Staging, the process of preparing a home to be sold, is a pretty straightforward concept for most of your clients to understand. The goal is to make the home, both inside and out, look as attractive as possible to potential buyers. The focus is mainly to make the house look bigger, brighter, and as updated as possible.

Why is staging so important? According to statistics provided by both The Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of REALTORS® and the 2020 Home Staging Industry Report (IAHSP), staged houses can sell for up to 20 percent more than the non‐staged competition. Simply taking the time to make a house look its best means it will sell faster and for a higher price.

But, here’s the thing: Staging isn’t always cheap. Whether it’s new paint, furniture, kitchen decor, landscaping, or other improvements, it’s going to cost money. But whose money?

If you do it right, not yours. Or, at least not much of yours. There are ways to help your sellers cost-effectively stage their homes while also protecting your commission. It’s a win-win for everyone.

When advising your clients on how to stage their home before they put it up for sale, consider these four tips:

Include staging costs in your commission

Your client is paying you to sell their house. That’s not limited to listing it, showing it, coordinating the paperwork and handing over the keys to the new owners. They’re also counting on you for your expertise and connections that will help get the job done.

One of those connections might be a professional home stager whose job is to advise you and the seller on how to best stage the home to showcase its best qualities. As an agent, you have a good idea of what sells and what doesn’t, so you’ll work with the stager to showcase what’s best about your client’s home.

Hiring a stager can be expensive. Whether you just need the stager to walk through the home and offer some essential insight, or you need them to provide furniture and accessories to furnish a vacant house, the bill could be upward of thousands a month. If it takes you three months to sell the house, that adds up quickly.

But because staging can add tens of thousands of dollars to a buyer’s offer, it’s worth it. And because staging is a valuable add-on service you’re providing, you need to find out how much it will cost and then include it in your commission.

Recommend DIY staging

Not all home staging has to be expensive. Chances are your seller doesn’t have to pay a home stager to transform the decor of their entire house from the basement laundry room to attic storage. There are plenty of common-sense strategies you can recommend that sellers do to stage their home themselves.

  • Declutter and depersonalize: This is a simple and cheap one. Sellers may be surprised at how fresh and clean the house will look if they spent time organizing things and packing up or throwing away unnecessary items. The goal is to present an image that communicates that everything has its place and clutter doesn’t live there. While they’re picking up, it’s a good idea to remove personalized decorations and items. Remember, you want prospective buyers to picture themselves living in the house instead of reminding them that you do right now.
  • Deep cleaning: Once the clutter is gone, take a weekend to do some deep cleaning. Think of it as Spring Cleaning 2.0. If you take the time to clean every nook and cranny one time, then getting the home ready for a showing or open house will be a simple as tidying up, making the beds, taking out the trash, and heading out for a few hours.
  • Invest in low-cost upgrades: Updating paint colors to something neutral is an easy and affordable way to get your home ready for the next occupant. It gives them a blank canvas to work with when it’s time to create their own style. Other low-cost upgrades include replacing drawer or cabinet handles with more modern versions or updating throw pillows on the beds.

Stage for everyday living with bouquets of fresh flowers and fresh fruit bowls. Set the dining room table, create small vignettes like a folded newspaper with a coffee cup on a tray by a recliner, and other small touches that give off the feel of a home worth living in.

Focused, cost-effective staging

Staging can get expensive if sellers take on too many projects. So, they should be selective when investing in staging to make sure they get the most bang for their buck. One way to do that is to focus on the rooms of the house that most buyers would care about the most, like the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom.

According to the Real Estate Staging Association’s consumer guide, buyers always pay “special attention” to those areas, so it’s important to make sure they’re in the best shape possible. That doesn’t mean you should tell your sellers to invest in a major kitchen or bathroom makeover. But they can make cost-effective improvements like replacing an old vanity, repainting the kitchen cabinets and putting on new hardware, or re-grouting tile.

If the seller has already moved out and the house is vacant, you might recommend furnishing only the main rooms – living, dining, and family. Those are the rooms that are harder for potential buyers to visualize without furniture and other items currently in them. Bedroom layouts are pretty easy to picture, so there’s no need to furnish them unless they have unusual room dimensions.

Another cost-saving home staging option is to suggest that the seller invests in only an initial consultation with a home stager instead of full-service staging.  If you think the home only needs a few minor tweaks to get into ideal staging condition, this might be an option. It will save the seller some money and get the home on the market faster.

Stage with seller’s stuff

Even if the seller has already purchased another home that’s in move-in condition, it could be to their advantage to delay moving their stuff out of the home they’re trying to sell. It’s easier to sell a house that’s furnished than an empty one. So, if the seller has the fixtures, furniture, and finishes that already showcase the home’s best features, they might want to leave them there during the selling process. It’s a way to make the home more attractive and spark more interest.

They also could go furniture shopping to furnish their new home, especially if they aren’t planning to bring along all their old furniture anyway. Once they sell the old house, they can decide where to take its furnishing.

If you recommend this staging tactic, make sure it’s evident in the home listing whether any of the appliances or items in the house during the showing are included in the sale. Discuss this with the seller and put it in writing before showing the house to prospective buyers.

*Not all borrowers will qualify. Contact us for more information on fees and terms. Not intended as legal, financial, or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information.

6 tips to protect your commission when Recommending staging services. (2021, January 20). Retrieved February 04, 2021, from http://blog.rismedia.com/2021/protect-commission-staging-services/

Heidenry, M. (2016, June 21). Staging a house on a Budget: 11 ideas that’ll Wow Buyers. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/budget-friendly-staging-tips/

Heidenry, M. (2020, June 23). How much does home staging cost-and how much will you gain? Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/how-much-does-home-staging-cost/

Mastroeni, T. (2020, June 18). How to stage a home for a quick sale. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.fool.com/millionacres/real-estate-investing/house-flipping/how-stage-home-quick-sale-home-staging-tips-homeowners-realtors-and-investors/