A standard price we've seen is between $1,300-$1,500 for two to three months, which tends to include furnishings for the living room, dining room, kitchen, office, bathroom, and a bedroom or two. You can always opt to stage more rooms if your house is larger and would benefit from additional furniture, but that is a common offering. 

If you agree to those terms, someone will typically walk through your house to get a feel for the existing space and provide examples for what the space will look like after it's staged. If you agree, you'll decide on a date for staging and sign an agreement. If your house doesn't sell in that timeframe, you'll either need to extend the contract or notify the stager that you won't be adding additional time to the contract. It is customary for stagers to request 30 days notice before picking up their furniture, so you'll need to decide in advance how long you'll want to keep the staging.

Fun Fact

Nowadays, staging can be done virtually by adding in furniture and decor to rooms after photos have been taken. While this doesn't do much for buyers walking through the house, it can certainly add appeal in photos of vacant spaces and lure buyers to walk through the house in the first place. While not as good an option as a traditional stager, this option can be significantly cheaper than hiring an actual stager, who must actually do the work of transporting furniture and staging a property. 

When should I stage the house? 

If your house is vacant, clean, and already relatively stylish in terms of current trends, we'd recommend staging your property. Most stagers do not possess furniture that will accentuate a '70s style baby pink or blue-tiled bathroom, so we wouldn't recommend spending money on staging that won't improve the current look and feel of the house (If you wait enough years, that style may come back though!). How do you know if your property is stylish? We’ll answer with another question: do people compliment your home decor? You can also look to popular home improvement magazines or websites, get an idea of the hottest styles from HGTV, or look at the latest trends for new construction on sites such as Zillow or Trulia. 

How do I stage the property myself?

This is a good rule of thumb: remove all excess furniture and clutter. Use only furniture that will allow buyers to more accurately gauge the size of the rooms in your home. You can put your belongings away into storage, or move them into your new house. Either way, most properties show better with just enough furniture to demonstrate the size of the space.