Staging a Vacant Home

Why It’s Worth the Money

By Anna Martens • Photo by Dave Davis: DMD Real Estate Photography

Home staging by Northern Lights Home Staging and Design

Many homeowners who are planning to sell their home move out before they put it on the market, leaving it vacant in photos and showings. But in today’s market, where home sellers need to make their homes stand out from the rest, those empty spaces can be a seller’s worst enemy.

“Vacant homes do not make an emotional connection with buyers and often look a little sad and lonely!” says Mary Ann Benoit of Northern Lights Home Staging and Design. Staring at four empty walls makes it hard for buyers to visualize their own belongings in the home. If buyers can't picture themselves living there, they aren't likely to buy it.

A good way to fix this “sad and lonely” look is to have your home staged. “Home staging is a marketing tool for selling your home that uses decorating to show off a home’s best features while downplaying its flaws,” says Mary Ann. “Done right, it creates an emotional connection between buyer and home, leading to a faster sale at maximum value.”

If you’re like most homeowners, you want to not only sell quickly but also secure the highest price possible. According to April Johnson and Noel Pearson of About Face Home Staging and Redesign, “The National Association of Realtors releases staging statistics and they always report staged homes spending fewer days on market as well as fetching higher prices." Staging dramatically improves the marketability of a home, adds April and Noel. "We have some realtors who talk about staged homes getting more ‘clicks’ when people look online. Staged homes photograph much better and potential buyers can more easily recall the home after viewing it online or in person."

Tricky layouts and specialized rooms cause particular trouble when showing a vacant home. One example of a common culprit for these issues: “Alaskan split levels, anyone?” as April and Noel say. Buyers often have a hard time imagining how they would utilize these unique spaces when rooms are left vacant. Staging the home shows a potential way to use that space and eliminates this confusion for buyers.

As a general rule, everything in Alaska is more expensive, but April and Noel say, “As for the cost of staging a home in Alaska, it is one of the few things that is cheaper up here than in the Lower 48. Staging a moderate-sized home in Alaska can run from $3,000-$4,500 depending on size, layout, accessibility and location.” Mary Ann agrees with this estimate, adding: “If the house sells quickly, within the first month or two at most, it would be on the lower end of the price range. The longer the house is on the market, the seller has monthly rental fees which add up. If the seller has hired a professional stager with a good track record, they should not have that problem!” She recommends leaving the staging in place until after the inspection is completed and the sale is “pretty much a done deal.”

That cost estimate for staging may be intimidating, but Mary Ann reassures sellers: “Remember, staging always costs much less than your first price reduction, which can be $10,000 or more. An increased final sales price, faster closing, and reduced holding costs, will more than cover the staging investment and with a whole lot less stress!”