The first time I listened to someone give a presentation on the benefits of home staging my eyes rolled so far back in my head I saw the Realtor sitting behind me. I mean really, the furniture and decorations don’t come with the house—so who cares? And some of the claims for home staging seemed pretty over the top too, such as the assertion that staged homes sell for 3-10% over the list price. Of course back then it was a red hot seller’s market and fixers could make the same claim. But times have changed, and the market’s changed along with it. I can’t promise that staging your home will get you more than your asking price, but it will give you an edge in getting the most money in the least amount of time.

Home Staging ExampleProperly done, home staging leads the eye to attractive features and minimizes flaws. This is achieved by cleverly arranging furniture and lighting to create a feeling of space, which lends to the appeal of the property. For vacant homes, rental furniture is used to create living spaces where buyers can imagine themselves. One of the best ways to learn about home staging is to watch Sell this House on A&E. On the show, professional Home Stagers help sellers transform their homes using a little paint, furniture placement, and creativity. The results can be extraordinary.

Home in need of stagingYou can hire a professional Home Stager for as little as $200, or spend thousands. If you’re so inclined, you can try to do it yourself, but we tend to have blind spots when it comes to our own homes. So what about your real estate agent? Can’t a good Realtor give you tips on what to do? Yes and no. Speaking for myself, I can and do give such advice to some clients, but for others I wouldn’t dare. It’s too easy to alienate a seller with advice that’s shall we say, too candid.

The bottom line is: Home staging should be part of your presale preparation. The potential rewards make the small investment in time and money more than worthwhile. There’s only one downside: You might like the new look of you home so much you won’t want to move at all.