The Results Are In!

Home Stager

HomeGain surveyed about 600 real estate agents from all around the country to determine the top relatively low cost, do-it-yourself  home improvements for homeowners getting their house ready to sell. (low-cost is defined as under $5,000).

In my opinion, a home is properly "staged" when all of these items have been addressed, but for the purpose of this survey, it is given its own category and ranks #3. The top five home improvements that Realtors nationwide are recommending (based on those that offer the best return on investment) include:

   1. Cleaning and de-cluttering
   2. Lightening and brightening
   3. Home staging
   4. Landscaping
   5. Repair Electrical or Plumbing



Cleaning and de-cluttering is still the most frequently suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2003).  This very low cost improvement was recommended by 99% of Realtors and usually costs less than $300.  When cleaning and de-cluttering are done right, real estate experts estimate a return of nearly $2,000 to the home’s sale price.  That's a 586% return on investment! 

Check out the graph below to the return for all the other improvements:

home gain survey 2011

(reprinted with permission)

Sellers need to prepare their homes for sale before putting them on the market,” said Louis Cammarosano, General Manager at HomeGain.  “Homes that have initial appeal have a better shot at selling faster and closer to the asking price than homes rushed to the market with no improvements.” 

Learn more about the 2011 HomeGain Survey.  For more information on how to prepare a home for sale visit




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Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, Former Realtor®, Author, Speaker, and Owner of Staging4Smooth Transitions - specializing in assisting seniors with their downsize moves and offering Home2Home Transitions seminars. Karen is also the Social Media Manager and Administrative Coordinator for Prudential CT Realty, in Madison, CT and Co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System - an interactive multi-media program teaching do-it-yourself homeowners EVERYHTING they need to know about preparing a home for sale. Stay up to date on the latest staging and home decor trends by visiting Karen & Ann's Home Sale Success Blog.  



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Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Wow, Karen. My take on staging - it should be perhaps one of the most important factor (and btw. staging means de-cluttering, lightening and brightening as well as landscaping - isn't it? I'd leave repairs out of staging, though.)

Feb 18, 2011 08:00 AM #53
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Wow, Karen. My take on staging - it should be perhaps one of the most important factor (and btw. staging means de-cluttering, lightening and brightening as well as landscaping - isn't it? I'd leave repairs out of staging, though.)

Feb 18, 2011 08:00 AM #54
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Karen -- Thanks for posting this. I may not have found it otherwise. I love to show sellers charts to drive home a point -- especially with the cleaning and clutter.  Good to see the home staging on there, too!!

Feb 18, 2011 08:04 AM #55
Margo Otey

whether the $ figure returns are right or not, if this gets your seller excited about making the changes necessary to have a marketable works!  Thanks for posting!

Feb 18, 2011 09:20 AM #56
Dawn Crawley
Dawn Crawley Realty - Pinehurst, NC
Find Pinehurst Homes

Nice blog. The kitchen and bathrooms really stand out on that graph as they should!

Feb 18, 2011 09:37 AM #57
Bill Burchard
3B Realty: 951-347-3818, CA - Murrieta, CA
Broker, Realtor, Representing Buyers and Sellers

Good evening Karen. This is great info for home sellers... especially the cleaning and decluttering numbers. It really pays for itself... and I suspect sells the home sooner-rather-than-later.

Feb 18, 2011 11:15 AM #58
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Karen, nothing is a bigger turn off to me when I go see a house than if it is dirt and or cluttered.  So it makes sense that they would be at the top of the list as things to do.

Feb 18, 2011 11:38 AM #59
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Karen - thx for clarifications.  That makes sense (although it does bring into question some of the validity of the "data."  If you are talking small improvements to kitchen (e.g. fix a floor or add granite countertops or paint the cabinets, than this makes sense).  But, large remodels only tend to return 70% on the dollar (a figure which I don't like to hear but is true).  But, this also does not consider how much less the house would have sold for if remodel not done nor time on market.

Feb 18, 2011 12:32 PM #60
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Thanks for the information.  I've bookmarked this for future reference.

Patricia/Seacoast NH & ME

Feb 18, 2011 02:07 PM #61
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

Karen this is very useful information that can be shared with sellers. Wish that I could re-blog this one. Thanks for sharing my friend. Have a great weekend. Great post.

Feb 18, 2011 02:57 PM #62
Don Hintz
2D-enterprises / HAUS Design, LLC - Anderson, IN

Great post.  Some solid numbers worth keeping and quoting and using going forward.  Thanks.

Feb 18, 2011 03:05 PM #63
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT

The first thing sellers want to do is paint, but your statistics show that cleaning, decluttering, removing the big heavy drapes and blinds that keep out light, buying a few more lamps and putting a higher wattage light bulb in the remaining lamps can do more to sell their home for less money!  Wish I could reblog this!

Feb 18, 2011 03:19 PM #64
Lynn B. Friedman
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ... - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Karen,

Fits with our advice to Clients - MAKE YOUR CLOSETS LOOK HALF EMPTY.

You are moving anyway - pack up all out of season items and take them to a storage locker somewhere.  People often move to get more space.

Seeing LOTS of room in closets signals to Buyers that they will have room to expand in the home.

Have a happy day -


Feb 18, 2011 03:49 PM #65
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Cleaning and de-cluttering is so important.  I think it's hard to over emphasize the effect it has on the way the home shows.

Feb 18, 2011 07:02 PM #66
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Karen -- as a professional home stager I'm glad to see the latest Home Gain statistics.  We know that items #1-3 (which are all part of staging) help homes sell faster.  Thanks for sharing the information with the rest of us!

Feb 18, 2011 08:04 PM #67
Karen Bernetti
Southington, CT

Glad to see so much agreement among Realtors - this is such important advice for our sellers to hear.  For some reason I continue to see homes for sale where these basic things aren't being done.  To those who mentioned wanting to re-blog this post - I have no problem with that at all.  I'm not sure why you can't.  The "allow others to re-blog" box is checked so you should be able to. 

Feb 19, 2011 08:45 AM #68
Sarasota & Manatee Counties FL
SaraMana Properties - - Bradenton, FL - Listings In Paradise

Good blog post Karen. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Feb 19, 2011 04:30 PM #69
Gail C. Harris
Resource Network, LLC SFR, AHWD, ACRE, SMAR Board Director - Chesapeake Beach, MD
Reach the BEACH with Gail C. Harris (cell: 703.868

Interesting how de-cluttering came in at #1; glad to see staging in the top three. :) Great post.  Congrats on the featured post. :)

Feb 19, 2011 08:56 PM #70
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

You said;

"In my opinion, a home is properly "staged" when all of these items have been addressed"

From my perspective I would completely agree. I see many homes that have clearly been half prepared. In other words the "show" is done, but the "go" has been ignored. The electrical, plumbing and other mechanicals need to be looked at before sale, because they for certain be looked at once that contract is signed.

Feb 20, 2011 08:03 AM #71
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Karen, intuitively, my feelings were very similar to the survey.  Thanks for giving us the information to back up our claims.

Mar 12, 2011 02:58 AM #72
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