I must admit that when I decided to sell my condo, I was pretty firm on the decision not to stage my home. I had this idea and belief that staging your home was a complete waste of money, and that it was an overpriced expense that you don’t need. I wondered: Is staging your home worth it?
Is Staging Your Home Worth It?
Even if I changed my mind, if I were going to stage it, I thought, I would just do it myself. I didn’t want to pay a company thousands of dollars to rent a few pieces of furniture here and there to make a home look contrived.
Then, my sister in law, who is very budget savvy and excellent with cost savings and making sure she gets value out of every purchase she makes, staged her condo and sold it (very quickly, though this was in 2018 when the market was pretty good). I was surprised that she would spend thousands of dollars to stage her condo. I admire her ability to save money, she is much better than me at saving money.
When it came time for me to sell my condo, I decided to have an open mind given the poor real estate market I was in (2019). My realtor recommended that I stage my condo. I take a realtor’s advice with a grain of salt though, because no one cares more about selling your home more than you.
Anyway, in the end, I decided to have an open mind and obtain quotes, since the home staging companies provide complimentary home staging quotes if you have an empty home without furniture in it. I decided not to stage it myself because I had absolutely no time and energy with two young children to take care of.
Benefits of Home Staging
There are benefits to staging your home to sell it. Because buying a home (especially if you are buying it for yourself and are not simply buying a rental property) is both a logical experience and an emotional experience, staging your home is like putting your home’s best face forward.
Staging your home is analogous to contouring your face when you are applying makeup.
The potential buyer wants to be able to visualize and imagine themselves in the home. Part of the real estate buying process is illogical and very visual.
You want a good first impression.
Moneysense states that the design and display products in home staging contribute a quarter of home sales. People want to see the functionality of the space. It’s very surface level improvement.
An article from Marketwatch cites a 2013 study comparing 170 properties on the market of staged and non-staged homes, and staged homes sold after 22 days on average and un-staged homes sold on average 125 days on the market.
That’s a big difference.
Cost of Home Staging
The cost of home staging varies depending on the size of your unit. In general, to stage a 1 bedroom, it was around $2000-$2800 from the quotes I obtained. Monthly costs after the first month is much less, usually half of what you paid for the first month, mine was around $800-900 a month (or in some cases it is the same as the first month’s cost). It can cost more or less depending on where you live and what home staging services are available.
What’s included when you stage your home?
Home Staging includes things like:
- Bed with bedding, pillows, bed frame
- Dining table, chairs
- Accent chairs
- Decorative pictures/ photo frames
- Coffee table books
- Cookbooks for your kitchen
- Patio furniture if you have a patio
- Beautiful fluffy white towels
Basically no detail goes unnoticed to make your home look more like a home (and less cluttered)!
The Process of Home Staging
It was easy to get a quote. All I did was a phone call and then made an appointment with a home staging designer to come by. I got quotes from 4 different companies. She did some measurements and gave some ideas or suggestions as to what she would put in the space and what size bed they would recommend for the bedroom. Then they sent a contract and we arranged a date for the move-in of furniture. That was pretty much it!
When it comes time to removing the furniture, another date is arranged and the move-out is done. My realtor was there to open the door for the stagers.
It was a very straightforward and headache free process.
Staging can be expensive and not something you want to invest in to sell your condo when you are already in a down real estate market. Here are some ways to save money on home staging costs.
Ways to Save Money on Home Staging Costs
Just Get the Pictures and Cancel
Essentially, because of the Internet and the ability to search for homes online, the most important thing about attracting a potential buyer are the pictures and the video (if any) that are visible on Realtor.ca or MLS.
Usually the home staging company charges you a first month’s fee (which includes the move in and move out fee), and then after that, they will charge you biweekly or monthly from then on. To save money on home staging costs, you could make sure you just pay for the first month and cancel afterwards.
I made the mistake of letting it go on for another month so had to pay another month of costs, but really, I needed the home staged most importantly for the pictures and video that go with the MLS listing.
Stage Your Home Yourself
Alternately, you really could do it yourself but you better hope that you have a good eye for interior design. I thought I had a good eye for interior design but if I were to be honest with myself, I really don’t.
You would need to buy or rent furniture yourself and move in and out the furniture yourself. If you have experience renting apartments out on Airbnb and can put together furniture pieces and decor nicely, then you likely won’t need to pay for a home stager.
Get a Home Staging Consult Instead
Instead of DIY home staging, you could also pay for a consult fee (it should be under $500) with the home staging company and stage it yourself with their suggestions. You would, of course have to source the furniture you need to get yourself, which can be time consuming.
Finally, if you decide not to stage and you don’t want to rent pieces of furniture (e.g. you already have furniture in your home and you are living in it while it is being showed), make sure you remove things that would turn off potential buyers.
Think neutral peaceful colour palette, minimalist, and uncluttered.
That gothic decor or 1970’s patterned kitchen tablecloth that you have is not going to be appealing to potential buyers as much as it is appealing to you.
Here’s what I learned when I got rid of 365 Things in the effort to declutter.
Free Staging Through Properly
Properly is located in a few cities in Canada and you might have seen the ads with the Property Brothers on them. They provide free staging and have a buy first sell later approach when you are switching from properties.
Here’s my Properly review.
Genymoney.ca’s Verdict on Whether Staging a Home is Worth It
Is staging your home worth it? Would I do it again? Yes I would. It was worth the $2000+ I spent on home staging. I found that this was more worth it than paying $500 for new faux wood blinds that I put in my apartment. It’s even more worth it than paying a realtor’s commission in my opinion, haha.
I can’t say whether staging my home allowed for an increased sale price on my condo (because how can I prove that especially in this non-ideal seller’s real estate market), but I can say that staging the home attracted a lot more potential buyers.
There were requests for viewings a few times per week, and there were a lot of people that came to the open houses. What the people decided to do after they saw the condo in person, was another thing.
The main benefit of home staging was that it got potential buyers there.
Staging my condo for sale also made me want to hire a stager or interior designer for our current home (but we didn’t). Their ideas were fresh and made the condo seem bigger than it was, and very liveable (I almost wanted to move back in, that’s how nice they made it look).
The work designers can do is amazing.
Summary of How to Save Money on Home Staging Costs
To recap, here’s how to save money on home staging costs:
- Just stage your home for the pictures and video (but if you can afford it or don’t mind paying, you’ll likely get better results continuing with the staging)
- Do it yourself
- Obtain a consult from the home staging company and do it yourself (the hybrid approach)
- If you are going to avoid home staging all together, make sure the place is clean, remove pieces in your home that would be a turn-off to prospective buyers, declutter, and make it look as neutral as possible.
Do you have experience with home staging?
Do you think staging your home is worth it?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.