Who should pay for staging? The Seller or the Realtor?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP 0524642

Who should pay for staging, the Seller or the Realtor listing the home? Can you blame the Seller for asking? A friend of mine recently put her house on the market for about 400k in Atlanta. She called me before listing it and asked me if it was appropriate to ask her Listing Agent to pick up the tab for this service. That's a very big question with a lot of what-ifs.

There's some very good stagers out there who literally have their own warehouse filled with furniture, decorations and a whole lot more. Some stagers will rent furniture and pass along that cost to the customer. A 3000 square foot vacant home will cost X each month it's staged. If the home is fully furnished and staged for 3 months you could be talking about several thousands of dollars. Sometimes it's smart to work with existing furniture and decorations and "redesign" how the home looks. The most common of all is a simple consultation by the Stager. A consultation visit can cost a couple of hundred bucks.

I have never said no to a consultation visit. I would gladly pay for it. I told my friend that in no circumstance would I ever pay 3-5 thousand upfront for staging. Not ever. It wouldn't matter how much money I could make on the sale of the home. It's too large of a risk and to be honest, not a smart business decision.

But what about all that commission? On a 400k house a Listing Agent will usually make 3%, or $12,000.00 for those of you still count with your toes and fingers. $4,000.00 only equates to 1/3 of the commission leaving the agent with 8 grand in compensation. That's not so bad right? I still wouldn't pay that much. Personally, I'd consider splitting the entire cost. ONLY if the Seller was buying another house with me.

Staging is a bonus, not a necessity in our market. There's a shortage of homes and people are still clawing at properties. Spending thousands of dollars to get top dollar is like tying $500 worth of balloons to Justin Beiber's belt loop in hope that somebody will recognize him at the local mall. It's like so not necessary dude.


I don't want to undervalue the benefit of staging. That's not what this post is about. Staging can be awesome for the right scenario. Who should pay for it is up for discussion. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I will never pay for full-blow staging for anyone, not upfront anyways. What I have done in the past is charged my Sellers $400.00 for light staging. Me and my wife literally went to Big Lots and bought pictures, place mats, plants, small tables and all that good stuff just to add something to the house. It's a lot of work and time, but it has helped. More importantly, it's just four hundred bucks.

If a Listing Agent spends up front money and then is asked to take the house of the market in favor of using a different listing agent then you can expect problems. The same holds true for the use of professional photography. The Listing agent is a person just like you and me. The theory of quantum merit comes to mind. What he or she is worth before they'll go away.



Lots to consider.



Posted by


Greg Nino
, Houston area Realtor®.
Helping residential buyers, sellers and tenants 7 days a week.
Available @ 832-298-8555 

RE/MAX Compass (Formerly RE/MAX WHP)





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Sylvia Jonathan
Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties - Irvine, CA
Broker Associate, SFR

When a seller has nice or at least decent-looking furnishings but needs to pare down or re-arrange, the consultation fee of a stager is worth every penny. To sweeten the pot, I have thought of paying half the fee (I would spend that much for advertising if the house is on market a long time) and promise to credit the seller at closing for the balance if they do what the stager recommends. This way they actually must do something to earn back that consultation fee. If you just pay it, send the stager and then hope the seller will come through, you will likely be out good money.

Jul 26, 2013 03:22 AM #61
Francine Viola
Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA - Olympia, WA
REALTOR®, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs

Great post!  What I have done is agree to pay for the consultation or maybe a month's of staging, however I don't pay it up front.  I tell the seller they will pay for it and then at closing, I will reimburse them.  So many times I have paid for staging consultations to have the seller not do anything the stager recommended.

Jul 26, 2013 03:49 AM #62
Ymeki Stevens
Keller Williams Realty Partners - Woodstock, GA

Great Post! I feel that is the sellers responsibility to have their house staged.

Jul 26, 2013 05:11 AM #63
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Greg, we believe it should be the seller either directly or higher compensation on selling.

Jul 26, 2013 06:40 AM #64
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

I will pay for an initial consultation to a max of $150 (depending on house and situation). But past that, it's up to the seller. It's their property in the end.

Jul 26, 2013 07:24 AM #65
Lilly Rahbar
Simplistic Staging By LJR - Santa Clara, CA
Simplistic Staging By LJR

Hi Greg, here in Santa Clara/San Jose, I've mostly been getting calls from agents that are searching for stagers such as myself, then passing the bids to the seller for them to decide on which stager they would like.  The agent has been the middle-man regarding scheduling and payment, but about 80% have been paid by the seller.  The other 20% have been the agents that are offering "free" staging as part of their listing package which can valued between $1500-$5000 for full staging.  Just depends on the size of the home and if the client wants all the rooms staged.  A few high producing agents can afford to pay out of their pocket but the majority of sellers pay for the consultation fees as well as the staging fees.  I never have the client pay with two checks.  When I provide a bid, my pricing is a flat rate that includes everything I do from prepping, to coordinating with the rental company to staging and de-staging.  I am the middle person when it comes to paying the rental company since it's easier for me and less stress on the client.  I have some furniture that I provide, but I do not have my own warehouse and perfer it this way.  The company I rent from has inventory for over 100 homes and it's nice to be able to pick and choose pieces that will compliment the home.  Most stagers require that payment is paid upfront and rarely do we accept paying at the end of escrow.  Like everyone has mentioned, you never know if a buyer will back out at the last minute or if the contract ends for whatever reason.  Stagers have been busy in our area and a lot of homes have been receiving multiple offers of $20k - $40k over asking price.  

Jul 26, 2013 07:28 AM #66
Jennifer Manchester
Suburban Properties of Charlotte, LLC - Mint Hill, NC
GRI, ePRO, ASP - Broker/Home Stager

As a stager and a broker, I can tell you that I include a consultation only as part of my value added service. If clients need furniture rental, decluttering, repairs, painting, updates etc. that is on them.  This is customary in the Charlotte, NC market. For agents that are not stagers in this market some offer a selection to the seller (to pick one); they can have the LA pay for a home warranty, staging consult or even an inspection.  Some LA's pay a stager to provide the consultation on every listing they take while others offer to split the consult fee with the seller.  I don't know of very many agents that will pay for a full blown staging (myself included) There are too many variables many which you mentioned.

Jul 26, 2013 07:36 AM #67
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

I will pay, and have, for staging consultations to help the sellers improve the looks of their home. Not really any different than paying for a professional photographer and about the same cost, perhaps less. I do not pay for any staging itself, if recommended, although I am happy to share things from my storgae, including towels, artwork and knick knacks to spruce things up.

Jul 26, 2013 08:46 AM #68
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

In my professional (home staging) opinion it's best to have the sellers pay.  They value the service far more when they pay.  

Jul 26, 2013 09:50 AM #69
Elena Piedra
Alpha Staging Design - Alhambra, CA

As a new Home stager, having done a few jobs for Realtors, the seller was the one who picked up the bill.  Only one Realtor paid my consultation, as a gift for her clients, who had given her some referrals...small investment to say thank you.

#56  Completely agree.

Jul 26, 2013 01:03 PM #70
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

When the Realtor pays the initial consultation it encourages the seller to think creatively about presentation of the home. Much can be done with the seller's own furnishings by rearranging things and scaling back on clutter. I think this first step is so important that I WILL pay, but that's where I draw the line. I tell the seller upfront that any additional services the stager offers would be at their expense. In most cases, the seller decides to take advantage of the initial consultation and implement the suggestions of the stager on their own  rather than utilize the stager for an hourly fee or pay to rent furnishings.

Jul 26, 2013 01:08 PM #71
Lisa Friedman
Great American Dream Realty - Essex, VT
29 Years of Real Estate Experience!

I do not feel that it is the agent's responsibility to stage a home. They are hired to market the home, negotiate the offer and bring it through successful closing. If someone is willing to pay over the typical commission then I may consider doing it.

Jul 26, 2013 03:34 PM #72
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I believe I would have the seller pay for it. Listing agent spending money out of pocket before the home is sold. Too risky! Spend the money on marketing the property to attract buyers.

Jul 27, 2013 01:39 AM #73
Sussie Sutton
UTR Texas Realtors - Pearland, TX
UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers.

I would not pay for staging either. This is a hard question.

Jul 28, 2013 11:24 AM #74
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I think you have this right.  I might be willing to give them a credit at closing for some staging cost.  But there are a lot of variables. 

Jul 29, 2013 08:57 AM #75
Tyler Soulliere
Windsor Realtor - Windsor, ON

Great post and always something to consider when getting a new listing. I agree with the light staging (never thought of calling it that) as I have done this as well. It takes more time and effort to do this, but in the end you save everyone money and get a pretty good end result.

Jul 29, 2013 10:46 PM #76
MeLisa Minter, Realtor
RE/MAX Space Center - Taylor Lake Village, TX
Taylor Lake Village Real Estate Broker

I don't think I would be paying for staging.  However, I may consider sharing the cost for a Staging Consultation, as I have done before.  I've found that 90% of the time when the customer gets the quote for the staging job, they are flabbergasted at the cost! So this could be a strategy that agent's could use in order to make their seller's understand how costly staging can  be.  I'm sure it doesn't feel too good when they realize the total cost that they're asking an agent to pay, for staging their home!   They wouldn't ask a surgeon to pay for the prep work that's needed in order to perform surgery!                  

Aug 09, 2013 06:10 AM #77
Dave Gubler
Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Lake Forest, Ladera Ranch - Lake Forest, CA
Realtor | Orange County

Under present market conditions, high demand and low supply, I feel that staging is generally unnecessary unless the sellers are looking to "push" the market (exceed the market).  If they are looking for a home run then proper staging is usually going to be a plus (we're all consumers and most of us are suckers... myself included... for "polish").  That said... the seller should pay.  They stand to gain the most from staging and should be willing to make the investment.

Aug 20, 2013 08:22 AM #78
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

I love staging and I believe that it money well spent by the Seller.

Jan 12, 2014 12:37 AM #79
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Compass Real Estate, a very fast growing bokerage now in about 25 markets across the US, offers to pay for staging, deep cleaning, painting, cosmetic renovations and landscaping, to be reimbursed at COE. There is no cost to the home seller to use this program, other than having the agreed upon expenses paid to Compass when escrow closes. No interest, no additional fees. The vendors get paid up front for their services, paid by Compass. I think this is the new face of real estate. If you are not offering to pay for staging and painting and the Compass agent is, everything else being equal, there's a pretty good chance the Compass agent is going to get the listing.

Excluding Compass agents, in my market in Los Angeles, most staging is paid by the home seller. In certain areas with a high concentration of Asian agents, we sometimes see the agent offer to pay for staging in order to get the listing.  As a stager, I prefer that the home seller pay for staging, as they have "more skin in the game" and are more likely to take the home selling process seriously. I always counsel the agents I work with to reimburse the seller at COE for any expenses they agree to share, in order to protect the agent. The seller pays any costs up front.

Apr 19, 2019 06:57 PM #80
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Greg Nino

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