In a tough sales market, staging can help move a property. Barb Schwarz, who claims to have invented home staging in the early 1970s, estimates that about one in four homes nationwide are now staged.
Julie Dana and Marcia Layton Turn state in their book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell, that a seller stands to gain as much as $9,000 on a $200,000 house if it's staged.
Shelly Wagner, a Detroit-based stager, estimates that the cost per room for staging is $100 – small potatoes if it really helps a home sell.
Here are some ideas from Wagner for effective, low-cost staging:
- Remove scatter rugs and knickknacks from every room.
- Get rid of everything on the kitchen counters, including appliances, except for the coffee maker.
- Remove as much as you can from closets.
- Hire a cleaning service if necessary to make the house spotless. Scrub floors, walls, and windows. Pay special attention to the microwave, oven, and refrigerator.
- Focus on the feature rooms, the living, dining, and master bedrooms. Additional bedrooms are best left empty or minimally furnished.
- Arrange the furniture to show off each room’s best features.
- Set the dining-room table with napkins, plates, and flatware.
- When showing the house, turn on soft instrumental “buying” music, preferably classical or jazz.