Over the past several months, I’ve received numerous calls from real estate agents asking for information on staging vacant homes. The number one question is always; “what does it cost? ”
My first response is that it costs far less than the expenses associated with a vacant property sitting on the market for an extended period of time.
According to a 2009 study done by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA™), un-staged vacant homes spent on average, 263 days on the market vs. staged vacant homes which sold on average in just 42 days. That’s a huge difference. It’s obvious that a growing number of houses and apartments sit empty as a result of the four-year old housing slump. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, homeowner vacancy rates in the northeast increased to 2.2% in the first quarter of 2011, up from 1.8% first quarter 2010.* This is more bad news for owners of vacant unstaged properties which are typically the most difficult to move, even in a good market.
It’s no wonder calls regarding vacant stagings have increased. So what DOES vacant staging actually cost? Obviously, the fees are dependent on the size of the house, the number of rooms to be staged and the amount and quality of the furnishings selected. And, costs are a combination of furniture and accessories rentals and the staging services. The following numbers are a good guide to go by.
Per room monthly furniture rental fees start at:
- Living room/Family room $250
- Master bedroom $200
- Dining room $150
- Kitchen eating area $100
- Entry foyer $50
At NJ Home Staging & Redesign, we also offer cost effective three-room furniture packages -living room, dining room, master bedroom – that start at $385 per month based on a three month rental period. These packages are ideal for smaller homes and condos. I suggest a minimum of a three month rental period because one and two month rental fees frequently run as high as the three month rate.
Accessory monthly rentals: Accessory rentals typically run ½ of the cost of the per room monthly furniture rental fee and include artwork, plants, bedding, towels, lamps, rugs, window treatments, knick knacks, etc. These are the finishing touches that make a home look great in the listing pictures and marketing materials. The round trip accessory delivery/pickup fee ranges from $125 to $175.
Furniture delivery and pickup charges: These charges usually run between $250 and $325. A 12% Damage Fee -which can be waived by providing a certificate of insurance and adding the rental company as a payee in a loss payable clause, and 7% sales tax, should also be allocated for.
Stager Fees: None of this happens without hiring a professional stager. The stager will select the furniture and accessories, schedule the delivery of the rental furnishings, direct the movers, decorate the property, supervise the listing photography, schedule and oversee the furniture pick-up, and dismantle the staging. Generally, our vacant staging project fees start at $1,100 but again, vary by the size of the property and number of rooms staged. Our initial consultation fee for an empty house is $150 and will be applied to the staging project fee upon hire.
Timing: Most agents are surprised by how quickly a vacant home can be staged. It takes approximately three to five days from the time the order is placed and the credit application is approved, for the furniture to be delivered and the property to be fully staged.
A cursory review of these numbers will reveal that staging a vacant home can be a fairly significant but very worthwhile expense. However, the cost of NOT staging can be astronomical by comparison if you factor in ongoing mortgage payments, taxes and other carrying costs while the home sits on the market waiting for a buyer to come along that can visualize the potential of an empty home.
Realtor Richard Mazor of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has had firsthand experience on the power of staging a vacant property. He writes: “Angela, your outstanding staging, paint color choices and furniture rental helped me to sell 15 Glendale Road, Manalapan in only two weeks. The buyers, who came from an open house, remarked on the amazing look of the home. Stage it right and price it right is the name of the game.”
*The homeowner vacancy rate percentage is the proportion of the homeowner inventory that is vacant for sale.