It’s hard to dispute the benefits of staging a home for sale. Some studies suggest that homes sell more quickly and fetch higher prices than non-staged homes.

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It’s hard to dispute the benefits of staging a home for sale. Many realtors will tell you that even in a seller’s market, it pays to stage. Some studies suggest that homes sell more quickly and fetch higher prices than non-staged homes.

Although staging a house can cost thousands of dollars, the returns have convinced many realtors, homeowners and builders that it’s worth the price and process.

Here’s a real-life example. Allen D. (not his real name) was among those who tried to maximize his profits by hiring a stager. His forte was building homes and not interior décor, so when deciding which stager to hire for his spec home in Seattle’s Green Lake area, he simply went with the lowest bidder.

Unfortunately, Allen was disappointed with the selection and quality of the furnishings. In fact, he worried that they actually diminished the value of his high-end home. The house stayed on the market longer than comparable properties in the area.

Allen recognized that he could not afford to make another business decision solely on the basis of a low bid. Before hiring stagers for the next house he built, Allen took the time to ask questions in order to make an informed decision.

Although Allen was initially ambivalent about the bid (about a third more than the previous stager), he couldn’t argue with the results. The first day, he had a full-price offer from a buyer who wanted to buy the staged furnishings along with the house. Three homes later, he still uses the same stagers.

“The cost of staging my homes well pays off,” Allen says. “It helps buyers appreciate the workmanship I put into each house.”

How does a consumer know which stager to hire? Here are some questions to ask.

• What kind of reputation does this stager have in the industry? Look for client testimonials on review-based social-media sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, Houzz or Google.

• What does the stager’s website communicate about the company? Is it well-organized and informative? Would you entrust your property to a design professional whose website is poorly designed?

• Does the stager have access to furnishings that are appropriate to the style and quality of your home? Some stagers rely on skeletal inventory, which can yield a makeshift, “one-look-sort-of-fits-all” result. Look for stagers who have access to a well-stocked inventory of well-maintained, up-to-date furnishings.

• What kind of design experience and aesthetic value does the stager bring to your job? Ask the stager how he or she might bring out the inherent charm of your property. Discuss specific concerns with the stager; for example, if feng shui is important to you, ask if the stager uses it in his work. Check out the stager’s portfolio for recent examples of work.

• Will the furnishings be delivered and installed by professional movers?

• Is the stager positive and accommodating? Has the stager taken the time to understand your goals? Is this the kind of person you’d like on your team?
Staging can be one of the most effective marketing tools when it comes to selling a home. As such, just as Allen learned, it pays to hire a skilled professional.

Marta Korduba is a partner at Dream Home Staging and Design and is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. HomeWork is the group’s weekly column about home care, repair and improvement. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to homework@mbaks.com.