Home staging has become a standard step in the selling process, for good reason. Even in a heated seller’s market, where homes seem to be selling before the For Sale sign even goes into the ground, many buyers will still pay a premium for a property that meets their high standards. Cue the home stager, with a low-investment, high-return strategy that’s been shown to yield quicker sales and higher offers.
The rising popularity of this practice has prompted a number of agents and home sellers to pose this million-dollar question: Who should pay for home staging? Based on my 10 years of staging experience, collaborations with hundreds of listing agents, and countless homes staged and sold, here are my thoughts.
Cost of Home Staging
Home staging can come at a range of price points, depending on the size of the property; the number of rooms, their sizes and layouts; the property’s location; the scope of staging; and the listing price. The more furnishings and accessories are required, the higher the cost. Generally speaking, be prepared to spend anywhere between $250 for a staging consultation, to $15,000 or more for full-house staging, depending on how extensive it is.
If you have sticker shock, remember that you should get all of that back, and then some, at the offer table.
Now, before we get into who should get the stager’s invoice, home sellers should clarify the scope of services when hiring a listing agent. Before you enter into any agreement, know what is included as part of the commission fee, and what’s considered “extra.”
Option 1: The home seller pays
Home sellers who understand the value of home staging are generally more than willing to make the investment. For the past decade, several studies related to home staging’s return on investment (ROI) have shown consistently positive results. HomeGain’s 2010 survey shows a rate of return of 583% on an investment as small as $500.
Almost 10 years later, Realtors surveyed have indicated that home staging increases the dollar amount that buyers are willing to pay for a home by up to 20 percent. On the average Canadian home, which is priced at $696,000 according to the Canadian Real Estate Association’s April 2021 market report, that’s a whopping $139,200. In Toronto, where the average selling price was $1,090,992 in April 2021, that’s an additional $218,198.40. Stats like these consistently prove that home sellers have the most to gain from a home-staging investment.
Option 2: The real estate agent pays
Another option is for the Realtor to pay the initial two-hour consultation fee. Again, be sure to clarify who will be responsible for any additional costs incurred, consultation overages, and the actual home staging. Typically, these costs fall back on the home seller.
Option 3: The real estate agent reimburses the seller on closing
This option gives offers the best of both worlds. The seller would make the initial home staging investment, which the agent would repay to the seller for a portion of the cost once the home is sold. For example, the seller would get the cost of the two-hour consultation back, and it is then at the seller’s sole discretion if they choose to invest in any additional staging time and services.
The option poses the least risk to the agent, should the seller choose to take their home off the market, does not implement the recommended changes, or insists on listing the home at a price that is too high.
Option 4: Go Dutch
Last but not least, some agents and sellers agree on a 50/50 split to cover the cost of the initial home staging consultation or the full amount of home staging on a defined cap. Show your support for home staging while still ensuring that the home seller has some “skin in the game.” Again, this should be clear at the get-go and outlined in the contract between the listing agent and the seller.
Each listing and the circumstances around it are unique, but finding a way to get the competitive advantage home staging provides is key to both the home seller and the agent. In my professional experience, home staging is more effective when sellers pay for it, because they are invested financially, which leads them to value and implement the stager’s recommendations.
While I do think it is the seller’s responsibility to pay or share in the cost of home staging, I do believe it is the real estate agent’s responsibility to educate the seller on the value of home staging.
Toronto-based stager Red Barrinuevo is the property stylist on HGTV Canada’s Hot Market Series and the Principal Designer at Redesign4more. He is an award-winning interior stylist who was also named one of the most influential people in real estate staging this year by RESA Global. His firm is known for enhancing and creating stylish yet functional spaces through its creative home staging, interior decorating, and design services. www.redesign4more.com