Kitchener-Waterloo Vacant Home Staging Basics

Home Stager with Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc.

This is an article I wrote which is being featured not only in Rooms in Bloom's newsletter, but several other Realtor newsletters in our area. I just thought I would share. Also - if anyone else has any input on how they handle inquiries about the feasibility of staging vacant homes, I would love to hear what you say. For us, we get inquiries daily which is why I thought I would write this short article.

Vacant Home Staging Basics

        Yesterday, my partner Alana and I received our third inquiry from a Realtor about what was involved in staging an empty house they had listed. This particular house had gone on the market at the beginning of December and had received very little interest. The family had already moved out and left nothing behind. We were asked by the realtor, did we think it was worth it to stage the house to garner fresh leads and interest from buyers? Well, you tell us what you think. Of the two photos below, which one would you rather market or buy? Which one do you think would give buyers the best sense of room proportions and house potential?

            Yes, maybe after viewing the pictures it seems fairly common sense to invest the money in staging as the results are spectacular. However, the cost of vacant home staging can be quite prohibitive for realtors and sellers alike. We strive to point out however; we live in an age where buyers are incredibly discriminating. People expect the home they will be will buy to mirror something they have seen on HGTV so the staging cost needs to be factored into the basic house selling budget. It's important to realize that only 10% of buyers have the ability to realize a home's potential - regardless of whether it is staged or not. That means if a house isn't showing well, then the sellers are missing out on connecting with 90% of the people walking through the home. With those kinds of statistics, sellers can't afford not to stage their homes.

            Vacant home staging is an essential way of getting buyers to connect emotionally to a house. Stark, empty rooms only tell potential buyers that this house is unloved and fails to project the image of a lifestyle which someone will want to buy into. This is why model homes are always furnished. Empty models are just empty rooms. When someone buys a home, they are buying into a lifestyle, envisioning their new lives within the walls of that house. Furniture gives buyers an excellent sense of a room's proportions in addition to defining the spaces so that there is never any guesswork as to what a room's purpose is. In addition, if that house also has any design flaws, required repair work or obvious faults, there is nothing to distract a buyer from focusing on that particular element. For example, we staged a huge home recently which was beautiful but had acres of white carpets which desperately needed to be cleaned and stretched. Without furniture, there was nothing to distract buyers from thinking of how much money it would take to make the carpets livable - or to replace them altogether. This home had sat on the market for six months before we staged it, and then within two weeks of staging it received multiple offers.

            So what exactly is involved in staging a vacant home? First, there is the initial consultation where professional home stagers will come out and view the home, take measurements and create a room by room design. Yes, there is usually a cost associated with this service however it is an essential part to the process. The second step is to decide how much of the house you want to furnish. Depending on the house and the layout, you may or may not have to furnish every room. We stress main living areas, master bedrooms and bathrooms as those areas garner the most interest from buyers. Some homes, due to their open concept design would look awkward unless all connected rooms are staged. Your home staging professional will be able to advise you on exactly what should be done to create the overall effect you need to lock in people's interest and emotions.

This means that once furnished, the seller will be paying a monthly cost to continue to rent the furnishings. This cost is a percentage of the overall cost of the items being rented and can range from $36 for a set of lamps to $250 for a complete bedroom set. This cost should go down for subsequent months as long as the home staging company has negotiated those terms with their furniture rental company. Rooms in Bloom always tells their clients that after the first month's rental, the furnishings cost goes down 10% for each subsequent month.

             When we talk to our clients about staging their vacant homes and they balk at the cost, we caution them to view the big picture. If their house sits on the market for 120+ days (national average according to the statistics from the Real Estate Staging Association), can they afford the carrying costs for two homes? Of course there is never a guarantee that staging will ensure the house sells, however staging has been proven to help sell a home in a third of the time than an un-staged home. Selling a house is stressful at the best of times, but using the tools at your disposal to give your property the best possible chance at selling fast and for top dollar can't be discounted.

            So, you decide - which house would you be drawn to from the pictures below? This is the tangible effect staging has on potential buyers. In an age where people want the house of their dreams but are less willing to put in the work to achieve it, staging fills the gap and gives buyers what they are searching for.


Heather Cook, Rooms in Bloom Stylist, January 2009.

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Heather Cook  is Co-Owner and Principal Staging Designer of the award winning Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.


Contact us today so we can help you create the WOW Factor in your home.



Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ann Heitland 01/08/2009 01:55 PM
  2. Dan Rabourn 10/29/2009 03:32 AM
  3. 1~Judi Barrett 11/01/2009 01:57 PM
  4. Marjorie Taylor 10/25/2011 02:22 AM
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Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

Looks way better -- most people won't stage vacants however.

Jan 08, 2009 03:30 PM #2
Pangaea Interior Design Kitchen & Bath Design, Remodeling
Portland Oregon - Portland, OR

Hi Heather,

This is a great article. What a good idea to get it into real estate newsletters! Your photos are great and your pricing information is realistic.

Pangaea Interior Design, Model Home Decor & Staging.

Jan 08, 2009 03:38 PM #3
Ilyce Glink
Think Glink Media - Chicago, IL
Best-selling author, award-winning TV/radio host.

Heather- Great post. I don't see a lot here on AR about vacant staging lately. I have some YouTube videos on my channel, ExpertRealEstateTips, about home staging if anyone is looking for more information.

Jan 08, 2009 04:17 PM #4
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Cindy - thanks! It was a challenge to stage that bedroom, especially as there was no room for bedside tables! We realized that on either side of the bed there was wiring for the new owners to be able to put in wall mount lights instead.

Bob & Carolin - I agree, staging a vacant always looks better! Of course not everyone has the money to do it every time however I believe as more vacants are staged and sold in our area, realtors will start jumping on the staging bandwagon. With more information at their fingertips from us they will also be able to advise their clients before we are even brought into the picture! That's our goal!

Pangaea - We get lots of realtor newsletters delivered to our houses so we just started calling the agents up to see if we could help by adding something to them. Most were thrilled with the idea!

Ilyce - I've seen some posts on here about vacant home staging however so many people who we talk to in my area don't know about vacant home staging, what is involved or what it costs. I thought by writing an article we could distribute it would take some of the guesswork out of it. It's also an eye opening comparison between unstaged and staged! I will definitely check out your information as well - you can never have too much!

Jan 09, 2009 12:00 AM #5
Fernando Rosado
West Palm Beach, FL
561-906-0050 or 561-840-8950

Heather I simply LOVE the master bedroom staging, what an amazing , drastic change..great job

Jan 09, 2009 03:49 AM #6
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Fernando - My partner and I got chills once we had the bedroom done - it was my favourite room in the house!!!! It had a wonderful asian feel to it and its made me (to my husband's consternation) consider doing our bedroom in a delicate asian theme.

Jan 09, 2009 06:55 AM #7
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Heather, beautiful work and a great post! I love how you took a very challenging layout and made it into a showplace!

Jan 09, 2009 07:06 AM #8
Rhonda Hay Rawlins
Glastonbury Home Staging - Glastonbury, CT

Heather - Very nice job. Some of the new construction has these odd shaped rooms that can really intimidate a buyer, it is so helpful for them to see it set up. You offered a great solution. This will sell quickly.

Jan 10, 2009 10:46 AM #9
Cindy Marchant
Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 - Carmel, IN
"Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

As a realtor, I have learned the value of staging.  For vacant houses, I usually insist on the lower/main level to be staged;  especially the kitchen and bathrooms.  I try to get my clients to leave furniture on the main level if at all possible.  It's been my experience you "get" the buyer on the main level and usually unless it is something major won't "loss" them on the 2nd level.

You have done a great job showing what stagers can do in a room!


Jan 11, 2009 10:44 AM #10
Lori Donegan
Ready 2 Stage - Cleveland, TN
All I can say is WOW! Those first photos are a perfect example of the impact a staged room photo has on the internet. I wouldn't give the first room and second look, but the second photo got my attention and even made my eyes pop out!! You did a fabulous job....if only we could convince the rest of the world!
Jan 11, 2009 12:41 PM #11
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Annie - Thanks for your comment! Its tough sometimes when there *are* odd shaped rooms to show buyers the potential of the space. I just wonder - if these rooms aren't staged - how do people see themselves and their furniture in there? Some may but I'm guessing the majority can't!

Rhonda - Thanks for your coment - and you're right - both of these homes sold quickly!

Cindy - I agree with you about prioritizing which areas should be staged. We tell clients that the main floor is like the entree at a restaurant - its the part that is going to sell the buyer and keep them coming back for more! Bedrooms are great staged - especially if they are oddly shaped rooms - however the only bedroom we really stress is the master bedroom. Just because so many buyers are looking for a "spa" type getaway these days. We want to make sure they get that impression with the houses we stage.

Lori - It's amazing isn't it - the difference staging can make? It gets us every time and we love being able to show buyers just how awesome a house can look. And all we can do is transform one house at a time!

Jan 11, 2009 11:23 PM #12
Tanya Venable
Orlando, FL
SEO, Mobile SEO, and Internet Marketing Consultant

Heather, your work is beautiful. I love both rooms, but you really brought that bedroom to life. Very dramatic finish. Great job!


Jan 14, 2009 03:35 AM #13
Shelley Roufs
Simply Staged Homes - New Ulm, MN

Heather - You did a beautiful job in words and visually through your photos!

Feb 15, 2009 10:47 AM #14
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Tanya and Shelley - thank you very much for your comments!

After adding this article to our newsletter we have been contacted by a number of realtors who handle model homes, and vacant homes on a consistent basis. As we seem to have become "specialists" in staging vacant homes and our services cost considerably less than an interior decorating's design services, we have become innundated with inquiries.

This means we should have lots more beautiful "before" and "after" pictures to post soon!

Our new realtor partners really valued both the concise manner in which we talked about vacant home staging as well as seeing the dramatic results.

Feb 16, 2009 11:24 AM #15
Robin North

Hi Heather,

I am a home stager in Cambridge and I was wondering where you rent your furniture from?  Your pictures look great.



Feb 28, 2009 01:27 AM #16
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Its great, we bring this article to every vacant home consultation we go to - this really helps sellers and realtors see the visible difference after a vacant home is staged. We also include RESA 2008 stats as they demonstrate how vital home staging is:

Vacant unstaged home - 190 Days on Market (over 6 months)

Vacant staged home - 28 days on Market (less than a month)

Jul 13, 2009 01:46 PM #17
Roch St-Georges
EXIT Realty Matrix LTD., Ottawa, ON - Ottawa, ON
Real Estate Agent | Agent Immobilier

great work. pictures are great .. what a remarkable job.

Oct 09, 2009 02:46 AM #18
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

Heather -  A great work both in the post and in the staging.

Nov 01, 2009 01:55 PM #19
Cindy in Florida

My sisters and I are trying to sell my mom and dads house in Florida.  I really need to  know more about staging mobile homes.  These pictures are great.  I need help.

Jan 20, 2010 06:52 PM #20
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Cindy I hope you found help! Its always tough selling a home - especially a parent's home which is always full of memories.

Apr 02, 2010 04:46 PM #21
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