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This is a question that I hear frequently from those considering selling their home: “What happens when I work with a stager?”

Although many people are now familiar with what home stagers do, there are still plenty of people who don’t know what home staging is, how it gets done, who does what and the like.  So here is some insight into working with a home stager.

The first question (over the phone usually) is whether or not the seller will live in the property while it is on the market (occupied) or the property will be empty (vacant).  The advice below is geared towards sellers who remain in the property while on the market, not vacant properties.

Staging Occupied Properties

Stagers working with sellers who remain in the property will generally offer a consultation to sellers or listing agents.  This consultation consists of a walk-through review of the property, coupled with a staging report, recording the findings of the walk-through and advice for the property.  The report will typically include recommendations on storing items, de-cluttering the space, paint color suggestions  and furniture layout plans.

The report may also include a retailer list on where to purchase items and suggested handymen/contractors for any repairs that need to be made.  This report is typically completed within 24-48 hours of the initial visit, or immediately after the walk-through is completed.  Please keep in mind – no space is off limits and many of the consultations include curb appeal and backyard advice as well, if appropriate to the sale.

Compensation

Expect to pay anywhere from $150 – $400 for a 2-hour consultation, which is the range for an averaged-sized 3-bed, 2-bath home.  Of course, the price is variable due to the location/market of the proposed sale, stager expertise and time needed to conduct the consultation.  Usually the stager should be able to provide an estimate of the consultation cost during our initial phone conversation, based on basic information about the property.  Payment is typically expected on the day of the consultation, not at closing or one week later.

Important: The seller and the real estate agent should determine who will pay for the staging consultation before the stager is hired!

The report may also include pricing for the stager to return to declutter and store items, shop for furniture and the final furniture and décor placement phase. Those prices will vary widely, depending upon how much of the home sellers own furnishings will be used and how much will need to be rented or purchased before the open house.

Odds and Ends

Most home owners have WAY more items and things that they need for showing their home, so the home seller should expect to store excess personal items. Storage units can be rented, or mobile storage is easy, or a friend’s garage can be a great way to store items away from the home.  Also any pets should be removed from the house, so the stager can get a full view of each room.

Some home stagers are also excellent crafters and DIYers, and are known to assist the seller in updating their home very economically. Stagers have been known to make headboards from plywood, hang fabric drapery panels and use sellers items efficiently.  Any DIY projects that the stager recommends will most likely be included in the staging report.

In the end, the stager’s job is to help sell the house, but also help the seller showcase their house or condo in the best way possible. It may take a little elbow grease and time to get it all done, but the savvy stager will make the house show better than most sellers ever thought their house could!

Roslyn Ashford, MBA, is a former corporate recruiter turned home stager, and native Washingtonian (as in DC).  She hosts a bi-weekly tweet chat for home stagers and loves to stage small and vacant homes. Learn more about her growing company here or follow her on Twitter to keep up with the daily hilarity!

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

About the Author

Roslyn Ashford, MBA, is a former corporate recruiter turned home stager, and native Washingtonian (as in DC). She hosts a bi-weekly tweet chat for home stagers and loves to stage small and vacant homes. Learn more about her growing company here or follow her on Twitter to keep up with the daily hilarity!

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