On The Home Seller’s Radar, Part 2: Home Staging

Posted by: Jessica Gopalakrishnan on December 26th, 2007

Part 2 – HomeGain’s Fall 2007 Home Sale Maximizer™ Survey

In part 1, I disclosed six of the top 10 most recommended home improvements (by real estate agents). Now here are the top four!

1. Clean and de-clutter
2. Lighten and brighten
3. Stage home for sale
4. Landscape front/back yards

In each of the four regions, West, East, South and Mid-West, all real estate agents agreed that cleaning and de-cluttering was the most valuable action in getting a home into “home selling condition.”

At a minimal cost of a couple hundred dollars, ROI of cleaning and de-cluttering your home may skyrocket into a high average of 578%. This is added home value in the range of $1,500-$2,000. The highest return on investment was in the West (837%).

Professional home staging came in second place in the South and Mid-West. On a national level, agents reported that home staging costs between $400 and $600 on average, potentially resulting in a $1,900 to $2,500 increase to the home’s selling price, and making the return on investment over 340%.

I’ve read a handful of articles criticizing home staging this year. But our reports show that many agents still believe it’s worth it.

To my point, based on a separate HomeGain survey done earlier in the year, in August, to 1,000 agents, 48.91% responded that home staging increases the value of a home by $5,000 or more. The second largest group, 29.35% said that home staging increased a home’s value between $2,500 and $5,000.

Like clean and de-clutter, lighten and brighten can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars and have returns as high as $1,500. Ninety-seven percent of surveyed real estate agents recommend both of these to their clients. The highest ROI was in the West at 486%.

Landscaping the front and back yards ranked the fourth most recommended home improvement to help sell your home. Real estate agents in the East gave it the most value with a 415% ROI. At minimal costs between $350 and $550 it seems it could be worth it to give your yard a minor facelift for aesthetic purposes.

Overall, prices of a 3bd/2ba (3 bedroom, 2 bathroom) home after spending between $5,000-$8,000 on home improvement and staging efforts are implemented can result in the following price increases: in the West, as high as $22,762; in the East, as high as $23,532; in the South, $21,470; in the Mid-West, $20,279.

All of those figures reflect over a 150% return on investment.

Not too shabby!

For questions about any of this home survey data, please feel free to contact me at blog@homegain.com.

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6 Comments on “On The Home Seller’s Radar, Part 2: Home Staging”

elmo the expert real estate marketer

Hey, I just wanted to say Happy New Year and thanks for an excellent real estate blog. Please don’t stop writing this stuff it is excellent. By the way, there is an excellent article on real estate at the New York Times here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/realestate/index.html

God Bless.
Real Estate Professional Websites and Marketing

Janis Gaines

I am a Professional Home Stager and I have seen these stats reproduced several times. I have found the “Staging” costs confusing and have finally realized where the problem lies.

Here’s the line in the beginning of your article that tends to throw people off and it would be helpful if this paragraph could be re-worded in the future:

“On a national level, agents reported that the average cost of ‘PROFESSIONAL HOME STAGING’ is between $400 and $600…”

When I went to the HomeGain survey link, I discovered that it is about 16 pages of “to dos”. The ‘Staging’ that was referred to includes things that homeowners can accomplish THEMSELVES. That $400-$600 covers the cost of what the HomeGain survey recommends that the HOMEOWNERs do to Stage the house – including the purchase of flowers, towels, potpourri, cedar chips, room freshener, maybe some supplemental art, cleaning supplies.

So what they’re describing as “professional home staging” in the HomeGain report theoretically COULD include the cost of a Professional Home Stager’s Consultation and Detailed Written Report to provide guidelines for homeowners to execute themselves; or it COULD include a basic Professional Staging REDESIGN with the homeowner’s own things; but it WOULDN’T include the cost of PROFESSIONALLY STAGING a home if it is vacant, or the cost of having the Professional Stager bring in much in the way of supplemental inventory to add to the homeowner’s existing furniture/decor.

I have been confused by the way this information is worded and I believe that homeowners will be confused as well when I show them these Stats, then say that the cost of PROFESSIONALLY Staging a typical home is more like $400 (consultation/redesign)-$3000 (full professional home staging) – not the top figure of $600 that was quoted in your report.

Thank you for considering this informaion.

Janis Gaines


As a Fort Luaderdale, south Florida professional home stager, I would second Janis’s comment.

Home staging can mean many different things to people, I can understand the costs mentioned in the article to be the range between a home staging consultation to a days staging services.

For the record, the staging tasks mentioned in the article are typically termed ‘pre-staging’ tasks by home stagers. Home staging is more that this – hoem staging is makign the home appeal to the widest range of buyers through the effective use of space, furnishigns and accessories.

Connie Tebyani

After reading the above information which was based on a survery 8 months ago, it seems to be just recently hitting the industry “radar”. I must agree with Janis as it is grossly misleading for Home or Property Owners to beleive that the national average is somewhere between $400 – $600 to hire a Professional Home Stager.

Everything you mentioned above is “home staging” on the part of the Home Owner themselves (buying new towels, fresh flowers indoors and out, etc) then the $400-$600 might be accurate.

Professional Home Stagers would then come in after that and take the property to the next level, and depending on the square footage of the home and it’s location (nationaly), fees can vary greatly. For homwowners it would be best to check with several home stagers in their areas and get bids from each, or check with the Eastate Staging Association (RESA – http://www.RealEstateStagingAssociation.com) for referals. Just my $ .02

Jessica G

All very good feedback – thank you all. We can certainly try to incorporate this feedback when we re-launch the survey again in the near future to get more clarity (and perhaps separation) of the definition of home staging.

To clarify, in this survey, home staging is defined as a do-it-yourself improvement [correction to my previous comment].

The other items within the survey are also “do it yourself” actions, and all are low cost home fixes. Because home staging was reported as one such low costing / high ROI home improvement back in 2000 when we originally launched this survey, we kept it as one of the top 10 to see where real estate agents would rank it. Surely enough, real estate agents reported the numbers as you see above, which fell higher than the other home improvements, but still a reasonable cost with high ROI — which is the point we wanted to get across to sellers.

For the most part, it’s just a guide to help home sellers get started. We’re reporting the data we received, and hopefully it’s a good resource for home sellers to get a better idea what they need to do — and one of them is to go to Home Stagers for advice. Where you take them and how much you charge, which will definitely vary across the country and depends on the depth of services they decide to use, is up to you.

Lise Desormeaux

Jessica, I understand your comments and let me add I have used this survey in many blogs and my web site so I appreciate the survey because there really isn’t enough information available to verify to home sellers the value in home staging. Believe it or not some listing agents who represent these clients are unaware as well. It still seems that some view this all important – no ‘necessary’ step before selling a home as an expense they will not financially benefit from. Some still view this process as just an unnecessary fluff and dust that buyers don’t care about.

However, as a real estate professional for 20 plus years and Home Staging business owner for 6 years, I would like to say, that home staging is much higher in cost then reported and it can be confusing to a client when you ask for your fees. Perhaps a new survey would be appropriate to compare the do-it-yourself method verses the professional home stager. Ultimately, there are two types of sellers….those who will and those who won’t, do-it-themselves but, both would benefit from the information. Just another 2 cents…..

RMR-Real Estate Marketing Results Atlanta, GA

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