The Differences Between Staging a Condo and a House

Real Estate Agent with Real estate agent at Oak Real Estate

I'm here to debunk a common myth about home staging:  The perception that if it's a smaller property, it's always going to cost less to stage. 

Many homeowners and Realtors assume that stagers base their pricing on size of the property, and that, since many condos are smaller than single-family homes, they will cost less to stage.  While size of the property is certainly a consideration in pricing staging services, it is certainly not the only factor.  Frequently, stagers must price condos at a higher rate than a comparably-sized single-family home for a number of reasons.  Some things that stagers have to take into account in staging a condo include:

  • Security factors:  Does the condo complex have a gate?  Do you need a special key, remote, or code to access even the parking lot of the complex?  Once you make it into the parking lot, how do you obtain access to the unit?  For instance, I recently staged a unit near San Francisco which had a security gate to get into the parking lot (needed a remote to get in), an access door to the building (a separate key), and then another key to get into the unit. Each trip from the parking lot to the unit took my team anywhere from 5-10 minutes!
  • Parking:  Is there a space near the unit where I can park?  Where any assistants can park?  Are there meters or parking controls which puts the stagers at risk of getting parking tickets?
  • Access:  What is the clearance for a stager's truck or van?  How close can the truck or van get to the unit?
  • Level of unit:  What floor is the unit on?  Stair-only access makes a stager's job very difficult, and even elevator access is still difficult - consider the amount of time it takes to wait for the elevator each time, and how small the elevator is.
  • Safety:  This is a consideration for staging any home, but often condos tend to be in more high-density, urban areas.  Many people come in and out of a condo complex, and a stager always must consider the risk to his or her inventory.  If the van or truck cannot be left unattended, extra hands are required to monitor the inventory.

Just as in any other profession, in staging, time equals money.  A stager must take into account the length of time it will take to stage a property when pricing the job.  Each of the factors outlined above contribute to the overall cost of a job, and can sometimes combine to create the "perfect storm" of contributing factors which would make a small condominium more costly to stage than a single-family home which may be larger.  That being said, staging is still a vital investment for selling these properties. 

Think about it:  if a buyer goes through all this trouble to view the property, you'd better give them something worthwhile to visit once they get there!

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Boulder County REALTOR



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Marilynn Currie

I staged a condo on the 7th floor of a 34 floor highrise. The Realtor went ahead of me, opening all the doors etc. I had loaded the elevator with small furniture and accessories, he exited with all the keys to the elevator and the main door of the condo before I could press the hold button There I was stuck surrounded by our goods unable to open the door or move up or down for about 5 minutes before the realtor realized what had happened.You needed a key to start the elevator. After the condo was sold and as  I removed my goods, I made sure I had all the keys for the gates, doors, elevators and front door of the unit before the Realtor left my sight!!! You learn real fast, they don't teach this in class!!! We still ahve a good laugh about the incident .


Marilynn Abbotsford/Chilliwack BC.

Mar 22, 2007 01:54 PM #5
Kathy Nielsen - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager
Wow, these are excellent points.  I have yet to stage a condo but, will bookmark this blog as it will be extremely useful.  Thanks for sharing.
Mar 22, 2007 11:31 PM #6
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Funny, Ann, I never thought of that.  Of course there would be more help needed and that would make it more costly.....I know a realtor that sells Condos only and had three on the market, all vacant---just sitting there.  She couldn't get any of the owners to put a dime into them.  I told her to bring in a few things from home but it wasn't enough.  One sold, two are STILL sitting on the market.  The staging would have paid for itself 3 or 4 months ago!  And here the Condos cost as much as houses!

Mar 23, 2007 02:07 AM #7
Sue Argue
Staged First Impressions - Hampton, NH
NH Home Stager
Ann, great home staging information here for everyone in the real estate community and for consumers. Square footage is not the main consideration in pricing.
Mar 23, 2007 02:29 AM #8
Val Allocco
Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island - Northport, NY
HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island

Hi Ann,

I agree with Sue - you definitely gave us food for thought about pricing for various projects.  I actually staged an apartment in Manhattan and had to keep running down to pumps quarters in the meter every hour on the hour.  I was fortunate in that I only had to bring in some greenery and accessories which resulted in my making 2 trips in and back out.


Mar 24, 2007 03:50 PM #9
deborah novick
showcase your space - Larchmont, NY
When we do our proposals, we actually have line items for these - stairs needed, dollies needed, truck needed, brawny help needed....We also have a line item for aggravation!  Just that sense that a job is going to be extra hard, either because the client seems pesky, the realtor does, there's some tension between family members, someone who will be on the scene talks too much - anything that might slow us down or make the job harder!
Mar 26, 2007 02:00 PM #10
Angel Walker
Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners - Johns Creek, GA

Ann, the first vacant property I Staged was a condo. Stair-only access, parking underneath, condo on the 3rd floor.  I defintely lost money on that project.  Plus, the Realtor unlocked the door for me, but then put the key back in the lockbox, so I couldn't lock up when I finished!  This was before I got my SupraKey.  Worth its weight in gold!

Apr 01, 2007 08:56 AM #11
Lori Kim Polk
Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services - Roseville, CA
Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento

Can't say that I have experience with walking up flights of stairs, but I can say that some of my biggest Staging jobs/miracles, have been smaller homes.  What do you say to someone living in an 1100 sqft home for 20 years with 3000 sgft of furniture?  Can you say PODS?


Artful Journey Designs and Staging

Apr 01, 2007 04:45 PM #12
Reece Mack
Simplicity Home Design, Thousand Oaks, CA - Thousand Oaks, CA

I recently staged a vacant condo which was 4 stories tall.  I didn't have to go to the gym that week!  LOL.


Simplicity Home Design

Apr 02, 2007 02:05 PM #13
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

We did one on the 4th floor.  Alto there was an elevator- it was slow.  We had to put moving pads around the entire inside so the elevator walls didn't get bumped.  The ones over the door had to go up and down for each trip.

We charge accordingly! Hence, I like an" on the site paid for at the time consultation". I'm a visual person and need to see it.

Apr 03, 2007 07:08 AM #14
Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495
Stage it Right! - Melbourne, FL

I dread doing condos, and we have a plethora of them for sale here.  In fact I'm quoting one tomorrow, on the 4th floor of course.  I always up my hourly rate for condos because they take way longer to do than I think they will, just getting in and out can eat up an hour of my time when multiple trips are needed.

Terry Haugen - STAGE it RIGHT!

Apr 03, 2007 07:15 AM #15
Jessica Hughes
Ambiance Staging - Boulder, CO

Very good points! 

I just had to explain this to a woman who's loft (above a retail shop) I staged last week.  The entry led straight up a narrow staircase to the living area, then another narrow staircase (both with turns in them of course!) to the  bedroom level.  

Also, furnishing smaller rooms often costs the same.  You still need a  couch and two chairs, or loveseat, coffee table, side tables, lamps etc.  You still need all the same basic elements big or small space.

They say the same when redoing bathrooms. A small bathroom costs nearly the same to re-do as a large one, you still have all the same elements, the only difference is a little less floor tile. 

Apr 04, 2007 03:55 AM #16
Teresa Chaney
Chaney & Lewis Home Staging - Elk Grove, CA

This was a great post. Time does equal money and the size of the job not the size of the property will determine how much time and effort is needed. Thanks so much for this post. 

Teresa Chaney

Chaney & Lewis Staging and Organization Consultants

Apr 04, 2007 07:57 PM #17
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
One building my company staged charged a $250 move in/move out fee just to stage it!
Apr 05, 2007 07:33 AM #18
Donna Lynch
Welcome Home Furniture Rental & Staging - Dublin, CA

Everything you said is so true.  In addition if it's vacant, you need just about the same amount of furniture in a condo as you do in a regular house.  You may use smaller pieces, but a dining set is still a table and 4 chairs.  You still use the same pieces in a living room, typically a sofa, chair or 2, cocktail table, 2 ends etc, they might just be smaller scale.


Donna Lynch, Welcome Home Furniture Rental & Staging 

Jun 15, 2008 05:36 PM #19
Donna Lynch
Welcome Home Furniture Rental & Staging - Dublin, CA

Everything you said is so true.  In addition if it's vacant, you need just about the same amount of furniture in a condo as you do in a regular house.  You may use smaller pieces, but a dining set is still a table and 4 chairs.  You still use the same pieces in a living room, typically a sofa, chair or 2, cocktail table, 2 ends etc, they might just be smaller scale.


Donna Lynch, Welcome Home Furniture Rental & Staging 

Jun 15, 2008 05:36 PM #20
Guy Berry
Real Estate Expert Witness Support - San Jose, CA
Real Estate Broker and Legal Expert

Excellent Blog.  Never even thought of this before. 

Oct 03, 2008 10:51 AM #21
Erin McGinnis
Picture it SOLD! Home Staging - Novato, CA
Marin Home Stager Staging

I find that there is a misperception about 'partial' staging as well. Many homeowners assume that it is really cheap. While staging just one or two rooms costs less than the whole house, of course, there is a lot more to it than some homeowners think. The economy of scale comes into play. Whether I am moving a couch and a dining set or 5 rooms of stuff, I still have fixed costs like renting the moving truck (twice) and paying my movers (twice).  There is really more value in staging more of the house vs. just one room.

Dec 28, 2008 08:46 AM #22
Leslie Olson
Leslie Olson Interiors - Austin, TX
Interior Design and Redesign - Moved to Austin!

Ann -- I read your post a long time ago, but it still resonates with me. Every time I see a property where it's impossible to park, has steep hills and/or many stairs (pretty much everything here in the San Francisco Bay area!) I think of you with this blog. An excellent reminder to anyone who might be evaluating staging prices for these properties. Of course all those challenges to stagers are also challenges for prospective home-buyers too!  Thanks for the post, Ann.     Leslie

Jan 19, 2009 03:50 PM #23
Grace Keng
Keller Williams Realty Cupertino - Cupertino, CA
CRS, CDPE (408) 799-8887


Yes! the access will be the 1st and majoy issue if the stager does not get in how can she/he stage the condo.

Jan 30, 2009 06:18 PM #24
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