A few weeks ago, The Boston Globe published an article decrying the overuse of staging in the Boston real estate market, and in doing so portrayed agents who express the importance of staging as nothing more than uncreative monkeys just parroting quick one-liners like "buyers have no imagination".

But here's the reality:  in today's digital age, 74% of all home buyers use the internet as part of their home search, and if you look at the demographic under 37 years old, it jumps to a whopping 92%. In fact, 44% of home buyers indicate that the first impression of a potential home is made online. That means that listing photos are a critical factor — they will often determine how quickly your home sells and at what price. This isn’t only about homes ranging above $1 million; this applies to all homes priced at $200,000 or more (which is basically everything in the Boston, Brookline, and Newton markets). Primarily, this is done by increasing the number of buyers who remain interested in the home after viewing online. Yes, a good photo can help to get a homebuyer through the door, but perhaps more importantly — bad photography or staging can immediate dissuade a potential buyer from even attending an Open House.

I'm here to double down on my insistence of the value of staging with a case study.

Two weeks ago, my business partner and I closed on the sale of a single family home in Newton for $3,350,000, blowing the community's average price per square foot of $546 out of the water--an even larger feat given that the home is 5,445 square feet. When you look at closed sales for 5000-6000 square foot homes in Newton over the last 3 months, the price per square foot drops to $434. We closed this property at $614/square foot.

Now that's not the whole story. I forgot to mention: the house was outdated and needed aesthetic improvements in the kitchen and bathrooms, and even a couple of bedrooms. So how did we do it? Superior marketing, which starts with two things:  staging and professional photography.

Before Staging & Photography After Staging & Photography

The survey also found that homes that are staged stay on the market for a significantly less amount of time than those that are not. Our case study from above is another solid example of this. Comparable homes are typically on market for ~120 days where the home we listed was on market just ~90 days from listing until closing.

Not every home is going to have a hefty budget for staging, but even small adjustments can make a big difference. A survey done by the National Association of Realtors of buyers' agents reports that 43% believed that the price increase for homes that are staged can be anywhere from 1%-20%. If you are selling a home for $800,000 even a modest 2.5% boost to your sales price is worth $20,000, and the cost to stage such a home (from my experience) is anywhere from $3,000-$7,000. Virtual staging can be done for free by some agencies such as Unlimited Sotheby’s International Realty, and others offer it at a small cost of $250-$500.

Here's an example of another job where home buyers were having trouble envisioning how to use a couple of the rooms, and couldn't tell how their furniture would quite fit. Virtual staging and professional staging helped paint that picture for them in a tangible and clean way. Each of the photos below were taken of the same room by professional photographers, but you can see the difference staging makes:

Before Staging Virtual Staging Professional Staging

Now if you're going to spend the money to stage a home then it's surely for nothing if you're not going to showcase it with high quality, professional photography.

A first impression is essential. If home buyers aren’t sold on images of a property they see online, chances are they will move on. Bad photos will affect their perception of a home prior to seeing it, and may prevent them from visiting in person. A good photograph will have a positive emotion associated with the home. In the event you still need to live in your home while listing it, keep this in mind: bad furniture and design can often be more detrimental than no furniture and design.


Special thank you to Silk Purse Designs and Laura Graziano Staging & Interiors who did the staging work on the two projects from this post.