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DIY Home Staging vs. Expert Home Staging


If you’re thinking about selling your home, you’ve probably checked out all the tips online about how to prepare your home for sale; but, how can you ensure that your home will sell? The answer is staging. Within the first 30 seconds of seeing a home, a homebuyer will form their opinion of your home. Staging your home for sale can positively influence homebuyers’ decision to put in an offer for your home.

Typical staging advice includes:

  • Decluttering

  • Depersonalizing

  • Using neutral colors

That is all great advice, but it doesn’t go far enough. Once you declutter and depersonalize, you’ve actually removed the personality from your home. It feels sterile, and potential homebuyers will react to that feeling.

The DIY Home Staging Experience

I’d like to share one particular experience. As a licensed realtor in Iowa, I work with home sellers to prepare their homes for sale. Back in 2018, my client had a beautiful ranch home for sale.

I asked my seller to prepare her home for sale and provided a list of guidelines to help her through the process. Those guidelines included items like:

  • Set the kitchen or dining table

  • Ensure the lighting is correct

  • Add neutral furnishings throughout the house

My seller did everything I asked, including significant pre-packing and decluttering of her home. She followed the advice to the best of her ability. When I saw her house, I also thought it looked fine, but I was wrong!

Lots of Showings, But No Offers. Now What?

We listed the house on the market and had significant interest right away. Homebuyers kept requesting showings, but we received no offers.

After each showing, I would follow up with the homebuyer’s agent and ask for feedback. Almost always, the feedback was that, “the house was beautiful, but the buyers decided to purchase something else.” This feedback was a tell-tale sign that something was wrong with the showing experience homebuyers were having at my listing.

The Expert Home Staging Experience

My seller wanted to stop showing her home and get it under contract. So, on a whim, I decided to engage with a stager for more personalized advice.

The stager pointed out that the house was too depersonalized and decluttered. It didn’t feel like a home anymore; it felt sterile and uninviting. To create a more inviting experience, my seller followed all of the stager’s advice and added just a few pieces of décor and furnishings throughout the house. In total, this effort took about one day.

As the realtor, I had professional photographs retaken and reposted them on the house’s listing.

Bathroom: Before

Bathroom: After

Kitchen: Before

Kitchen: After

Dining: Before

Dining: After

Master Bedroom: Before

Master Bedroom: After

Can you spot the differences in the pictures above? They’re very slight. Do you think having just those additional furnishings should matter to homebuyers? It mattered.

The very next showing after my seller’s house was staged, the buyer bought the house.

How Much Does Staging Cost?

So, how much did getting staging advice cost my seller? Hiring a stager and staging the house for sale cost less than $500 in total. In my experience, hiring a stager outweighs the cost of a price reduction, which would typically cost at least $1,000.

So, What’s the Moral of the Story?

After this experience, I made four realizations:

1. DIY Staging Advice Isn’t Enough

Typical DIY staging advice does not go far enough. For many homeowners, the emotion tied to their existing furnishings prevents their home’s staging from being as effective as possible.

2. Customized Advice Is A Must

Many homeowners need customized advice as to what to do. Being told to “add lighting” or “add furnishings” is not sufficient. By working with a stager and receiving specific advice customized to their home, homeowners know exactly what they need to do in order to list their home for sale.

3. Specific Recommendations Are A Must

Expert home staging should provide specific recommendations as to what to pre-pack, move, touch up, and add in order to make the home feel inviting to potential homebuyers. At Stagerie, this is why our stagers share links to specific furnishing pieces or décor to purchase; the links provide an example of what is needed in order to make the home pop on the market.

4. Staging Shouldn’t Break the Bank

In general, expert home staging does not have to cost thousands of dollars. Homeowners can still use most of their own possessions, and add relatively inexpensive décor or furnishings when needed. In fact, expert home staging usually costs less than a price reduction.

Ultimately, the quality of the staging advice matters greatly. This is why Stagerie was created. We believe that every house deserves expert staging advice, and at a price that won’t break the bank.

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