Understanding your Houston Home Staging Estimate...


What do home stager's charge?

What's the cost?

How do you build an estimate?

Is your estimate binding?


These are but a few of the questions that we hear.  Below you will see a copy of an actual estimate.  Home Staging prices are a mystery to the average consumer and this consumer "stage fright/price fright" can often stop a client from making contact with our companies.   A quick canvass of Home Staging providers in Houston doesn't provide a clue as to what staging services cost (although, we like to say that a professional staging service doesn't 'cost' anything! Home staging is an 'investment' not a 'cost').  

Houston Home Staging is often chosen as a service provider because we post our pricing.  (visit our website for further information and our Before & After videos www.houstonhomestaging.net )  We currently provide a 90 day installation that is not pro-ratable.    After 90 days, our furniture is leased on a month-to-month basis (proratable) using the prices that you see on the estimate.

Your estimate is broken down into two basic categories:

  • Product (furniture, artwork, acccessories, etc...)  These are fixed prices.
  • Services (delivery/pickup, staging, consultations, photography, refreshment station, etc...)  These prices vary depending on location, and complexity of the project.

The prices for furniture and accessories are determined by using standard furniture rental calculations (25 - 30% of replacement cost).  So a table that is purchased for $100 is rented for $25.

With Houston Home Staging, you only pay for one month of a 90 day furniture rental.

Is our Estimate binding?   Houston Home Staging works on a not-to-exceed budget.  So, we'll guarantee a not-to-exceed price (in this example we would probably cap the price at $2500).   During the creative process, ideas come and go and no two of our stagings are alike.   Each is custom designed and installed.   Often, while loading a truck for an installation, we find a little something or other, that inspires the use of additional inventory.  This method gives each staging project a customized, fresh look.  Rather than bother the client with an additional budget request, we just bring along the new item. 

So, is our estimate binding?  The price is guaranteed, and the major pieces on the estimate are never substituted without notifying the client.   Generally, our clients aren't part of the creative process, but (if asked) we can provide photographs of the major pieces that we'll be using.

Typically, a vacant house staging is completed within a week of the initial contact with the client. (Sometimes we're able to turn our projects within 24 hours of the initial contact).    At the end of the installation, the staging is photographed, and inventoried.  The client receives a final, detailed inventory.   Typically, our final inventory exceeds the original estimated amount.   But with our not-to-exceed price guarantee there are no surprises.   Well, actually there is a surprise:   everyone's surprised that we can provide such a great staging for such a little investment!

Tom Scanlon ASP   832.260.3151

Houston Home Staging... a moving experience!

 Estimated Inventory


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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Tom- good post.  I think pricing is one of the hardest things for a Stager.  Why? Because each project/home is different as is each homeowner's budget.  And, much of what we provide is our intellectual/creative product, not tangible goods.  And, it's hard for our sellers to understand their options.   I'm heading over to your website!

Sep 11, 2010 02:00 AM #1
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Kathy:  Many thanks for your comments!


I've heard it three times in the last month:  "I couldn't tell what the other stagers were going to charge.   You're the only company that had their prices posted."

I've never had a client who wanted 'the most beautiful staging in the world'.   Our clients want great staging, but they're extremely price sensitive.  Putting our pricing out there for the world to see, has been extremely advantageous.   I learned this lesson many years ago in Paris.   Paris shops put their prices in the window.  Even the luxury boutiques do this.  I brought this technique back to Philadelphia, and just by doing this, I increased traffic and sales.

I'm sure we've all had the experience at Target, WalMart, or TJMaxx, where the price tag has fallen off of the item that we want to purchase.   It's horrible when you've waited in line at the cash register, and a 'price check' needs to be done.   In that situation, I'll generally just tell them to forget it, it's not a big deal, and I generally don't have the time (or patience) to wait.    So, is it such a stretch to imagine that the staging industry hurts itself by not publishing their prices?   Everything needs a price tag!  Goods or services all have a price, and potential staging clients don't want to hear 'price check' while standing in line for our service.

  • I truly do believe that most consumers do want our services.
  • I believe that there is an untapped resource of consumers who can afford our services.
  • I believe that these consumers don't even want to begin the staging process for fear that our unpublished prices mean that the service is unaffordable.

The foundation of Houston Home Staging has been our ability to provide attractive staging packages at an affordable price.   I'm sure that this 'published price' policy will prove to be controversial, but I think the time has come......

Happy staging y'all!

Sep 11, 2010 02:30 AM #2
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Hi Claudia:  Your 'couture' staging lingers on my mind, and I may need to return to my high fashion (or high falutin') roots.

Hi Kathy:  There's actually great resistance to the notion of published pricing.  Some feel that it gives the competition an advantage.  For me, it presents a challenge to do the best job, at the best price, and let the competition chase me!

Sep 11, 2010 08:50 AM #8
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Hi Sally:  I decided to write a long winded response (big surprise), and just as I was finishing it, I thought I'd click on something else.........thereby losing the long winded response (and the crowd is silently thankful).

Anyway,  you may expect a call from Carol Barrington regarding this issue.


Anna: The only exact item that Cort and I share is the Barcelona chair.  But, even then, I offer the matching ottoman, and I don't think that they do.   The Polka Dot chair (in the video) is several years old (and from Cort Clearance), and although still being rented it's tough to compare my inventory to theirs.

Cort doesn't really offer staging services, and their greenery is really low-end.  I rarely utilize Cort, and only this year, have I had a client who needed what they offered.  (It was a lived-in staging that was essentially vacant.  The clients needed everything (including bedding)  and......they had animals.   So, I didn't want to install my stuff.....


Wanda:    Thanks for taking the time to look at the website!

I generally go the cheapest Thrift Store in town and buy a rack of clothes.   Generally, I like all white.  The black dresses were supposed to get scarves to bring out some color, and to minimize the funereal ambiance......but, like, most good plans, that hasn't quite happened yet!

Sep 11, 2010 04:19 PM #12
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Hi Cathy Lee:  There have been several comments that consultants and seminars suggest to never post pricing. Posted pricing is not a 'down-scale' technique.  Here's just a quick list of people that I have fought on this very issue (the list is real, as were the disagreements):

  1. Pierre Berge:  Co-Founder Yves Saint Laurent
  2. Didier Grumbach: (currently) President Federation de la Couture
  3. Georges Wichner:  VP at Paris Collections U.S., (Subsequently) CEO Valentino, President Roger Vivier, President Thierry Mugler 

In the high-fashion business, these very successful companies didn't understand or agree that letting the customers see the prices was effective.   In our market (Philadelphia), consumers mentally over-priced our merchandise and eliminated us as a possible source for their fashion choices.  By putting our prices in the window (there was no internet way back then) we increased traffic throughout the boutique, increased sales, reduced our markdown percentage, and turned the first profit that the boutique had ever seen.  Of course, the crash of 1987 killed that business (sigh).

Similarly, professional home stagers have created an intimidating aura.   Titles such as Diva, and the HGTV, TLC staging presentations give the mistaken impression that we're haughty, and expensive.   Well, maybe we are.   But expensive is in the eye of the beholder (and we're actually a pretty nice group of people - not haughty at all).   $2000 is a lot of money for Houstonians to invest in staging.   $2000 was cheap in the Pacific Northwest.

Another benefit to posted pricing is that it reduces the number of phone calls from new stagers who disguise themselves as potential customers.  It also increases the conversion rate of contact-to-contract.   I had been running a 4:1 ratio of customer contacts turning into actual staging contracts.  (Four individual conversations would turn into one contract).   Now, it's down to 3:1    Actually, this month one contact has resulted in five stagings from one developer!   The primary reason(s) I was contacted by this client: 

  1. posted pricing
  2. good staging



Sep 12, 2010 01:40 AM #14
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

Tom....stopped back and totally glad!  Appreciate your "long winded" comment above!  I hadn't thought about it but I do think your right that by not posting a price....or a range of pricing....leaves some with the impression that it is thus....expensive.  It is a mental process of....I won't be able to afford this service!

GREAT discussion topic.....THANKS!!!

Sep 12, 2010 03:47 AM #15
Tessa Skeens
Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign - Denver, CO
Staging For Denver Realtors, Builders

Tom thank you so much for posting your cost breakdown on staging a vacant. I too have heard to not post prices and of course that is the first thing most people ask when they call for more information.

Here are my thoughts re posting pricing...

Many service providers do not post pricing. From designers to doctors to lawyers. For example when I was recently referred to a new dentist I took on faith that the referral came from a good source, however once I got into the dentists chair I made sure I knew what my costs were going to be upfront for the procedures. In other words, you choose a service provider based on personal requirements, their reputation, etc. and then you discuss costs or negotiate price.

In my view whenever a service provider leads with price it's to appeal to those who are looking for cost over service. Now obviously both great service and low cost can co-exist but that's the perception, no?

I agree that there is a lot of confusion out there about what staging is and how much it costs. But I think we are better off leading with educating how our service works, how it benefits, what it entails as opposed to how much it costs.

Great post!!


Sep 13, 2010 04:09 AM #16
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Tessa:   Many, many thanks for providing a valid point!  In some markets, staging has taken hold.  In Texas,  Dallas and Austin Stagers have had a completely different experience from Stagers in the Houston market.  If I were competing against Jason Maxwell in Dallas (which I kind of have), I'd compete with great staging and great price.   In Houston,  Autumn Dunne has lead the way, and her incredible stagings (they really are spectacular) used to arrive with an incredible price.  The probability of Houston Home Staging capturing any part of the miniscule market that Houston Stager's enjoyed was indeed slight.  The small success that we currently enjoy is directly related to our posted pricing policy.

However <G>........... if there is a lot of confusion about what staging is and how much it costs,  why not address the issue directly and tell the market what the cost is, show them (with photographs) what (professional) staging is, and educate the consumers about the value.   Which (I now notice) is exactly what you're writing about in your last paragraph. 

Education about staging should be about value.  Instead, we're (respectfully) still debating on the role of Realtors in the staging process.  After countless hours of staging demonstrations on HGTV and TLC, consumers are still hesitant to utlize staging professional staging services? We're still educating about staging???   If we're still doing this, and Staging companies are still struggling to get off the ground, then maybe something has been missed.  The missing element has been educating consumers about reasonable and customary charges and prices for staging services.

I'm not suggesting that we lead off with or as the "99 Cent Staging Company".    In selling anything, customers don't buy a price, they buy value.   But, at all levels of the spectrum, value can't be determined until the price is known.

Consumers of staging services are indeed looking for fashionable and attractive stagings.  Posted pricing isn't the 'lead' story.

While I'd agree that education is a valuable tool, I can tell you that I have talked myself blue in the face at Realtor seminars, and Home & Garden Shows.  I've done BNI, belonged to RESA and IAHSP.  I'm featured in the Houston Chronicle, and Absolutely Katy magazine.  I've done four episodes of Property Ladder, and appeared on Fox News (local).   I did a clip for a little talk show here in Houston, and been interviewed on the radio. I've handed out coffee cups, baseball caps, pens, and expensive portfolios.   I've done things for free,  I've discounted my prices on particular projects just to 'educate'. 

Did all of that education work?  Welllllllll, if you drop a pebble in a pond where will that ripple end?  However,  my clients are generally investors with multiple properties that need to be staged.  So, we've acknowledged their need, and posted our pricing, and the result has been clients who now trust us, and whose budgets have increased because we've provided a value adding service.

On a lighter note:  I need to visit the Dentist (really I do)<G>   But, I've delayed that service because I don't know what the pricing is (and, also, I'm fearful of dentistry).  However, I'm thinkin' that price negotiation is probably best done prior to being strapped into a chair, with some crazed dental hygienist who's  got a needle full of (whatever) in one hand, and a mask filled with laughing gas in the other  (I guess I was influeced by Steve Martin's protrayal of a sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors).   

Again, many, many thanks for your observations!

Sep 13, 2010 05:32 AM #17
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Many thanks Tesssa!  Well said!

Sep 14, 2010 06:26 AM #19
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