Study: Home Staging Can Sway Budget-Conscious Buyers

Move-in-ready appeal is important as cash-strapped consumers look for properties in which they don’t have to sink extra money, a new NAR report finds.

With high housing costs forcing more home buyers to max out their budgets, many are seeking a move-in-ready property for which they don’t have to sink money into renovations. Even for a listing that may need minor repairs, proper home staging can beef up the appeal of low maintenance and speed up the sale, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2023 Profile of Home Staging.

“As days on market has lengthened for home sellers, it is not a surprise to see the return of home staging as a tool to attract potential buyers,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s deputy chief economist and vice president of research. “Buyers want to easily envision themselves within a new home, and home staging is a way to showcase the property in its best light.”

Staging isn’t just for the benefit of in-person visitors: Buyers who see photos of a staged property online are more willing to do a physical walkthrough, survey respondents say. Of note:

  • 81% of buyer’s agents say staging helps their clients visualize life in a home.
  • A third say staging boosts home value, particularly if the aesthetic fits the client’s tastes.
  • Nearly a quarter of survey respondents overall say staging may help buyers look past property faults.

Though many buyers want a move-in-ready home, you should be cognizant of how reality television shows are manipulating their understanding of the market. Sixty-four percent of respondents to the say their buyers have been disappointed with homes they’ve toured versus homes they’ve seen on TV. Fifty-five percent blame TV shows for giving buyers unrealistic expectations about how homes should look.

Get staging inspiration from REALTOR® Magazine’s Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

“When getting ready to list a home for sale, it’s vital to complete the necessary prep work to make a favorable and lasting first impression,” says NAR President Kenny Parcell, who is also broker-owner of Equity Real Estate Utah in Spanish Fork, Utah. “REALTORS® provide valuable guidance on how best to make your home an inviting space that connects with prospective buyers and stands out from the competition.”

To Stage or Not to Stage?

Even though homes have sold quickly in most markets over the last year, many real estate pros recommend staging services to their sellers. However, practitioners most often recommend staging for luxury or stigmatized properties, according to the survey. Only 23% say they stage every listing, whether they do it themselves (median cost of $400) or hire a professional ($600), NAR’s report shows.

But absent professional staging, pros say homes still need to be well-prepped before going on the market. About half of respondents say they don’t stage properties but suggest that sellers declutter and fix any property faults. Additional home improvements agents most commonly recommend to sellers include professional home cleaning, carpet cleaning, painting and landscaping.

Despite the clear advantages of staging, real estate pros have mixed views on the ROI. Fourteen percent of respondents say staging can lift home value between 6% and 10%, and 20% of respondents say staging can increase the dollar value of offers by 1% to 5% compared to similar unstaged homes. However, 34% of respondents say staging has no impact on either. Twenty-one percent say staging “greatly decreases” time on market while 27% say it contributes to a “slight decrease.”

Not all areas of a home are given equal attention when staging. The living room, primary bedroom and kitchen are the rooms where staging makes the biggest difference to buyers, according to NAR’s survey. On the other hand, the guest bedroom is viewed as the least important room to stage.

NAR 2023 Profile of Home Staging