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Based on the book: 

What is this going to cost?

In the era of "online home-dating", where interested buyers spend evenings perusing pictures of homes and then creating a "must see" list, staging is becoming more critical than ever. Buyers are looking for homes that are visually balanced, uncluttered, and welcoming. As a home stager, I can create both and online and real time presence for your home that beckons visitors in and allows them to see your current property as their future home.

But homeowners are often reluctant to take this important step, due to cost. So what does staging cost? This question is complex. As a stager, my initial visit to a home is free. At that point, I am gathering information, taking photos, talking to the client about what the best features of their homes are, noting features which are not working for them, asking why they bought that home and why they are leaving it. This helps me formulate a plan of action. Following the visit, I work up an estimate to do the staging, which includes materials and labor. This cost varies according to the situation at hand.

Last month, I assisted a homeowner in adding final touches to her beautiful home. It was easy to see that she was motivated, presented me with a home that was almost photo ready and just needed a second set of eyes to move forward. She was an excellent "student", did everything I suggested and stunned me when I returned for a second visit, just prior to the house being photographed. A drab and stained concrete porch had bothered me greatly. Her family had not used the porch but incoming families certainly would. She emailed back shortly with an idea of stenciling the porch floor. Since she was an artist and highly skilled, I told her to go for it. A bare and water-stained porch was transformed into a beauty. (Stay tuned for before and after photos next blog, as we discuss the role of the homeowner.)

I consider her to be in my DIY group. She was already at 90 percent perfection and just needed a bit of guidance to finish out, and a last minute visit to align each room for perfect photographs. She had the skill, time, and resources to be a successful DIY client.

On the flip side, a more extensive job occurred when a homeowner asked me to visit and prepare his rental for showing. The renters had chosen very odd paint colors (pumpkin orange and chocolate) and had "touched up" satin paint with gloss brush strokes. My work at the house was extensive....selecting paint colors, meeting with painters, working on landscaping, renting furniture, shopping for accessories, etc....

A more typical staging situation is an overly full home, which needs someone to come in an box up the overage and remove enough to make each room as welcoming as possible. In this case, a homeowner would pay for the time spent packing things away and reorganizing the rooms for the best "show appeal".

It's very important to be honest about your abilities and needs in staging. If you've always meant to do so many things but time escapes you, do you have the time to wait to put your home on the market while you do it yourself? Would it be better to have a stager do it quickly and efficiently and perhaps get the best price for your property? A great set of online photos will bring buyers to your door and a clean and beautifully presented home will likely get much closer to your asking price.

So what does it cost? The price ranges from a few hundred dollars in the DIY category to a few thousand for very extensive jobs. But this will likely be one of the most important financial transactions of your life. You want your home to sell, for the most money, in the least amount of time. And as a stager, I will always respect your need to contain cost. I work to use what is in a client's home whenever possible and purchases are done with great respect for the budget. My goal is to create the biggest bang for the smallest buck, getting people into your home, giving them the best scenario to connect with your home, and hopefully getting a "sold" sign in your yard.

And to paraphrase:

"SOLD is in the details."

- Laurie Easterlin is a home stager and Masters prep specialist. If you would like to set up a free appointment for a home staging walk through, please contact her at or visit the website.

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