Is Staging worth it?

Staged Family room
In the past 5 to 7 years the phenomenon of staging has become a big part of selling a house in this area and as the market softens the question of it’s value will inevitably come up. My answer to this question is, yes…if you want top dollar for your home.

The concept of staging came from developers who wisely created environments in new model homes that really showed off the possibilities of their product…and sold a bunch of them as a result. As a response to that success several entrepreneurs began to offer the same services to Realtors and sellers to enhance the look of their homes prior to marketing them. It’s really an art and often includes things as small as towels, dishes and even a random negligee strewn suggestively over the corner of a bed. The idea being to create an emotional appeal to a property that, hopefully, would subtly make someone want to buy it. The cost for a full staging will typically run from between $3000-$5000 and, naturally, a really big property would be more expensive than that. That doesn’t include expenses for things like fresh paint, or upgrades that may be useful like new light fixtures or kitchen counter tops.

I’ve read in other blog posts the suggestion that buyers are smart enough to be able to see through staging and that it is an unnecessary expense and I used to believe that myself for quite awhile. Here’s two stories that changed my thinking.

I was competing for a listing in San Mateo once and when asked about staging I said I thought it was not that important and if we just cleaned the place up a bit we would do just fine. I told them I thought they could get $900,000 if they did what I said. My competition recommended staging…he won and got the listing. They both painted the house, inside and out, and fully staged it. It got 15 offers and went well over $1,000,000…the first house in that area to do so! I was amazed…and I also began a relationship with a stager that week. The stager I use, Claudia Connor with Casa Bella Lifestyles, is really outstanding with both design and color implementation. She really understands what creates a mood and how that mood inspires action.It’s an impressive talent!

My second story was a short time later. I had a listing on a busy street in South San Francisco and my clients were going to paint the interior, as well as do some other upgrades and eventually we were going to stage it prior to listing it. Myself, Mr. Seller and our painter all thought we should use off white with white trim…Mrs. Seller wanted more color. I had Claudia come over and she immediately recommended “Monroe Bisque” for the base and “Shaker Beige” for the trim. (She has this thing about color memory, go figure!). All the guys shut up and listened to her. At the first open house three people said to me “What color is this? I love it!” There were four houses on the market in that neighborhood at that time and we had the worst location on that busy street…yet we were the only listing that got multiple offers. The house went $31,000 over asking.

I think there’s a very real question about the expense of staging right now since it is possible that a home could take more than a month to sell but I’m a firm believer in creating a plan to sell a listing…and staging is part of that plan. Even in the slower market of 2007 I had several listings sell quickly that were staged. My listing on Lurline in Foster City was a good example. The sellers painted everything inside and out, including the kitchen cabinets and put a new granite counter top on and of course we staged. The end result was 11 offers and $129,000 over asking. Here’s a link, the living room, dining room and master suite are Monroe Bisque and Shaker Beige (my good luck colors!):



  1. Hi Jim

    Wow!!! This is great!!
    very useful
    and yes , I am a firm believer in staging
    a home to set the tone

    many buyers are not able to see themselves in a home.
    Its up to the seller to make all buyers a guest in their home that want to stay
    hey! try baking some cookies in the oven in winter months
    and serve fresh cut up fruit in cups in warm weather, sure to be a hit and buyers will remember- they had something yummy! in a home that was inviting
    best wishes to you Jim
    Radhika and Sunil

  2. I agree with you. While there are definately a few people that can imagine what to do with a vacant home, the truth is, most of us cannot. Aside from getting a home sold faster, staged homes do usually sell for more money as opposed to vacant homes. They add an element of warmth and really highlight the homes features. Staging can be expensive, but when you put it against the potential gain (or loss if you choose not to stage), it’s a minimal cost. Painting and changing out old hardware are great, but without staging, it tends to look like you wanted a quick fix. Staging is the cake, with the paint being the icing. I’ll have to check out “monroe bisque” and “shaker beige” but I’m a fan of Benjamin Moore’s designer white for trims!

  3. Claudia Connors says:

    Hi Jim…

    Thanks for your kind words in regard to our staging talents…

    We’ve been staging for 10 years now and the importance of presenting a home at its best is always a priority whether it’s a hot market or a slow market. You absolutely need to make your home shine the brightest in order to get a quick sale, top dollar, or multiple offers. What you put into it is what you get out of it. It’s so important to create a space that a potential buyer can see themselves in. Quite often the homes we’ve staged for live-in clients are so transformed through furniture placement and accessorizing that the current homeowners hate to leave.

    As far as the paint goes, we have had great success with Monroe Bisque and Shaker beige – both wonderful wall colors, neutral and warm. Swiss Coffee is another great trim color too!

  4. “since it is possible that a home could take more than a month to sell….”

    I had to go back and check the date on this post. You guys have it pretty tough out there, huh Jim? More than a month. Imagine that. While the Columbus real estate market consistently fairs well, I think I’d rather be selling in Foster City.
    Great Blog, keep up the good work.

  5. We’re all incredibly spoiled in this area Joe! One of the biggest challenges I had last year as a listing agent was trying to get sellers to come to terms with an adjustment. Everyone thought they were entitled to multiple offers and $100,000 over asking. A month still seems daunting to many…even now. I can understand how disgusting that must seem to folks out of this area.

  6. Hi Jim, I just came across this article. I would tend to agree that it adds a lot of value to a property and really allows a good company to hide a properties weakness and amplify it’s strengths. I know investors who do no staging, investors who stage just kitchens and bathrooms ($300-$400), and investors who do full staging.

    We go back and forth what to do… it’s so hard to compare results as no property, neighborhood or market is the same.

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