How Great Home Staging Can Sell Your House FasterWhen it comes time to put a house on the market, most homeowners know that they need to clean out their home, haul out clutter, and fix any major aesthetic issues, but home staging takes these organizing principles a step further. According to the National Association of Realtors, 49% of surveyed Realtors believe that staging has an effect on the buyer’s view of the home.

So what does home staging mean? “Home staging is preparing your home for sale to appeal to the largest pool of buyers who will see your house,” says Tom Partello of StagedRight Homes. Tom, a longtime resident of Maplewood, NJ, started StagedRight Homes in 2008 with his partner Wendy McEwan. Wendy and Tom have worked on hundreds of projects, assisting realtors and sellers with making a dramatic first impression to buyers, thus increasing selling price and shortening time on the market. Home staging can turn a forgettable house into a memorable home, often in two short days.

“We approach this is through an overall strategy of recommended repairs, updates, and actual staging,” adds Tom. “We create an overall design plan for each room taking into account this strategy and choose our stock based on that design plan before staging. We provide our clients a to-do list of everything we think they need to do leading up the actual staging of each room. We help them choose paint colors, updated light fixtures, upgraded countertops, etc. if necessary. We also tell them what furniture, accessories, and items to remove from each room and what we will bring in to make the spaces the most visually appealing.”

Staging is about dressing your house up for sale and creating a mood. It’s about removing furniture, cleaning out spaces, and adding small details to make it look magazine-worthy. “On staging day, we bring in all the furniture, lamps, rugs, accessories, etc., and properly arrange them to showcase how each space can be used in a home,” adds Tom. “But more than that, staging sells a lifestyle that indicates to buyers that they too can live the life they imagine when they look at the pictures and stand in the spaces that have been stylishly remade through staging.”

It’s about perfecting the space to make it look bigger, brighter, warmer, and cleaner. But most importantly, it makes a buyer want to make an offer immediately. “In a hot market like we have now, staging is a major factor in getting multiple bids on your house, says Tom. “On our projects, we have seen offers of 15 to 20 percent over asking, and the realtors we work with have indicated the staging is a big contributing factor.”

Staging can also give your home an extra step up above the competition. “When the market is not as hot as right now,” says Tom, “staging makes your property stand out from the competition and gives you the edge in the market.”

Cost depends on the size of your house, the amount of painting and repairs that need to be done, and whether the home is vacant or some of the homeowner’s pieces can be utilized. “We always tell our sellers that the cost of staging is significantly less than the first price reduction if that is required, and significantly less than the amount over asking price we are currently seeing,” adds Tom. So you’re more than likely to see a return on this staging investment—and then some.

But don’t think you can get away with just staging the living and dining rooms and keeping the rest of the house as-is. “Staging only one room in an otherwise occupied house will just put into stark relief that the rest of the house is not updated and staged,” says Tom. “We never recommend putting all your dollars into one or two rooms. We always work with as much of the homeowner’s furniture and accessories as possible, augmenting with our stock to keep costs reasonable while giving the maximum effect.”

And if dollars are tight, Tom recommends that sellers clear and paint the basement, declutter third floor rooms, and declutter the kid’s rooms themselves. “We then focus on the first floor main rooms and master bedroom, while doing a little work in the other bedrooms that the owner has already decluttered,” he adds.

As for a vacant house, he recommends at a minimum that sellers stage all the public rooms on the first floor (living room, dining room, family room, kitchen) and at least the master bedroom.

If there are very small bedrooms with difficult footprints (odd nooks or angles, awkwardly placed windows and doors, etc.), then he also recommends staging those rooms as well. “Contrary to what most people believe, empty rooms tend to look smaller than they actually are and give the impression that standard furniture won’t fit,” Tom says. “Nine times out of ten, we are able to get a bed, nightstand, and dresser or bookcases in these rooms, and the feedback from the sellers is, invariably, that the room looks bigger than when it was empty.”

Allison Ziefert is Maplewood, NJ based realtor and the #1 individual real estate agent at Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct in Maplewood, NJ. A local market expert, Allison specializes Maplewood, NJ real estate and homes and South Orange, NJ real estate and homes as well as Millburn/Short Hills, NJ, West Orange, NJ and surrounding towns. Allison’s success as a Maplewood/S. Orange realtor is driven by earning great testimonials from sellers and buyers of homes her marketplace. You can read her testimonials at