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Staging vacant properties for photos only: a good or bad idea?

The conventional view on home staging for photos is: Don't do it. Either as a seller or home stager. But maybe there are times when you should. Let's look at the Pros and Cons.


I read somewhere that we have about 50 000 thoughts a day, and pretty much 70-80% of those are negative. So let's start with the Cons. It's always easier.


The aim of home staging is to appeal to a buyer in a way that makes them fall in love with their new home. It's all about the heart. That rush of emotion when you feel something is exactly right for you.

It's hard for buyers to feel that emotional boom-boom when faced with vacant rooms in a vacant house. It doesn't feel like "home" to them.

Sure, they felt it when they saw the listing photos with the home staging. But is that enough to carry them through to the actual viewing, when the house no longer looks like the listing photos?


From a home stager's business point of view, it's the same amount of work to stage a vacant house for photos, as it is to stage it for, say 30 or 40 days. It's the same furniture and accessories, transport and delivery, and of course, the same setting up. The only difference is that the stager is not leaving the furniture there.

The initial expenses are the same as for a longer period. So there won't be a massive price discount for the seller.


There may be some occasions when it does make sense to home stage for photos only.


I recently home staged a half empty property. One of the owners had emigrated, taking half the furniture. The other owner stayed to sell the property. It was a beautiful old house, with exquisite sash windows, oak herringbone floors and very large rooms.

We decided to stage the empty living room and dining room for photos only. The owner would have liked to keep the furniture longer, but CATS! I'm a feline lover, but not when it comes to leaving my inventory in people's houses (think scratched furniture and urine on rugs).

It was important for the listing photos for the dining and living room to be extremely appealing. These two areas (plus the kitchen and main bedroom) are what most buyers assess their purchase on.


Another good reason to home stage for photos only is if the property is listed as having four bedrooms, but the owner is using only two as bedrooms, and the other two as general dumping rooms.

Staging both dumping rooms as bedrooms, or one as a home office and the other as a bedroom, adds enormous value to the property.


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