To Stage or Not to Stage: A Comparison in Pictures

Real Estate Agent with Park North Real Estate CA DRE# 01893222

A couple of years ago, I helped some clients upgrade from their condo to a single family home.  Rather than sell the condo, they decided to rent it out. Since they also hired me to list the rental and find their new tenants I brought in my photographer to get professional-level photos. The unit was vacant.


Flash forward to this past Spring. The tenants were leaving so my clients decided to sell the condo. Again, we prepped the property and had it photographed, this time with staging. The only other changes were new paint and a new kitchen countertop.


Since I used the same photographer for the rental and the sale, I thought it would be an interesting comparison/ contrast to see the photos side-by-side. Staging can be a big expense and sellers often wonder whether the additional cost is worth it. It is.


Here are a few examples comparing a vacant space with the same space shown staged. This is a 2-bedroom, 1-bath “railroad style”  Edwardian flat. At the entrance is a large formal parlor, then 2 bedrooms and a split bathroom, followed by a large kitchen with adjacent den (or possible dining room). The den leads to a large private deck through a sliding door.











The front parlor is large in size, making it difficult to conceptualize how to create proper traffic flow. Staging anchors the room and gives a visual on how the space can be used cohesively.











This bedroom does not have a great deal of light due to the window facing out to a lightwell and the neighboring building's wall. Staging helps to distract from the "view", and adding color doesn't make it seem as dark.











Hallway to hell?? To the left, the hallway seems long and uninviting. On the right, a table, lamp and pictures provide texture and interest.











The kitchen looks almost monochromatic on the left. To the right, a dining table anchors the room and lets buyers know it can be used as an eat-in kitchen.











When empty, the den adjacent to the kitchen seems small and its use confusing. The space appears larger, yet cozier when furnished.











Which deck seems more inviting to you?


While much of the home buying process is very tactical and process-oriented (e.g. loan documents, interest rates, buying points, etc), the process of finding the right home to purchase is a very emotional one. “Will my furniture fit there? Can I envision myself entertaining in this kitchen? Will grandma’s antique hutch fit in the dining room? Does this ‘feel’ like my home?” This is where staging comes in.

Staging tells a story. It gives buyers a visual understanding of the space. It also, by the way, makes the marketing materials much more inviting, which can drive even more buyers in to see it. Arguably, homes that are staged sell for more money than un-staged or vacant homes. Staging gives a room spatial reality and actually makes a space look bigger. It shows what functions a room can serve and makes it easier for buyers to envision themselves living there.

By the way, this property sold for 40% over the listing price after less than 10 days on the market .

Posted by


Debra Donovan

Park North Real Estate

Direct: (415) 518-3489




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Comments (5)

Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Debra, what a difference, and staging makes so much difference.

Nov 10, 2016 08:32 AM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Debra Donovan This is an excellent report on home staging.

Nov 10, 2016 09:09 AM
Debra Donovan

Thank you John! I thought it would be an interesting comparison since I had 2 virtually identical sets of photos.

Nov 11, 2016 01:15 AM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

story told...condo sold !

Nov 10, 2016 09:19 AM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Some staging on vacant homes does help sell them faster

Nov 10, 2016 09:42 AM
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Nothing like real photos to show how staging works.

Nov 10, 2016 01:29 PM