Staging an Empty House: Tips to Talk About with Your Stager

Updated on August 16th, 2022

Whether you’ve recently moved out of the home you’re selling or are selling in another state, it’s very possible that your home may lack one element to help buyers say yes – staging. You may be thinking, “Wouldn’t buyers rather see an empty home?” The studies have spoken and according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 82% of buyer’s agents said staging an empty house made it easier for potential buyers to see themselves living in the home.

So when it comes to staging an empty house, we’ve consulted staging experts from Charleston, SC, to Portland, OR, for their best advice. Read on to find out the benefits of staging an empty house and how the right professional stager can help you sell your home quickly and for more money.

front door first impression of a staged home

First impressions count

Home staging is the best way to give your house a facelift so it’s ready for photos and viewings. With a small investment in staging, you can maximize your profits and appeal to a larger target audience. Staging tips to consider: 

  • Plan ahead. Contact a stager a month before you plan to list, that way they can hold the best furniture and accessories for you. 
  • Neutralize and depersonalize. Bold color and personal items can be very distracting for buyers. 
  • Declutter. Donate or sell items you don’t need. Clutter is a sign of no storage. Leave it to the professional – take the stress out of staging and call us today.

 – SB HOME Staging and Design 

Staging makes a home feel welcoming

Vacant homes are cold, can echo, and the minor cosmetic imperfections are easily noticed by buyers. Staging creates a warm welcoming environment. The furniture placement is intentional in highlighting the best features of a home, makes a home look larger and more modern, and most importantly helps buyers imagine themselves living there. – Home Enhancement Co

Staging an empty house helps entice buyers to visualize the life that could be

  • 99% of potential buyers view property online before they decide to take a closer look. Staged homes stand out for the crowd and entice more foot traffic.
  • 95% purchasing decisions are emotional (Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman). With the use of sensory design (i.e. professional staging) and marketing, we put forth projects on social media that give the property more visibility but more importantly retain attention. Clients spend more time in staged homes and start the fantasy of moving in. Visualizing yourself in the walls is almost as good as signing a contract and often increases the value of the home by 5%. 
  • We carefully place furniture, direct your gaze to real-estate enhancements and decorate in a non-personal manner. We take charge of your experience and the walk through. With the help of carefully crafted vignettes we indicate each space function. Stage it well it will sell is our motto. 

– Valerie Delahaye-Ippolito, Mahalo Hale

Staging creates a special feeling for homebuyers

Staging turns a cold, empty home, full of echoes and sounds of emptiness, into a warm and comfortable environment. Although vacant homes reveal space, only 10% of buyers can visualize how furniture will look in an empty room. The idea is to help buyers picture themselves living there. Placing furniture and accessories helps buyers get a feel for how their own furniture will work in their new home. When buyers walk through a staged home, they’ll get that special feeling that will linger with them long after they leave. – Laura DuPont, Color Perfect Maine

staged kids room in an empty house

Quality staging helps buyers see the space at its best

Professional staging is not just the placement of furniture and art in a vacant home. It requires a thoughtfully executed design that compliments the style and layout of the house and helps buyers see the functionality and flow of a space. Quality staging can create an emotion that connects a potential buyer to the house and makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property as their future home. Professional staging also helps the buyers feel more confident in making an offer, reducing any objections they may have about the layout, condition, etc. Most importantly, the return on the staging investment for the seller is a faster sale and higher offers. – Lorelie Brown, M.A., CPRES, CID Owner/Design Principal Showhomes of Charleston

You have a few options to stage a vacant home

The purpose of staging is to help potential buyers create an emotional connection with the space. People make financial decisions with their emotions. A vacant home greatly eliminates the possibility of a buyer getting emotionally invested in the purchase. There are a few different options when staging a vacant home. The most effective method is to stage the full house – each bedroom, and living space is to be staged. This ensures that the seller is putting their best foot forward in presenting their home as best as possible to impress their potential buyers. 

An alternative option for staging is to focus only on the ‘core rooms’ or the ‘decision making rooms’ This option typically offers a living room, dining room, primary bedroom, secondary bedroom (sometimes an office), the kitchen and each bathroom. – Taylor Petrik, Hello Honey Home Staging

The benefits of staging an empty house are numerous

They include instantly connecting with buyers on an emotional level so they can envision themselves living there, showcasing how to set up a room that might have confused a buyer, and highlighting architectural features in your home. We’re a full service vacant staging company, so we design and install complete spaces with furnishings, artwork, and accessories handpicked from our staging warehouse. We take into consideration the style of the home, the targeted buyer, the neighborhood location, and the listing price point when designing a stage. Just as homes come in all styles and sizes, so do our stages, so each is custom bid accordingly. We do not recommend soft staging, as this leaves a space incomplete. We recommend fully staging the primary areas of the home and leaving the rest of the areas empty. – Kelly Zabel, A Home Revival

Just listen to the statistics on staging

Staging a vacant home, why? You’ll make more money – whether the current housing market is a sellers or buyers market. Staging a vacant home enables the homebuyers to envision themselves living in the home. Online photos of the staged home will attract more buyers to view the home in person. – Kimberly Nickerson, Brighten Home Staging and Redesign

staging an empty house with a dining and living room

Prepare for a variety of costs

Contact the stager before you contact the realtor. That way, the home is already staged when the realtor gets there. Staging a vacant home depends on how many pieces of furniture you would like to use. You can rent furniture to stage the home if all the existing furniture is tied up in the new place. The cost of staging a vacant home depends upon what the stagers rates are. Some stagers charge by the square footage of the home, others charge the customer by the rooms you want staged. – Mary Ann West, West Home Staging 

If you can’t stage your home, go virtual

According to Redfin, 63% of 2020 homebuyers made an offer sight unseen. This means that your listing photographs are critical and you should never list your property vacant. We can virtually stage your home to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers by giving each room a unique and clear purpose, for a fraction of the price of traditional staging. – Amy Lang, Bridge City Staging

But nothing beats staging a home with real furnishings

Staging a vacant home with real furnishings and accessories helps buyers connect with the property and imagine themselves living there. While there are alternatives to bringing in furniture – virtual (photos only), soft (accessories and artwork only), – these methods may leave the buyer feeling let down once they actually tour the property. In order to save a little, home owners can opt to just stage the main living spaces and owner’s suite, and only add on any other spaces that need to be highlighted or addressed. Costs can vary based on property size, rooms staged, and price point (starter home vs. luxury), but for a couple thousand dollars, the investment is well worth it and almost always less than a price reduction. – Rita Oliva, Owner, Olive Leaf Staging

Give small rooms a purpose

My number one staging tip would be to always stage small or awkward rooms/spaces to give it purpose. Otherwise, these rooms could easily turn buyers off because without staging the space usually seems smaller and it’s easy to focus on the awkwardness of the space, leaving buyers questioning what they could do with it. Staging invites buyers in, makes the home feel move-in ready, makes it easier for buyers to see themselves living in the home and it helps them emotionally connect to it. An emotional connection is what sells the home. – Ali Lewis, Ali Lewis Interiors

The little things go a long way

Hiring a stager to furnish an empty home is simply the best way to maximize return on a home sale. Our secret? We always recommend a fresh coat of high LRV paint, bright, warm light bulbs throughout the home and our staging. That’s how almost 90% of our staged homes have become Redfin “Hot Homes” and have gone under contract the first weekend. – Brigid Tayebi and Sara Sealock, Metropolitan Staging LLC 

staged living room in a bright space
Photo taken by Infinite Views, staging by Studio RT Staging & Design

Don’t skip over staging an office room

A well staged house narrates a lifestyle story that prospective buyers can relate to. This is a win-win for both the parties. If the seller has budget constraints, we advise at least getting the key areas staged like entry point, living area, and the master bedroom. With the work from home trend, showing an office space/zoom room is also becoming a must feature buyers are looking forward to. We do not recommend partial or soft staging, as it may severely compromise the true value of the space. As per RESA statistics, 85% of staged homes sold for 5% to 23% over their listing price. – Arti Ramnathkar, Studio RT Staging & Design 

Vacant staging provides a clean canvas for creativity 

While we offer both occupied and vacant staging, vacant is our favorite because it allows us to design visually appealing spaces using a clean canvas. This gives us the opportunity to incorporate the latest trends while applying our creative talents. From furniture, to lamps, decorative pillows, artwork and beautiful décor, we can make any buyer feel that sense of home as soon as they walk through the door. The cost of staging a vacant home is based on square footage and number of rooms, so the estimated cost of a 1500 square foot home with 3 bedrooms, LR, DR, kitchen and two bathrooms would be around $2100. 

Here are some tips and must do’s when staging a home: 1) declutter to make rooms look larger, 2) feature special characteristics of a home, 3) dress up less appealing areas of a home using beautiful décor, 4) create a cohesive flow of design throughout the home, and 5) let the natural light in to brighten up a space. – Theresa and Stephanie TS Staging and Design

Staging provides a look into the homebuyer’s future

A home void of any furniture or accessories is void of any personality. Potential buyers are forced to use their imagination, staging eliminates that need. A staged home shows the possible buyer how the home could look with furniture and accessories, be it with art, lamps, rugs, accent pillows and so on. They no longer are forced to envision where the couch should go, chairs, where to place the rug. Staged homes are a look into their future. – Kerry Sue Blogna, GA Interior Solutions Group

You don’t get a second chance at a first impression

This year, we’re experiencing a shift in the way buyers are approaching their home viewing and purchasing experiences. Post-COVID has shown us that more buyers tend to view homes only after visiting them via an on-line picture gallery making staging even more critical to their positive experience.

Buyers are viewing multiple homes in a week and, so sellers need to make sure their home entices buyers to walk through their door. Home staging is the ultimate tool to make this enticement happen. Vacant homes seem uninviting and cold, while staged homes feel warm and appealing. To achieve this, not all rooms need to be staged, but main areas and the primary bedroom are areas that should be emphasized the most.

 In an active market, staging tends to get more value out of your home in the shortest amount of time and boosts the strength of your sale. We’ve seen unstaged homes remain on the market 83% longer than their equivalent staged home. Sellers who spend $1,000-2,000 in staging, usually recover up to 343% their investment at the sale, according to HomeGain.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so investing in staging a vacant home outweighs the cost of a home sitting on the market for an extended time period. – Kelly DeMaso, owner Simplified Organizing & Staging (SOS)

Alison is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about housing affordability and home interior design ideas. Her dream home is a cottage-style house with a chef's kitchen and a cozy room to store and play vinyl records.
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