To Stage or Not to Stage your Luxury Listing

the InstituteAll, Cool Stuff, In the News, Luxury Lifestyles, Luxury Trends 2 Comments

We’ve all had some listings that were overcrowded, outdated, and otherwise unattractive. For a small starter home or condo in that condition, you might choose to neutralize the interior by clearing out the space and showing it with the bear minimum of furniture and fixtures. However, if you are listing a property in the upper-tier, it’s important to put the property’s best face forward—usually through interior staging.

Why is staging so important when listing a luxury home?

  • Larger interior spaces are less obviously defined than the simpler floorplan of a small home. This may require you to help potential buyers visualize ways to use the space effectively.
  • Many upper-tier homes have been customized to suit the current owner’s tastes.  This may not best suited to either the property or more importantly the majority of potential buyers. Buyers typically find it hard to see through the clutter and noise of another individual’s design preferences.
  • Higher home prices translate into larger expectations—both from the buyer and seller. You’ll need to do more to impress potential buyers and justify the asking price. Sellers will expect to see extra effort on your part to help them market their home effectively.
  • Professionally staged homes sell faster. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 report, 83% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Some figures suggest that home staging can speed a home sale by as much as 73% over unstaged or vacant properties.

If you have a listing that you believe would benefit from staging, or if you would like to make staging part of your ongoing service offering, you’ll need to think through the logistics and costs. Here are some of the ways to move forward.

Purchasing furniture

You could invest in your own furniture, rugs, artwork, and decorative elements and use them to stage your properties. You’ll need storage, transportation, and movers in order to implement this type of plan. If you do a high volume luxury listing business, this may make financial sense. If you don’t have a large number of listings, you may want to stage other brokers’ properties as a way to justify the expense.

You’ll need to ensure that the elements you choose are high quality in keeping with the home itself. Most experts consider it worse to stage a luxury home with inexpensive items than to leave it vacant. In addition, you’ll need to dedicate money to update your inventory as styles and tastes change.

Often, luxury home buyers will ask to have some of the staging elements convey with the property purchase. In that case, you’ll need to ensure that you are able to negotiate sufficient replacement costs into the sales contract or build them into your compensation.

Contact your tax advisor in order to find out how much of the initial outlay and ongoing expense will be deductible and whether or not this plan makes sense for your particular business.

Renting furniture

You may choose to rent furniture and accessories on an as-needed basis in order to ensure you have what you need when you need it. In addition, this obviates the need for your own storage facilities and moving crew.

Again, you’ll need to ensure that the furniture you rent is high quality and well-maintained so that it enhances the home and is in keeping with its style. You’ll also need to find out the rental company’s policy on purchases in case a buyer wants some of the items to convey.

Hiring a staging company or expert

You may choose to hire a professional staging company to come in and stage your luxury listings. This can greatly simplify your process and can make a great value-added service to offer clients. You’ll need to decide whether to pay for the staging out-of-pocket as part of your standard marketing costs or make it optional and pass the fee on to your client.

In addition, remember that if you outsource staging, you will have far less control over the final look of the listing. If you have an eye for design, you may find it frustrating to give up your own vision and allow the staging expert to implement his or hers.

Using virtual staging apps

There are a variety of virtual staging apps that allow you to show photos of the home enhanced with furniture, artwork, and other design elements added in post-production. This can allow you to easily and affordably have your listing’s interior designed without the hassle or expense of real-life staging services.

Be very careful, however, that you check with your broker or with your state Board of Realtors to ensure that such enhanced photos comply with your state’s truth in advertising guidelines. You may find that you can use the photos on a standalone site, blog post, or brochure, but not in the MLS. You may find that you cannot use them at all.

Whichever way you choose to do it, beautifully staged luxury listings are associated with higher selling prices, reduced days on market, and a more positive impression on buyers and their brokers. Find a plan that works for you and your business and see how it impacts your next sale.

Learn More About the Luxury Real Estate Market

Staging a home isn’t the only thing that sells a luxury property. Do you want more insights into today’s luxury market or what affluent buyers and sellers are looking for? The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing can help. Consider our Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist certification or enroll in an online or in-person course.


  1. “Higher home prices translate into larger expectations—both from the buyer and seller. You’ll need to do more to impress potential buyers and justify the asking price. Sellers will expect to see extra effort on your part to help them market their home effectively.”

    Very true! As a professional home stager who specializes in luxury homes, I often tell my clients that if you want to sell your house for a million dollars, the house has to look like its worth it. Our statistics show that “budget” stagings can actually end up costing the home owner more money and DOM than if they had left the house vacant, but a properly staged home will sell faster than a vacant house.

  2. Many owners don’t understand that staging is part of “re-packaging” the home to appeal to targeted demographics, not the same as being furnished. The name “staging” comes from theatre…and that’s what we are doing, setting the stage so the house is the star of the show, and the buyers can see themselves in the “story” – visualizing entertaining, holiday parties, sitting down and making it their own. It’s an investment in success, rather than an expense and the ROI is truly impressive!

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