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Should home stagers spend as little as or make as much as possible?

Home Stager with Chicagoland Home Staging LLC

As professional home stagers there is always the balance of being able to showcase the home in its best possible light vs asking the seller to spend as little money as possible. Of course every seller has a different budget and we need to be sure that we understand this when making suggestions. Sometimes, often because we are so accustomed to dealing with trying to show that we can work on very small budgets, that we don't do the best we can for our sellers by not making the recommendation to remove their furniture and rent new, more modern pieces. 

Is it about saving money or creating a return on investment?

House flippers understand that investments can and should be made in order to make money in real estate. Creating the most equity in the home isn't always about using what is available, sometimes it is in fact about making changes and spending money up front in order to make more money at the end.

st charles home staging

Take this dining room. There is nothing wrong with any of the furniture in it. It's fairly common for many people. It fits in the home and with minor adjustments and a professional photographer could look much better for MLS photos. This would appeal as a lower budget option. 

home staging in chicago st charles

If the seller has a larger budget that they are willing to invest in their home before selling, they could achieve this. The return on investment is ultimately much higher than the lower budget option. Not only does it open the pool of buyers, but it also creates a higher list and sale price. 

Stunning is better than so much better

While I'm certainly not saying that all homes need major remodels, but sometimes if the seller is open to the idea, dramatic changes can be revealed. This St Charles home (the same as the one above) had great bones. Some features like the light stained hardwood floors and carpeting were less desirable in today's market. 

st charles home staging chicagoland

Not only did we swap out furniture for rental pieces but some other major changes happened. Adding darker hardwood floors, painting the dark trim work, and changing the wall colors throughout, the home now has a crisp modern feel that competes with new construction.   

chicagoland home staging roi

For more information on how to prepare your home for sale in today’s market, call Margaret and our team of home staging professionals today 815-530-3566.

Posted by


Margaret Gehr is the principle owner of Chicagoland Home Staging, servicing the greater Chicago area for home staging, redesign, and design projects. We work in both occupied and vacant homes. 


Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

Those are really fabulous statistics and clearly demonstrate that the return on investment was well worth the changes. Who wouldn't (assuming you had the money to invest) write a check for $14,000 to get $70,000 back? I think I'll run and get my checkbook right now. 

Jun 10, 2013 06:09 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Margaret- well done.  If a seller has it in their budget and they want to get as much as they can, then it would be wise for them to make the investment. 

Jun 10, 2013 10:46 AM
Margaret Gehr
Chicagoland Home Staging LLC - Naperville, IL

Thanks for your comment Kathy.

Though this seller did do alot they understood most of it was deferred maintenance so it was a necessary evil. I helped them make the right selections in materials and color and put their money where they would get the biggest return. I often hear Realtor's recommending new carpet, paint, etc but they are not all experts in room design and often side with caution and over neutralize a room.  Working with an experienced stager can give you the very best results every time. The smallest portion of the budget was staging but you can see it everywhere...from the online pictures to every room you step in. That said if they didn't have the budget I would have helped them prioritize a maintenance list first and gave them a DYI plan using their furniture. :)

Jun 10, 2013 11:31 AM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Those were great changes Margaret and the sellers were smart to listen to your expert recommendations.  What a great ROI they received, as a result!  In this case, staging was good for the sellers and also for the neighborhood, since this is now a new Comp that will help rising values.

Jun 10, 2013 12:01 PM
Margaret Gehr
Chicagoland Home Staging LLC - Naperville, IL

Absolutely Maureen! It definately helps everyone. I did a consult across the street early today for another neighbor.  It a beautiful thing!!

Jun 10, 2013 12:07 PM
Birgit Anich
Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors, 203.807.4040 - Norwalk, CT
CT Home Stager Fairfield & New Haven County

Fabulous changes and a wonderful blog post that really showcases well what the difference in staging investment amount can make. Great post, Margaret!!

Jun 10, 2013 01:30 PM
Margaret Gehr
Chicagoland Home Staging LLC - Naperville, IL

Thanks Birgit! I appreciate your comments. I'm sure you know it all comes down to how you package the property.


Jun 10, 2013 02:12 PM
Ben Gerritsen
Mortgage Miracles Happen, NMLS ID: 1289680 - Ogden, UT
Mortgage Loan Originator

I've watched a few families stage their home lately and the difference it makes is enourmous.  When done right, results happen.

Jun 10, 2013 03:36 PM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

These are amazing changes.  I vote for a rich return on investment.

Jun 10, 2013 04:51 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Margaret, I can see where a staging budget can make a big difference in the home's interior. Good Job!

Jun 10, 2013 07:00 PM
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate
Margaret, the before and after pictures are amazing. Great job!
Jun 10, 2013 08:44 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

The before and after pictures are some of the best I have seen- what a great post to show a seller who is on the fence about staging! Thanks so much! 

Jun 10, 2013 10:05 PM
Suzanne Otto
Six Twenty Designs - Lansdale, PA
Your Montgomery County PA home stager

Beautiful pictures Margaret. I always try to get across the point of a small investment now will yield a big return later. Unfortunately, some just don't want to go all the way so we try to work with what they have.

Jun 10, 2013 10:47 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

My answer to your question: it depends... as with lots of decisions it depends on the objective of a home owner, their financial situation, etc.

Jun 10, 2013 10:50 PM
Roger Stensland
Keller Williams Realty Puget Sound - Maple Valley, WA
Let's Move!

Your staging is mavalous, dawlin'!  Seriously, it sure makes a difference.  This is about as vivid of a difference as I have seen.  Great job.  So, deferred maintenance aside, what was the cost of the staging?  In my area, staging seems very inexpensive, but I understand that it can run up to about 1% of the sales price of the home and return on an average of 7% more on the sale price of the home.  This data is about 4 years old, so I don't know what the current stats are.  I have been working mostly with buyers and do not see many houses that are staged professionally or by the sellers.

Jun 10, 2013 11:02 PM
Tracy Oliva
West USA Realty - Arizona - Fountain Hills, AZ
The Oliva Team Arizona Agents

Great Job!!! keep up the good work and good luck with your business and your sales,    E

Jun 10, 2013 11:11 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

To make someone say the words...stunning, gorgeous or elegant...it must be so. Enter the professional stager and their work....

Jun 10, 2013 11:20 PM
Harry F. D'Elia III
WEDO Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I would have to say it depends on the home and the sales price. It comes down to the bottom line.

Jun 10, 2013 11:26 PM
Margaret Gehr
Chicagoland Home Staging LLC - Naperville, IL

Thanks for your comment Ben - once you personal see the results over an over it just becomes part of your marketing

Sharon - just a typical job for us... :) Thanks!

Thanks for your comment Michael - Its even more amazing when you have great results and little budget.

Thanks so much Connie :)

Lise Thank you! - is all about education. if we don't as professional educate the seller and offer all the options then are we really providing the very best service?

There are lots of great stagers out there!

Yes Suzanne - each client is different and unique and in the end you have to work with what you got. :)

Agreed Nina. Sometimes new carpet, painting, etc is not an option but clean, decluttered and each room arranged for best possible showings and pics is a must because thats free!

 so nice of you to say...dawling :) seriously..this staging was not that much .05% of selling price. we added 2.5 rooms of furniture and reworked alot of their existing pieces throughout the home. I think the best staging starts with a plan...starting with who's your buyer.  

Jun 10, 2013 11:27 PM
Margaret Gehr
Chicagoland Home Staging LLC - Naperville, IL

Thanks E

Richie as long as the buyer thinks so it's a win- win

Agreed harry.  it's ALL about the bottom line. Honestly there are cases where a slash and burn might be the best option. thanks for your comments. You can only help the helpable!

Jun 10, 2013 11:39 PM