Who Pays for Home Staging? Agents or Home Sellers?

Home Stager with Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon CCB #180695

who should pay for home stagingWith many homes on the market and fewer home buyers, home staging has become more in demand than ever before.  Several agents and home sellers have asked us lately – who should pay for home staging?

Home staging makes houses easier to market — they look and “feel” better in person and in the listing photos. A quick sale of course benefits the real estate agent.  Should they pay for staging?

One example to consider:  If a home seller had carpets that needed cleaning, would the real estate agent advise them to do so?  Of course.  But they normally wouldn’t consider paying for the cleaning.  Likewise, home staging is an important part of home selling, and home sellers should pay for home staging.

Occasionally, sellers can’t afford to pay for home staging until after the home has sold.  What then?  We’ve brainstormed with agents and sellers and find affordable and win-win solutions to this situation.  Real estate agents are cautious (and reasonably so) before investing in staging listings that may not sell quickly and need to develop their marketing plan prior to committing to paying for staging.

We’ve worked with many different scenarios, and find frequently when sellers pay for staging, we obtain the best results. Why?  When sellers are invested financially, they usually value and implement the recommendations we give them.

While I do think it is the sellers 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. I continue to be surprised at how unprepared many sellers are when entering the Oregon real estate market.  Home sellers need to be informed of the statistics revealing:

  • Staged homes sell quicker than unstaged homes
  • Over 90% of home buyers look on the internet for homes
  • Homes that look great online get more showings
  • A 2009 study reveals staging is a necessary improvement that yields a high rate of return – over 500%
  • Homes that linger on the market are targets for lowball offers and price reductions.
  • Staging always costs less than a price reduction!

Also home sellers benefit greatly from:

  • Understanding what buyers are looking for when visiting their home
  • Knowing that sellers form a STRONG impression from the curb and within the first ten seconds of entering their home.
  • How important lighting, room function and flow is to impressing buyers
  • Learning how to declutter, clean and prep their homes for sale effectively.

Once sellers understand the competitive nature of home selling in 2010 they are more likely to be willing to invest their money in a staging consultation or to pay for vacant home staging.  We work with a variety of payment situations, depending on the seller and agent.  For example:

  • Home Seller contact us directly for a consultation or staging services and pays for all staging expenses.
  • Agent refers clients to a professional home stager and educates seller on the value of home staging
  • Agent provides a staging consultation for their listings,
  • Agent agrees to reimburse home seller for a staging consultation at closing
  • Some agents pay for consultations and have a written agreement that if the listing is terminated, they will receive reimbursement for their expenses.
  • We work with a few agents who refuse to list properties when home sellers are not willing to work with a home stager.  They won’t spend their time, energy and marketing budget on homes that aren’t ready to compete.
  • On existing listings that linger on the market, use a portion of a price reduction to invest into staging – improving the appearance and price at the same time.

Each listing and situation is different, but finding a way to obtain the competitive advantage home staging provides is important to both the real estate agent and home seller.

Need more ideas on how to incorporate staging into a new listing?  Contact a professional home stager for other creative ideas and enter the 2010 real estate market knowing your home is making the best first impression possible.

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Re-Blogged 8 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Michelle Minch 06/09/2010 04:28 AM
  2. Michael Collins 06/09/2010 04:39 AM
  3. Kym Tarr 06/09/2010 04:44 PM
  4. Lori Kim Polk 06/10/2010 05:28 PM
  5. Debra Landy 06/16/2010 03:53 PM
  6. Andrea Peters 06/16/2010 03:57 PM
  7. Dan Edward Phillips 06/20/2010 06:46 PM
  8. Kathleen Emhof 07/13/2010 10:30 AM
  9. Ginny Truyens 12/20/2011 05:50 AM
Home Selling
Oregon Marion County Salem
Stage It Forward...
The Art Of Marketing You
Real Estate Staging Association
Real World Home Staging for Newbies
Salem, Oregon area Real Estate Professionals
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Carla Dimond
CATARRA - Mountain View, CA
(Silicon Valley)

Margaret, I agree that if the seller does not pay for the service they are less likely to be invested in making sure the house stays "staged"

Jun 08, 2010 11:40 AM #1
Tessa Skeens
Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign - Denver, CO
Staging For Denver Realtors, Builders

You've made some great points Margaret. I agree 100% that when sellers are invested in staging the results speak for themselves. When you have buy in from your sellers and a pro-active agent it's an unbeatable combination that works for all parties. Sellers get their home sold and can move on, agent is able to sell more homes at better pricing in less time AND buyers get a well-prepared home ready to move into!

Jun 08, 2010 02:20 PM #2
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Many times the agents I work with pay for the initial consultation but make it clear to the seller that anything in addition to the initial 2 hour consult is up to them to pay.  It has worked out great for all parties because in some cases it only took the 2 hours and in others additional services were requested with successful results.

Jun 08, 2010 02:35 PM #3
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

Carla and Tessa - We all love it when the sellers are invested in the staging and understand the importance of keeping things clean and neat don't we!

Karen - Yes, many agents I work with also pay for the initial consultation.  Some give me a limited staging budget and pay for a redesign and some rental items (I love these ones!)  I have others who reimburse their clients for staging at closing, which has been another successful option as well.

Jun 08, 2010 03:09 PM #4
Anna Dovger
Add Value Home Staging LLC, 281-704-6607 - The Woodlands, TX
Home Staging -The Woodlands, TX

I think when seller pays for the consultation he is more receptive. if agent pays than seller consider it as a part of the package thing and looks at the clock not to be over those 2 hours than he doesn't care much...

I do like your agents :)

Jun 08, 2010 04:07 PM #5
Lori Kim Polk
Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services - Roseville, CA
Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento

I think this is a great list with some great ideas. I can only speak for our area. 3 to 6 years ago, REAs were paying for the consults, the curb appeal consults, putting $200 to $500 towards the staging or redesign. Times have really changed. Many of our REAs are doing shortsales now. They are working their tails off trying to help people save some face. A recent stat was that 77% of all homes in our area are shorts. So what do you do... you change your focus and find a new niche. Ours has been the investment props for the past 2 years.  We have always had the seller/owner pay for the staging... the REA gets us in the door. Recently though, we have seen the REA say that they will put forth a certain amount of money towards the staging to be taken at closing. Sounds like a way that REAs can help prepare the home without too much up front and a gain when the house sells quickly.

Jun 08, 2010 04:46 PM #6
Michele Hess
Simply Staged Inc. - Rockford, IL
Home Stager Rockford - Simply Staged Inc

We too find that when the seller pays for staging they are invested in the process and we see better results. They have the most to gain so it seems logical that they should pay.  However, offering a variety of payment methods has been helpful.  As you mentioned, some Realtors offer the initial consultation as an incentive to list with them.  While others reimburse the sellers for the initial consultation and/or occasionally half of entire staging cost at closing.  I have noticed a swing in the amount of Realtors offering to pay for the initial consultation out of their pockets over the past 3 years.  It is not as common for Realtors to have to pay in order to get sellers to stage.  As seller's and Realtor's knowledge of staging and its benefits has grown, so has their willingness to do so. 

Jun 08, 2010 11:44 PM #7
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

Anna - I think its rare to have a seller think consultations are a total waste of time.  I've only had one instance where the client became annoyed with me and I made the appointment short.  She did however call me the next morning saying she was ready to implement my suggestions!

Lori - Our business model is similar to yours.  About 30% of our staging are for investors or "flippers".  We've made changes and our business has boomed.  Our area currently has 9-10 months of real estate inventory listed -- agents are wisely cautious about every marketing expenditure they make. 

Michele - We have a few agents who will actually pay the staging fee if the sellers will pay the monthly furniture rental.  This is a small percent of the agents we work with.  They have seen the power staging has played in helping their listing sell, so have found it worthwhile.  Other agents are so enthusiastic and sold on staging that their clients are fully on board before I ever get there!

Jun 09, 2010 02:05 AM #8
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Whether the listing agent pays for the staging or not, we advise that the homeowner pay for the staging up front and that the listing agent reimburse the homeowner for what ever portion they have agreed to pay at the close of escrow. That way the seller is more motivated and the listing agent is protected if the seller takes the home off the market or is unreasonable about accepting offers. This is a great post, Margaret. I'm going to reblog it in some Realtor groups.

Jun 09, 2010 04:20 AM #9
Michael Collins
*ROCK REALTY|Broker|Realtor|Real Estate|WI Short Sale Agent* - Janesville, WI
CDPE, SFR , Wisconsin Short Sale Specialist Realto

Great article Margaret.  I'm sure the 'who pays' question also has a lot to do with list price.  In this economy, expense vs. income is becoming even more important for one's marketing plan.

Jun 09, 2010 04:37 AM #10
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

Michele - I'm with you and think it is a good way to do business.  Thanks for reblogging!


Michael - Yes, for many of the high end listings agents still do provide staging consultation, however, in our area they may be on the market for 10-15 months . . . at best case.  Can be an expensive venture for agents when sellers then change their minds and pull their homes off the market.  I think agents need to have an agreement to be reimbursed for staging expenses in this situation.

Jun 09, 2010 04:43 AM #11
Karen Dembsky
Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA - Peachtree City, GA
Atlanta Home Staging

great post, Margaret!  Some many ask my opinion on this -- I recommend as Michelle M suggested.  Even up at closing!

Jun 09, 2010 12:36 PM #12
Shar Sitter
Rooms With Style - Minneapolis, MN
Home Staging and Redesign Minneapolis/ St. Paul, M

I have many Realtors who pay for the staging consultation as part of their marketing plan to obtain listings. They pay no matter what the listing price of the home is.

But, I have other Realtors that never pay for any portion, even on high end homes. So I see everything.

I have only had 2 Realtors pay for staging a vacant home which shocked me! That is a lot of money out of their pocket with no guarantees.

Jun 10, 2010 07:29 AM #13
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Margaret- what a great and informative post.  This question always comes up.  I do feel if the Seller pays for the consultation then they are more likely to "buy into" it.  I like Michelle's suggestion that if the Realtor wants to pay for the consultation then having the Seller pay for it initially, then reimbursing the Seller at closing protects the Realtor.

Jun 10, 2010 12:29 PM #14
Kathleen Emhof
Buffalo, Amherst, Orchard Park and Western New York - Buffalo, NY
Home Staging and Redesign, Experts in Transition

Margaret, in my local market, this is a very relevant post!  I have reblogged it to Localism.

Jul 13, 2010 10:38 AM #15
Leanne Allen
Center Stage, LLC - Burlington, IA

This is great information and I appreciate the many insightful contributions on this topic!

Jul 26, 2010 04:00 PM #16
Tori Toth
Tori Toth, International - Howard Beach, NY
888.667.6643 NYC & Beyond, HSR, SAR, RESA, LIBOR

i always try and have the sellers pay, i've had one agent pay out of pocket and it didn't go so well.

Jan 09, 2012 06:15 AM #17
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

My recent ''cheapest'' quote for a 2 br 500k vacant condo was near 6k. Sellers really wanted to state, but immediately forgot those plans. I had to use my personal items to decorate kitchen and bathrooms to make it look a bit  better....

Nov 27, 2016 07:39 PM #18
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

Wow -- I could recommend you to some good stagers in the Los Angeles area who are more reasonable!  We offer two to three pricing options for most homes that are far less than that.  Oregon prices for real estate too are much less!  

Nov 30, 2016 05:30 AM #19
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