Home staging services have become mainstream and are no longer reserved for million-dollar listings. However, some people remain intimidated and even confused about the varying levels of service provided. That is especially true of the consultation.

What you can expect in a home staging consultation?  Knowing this information is valuable if you have a listing coming on the market soon and want to serve your clients well by making the property is as show-ready as possible.

In short, a home staging consultation is a comprehensive process where the stager will offer a room-by-room assessment of the entire property to help get it show-ready and, hopefully, get top dollar for the sale.

Here’s what you should expect from any professional home stager:
  1. The consultation typically takes place in person, as the stager will need to see every inch of the home.
  2. It will take approximately two hours; more for larger homes.
  3. Expect advice on ways to declutter so that buyers can see the potential of the home’s potential, not just stuff.
  4. Receive advice on “must-do” updates and fixes, along with “nice to haves” (paint, flooring, hardware) to ensure your client focuses on tasks necessary to get the most return.
  5. Help select paint colours that will brighten and make a room feel more spacious.
  6. Offer suggestions on furniture placement and styling to ensure that every room buyers walk into appears spacious and welcoming.
  7. Offer lighting changes and recommendations to brighten up every space.
  8. Provide resource contacts (contractor, painter) should the client need help (this is especially helpful for new agents who haven’t yet build up list of reliable resources of their own).
  9. Provide a list of action items to help focus efforts as the client prepares the property to sell.
  10. As for price, a good and comprehensive staging consultation ranges between $200 and $500+.  My experience is that the agents who are best representing their clients’ interests will typically pay for the consultation. It is money well-spent and worth the investment.
What to look out for:
  1. You and the client should feel better and more informed after the consultation. The stager’s ultimate objective is to help the homeowner be as prepared as possible. Should the client have the skills and resources to tackle the final step of staging themselves, the stager should leave them with the knowledge to do that. If not, the stager should offer what follow-up services they provide and outline the cost.
  2. If you feel the stager is holding back or pressuring the client not to do some work themselves, the stager may be short-changing you to make more money.
  3. Expect an action plan. There’s a lot of debate in the staging industry about the delivery method of the consultation.  Some stagers offer what’s called a “Walk & Talk”.  This means that the stager offers their full knowledge and sound advice, but the client takes the notes.  Some argue that homeowners taking their own notes are more attentive and absorb more. Others offer a full staging report at the end of the consultation.  This is likely a better method because homeowners are so overwhelmed with the entire process and the amount of information coming at them, that they can’t completely process all that’s being said.  Clients are appreciative of the leave-behind report that they can review and consult in the hours and weeks that follow.
  4. Stagers value their time because this is their livelihood.  Beware of offers of free or low-cost consultations.  No one works for free and if you’re offered a free consultation, know that you will not be getting a full-service review of your home.  It will just be a “sample” of what you’ll hear in a proper assessment of your property and will require you to pay money to get the full picture.
Award-winning Certified UltimateStager, redesigner and owner Nina Doiron is the principal at iStage& Organize. She provides an objective and experienced eye to attract more buyers and help sell for top dollar. She will also help you declutter and get organized. She says she will “inspire redesign ideas so that you’ll fall in love with your home again.” Call 416-993-0131.


  1. At what point is staging addressed with seller?
    At or after listing is the only time I am guaranteed the listing….anytime prior to that, I run the risk of forking over money to a stager on a property they may decide not to list …or list with someone else who quotes a higher list price?

    • Hi Lisa, I recommend offering a professional staging consultation once the listing agreement is signed…for the reasons you noted. Having said that you should have one in as soon as possible to avoid the homeowner moving ahead and making updates without professional guidance. I recommend a staging consult at least 3-4 weeks ahead of the listing date to ensure that there’s enough time for the homeowners to get the work done.

    • Hi Deborah, which city are you in? Yes, I do offer design services. 2 hours may be a bit too far but I can certainly recommend someone to you. Please let me know what it is you’re looking for. Feel free to email me at [email protected]

  2. I don’t believe that consultation reports are necessarily the greatest option as it can be a waste of time, but if someone really requires it then obviously you can do it. If a potential client sees a report stating all the things you have pointed out that needs fixing or re-arranging, this can cause them to think that their house is crap! That’s why its wise if working with a realtor that they pre warn the client as well instead of having a stager come in and point out all the flaws. And to say beware of free or low cost consultations, that’s very misleading as there are many small staging companies who don’t want to charge so that they can get their name out there and show their skills. This is where before and after pictures and client reviews come in handy. There may even be incentives by not charging, or excluding the charge if they want to use you.

    • Hi Mel, the consultation report is a really valuable tool for homeowners and agents to consider tasks that will offer the greatest return. I highly recommend that agent and stager align and partner in order to provide the best possible service to the client. A good stager will handle the situation delicately so as not to offend the client but still get the message across. In my experience, agents often partner up with stagers specifically for this reason so that they can remain unbiased with the client. As for the low price warning, not all stagers are the same just as not all agents are the same, but it’s important to be cautious as the saying goes “you get what you pay for”.

      • Wonderful response, Nina. A large portion of my staging business is the Consultation. The sellers are always relieved that they do not have to take notes and that they will receive an email detailing my recommendations.
        Also, love your entire article. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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