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What is Home Staging? and What is it Not?

What is Home Staging?Over the years, home staging has become a big buzzword for anyone preparing their house for sale and listing agents.

Home staging is the crux of many of HGTV’s buy-and-flip or renovation programs. 

You don’t see Chip and Joanna Gaines presenting a vacant home to the lucky new owners of a house they renovate.

Each home they design has the decor carefully crafted to showcase each of their creations in the best possible light.  And in case you didn’t know, the furniture is removed after the reveal.  It is not kept by the homeowner. 

But those beautifully staged homes are not presented vacant for a reason. 

It is all about presentation.  And it is the icing on the cake.

Homes that fly off the market, even in a seller’s market, will often have some level of staging involved.  A perception of value is created and the home becomes a hot commodity among the buyers.

Let’s delve into what home staging is, what is not and if it is worth the effort. has the

What Is Home Staging?

Home staging is the process of preparing a house for sale by enhancing its visual appeal and functionality. 

It involves decluttering, cleaning, depersonalizing and arranging furniture and other accessories in a way that makes the house look more attractive and presents options to potential buyers.

In essence, home staging is about showcasing the best features of a property while minimizing its flaws. We want to highlight features of the home and not your personal belongings.

For example, we want to highlight your hardwood floors and not your Oriental carpets,


your large floor-to-ceiling windows flooding the space with natural light and not your custom drapes.

Effective home staging can help a property sell faster and for a higher price. It can also help buyers visualize themselves living in the house, making it more likely that they will make an offer. 

What is Home Staging Not?

Many home sellers go into the home selling process thinking a well-decorated home is a staged home.  While a piece of the home staging process is about decor, it is far from being about a well-decorated home.  

Often even the most beautifully decorated homes can benefit from a home staging consultation.  

We aren’t selling your home for them to make it theirs.  

When you stage your home we are creating a space where homebuyers can mentally take possesion of your house as their new home.  And, often that means removing some of the personality out of your house that makes it your home. 


The Difference Between Decorating and Staging A Home

Decorating a home is about designing a space to fit a specific one persons specific taste and style.
Staging a home is about creating a neutral space and showing options and potential that appeals to the broadest amount of potential buyers.  

Home Staging Is About Merchandising Your House

Home staging is about merchandising your home.
It is about playing up the best features of your house and downplaying some of the “flaws” in your home. 
And yes, most homes have flaws you may not want to highlight.
For example, Your home may be beautiful, but for the price you are looking for it may have a small master bedroom compared to your home’s competition in the market.
To help minimize the smaller bedroom a home stager will have you pair down the furniture to the bare essentials.  Use large mirrors to give the sense of a larger space.  Remove heavy drapes that block the natural daylight.  Streamline bedding.  Remove heavy bed frames and more…
The point is to make the bedroom look spacious and as functional as possible and downplay its smaller size. 
Remember how you live in a home might not be the best way to present your home to the buying public. 

Staging Works

As a Massachusetts REALTOR based out of Haverhill MA I show many older homes.  Pre 1960s and 1970s large bedrooms in your average homes were not a priority.  You could fit a bed and a dresser and maybe thats it.  
A small bedroom or especially a small master bedroom can create a challenge.  Often I will ask a seller to get rid of all but one small dresser or remove all dressers completely.  Now that may seem odd to you.  
But guess what?
Most home buyers, will not notice their is no dresser. And, often will comment on how spacious the bedroom is!!  Staging is about perception.
So yes, home staging works and it works well!! 

The Benefits Of Staging A Home

  • 85% of staged homes sold for 5% to 23% over their asking price, with home staging providing an 8% to 10% return on investment.
  • An increase of 1-5% of the value of the home was reported by 22% of the agents that stage their client’s homes.
  • Staged homes on average spend less time on the market… up to a whopping 73% less time.
  • 81% of home sellers say that a staged home makes it easier for them to sell their home
  • Staging a home on the market increases the sale price of the home on average anywhere from 1-10% according to 50% of listing agents.
  • The rooms that benefited the buyers most from home staging are the Living Room, Kitchen, Master Bedroom and Dining Room.
  • 58% of the buyer’s agents said that home staging has an impact on home buyers.  While 31% said it impacted some buyers. And, 9% said it had no impact at all.
This information was gathered from the  National Association of Realtors’ 2023 Profile of Home Staging, based on a survey of nearly 2,000 Realtors across the U.S., revealing some eye-opening stats about the power of staging.
graph of impact of home staging on home buyers

Is Home Staging Worth It?

I know from my experience listing home over the past 20+ years is staging provides many benefits to the home seller. 

And with the data provided by NAR, it reinforces home staging can reduce market time, increase buyer appeal and have a significant return on investment.

Buyers’ Expectations of Homes On The Market

Homebuyers today have much higher expectations than home buyers of the past.  

Reality TV shows create a discrepancy between beautifully staged homes that are shown on the show and what homes look like in person.  There often is nothing real about reality home shows.

And love-it-or-hate-it reality house-hunting shows create unrealistic expectations.  An expectation is that homes for sale all have been expertly staged and look their best.

Reality TV is shaping today’s home buyers’ expectations.  And perfectly prepared homes are one of the big expectations that are set.

Who Stages A Home?

 Home staging can be performed by the home seller, a real estate agent or a professional home stager.

If a homeowner decides to DIY their home staging many articles can be found to assist in the staging of their home.  The downside of DIY home staging is not fully understanding the concepts of home staging and trends that attract current buyers.

It is also possible that your listing agent provides home staging services themselves.  An experienced agent will spend time in classes on home staging and be up on home buyers’ expectations of homes for sale in the marketplace.

The last option is for the seller or agent to hire a professional home stager.  A professional home stager is usually certified and spends every day staging homes in preparation for a sale.  The best result usually comes from a professional home staging consultation.

professional staged kitchen by a home stager


How Much Does Home Staging Cost?

The cost of staging your home can vary significantly depending on the services needed.  

A quick walk-through from a home stager pointing out key tasks with no written report can run as little as $200- $250.  A more comprehensive staging consultation can run $400 to $600 with a written report.  The expectation is you complete the taks on your own.

If you are looking for the stager to spend time doing some of the rearranging and bringing in design elements the cost can climb to $800 to $2000.

If your home stager is bringing in furniture to stage entire rooms you can expect the initial set up to run $1000 to $1500 a room (includes furniture rental for one month).  Then furniture rental on an ongoing monthly basis can run $800 to $1200 a room.

The average cost of home staging is approximately $400.  With a comprehensive consultation with a report being the service most often requested. 

know from my experience listing home over the past 20+ years is staging provides many benefits to the home seller. 

And with the data provided by NAR, it reinforces home staging can reduce market time, increase buyer appeal and have a significant return on investment.

Virtual Staging

Vacant homes can certainly benefit greatly from home staging.  But, the cost may be out of some sellers’ budget to rent furniture on a monthly basis.

A recent trend is to have vacant rooms or entire homes virtually staged by digitally enhancing photos of vacant rooms.  Virtually staged photographs will have furniture, carpets, curtains and decor items added.

A virtually staged room will accurately depict the size of the furniture to help give a sense of scale, the intended use and visual appeal to the room.

The one downside of virtually staged homes is buyers will often be confused and disappointed when they arrive for their showing to find a vacant home.  It is a good practice to call out that the home has been digitally staged so buyers are not disappointed when they arrive.

Virtual Staging- Home Staging by digitally enhancing a photograph of a vacant room


The Importance of Home Staging Before Photographing A Home

Many real estate agents now turn to the help of professional real estate photographers to showcase their listings online.

Scroll through any real estate sites and you see that many of the homes have professional photography of well-staged homes.  If you scroll up and look at the statistics above a staged home will have a 40% more chance of a home buyer scheduling a showing.

That is a significant increase.

Combine professional real estate photography with a professionally staged home and have an exceptional online marketing strategy and you have a winning combination.

Your First Showings Are Online

Today almost every homebuyer has access to almost every home for sale available with a few clicks of the mouse.  Homebuyers are less reliant on their agent finding them homes and are generally happy to search for home at their leisure.
When a buyer is sifting through listings it is important to grab their attention immediately and make your home stand out from the crowd.  

I always tell sellers their first showings are online.  It is is critically important to have your home staged a professionally photographed to grab potential buyers attention.w

Top Home Staging Tips When Preparing Your Massachusetts Home For Sale

Home Staging starts with a deep cleaning


Deep clean every corner of your home. A spotless home will certainly impress buyers and make them overlook other areas of the home that may not be perfect for them.


We are selling your house, not your belongings.  Get rid of all the clutter that will prevent homebuyers from seeing the potential of your home for themselves.
And remember your moving anyways. Start packing seasonal items and items that are rarely used.


I’ll say it again, we want your potential home buyers to see the home as it works for them.  It is hard when you have family photos and highly personalized art or decor.

Neutralize your home’s decor so homebuyers can take mental possession of your house as their home.

Use Rooms As Intended

Buyers don’t always have the vision.  Lead them where they need to go and don’t leave much to the imagination.

Make that fourth bedroom ab bedroom instead of a yoga studio.  Or convert your dining room back to a dining room instead of using it as a playroom.

Edit Rooms

When staging a room we talk about editing a room.  We often accumulate more stuff than we need.  This could be furniture, personal items and decor.

Pair down and curate just what is needed to define a room.

Pay Attention To Flow

You don’t want furniture jam-packed into a room.  Make sure there is a proper flow in and out of a room, as well as around the furniture.

Less Is More

When staging your home less is more.  For example, we all have appliances and items on our kitchen counters we rarely use. 

Get rid of them and show you have plenty of workspaces.

Ditch The Collections

Buyers will get distracted and react to your collections. 

Ditch the Snow Babies in your curio cabinet, or the Hummels on your top shelf and the beer mug of every sports team in America.

The worst thing that can happen is if they remember the 100 Snow Babies instead of the large kitchen island.

Light It Up

Don’t keep shades drawn and drapes closed. You want your spaces to be bright and airy.  Consider removing heavy drapes completely or replace with sheers. 

If need be add lighting so buyers are not milling around in the dark.

Focus on Key Areas

Prioritize what areas need to be done.  Topping the list is Living Room, Master Bedroom, Kitchen, Dining Room and Bathrooms.

Be Objective

Yes, you love your home and you probably love how you decorated it.  But maintain your objectivity.

Neutralize the decor and pair down your belongings.  Let the buyers see the features of the house and how they will use it.  Not how YOU use it.

Fresh Paint

Some of the best money spent when staging and preparing a home is fresh paint.  Repaint any highly stylized paint colors with neutral paint colors.

Plus, your paint job may be old and tired.  Nothing can revitalize a space like a fresh coat of paint.

Small Repairs

Most buyers want in move in ready homes.  Try to get your home as close to move in ready as possible.

Curb Appeal

Freshen up the approach to your house and make it appealing.  Don’t underestimate the power of making a great first impression. 

Do you want your buyers starting their showings excited this might be the one or UGH, this is adump.  

Outdoor Living Areas

Don’t forget to stage your outdoor living areas like decks, patios, gazebos and more.  
Your outdoor living areas can add a considerable amount of appeal and perceived value and should not be an afterthought.  Show them off as being additional living space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Home Staging

Do I Have To Buy New Furniture When Staging My Home?

No, very rarely do I or one of my preferred home stagers ask you to buy new furniture when we are preparing a home for sale. We usually work with what you already have. And, on occasion may ask you to spend a few hundred dollars on some decor items. But that's it.

Do I Have To Get Rid Of All My Stuff

No, we arent going to ask you to get rid of all your stuff. We will have you depersonalize and downsize with the understanding you still need to live in your home.

How Far in Advance Do I To Plan For Staging?

Home staging doesn't happen overnight. It is a good idea to consult with a home stager as soon as you decide to put your home on the market.

How Do I Know If My Home Needs To Be Staged

Just about every home I sell can benefit from some home staging. As I pointed out staging is about highlighting the features of a home and not about decorating.

What If I Dont Like The Home Stagers Recommendations?

Of course, you don't need to do anything a home stager recommends. But bear in mind, home stagers are trained professionals that stay on top of current trends, spend hours every year in training, understand what buyers want and know how to highlight a home's best features.

Summary of Staging A Home For Sale

Home staging is essentially the process of preparing a property for sale by making it more attractive and appealing to potential buyers. This can involve a wide range of tasks, from cleaning and decluttering to rearranging furniture and adding decorative elements. 

he goal of home staging is to help potential buyers see the property’s full potential and imagine themselves living in the space. This can be especially important in competitive real estate markets. 

Studies have shown that staged homes tend to sell faster and for higher prices than unstaged homes. Additionally, home staging can help reduce the need for price reductions and can make a property stand out in a crowded market.

In short, investing in home staging can help sellers get the most value out of their properties and maximize their chances of a successful sale.

Home staging is not just about making a property look pretty. Rather, it’s about creating a space that will appeal to a wide range of buyers and allow them to envision themselves living there. This may involve neutralizing certain elements of the property to make it more universally appealing, such as removing personal photos or minimizing bold paint colors. It may also involve adding certain elements, such as lighting or furniture, to enhance the space’s functionality and create a more inviting atmosphere.

In conclusion, home staging is a crucial aspect of the home-selling process that can help sellers maximize their profits and speed up the sales process.

By creating an attractive and inviting space that appeals to a wide range of buyers, sellers can increase their chances of a successful transaction and get the most value out of their property. While home staging may require an investment of time and money, it can ultimately pay off in the form of a faster, more profitable sale.

Other Real Estate Resources:

Author Bio

Massachusetts Real Estate Blog author and owner. Kevin Vitali- Massachusetts Real EstateKevin Vitali is a local Massachusetts REALTOR.  Kevin has over 22 years expereince in residential real estate.   In that time, Kevin has taken his experience and written extensive blog articles on many aspects involving buying a home, selling a home, mortgages and more….

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, call Kevin at 978-360-0422 to get the most relevant information to help you with your real estate goals.

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