Is Staging Your Home Worth It?

Got an empty house sell? My parents moved suddenly before we could get their house listed.

Maybe you feel like you are too messy to sell your house while you are living in it. It could be too crowded or you’ve got kids and it’s too hard to keep it neat. There are many reasons why you might decide to move first and then sell. If you are lucky enough to be able to move BEFORE you put your house on the market, should you stage it?

My realtor said YES, you must stage the house. People can’t visualize their stuff in a home that is empty. Here are the cold hard facts.

Should you stage the entire house?

If you have a three bedroom house, you don’t have to stage every room. According the the National Association of Realtors, the most important rooms to stage in this order are: 1.) living room, 2.) master bedroom 3.) kitchen 4.) dining room.

After these four rooms get staged the rest of the rooms are much less important. You DON’T have to stage your entire house.

How much does it cost to Stage A House?

The cost of staging varies by location. In bigger, cities it tends to cost more. I love to research so I conducted my own market survey. I looked at tons of staging company web sites and here’s what I learned.

First, the cost to stage your home depends on the price of you house. Does that even make sense? It’s a question that all professional stagers will ask you. I guess it’s their way of determining if their furniture belongs in your home or if you can afford their services.

Second, the price depends on square footage. This makes sense to me, more room equals more furniture equals more money.

I got two quotes to stage just my living room (and dining is all one room), master bedroom and kitchen for around $2500. I found that number shocking. I could buy (or borrow) all the furniture myself for less than that. So, that’s what I decided to do.

Can you stage your own house?

The answer to this obviously depends on how much time and effort you want to put in. Of course you can stage your own home. Here are my tips and the results of my staging.

Tip 1 – Move or Borrow Some of the Furniture

Consider moving a few pieces of your own furniture back or finding furniture from friends and family that you borrow. Only consider pieces that are clean and in good shape. For example, we moved own sofa back to the empty house. We decided to use our comfy chairs for a few months.

Thumbtack is a great place to find movers cheap. In addition to the sofa (which is the most expensive piece of furniture in most houses we moved two chairs, a rug and a table (from my office). The furniture was free and the cost for a mover to go to three locations and load up stuff was $170.

Sure our house feels emptier than normal, but it’s hopefully only for six weeks. As soon as you get a contract you can move your furniture back home.

tip 2 – look for small furniture on facebook marketplace

I needed a coffee table, nightstands and a side table. These smaller things can fit into most cars so Facebook is a great place to find them. You never know what you are going to find and it changes daily.

I found nice looking coffee tables from $25-$40, nightstands for $20 each. You can also find really affordable lamps on Facebook.

tip 3 – stage with a defined style

You won’t increase the value of your house if you throw a bunch of stuff into a house that doesn’t go together. What is your style? Chances are if you want to stage your home inexpensively you might use a few things from your home.

If you are buying small pieces for staging look for pieces in a style that complements your own. I don’t know that I could define my style, but I know what doesn’t go with my stuff. Stick to things that look nice with your own things.

TIP 4 – Get Larger furniture delivered and on sale

You will need two large items when you stage your home. First, you need a bed. You should get the largest bed that fits into your master bedroom. Second, you need a sofa. Extra beds and sofas may not be something you can borrow and they are too large to move around yourself.

The Bed

The master bedroom is one of the most important rooms to stage. I bought a king platform bed WITH a headboard for $179. I bought a king sized used mattress delivered for $100. Would I sleep on it? Definitely no.

You can find king sized headboards delivered for free for less than $200. Check Wayfair (they also have Open Box deals), Overstock, Target and Walmart.

Pro tip – Use a platform bed if you are trying to save money because it means you don’t have to buy a frame (minimum $50), a box spring (another $50) or a bed skirt.

The Sofa

Sofas are expensive. They are probably the most expensive piece of furniture in your house. For me getting a sofa on Facebook was not an option. The choices were pretty gross looking or too expensive.

Option 1 – Mid-century style sofas are less expensive because they are usually smaller scale. If this goes with your style, you can get a decent looking sofa for around $300. If this fits your style, you are in luck. Option 2 – If a mid century doesn’t suit your space move your own sofa back for a few weeks. Option 3 – Buy a sofa. You can get a basic traditional sofa for $400 delivered on Amazon.

tip 5 – Borrow Art, Lamps and Accessories

Chances are you have a lamp or two that you could live without for a few weeks. I ripped artwork off my walls and borrowed lamps. I knew the art went with my style and the same for the lamps.

More lighting is always better when you are trying to sell your house. If you don’t have spare lamps go to Target and IKEA and you can get inexpensive lamps. You can also find great discount art and lighting at Homegoods, Marshalls and TJ Max. If you want to read more about getting deals on lighting check out this article.

What To Do with Furniture After the house sells?

If you’ve borrowed furniture from your home or friends and family, return it with a nice thank you gift. If it’s stuff you never planned to keep list it on Facebook Marketplace.

Anything you can’t get rid of, give away. You will still come out ahead of the $2500 it costs to get the house professionally staged. There are places like the Salvation Army that will pick up unwanted furniture as long as it’s in working condition.

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