Eighty-three percent of buyer agents report that home staging makes it easier for homebuyers to visualize a property as their future home. (Photo: Follow The Flow/Dreamstime/TNS).

If you’re selling your home, you know it should be clean and clutter-free, along with photogenic.

Home staging can help accomplish this, and has been proven to bring in more interested buyers and sell your home quicker and for more money. In fact, 85% of staged homes sell for 5 percent to 23% over list price, and a staged home can stay on the market for just 23 days, according to the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).

How much does home staging cost?

The cost to stage a home ranges widely, anywhere from $1,000 to $8,600, with the national average running from $2,300 to $3,200, according to FixR, a home remodeling website.

Generally, a home stager will charge first for a consultation, which can cost $150 to $600 for two hours, FixR reports. The bulk of the cost is then determined by the size of the home and whether it’s occupied or vacant.

A 2,000-square-foot vacant home, for example, can cost $4,000 to stage upfront, with a rental fee of $2,000 per month for all the furniture and decor until it’s sold. For an occupied home, the cost can vary depending on the rooms the seller wants staged and the style and condition of their existing furnishings.

The cost of staging a home for two to three months typically falls somewhere around 0.75% of a home’s list price, according to Pam Tiberia, owner and designer at Spruce Interiors in Hampton, New Hampshire. So, if your home is being listed for $320,000, the cost to stage it for a few months would be $2,400.

For higher-end homes, however, the cost can be more.

“Typically, luxury homes range around 1% to 1.25% of the list price for staging,” says Tiberia. “These costs include labor, furniture rentals, movers and an insurance policy to protect the inventory.”

Virtual staging might be the least expensive option, with some companies doing renderings of rooms as inexpensively as $35 a room, says Tiberia, who typically does a combination of occupied and vacant staging.

How home staging works

Eighty-three percent of buyer agents report that home staging makes it easier for homebuyers to visualize a property as their future home, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Home staging indeed offers a new outlook on your home, and each stager offers their perspective and different services. Some offer services like shopping and incorporating recommended items, such as a new shower curtain, accent pillows and updated bedding.

“Many stagers also rent these kinds of props and come in to style the home before photos and open houses,” says Tiberia.

Some other services a home stager might offer include:

  • Discuss how best to furnish a space and recommend which furniture should be removed or added, along with accessories, art and styling items.
  • Point out any noticeable repairs or maintenance issues.
  • Recommend best spaces within the house to be staged, particularly in vacant staging. (Not all rooms need to be staged, typically.)
  • Advise homeowners on defining ambiguous spaces and how to stage them. Some homes with extra rooms or funky floor plans can be solved by creative staging and furniture placement.
  • Talk about removal or changes to window treatments to lighten a space.
  • With virtual staging services, on the other hand, most companies use photo editing software to render a conceptual view of what a room or the entire property can look like, according to RESA. Some of the editing techniques in virtual staging include:
  • Paint color and floor changes
  • Removing existing furniture from a photo and adding in digital images of new furniture, artwork, plants, and more
  • Changing the visual views from the windows

Is home staging worth it?

About three-quarters of home sellers see a 5% to 15% return on investment over the list price of their home after making an average investment of 1% of the list price, according to RESA.

“There are fewer houses on the market in a seller’s market, so those that are professionally staged will typically command more interest and garner more offers _ creating a bidding war situation in which the home sells for more than the listing price,” explains Tiberia.

“In either market, a buyer’s or seller’s market, the better a home presents, the more perceived value it has, which typically makes it sell faster and for more money,” says Tiberia. “Staging addresses many potential buyer objections, such as wall colors that are too specific, tricky floor plans or worn or outdated finishes.”

Ways to save on home staging

While paying to have your home staged is often well worth the cost, not every staging service has to drain your bank account. You can do some DIY projects to save big bucks, and also use other savvy strategies in order to save:

Many times, the home sellers stop at the consultation with a stager just to get ideas and then do some of the staging themselves, says Tiberia. This could be an option for you if you’re looking to save considerably.

See if you can negotiate with the stager to reduce costs by having only certain rooms staged.

Declutter and clean your home to make sure buyers can actually see what they’re potentially purchasing. Box up, clear out and spotlessly clean every surface to make it sparkle for tours. If you need to keep some items, you can rent a storage unit (although this can contribute to costs) or ask a friend or relative to store it in their basement or garage until you move. Otherwise, you can give items away or sell them.

Painting interior walls yourself with a white or off-white color can change things dramatically. You may also want to hire a professional window cleaning company to help showcase your home’s natural light.

Updating lighting and fixtures can also enhance rooms, notes Tiberia. You can add decor such as mirrors or floor and table lamps.

One final pro tip: Move all furniture away from the walls. It’ll help communicate the ideal flow in each room to buyers, and help them envision how they can maximize the space.

By Lee Nelson, Bankrate.com. Visit Bankrate online at www.bankrate.com.