Tips for staging a home to sell

Man staging home carefully hangs a painting of whales alongside other artwork.Image: Man staging home carefully hangs a painting of whales alongside other artwork.

In a Nutshell

Staging a home to sell involves arranging furniture, furnishings and decorations to make the home more attractive to potential buyers. This may help your home sell faster and for a better price.
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When you’re selling a house, you want potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home.

Selling a home can be difficult, so it makes sense to make a home as appealing as possible to help it sell faster. Staging your home for potential buyers can help you gain a competitive edge.

Staging a home involves arranging furnishings and decorations in your home to make it more attractive to buyers. Real estate agents often say that staging a home makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize how the home would look if they were to buy it and move in. We’ll go over how staging a home works and what you should consider when staging a home to sell.


What is home staging?
How to stage a home for sale
Can you stage a house for sale while living in it?
How much does home staging cost?
Tips if you can’t stage your home


What is home staging?

If you’ve lived in your home for a while, you’ve undoubtedly made it your own. But when you’re showing off your home to sell, you want the potential buyers to be able to visualize themselves living there. That’s where staging comes in.

Staging a home removes the personalization that made your home yours, instead setting up furniture and decorations to make the home look fresh, new and attractive to the future owner. Staging can help your home sell faster and for a higher price. You can stage your home whether you still have your belongings in the home or if you’ve already moved out.

You can choose to stage your home yourself or hire a professional staging company to handle the process. When staging, you may use your own furniture or rent pieces from a staging company to temporarily redecorate and showcase your home. All of these choices can affect how much you’ll pay to stage the home.

Why stage? Staging a home may increase the value of the property during a sale — by as much as 10% in some instances, according to a 2021 survey from the National Association of REALTORS®. And none of the agents who responded to the survey said staging diminished the value of the home.

Real estate agents say staging a home can have a major impact on how fast a home sells. In fact, 47% of survey respondents said that staging affected the buyer’s perception of that home. And 31% said it “greatly decreased” the time it took a home to sell.

How to stage a home for sale

Staging a home can be as simple or complex a process as you’d like it to be. Here are a few steps you can take to stage your home to sell.

  • Decide whether to hire a staging company or to DIY. Selling your home can be stressful, and it may be a good option to hire a staging company to handle the process. Your real estate agent can help with this, too. But you can save money by staging your home yourself.
  • Pick which areas of the home to stage. Living rooms and kitchens are the most commonly staged areas, followed by primary bedrooms and dining rooms, according to the 2021 National Association of REALTORS® survey. You can choose to stage as much or as little of the house as you want.
  • Choose your furnishings. You can use your own furniture and furnishings to stage the home, or you can rent new ones to liven up the place. If you go with a staging company, it’ll likely have a range of options to choose from, and the professional home stager will have a good idea of what will make the home look best.
  • Showcase your home. With a plan and the furnishings in hand, you can work to arrange everything to make the home look fresh, lively, new and attractive to potential buyers who will tour the home.

What should you not do when staging a home? It’s easy to overdo it — be sure to avoid making the home look cluttered, whether it’s filled with too much furniture or crowded countertops and other surfaces full of decorations. Leaving more areas open can make the home appear larger and more inviting.

Also be sure not to be too emotionally invested in your home. Moving can be emotional, especially with a family home you’ve lived and made memories in for years. But you want your potential buyers to be able to picture themselves in your home, and too many of your own personal items or touches can make that more difficult.

Can you stage a house for sale while living in it?

While it’s possible to stage an occupied home, the process is probably most dramatic when you’re selling a vacant house. Bringing in sofas, rugs, new light fixtures, candles, throw pillows, curtains and even new linens or towels can help potential buyers picture themselves living in the home far better than bare walls and floors.

Staging a home you’re living in can certainly be a challenge, but you can still stage a home and live there in the meantime. You’ll need to remove clutter and keep the home clean and tidy — or hire a service for a weekly cleaning, perhaps — and be ready for a showing at any time. Home staging companies may offer you a checklist to run through to prepare for a potential buyer.

How much does home staging cost?

The cost of staging a home varies depending on whether you use a staging company to handle the furnishings or you stage the home yourself. The median cost of using a staging service is about $1,500, while homeowners who choose to have their agent do the staging will pay around $300, according to the 2021 survey from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Tips if you can’t stage your home

If you don’t have the time, money or opportunity to stage your home, there are still steps you can take to help your home sell faster. Decluttering your home can have a major impact, and virtually all real estate agents recommend that their home sellers do this before opening the home to potential buyers.

Finding a temporary place for your pets during home showings may also have a big effect. You can also invest in home cleaning, carpet cleaning, minor repairs and fresh paint on the walls. All of these may help you sell your home faster and for a better price.


About the author: Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than a decade of experience as a reporter and editor at North Carolina news organizations, including the Charlotte Observer and the StarNews in Wilmington. In those roles,… Read more.