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Ask a Stager: Why aren’t home staging costs based on square footage or rooms?

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Welcome to Ask A Stager, your regular staging advice column designed exclusively for real estate professionals. Whether you’re grappling with how to enhance the visual appeal of your listings or seeking innovative strategies to captivate your target audience, you’ve come to the right place. Ask A Stager offers you the opportunity to pose any and all staging-related questions and receive expert advice, for free.

No query is too big or small — if it’s about elevating the look of your real estate, we want to hear it and we want to help! Email your questions to


When it comes to selling homes, staging is an essential tool that can significantly impact a property’s appeal and ultimately its sale. However, a common question among real estate agents and homeowners alike is why staging fees are not calculated by square footage or by the number of rooms.

To answer this, we need to delve into the complexities of home staging, the variables that influence its cost and why a one-size-fits-all pricing model does not work in this industry.


The complexity of home staging


Home staging is much more than simply placing furniture in a room. It is an art and science that involves understanding design principles, market trends and buyer psychology. Staging professionals work to create an environment that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in the space.

This process involves several detailed steps:

1. Consultation and planning. A staging project begins with a consultation, during which the stager assesses the home and discusses goals with the client.

This initial step is crucial as it sets the foundation for the entire staging planning and process. During the consultation, needs for the home (e.g. furniture and accessories) are assessed to accurately prepare the quote.

2. Design and selection. Based on the consultation, the stager develops a design plan tailored to the home’s architecture and target market, along with current trends. This plan includes selecting furniture, accessories, artwork and other decor items to highlight the best features of the home.

Not all homes are the same. While some properties benefit from modern furniture and accessories, others may shine with more traditional pieces. Knowing precisely what to bring to each property is both an art and a skill that only well-trained stagers possess.


Photo credit: Justin Dadswell & Lorenzo Yenko


3. Logistics and coordination. Staging involves coordinating many moving parts including the delivery and placement of items, which requires logistical planning.

This may include renting furniture, arranging transportation and sometimes coordinating with other professionals like painters or cleaners. A stager’s job is to assist in alleviating some of the burden and stress for both sellers and the agent.

4. Execution. After much planning, the actual staging day(s) involves setting up the furniture and decor, ensuring everything is in place to maximize the home’s appeal both online and in person. This is a labour-intensive and time-consuming process that could involve as many as four to eight people, depending on the size of the project.

Each of these steps involves a significant amount of time, effort, and expertise, which are not directly correlated to the home’s size or number of rooms.


Variables influencing staging costs


Several factors contribute to the cost of staging, and these factors often make it impractical to price staging services strictly by square footage or room count:

1. Condition of the home. A well-maintained home with good existing furniture and accessories might require minimal staging, while a home that needs significant updates or repairs will require more effort and unique pieces to stage effectively.

2. Market and target audience. The target market for the home can influence staging decisions. High-end luxury homes will require more sophisticated (and expensive) staging inventory compared to a condominium, which requires smaller condo-size furniture. Condo-size furniture is often more expensive than standard-size furniture.


Photo credit: Evios Media


3. Scope of staging. The extent of staging can vary greatly. Vacant homes will need full staging, while occupied homes might only need partial staging or enhancements to existing decor. Even in these cases, some homes have more wall space which requires more artwork, while open-concept homes may require less artwork, even if both homes have the same number of rooms. Larger projects often demand additional movers and designers to ensure everything is executed flawlessly.

4. Inventory requirements. The cost of purchasing, renting and transporting furniture and accessories can vary depending on the style and quantity needed. Luxury items cost more, as can unique or custom pieces.


Photo credit: Nat Kay


5. Geographic location. The cost of staging can vary based on the location of the property, especially with rising fuel prices which impact transportation costs. Additionally, moving furniture in and out of a condominium presents unique challenges that can increase moving costs.


The downside of per-square-footage or per-room pricing


Charging by square foot or room count does not accurately reflect the true cost and effort involved in staging. For example:

1. A small home with extensive work needed. A small home that needs significant decluttering, painting and repairing will require more effort and resources than a larger, well-maintained home that needs minimal staging.

2. High-end homes. Luxury homes, regardless of their size, require high-quality furniture and decor that are more expensive to rent and transport. Marketing a home involves presenting it to its ideal target audience. Just as each home is unique, so too are the buyers it attracts.

3. Unique layouts. Homes with unique layouts or features might require more customized staging solutions, which can add to the complexity and cost.


Why value-based pricing makes sense


Staging companies often use value-based pricing, which considers the overall value and impact of the staging service rather than just the size of the property. This approach aligns the stager’s incentives with the seller’s goals, ensuring that the stager focuses on maximizing the home’s marketability and sale price.


Home staging is a nuanced and multifaceted service that cannot be reduced to a simple per-square-foot or per-room pricing model. The variables involved in staging — ranging from the home’s condition and target market to the quality of furniture and geographic location — make a one-size-fits-all approach impractical.

By understanding these complexities, real estate agents and sellers can better appreciate the value of professional staging and the rationale behind its pricing structure, and make more informed decisions that ultimately benefit the home sale process.


Got home staging questions for a future column? Submit them to


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