HomeGain Survey: Home Staging Top Priority for Sellers

Posted by: Jessica Gopalakrishnan on November 6th, 2009

HomeGain.com recently conducted its third nationwide home improvement and home staging Home Sale Maximizer™ survey (previously conducted in 2003 and 2007) to reveal the top 12 low cost*, do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvements for people getting their home ready to sell.  Nearly 1,000 REALTORS® responded to the survey. (See complete survey results)


Thousands of REALTORS and Home Stagers use "Home Sale Maximizer" to advise their home seller clients.

Home Staging is reported to be the 2nd most valuable home improvement project to a seller when it comes to selling a home by return on investment (ROI), according to surveyed Realtors.

Home Staging is also the 3rd highest price increase to a home’s resale value ($300 cost / $1,780 price increase to a home’s selling price, which is a 586% ROI)

82% of Realtors nationwide recommend home sellers do DIY home staging.

Staging has rose on the list of priorities over the years. In 2007 survey results, Lightening and Brightening had the second highest ROI followed by Home Staging. Two years later, Home Staging overtakes Lightening and Brightening.

How many Realtors recommend professional home staging the majority of the time?

  • 12.7% of U.S. Realtors nationwide recommend professionally staging a home to sellers 60-100% of the time
  • 10.2% in the East
  • 11.5% in the South
  • 10.8% in the Midwest
  • 18% in the West

10.3% of Realtors in the West recommend professional home staging 100% of the time. (highest of all four regions)


How much faster do Realtors think a home sells when it is professionally staged?

  • Nationwide: 5.3% of Realtors think the home sells days faster (less than a week)
  • 44.8% think a home sells weeks faster
  • 25.8% think a home sells months faster

9.4% of Realtors in the West think a home sells days faster (highest of all regions).


Surveyed Realtor Commentary:

“Staging is SO critical we own our own staging company and provide it free of charge – a $2,500-$3,000 value on every listing.” – Carl Medford

“A staged home sells more quickly than non-staged homes. Most home sellers need to detach themselves from their homes so they can show the home in its best light. That’s why I suggest a professional staging company.” – Tony Bruno, Coldwell Banker, Fremont, CA

“Place pots of fresh plants and or flowers at the entrance to door or on front porch.  Place fresh flowers inside.” – Delores Clark, RE/MAX United, Carrollton, GA

“I do all my own staging recommendations which saves the sellers thousands of dollars. I believe in giving my sellers more for their money.”

“I’ve had a lot of resistance from clients about professional home stagers.  Possibly because I don’t present it in the right fashion!”

“Biggest thing for me is staging.” – Melodee Brooks, Edina Realty, MN

“I am a stager and Realtor and do my own listings to get them ready. It does make a difference along with proper pricing.”

“We have an in-house stager available.”

“I am a professional home stager and use the home owner own things to stage with which requires in most cases very little out of pocket expense, this is a service I do provide for my sellers.”

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“Staging depends on the situation — if they have nice furniture, we can help them ourselves — if house is vacant, it must be staged unless very low end, if in the middle (occupied but bad furniture) it is usually wise to rent a few good pieces and remove the worst of the old.”

“I have earned the Certified Home Marketing Specialist (CHMS) so I advise and do my own home staging for my sellers.  If the house is in a price point that I truly felt a professional staging company was called for, I would certainly advise the seller to do that.”

“In regards to staging, I only recommend it for properties with higher values and/or in neighborhoods or subdivisions where there is an abundance. In that way, the property is memorable to the potential buyer.”

“Staging can often help significantly, especially in homes where people have lived a lifetime.   Living in a home is different than selling a home.  Often we need to sell, pack, ship, throw away what we are not going to move.   When there are so many homes on the market, this can often mean the difference in selling or not.”

“In the Mid-West, we have Buyers that want ‘move- in’ ready and spotless homes. The homes that are picture perfect sell faster and for top dollar in their market.” – Christine Moscinski, Realtor & ‘HouseHunter’ eHouseHuntOnline.net, GOBBER GMAC REAL ESTATE Chicago’s Western Suburbs

“Fresh paint, neutral clean flooring, and a well staged home goes a long way.” -  Eric Pakulla, RE/MAX Advantage Realty

“After taking care of any blatant home repairs that need attention and thoroughly de-cluttering, I always recommend neutral paint, new/refinished flooring, and new light fixtures.  Professional home staging is recommended after those steps are taken.  This is normally a person’s largest financial investment:  it pays to take care of the details!” -  Nicole Donaghy ERA Wilder Realty Lexington, SC

“Most of the properties that I show and sell are 2nd homes and vacation properties.  These homes are already generally well kept and not lived in on a day to day basis.  Usually home staging is not recommended too often in such cases.” – Karen Harrison RE/MAX of Orange Beach www.karensgulfproperties.com

“Home staging has not made a difference in getting a home sold in our area, it is just starting to catch on.” – William Staab, Keller Williams, Albuquerque, NM

“I personally stage all of my owner occupied listings.  Have been doing it since 2000.  Staging allows homes to sell faster, but only of course if they are priced right, overpriced staged homes still don’t sell.” – Kyle Davis, RE/MAX Select Properties, Ashburn, VA

“Staging is something any owner can do without spending a lot of money.” – Bob Savera, Las Vegas First Realty, Las Vegas, NV

“In this market prices have dropped so much, most sellers do not have the resources to hire a professional stager, so I became a certified stager.  I can now stage my listings to get them sold. In this market, the problem is getting the homes sold at all.  Staging gets your listing on the top of buyers list to see.” – Linda Moore, EXiT Real Estate Results, Longwood, FL

“Staging is great when the market isn’t bringing your home value down so much that you can’t get the improvements to increase the value.  It would however I think increase the speed of the sale even if it didn’t increase the sales price.” – Charles Burgess, Washburn Real Estate, Rutherfordton, NC

“There are not many professional homestagers in the Midwest.  There is alot of foreclosed homes in the area.  Most buyers are having a hard time qualifying for a mortgage due to the increase in FICO score.” – Serena Brown, Taylor Brown Real Estate, Gary, IN

“I think home staging is crucial to sale a home in this economy.” Maria Torres, Keller Williams Realty, Austin, TX

“I make it a regular comment if the home is empty as staging is very important.” – Jay Larson, RE/MAX Leaders, Centenniel, CO

“In our market, sellers can’t spend a cent more than they need to in order to make their homes marketable. Professional staging and environmental considerations simply aren’t on their radar screens.” – Daria Uhlig, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates, Brodheadsville, PA

“If you price the home properly, you don’t need a furnished-staged home.” – Nancy Marshall, Charter I Realty Low Country, SC

“I am a certified ‘Pristine Home Stager’ I include this service when I list every home. I would only bring in an outside stager when the home needs different furniture they can provide.” – Tim Flaherty, RES Realty, Minneapolis, MN

“Current market conditions are not improved by home staging.” -  Rene Lovas, Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, Simi Valley, CA

“In this buyers market the seller MUST do everything they can to stand out from the crowd to get top dollar and sell faster.  They’re competing against foreclosure/short sale pricing and must LOOK more expensive to justify their price.  Perception is everything and a property that appears to be well maintained will fare much better than one in just okay condition. You need to put your dollars where the consumer can see you’ve spent money to get it back in return.” – Trisha Lee, RE/MAX Boone Realty, Columbia, MO

“Most clients are very stubborn about hiring stagers despite the huge benefits. The attitude is ‘let they do what they want with the house after they own it, I’m not putting a penny more into it.’” – Beverley Gaudio, RE/MAX Legend, Wayne, NJ

Additional survey results taken from Realtor comments:

Home Staging:

  • 4 Realtors recommend having fresh flowers (3 South, 1 East)
  • 6 Realtors recommend depersonalizing the home by removing photos and personal items (4 South, 2 Mid-West)

*The term “low cost” is defined as less than $5,000.

Average price of a home in areas where Realtors were surveyed? 85.9% of homes were priced under $350,000.






Definition of Home Staging category:

Home staging: Add fresh flowers; removing personal items; reduce clutter; rearrange furniture; add new props or furniture to enhance room/s; play soft music; hang artwork in walls. See complete staging checklist.


HomeGain received survey responses from nearly 1,000 real estate agents in each of the U.S. regions. All agents might not necessarily agree on the same pre-sale strategy. See “% of agents recommending” column above. Differences of opinions may vary based on the climate of the market, region of the country or condition of the home in question. The percentage of agents that agree on the positive impact of a particular pre-sale activity is summarized here.

Home Sale Maximizer Home Improvement Tool:

If you are preparing to sell your house, Home Sale Maximizer can help identify and prioritize the home improvement projects to focus on to increase the saleability and selling price of your home. Home Sale Maximizer is a free, quick and easy-to-use tool for homeowners, and it’s also a great resource for real estate agents to provide to their home seller clients.

View the top 9 GREEN Home Improvements




14 Comments on “HomeGain Survey: Home Staging Top Priority for Sellers”


Thank you Jessica and the gang at HomeGain for once again providing great information not to mention the time and energy it took to gather the results.

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I see it everyday: homes that are staged have an advantage over those that are empty or unstaged; first impressions do matter…

Christine Rae

Isalute Jessica and the HomeGain team for a great job compiling this information. I used previous HomeGAin stats in my staging book.
As a Professional stager and developer of the industry I have to disagree with DIY staging as a resolution to economic woe. Home sellers can surely help themselves greatly by working on the condition of the property (great tips in Home Staging for Dummies) but the final showcasing step is so crucial it should be considered an investment to use a professional who knows what they are really doing. It’s not about whether someone has pretty items, furniture or flowers – it’s understanding what is being sold and showcasing those features. SO its not the furniture that counts -rather its where the furniture is placed; and it’s not the color its the reaction to color that counts. Do you know 40% of the worlds paint sales come as a direct result of buying the wrong color first.Today great staging is psychology and science – why gamble with the equity of the property? It’s the seller who gains most from thorough and complete professional staging. What we don’t grasp is why is it still such a challenge for people to value what experts in the staging field bring to the table? As agents, you don’t do your own home inspections, or arrange your own finacing so why is it agents are doing the staging? Many agents tell us it’s because they dont really understand the difference or how to communicate the process to sellers; we can help – email me christine@stagingtraining.com and I will send you an article and information to consider and help

Tiffany Parker

As a stager, I find these stats only somewhat encouraging. Behind these numbers is the unfortunate story that too many brokers and sellers don’t believe that staging makes a difference. And many brokers believe that they can stage or advise their clients to stage a home themselves. Unlike, Christine, I do believe that many people are capable of staging themselves but most are not. In fact, I blogged about whether sellers should stage themselves a couple of days ago at http://parkerinteriors.blogspot.com. DIY staging is not for everyone. SOunds much easier than it is.

Lise Desormeaux

Home sellers, would be home staging professionals, realtors and anyone can learn how-to stage a home for sale. What is takes is content rich education delivered in an easy-to-learn format. Just look at who’s doing it.

1. Home Depot – You can do it, We can help!
2. Lowes – Let’s Build Something Together!
3. Scripts Television Network – DIY Network & HGTV

Just to name a few…. I could go on but I won’t!

The truth is, there are people with more time then money and for those doing-it-yourself is a great alternative. Home Staging is not brain surgery but there are excellent techniques when properly explained can be useful and valuable for those who are on a limited budget. Just ask the multi-billion dollar companies I just named.

In these economic times I would suggest many people are on budgets and doing-it-yourself offers them the best opportunity to stage a home when they otherwise would not be able to. There are also those who just enjoy piddling around and doing projects. Take the home chef or the home gardener; I challenge anyone to cook or grow produce better then them. They often do it just as good as the pros because they focus their time, energy and passion into what they love to do.

In the end, our country has an overflowing amount of business for Professional Home Stagers to offer their services to, as there are also many people with more money then time. For those too busy to consider any do-it-yourself project, they will hire the professional who will give them what they desire and can afford to pay for. I have many of those clients and forever grateful for them.

There is plenty of ‘room’ (pardon the pun) in the Home Staging Industry for both the ‘Do-It-Yourselfer’ and the ‘Just Give Me the Works’ consumers as both are real life and without them none of us would be making a living.

I am a home staging professional and business owner in Atlanta since 2002. In the 80′s when I sold real estate I didn’t know it was called home staging but I was staging successfully then as well. I believe in the process completely and understand it’s value fully and that is why I believe EVERY seller should stage their home for sale to include the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. In either case, both consumers receive a return on their home staging investment. Times are tough in 2009 and will be tough in 2010 and beyond (not too far beyond I hope) so, giving every American family every possible opportunity to stage their home is what we all need to move through and into a better economy.

Again thank you HomeGain, you’re the BEST!

Kim Kapellusch

Recently, many of my agent clients have been using Staging Services as a way to help them win their listing contracts. One agent was recently up against 3 others for the same listing contract and offered my Staging Services at a cost to her of $75. Although the clients did not know how inexpensive this service was, they chose her to list the home having perceived the value of her services to be higher than her competition. The house sold in 2 days for more money than the other agents had wanted to list the home for. They were so thrilled, they recommended her to their neighbors and she sold that house as well!
Since she double ended the first sale, she made over $15k in commissions off the two homes because she offered a “free staging service” that cost her under $100….

Christine Rae

I shake my head at some of these comments. staging is not about condition, it’s not reserved for high end, or not used because the property is vacation only etc. It works for all property when it is done properly & thoroughly. PRICE still has to be what the market and economic times dictate. Staging is the missing element which helps secure the equity. Staging is a process to help the property gain it’s best advantage.It’s like going for an interview – regardless of economics a good looking business suit creates a good impression. In a surevy 63% of buyers said they would pay more money for a property which was move in ready – staging when it is done correctly makes a property move in ready. The majority of people who said they would pay more money were men! why? because they dont want ot inherit the “Honey Do list”. Yes there will always be the persn who is looking for a bargain and or a DIY er who wants to buy at the lowest price(so they can do the enhancements, flip it and make the profits. SO when you list you need to know who your target is – an investor or someone looking for a home?

New York City AC contractors

Run your ac units or heaters a couple hours before they get their to look at the home too. If it smells like it’s empty and closed up tight it will turn them off.


thanks for the useful article.There are so much information provided

Michael Hood (Aluminum Windows Houston)

“I shake my head at some of these comments. staging is not about condition, it’s not reserved for high end, or not used because the property is vacation only etc. It works for all property when it is done properly & thoroughly.”

Yes I agree with your point. Staging should be done with the intention to make the best impression you can with the property.

Sometimes the staging effort to make the property look more valuable than it already is make the difference in selling it fast and a little higher than what it should fetch.


Christine Rae

Chuckles Mike:) “higher than it should fetch” – its about realising the potential of equity available. Remember property will only sell for what a buyer is willing to pay -beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I am always surprised at the controversy about staging – what else do we sell without putting any effort into condition and presentation with an expectation of securing top price? Staging is MARKETING


Kim, You make a great point and yes, realtors who use staging as a value add in their listing presentation absolutely win more listings as well as more repeat business. But; and this is a big but:How can you possibly offer to stage a house for 75 dollars? If your professional service truly helps your clients see that kind of profit, you need to charge more money. As it is, you are devaluing your service and giving realtors who read these comments unrealistic expectations about what kind of investment they need to make to properly stage a home. In my area, at minimum, stagers charge 75 dollars per hour not per job. Our service is worth it!


WOW! Lisa, I couldn’t agree more. How can Kim or any experienced home stager not understand their value. But perhaps this is not really Kim’s fault. Our industry, like the real estate industry, needs standardized pricing. This is the only way for staging professionals to be taken seriously for their value.

yam articles

Thank you for your article/post and thank you for your information you gave me…

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