More Tips for Staging Model Homes

Home Stager with Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging


Staging model homes in a condo complex or a housing development is often not that much different than Staging any vacant home, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

A model will be Staged for a longer period of time than a normal home.
A model is generally Staged for many months, until most - if not all - of the units in the building have been sold. It could be furnished for 6-12 months or longer (especially in today's market). Of course we recently Staged 3 model lofts in a contemporary Santa Monica building and they were all sold within 2 months (read my post about this great Staging success story), but that's the exception and not the rule!


1) Ask your furniture rental company about discounts for long term leases.
Some give discounts for leases of 4 months or more, some for leases over 6 months. Of course you will need to put in your contract with the developer that the unit must remain Staged (and paid for) for a term of no less than that number of months so you can fulfill your obligation to the rental company.

2) Don't Stage for a particular season.
As Stagers we often choose our color palette and fabric selections differently for summer versus fall or winter. We might include heavier drapes in the winter, but opt for lightweight sheers in the summer. Or we might put in a few light holiday touches around Christmas, etc. But keep in mind when Staging a model unit that the style has to work for the whole year. Consider setting aside some money in your budget to come back for a few hours every 3 months or so to switch out some throw pillows, bedding or curtains to account for seasonal changes. Just make sure you're getting paid for your time!

The next thing to think about is...

Who are the targeted buyers for the home?
Often a developer already knows who the potential buyers are for the homes he's building. If he's done his research, who his buyers are has been a determining factor in both the neighborhood selection and price range.

In some cases smaller floor plans might be geared towards single professionals or young couples with no kids, whereas larger units may be marketed to families. Or you might be Staging in a college town, where parents are purchasing these condos for their kids to live in while going to school. In any case, determining the buyer you're trying to target is the first and most important step, so make sure to ask your client who his intended audience is for these homes.

Once you've determined your audience, you need to ask:

What is my potential buyer looking for in a home?
A young professional might want a second bedroom to be either a home office or a guest room she could rent out to a tenant to save on the mortgage. Or she might want a dual-use office with a daybed that could convert to a guest room when company arrives. A family would obviously want one or more bedrooms for the kids, but they might also appreciate a space for their computer in a more common area, where they can monitor the kids when they're online. So think like your buyer thinks when determining how you will Stage the model home.

Explaining your design and room-use choices to your client in these terms will assure him that you've thought hard about the choices you've made and that you're not just trying to make the place look pretty, but that you're thinking specifically about what will sell these homes to his target buyers.

Take these steps and you'll not only be on the right track for this Staging job, but you'll be sowing the seeds for many future jobs with this developer!

Coming soon...

Tips for Staging Multiple Models in One Complex


Annie Pinsker-Brown | Stage to Sell
Owner & Principal Designer

"We get you to SOLD so you can get on with your life!"

Stage to Sell is the premier West Los Angeles Home Staging Company.

Owner & Principal Designer Annie Pinsker-Brown is an ASP (Accredited Staging Professional), a member of IAHSP (International Association of Home Staging Professionals), an affiliate member of the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors and a member of the Culver City and West LA Chambers of Commerce.

Annie has Staged LA homes for Bravo's hit show "Million Dollar Listing" and TLC's "Property Ladder." She has also been featured in recent articles on Home Staging in Los Angeles Magazine, The New York Times, Costco Connection and Frontiers Magazine.

If you would like to see more of our Home Staging work, visit our website. There is an extensive gallery of before & after photos, as well as a list of our Staged properties currently on the market.

Comments (13)

Wendy Timmons
Move Home Realty - Temecula, CA
Temecula Realtor

Annie- Great post, as always! We haven't done a model- YET! But when we do, I will be refering to this :)

Nov 07, 2008 06:27 AM
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Thanks Wendy! I'm sure it will happen. I hope these tips will be useful. Also keep an eye out for my next post on Staging multiple units. That's where it really gets tricky! :) Have a great weekend.

Nov 07, 2008 06:42 AM
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Annie: Great timing with this post. We are bidding on models for two different builders right now. If I can't get the pricing low enough for long term rental, then I will be pushed to buy furniture, once I get the commitment from the builder. In the past, I have lost these types of jobs since I couldn't get the extended months rent low enough. Now, I'm not willing to let that happen. I have been out pricing furniture for the past two days. I'll look forward to your continuation of this series.

Nov 07, 2008 08:01 AM
Robyn Guinn
StageAZ - Phoenix, AZ
Home staging, Arizona

Hi Annie, great advice, I just finished a model for a condo project.  It will be fairly easy to change out colors in drapes and pillows on this one...............I hope.  It's set for fall now and could probably go through February as is.  These are a little different than a vacant house, more stagey maybe? 

Nov 07, 2008 12:56 PM
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Thanks Michelle! I emailed you offline about this with some ideas. Talk soon!

Nov 07, 2008 03:25 PM
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Hi Robyn, that's great that you can make it last through February. Maybe all the units will sell by then! If not, a little change wouldn't hurt for spring. Yes, a little more stagey I think. :)

Nov 07, 2008 03:26 PM
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

HI Annie!  I love your strategy of thinking like the buyer thinks when determining the staging...this is so important in every staging, not just for models!!  Great post as always!!! 

Nov 07, 2008 03:35 PM
Julea Joseph
Reinventing Space - Chicago, IL
Julea Joseph House Stager - Reinventing Space

Hi Annie,

Great Post. I do want to stress there are many forms of Model Home design and staging involvement for our industry. From simple projects, which can be a sister of vacant staging,  all the way to working with the builder from the blueprints - up.  All obviously require industry education and experience; but if doing the latter, more intense education and experience. is a crucial requirement. I have always suggested to take your leap into Model homes in phases, and baby step your way up.

Nov 07, 2008 11:35 PM
Michelle Pimentel
Empire Home Staging Solutions - Upland, CA
ASP, IAHSP Empire Home Staging


This is a great post!  Staging builder models usually does bring a long term contract and I find that most of the builders that I have worked with, do want to sign contracts for a 6mo.'s minimum,... as you know the So Cal market has required this!  Knowing the tracts demographic studies really does help in preparing the models for the right buyers. Thanks for posting this great information!

Nov 08, 2008 02:44 AM
Debbie Salmon
keller williams - Vancouver, WA

Thanks for taking the time to post this ... excellent information

Nov 10, 2008 04:35 AM
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Cathy Lee, thank you. It's true that much of this applies to any vacant home, not just models!

Nov 10, 2008 07:21 AM
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Hi Julea, you are so right. I probably should have mentioned that, but was just trying to address one aspect of model home Staging. Of course it's true that you can get involved from early on in the project, helping with layout, selecting paint colors, flooring and finishes. I wish more builders consulted a Stager or design professional before they finalized their plans. I often see problems that could easily have been addressed that turn into "uh oh's" that we have to Stage around. Thanks for your comment!

Nov 10, 2008 07:23 AM
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Hi Michelle, I agree that knowing the demographics give you a huge leg up on selling the units quickly to the targeted audience. Thanks!

Debbie, thanks so much for taking the time to comment! :)

Nov 10, 2008 07:24 AM