There’s a statistic that people sell their homes every five to seven years, and so, chances are that the last time you sold a house, you didn’t have it staged first.  Home Staging a fairly new concept in some areas and NB Designs often gets asked questions by Realtors, home sellers and even buyers. Here’s a list of our most frequently asked questions about home staging, and our answers:

What is home staging?

Home Staging is preparing a house for sale, to show off the positive architectural features, minimize the negatives, make the house feel as high end, spacious and light as possible.

Can I stage my home myself?

Home sellers live in their homes, and often have blinders on when it comes to their home and it’s little quirks and anomalies.  Home stagers look at each house with a professional, critical eye, in order to assess the home from an objective perspective.

What should I look for in a stager?

Look for a stager that has:

• membership in a trade organization specific to staging i.e. RESA, the Real Estate Staging Association – Noleen has been a member of the local chapter of the Real Estate Staging Association for 5 years, and served on the board in the capacity of Treasurer (2014), President-Elect (2015) and in 2016, the President of the Central Texas Chapter of RESA. Karen Light, Lead Stager, I a member of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals.

• has credentials in home staging – At NB Designs, we love learning and keeping up to date with the current staging trends!  Noleen attends two international staging summits each year. Noleen is a Luxury Staging Specialist, a Vacant Property Specialist, a Feng Shui Design Specialist and Professional Home Stager (SAR) and a Staging Diva graduate.  Noleen is also a licensed Realtor (GRI, CNE). Karen Light is an Accredited Staging Professional.

• has worked in your neighborhood and/or price-point before – We’ve staged cute starter homes from $170,000 to $4+M waterfront estates. To date we have staged over $227 Million in listed real estate in all price-points, all over Austin and the Hill Country.

• has a portfolio of pictures, showing homes staging in your price-point – Yes – Please check the home page on our website for the most recent projects.

• has insurance – Yes we do.

• makes you feel comfortable – I certainly hope so!  :O)

Do you still sell real estate?  I see you have a  real estate license.

It is our company philosophy not to compete for business in any way, with our Realtor clients.  We are a full service, full-time staging company and we are focus solely on staging – both occupied as well as vacant houses.

I’m feeling apprehensive about your visit.  Will you make me feel uncomfortable about my style or decor choices?

We’ve heard this from a few clients prior to our visit and we need to assure you that we are not the ‘Staging Police” and we certainly are not coming to your house to intimidate you or make you feel uncomfortable.  We’re here to help you get the most amount of money for the sale of your house as possible.  There’s a formula to follow and the more closely we can adhere to the formula, the better our results will be.  Yes, it can be uncomfortable having a stranger come into your home, but rest assured, our recommendations are meant with the best intentions of helping you sell your home! We’re probably the least intimidating people out there :O)

Only luxury homes need staging, right?

No, homes of all price-points should be staged.  These days buyers have seen well appointed homes on TV and  they will expect to walk into any home and see it beautifully staged and move-in ready.  Remember, every home is a dream home to someone.

Do you have Before and After Pictures?

We use the main page as our portfolio of the projects we have complete.  We never take before photos of an occupied house as we feel very strongly that it’s disrespectful to the sellers of an occupied house.


Occupied Staging

What can I expect when you come for a staging consultation and how long will you be at my house?

Our staging consultations take the format of a Walk and Talk with our sellers.  Typically, an average house takes 90 minutes and we start at the front curb and work our way through the house, discussing the anticipated buyer’s expectations and planning small purchases (often necessary), and some edits (almost always necessary). The sellers then have a very comprehensive guideline as to what to do prior to photos and listing.

How long in advance of photos do I need to schedule your consultation?

Schedule your home staging consultation well in advance of the photos, in order to leave enough time to undertake the suggestions we make. Some houses require more work and it’s our recommendation that you leave enough time between staging and photos and listing.

You’ve come for a consultation and I don’t have enough time to get to everything on the list.  Can you come back to help me?

Certainly!  After our initial consultation, we offer a hands-on staging service, accessorizing services and full staging services.  Some Realtors pay for the initial consultation and any additional services are for the seller’s expense.

What things do you recommend sellers do prior to selling?

Firstly, have a realistic expectation of your home’s value and listen to the advice of your Realtor.  Secondly, have your windows and carpets professionally cleaned.  Clean windows make the home seem lighter and more airy and show pride of ownership, which translates to more money.  Have landscapers come in to spruce up the yards and keep the home is show-ready condition.  Remove evidence of pets – food bowls, litter boxes and pet-beds all need to be stored out of sight as much as possible.  Leave the home when it is being shown, preferably with your pets.

What do I need to do before you get here?

Please see our checklist below, of things to do before we arrive.

  • Removal and packing of items such as toys, out of season clothing, magazines and excess books.
  • Remove items from all surfaces of the refrigerator.
  • Remove valuables, professional diplomas, medications.
  • Clean and dust the house thoroughly and have additional basic cleaning supplies on hand. Don’t forget light fixtures and baseboards.
  • Have additional storage boxes and bubble wrap/paper on hand for items we won’t be needing.
  • Make sure your wattage and style of your light bulbs match consistently throughout the room.
  • Ensure your bathroom and kitchen are spotless and take particular note of shower door soap scum, mirrors, and kitchen appliances.

Do I need extra packing supplies?

Yes!  Boxes and paper, in order for you to pack up the items we’ve indicated.

I’ve been told to de-clutter my home.  What else will you suggest?

Decluttering, or editing as I like to call it, is the first step in preparing a home to sell.  After the editing, and any maintenance issues have been taken care of, NB Designs will give a detailed description on how to stage the home using the seller’s accessories, where possible, or we may suggest either renting or purchasing accessories, in order to highlight certain areas.

Will you use my own furniture and decor items?

As much as we can, yes!

What items do you most often recommend people buy before marketing their homes?

These are the items we commonly recommend:  White orchid or tulips as a centerpiece for the dining room table, new towels and hand towels for the bathrooms, preferably white, plain white linen/waffle-weave shower curtains, a pair of matching, on-trend lamps for the master bedroom, plastic shoebox/tote for toiletry items which will be placed in bathroom cabinet after use each day, candles and candlesticks for mantlepiece, fruit in a fruit bowl on breakfast room table or kitchen island, fresh flowers for photographs, co-ordinating accent pillows for living room and master bedroom.

What is the biggest mistake people make when selling their homes?

Not treating the sale and marketing of their home seriously.  Sellers, your home is usually the biggest asset you have and it should look the best it can, in order for you to sell quickly and for top dollar.  There is no point in staging a home, if you are not going to attempt to keep the home looking show ready.  I always tell my sellers that it’s a short period that they need to focus on keeping their home looking fantastic.  Once they have an accepted contract, they can relax a little bit.  I try to make this as easy as possible for my sellers by giving them a daily checklist of items they need to do before leaving home each morning.

Do you ever see a home that’s so perfect, it doesn’t need staging?

We see some really lovely homes which are immaculately clean, and beautifully decorated, but staging isn’t decorating, and every home needs staging.  The homes we live in are very different to the house we are selling.  I encourage my sellers to realize that their home is now a product they are selling, hopefully for top dollar and the condition of the home is vitally important.  Stagers will always recommend that sellers depersonalize their homes by removing family photos, degrees and certifications, hunting trophies, taste specific items, etc.  Yes, we always recommend removing deer-heads and specific collegiate flags and decor!  We want to appeal to the perfect buyer and not offend or limit our buyer pool in any way.

Do I have to be there when you stage my home?  

Yes, we like you to be present when we provide a staging consultation at your home.

I left home this morning without making my kids’ beds and you’re coming to stage this afternoon.  Will you make the beds and clean/tidy their rooms?

No – we are not cleaners and do not make beds.  We can recommend cleaning services if you wish.

I have kids at home – do you have suggestions to keep myself sane while the house is listed?

Yes, please refer to Tips for keeping toys under control for details.

When is payment due?

For occupied staging consultations, payment is due on staging day. Some Realtors offer staging consultations as a service to their sellers, and they pay for our service, and they will be billed for the initial consultation.  Additional staging services are for the seller’s expense.


Vacant Staging


I received a quote from a few different staging companies and have found one which is lower than yours is.  What should I look at when comparing stagers?

We understand that price is often a large part of the decision. However there are a couple of other considerations too.  Home staging is an unregulated industry, which means that anyone can hang out their shingle and say they’re a ‘stager’, and there are no education or licensing requirements. Often these hobby stagers are uninsured and inexperienced in analyzing the buyer demographic for the neighborhood, the scale and flow of the house, and don’t have the resources to do a home justice.
Cheapest we are not, but we do offer a premier, award-winning, professional service. With backgrounds in Real Estate and the Arts, and education in staging (Feng Shui, Vacant Properties, Luxury Staging), we know what buyers are looking for when searching for a house. We’re insured, licensed and we’ve staged over 100 vacant houses in the past 4 years. In the past few months, we have staged 5 vacant houses which have sold at above the list price – one at $45K over asking!
We encourage you to ensure that your house is being staged by a legitimate business and not by a hobby stager.

Can I see photos of the furniture you’ll be using to stage my vacant house?  What happens if I don’t like the furniture?

If you look on our main page, and click the tab which says vacant, you’ll see all of our recent vacant staging projects, and the style of the furniture will be similar to the items in those projects. We don’t provide photos of the actual furniture we’ll be using, but you can rest assured that it’s going to be perfect to appeal to the buyer demographic we have determined for your neighborhood and price point.

Soft contemporary style is the style that suits most people and one of the goals when staging a house is to appeal to as broad a range of buyers in the specific buyer demographic for that neighborhood.  According to Better Homes and Gardens, soft contemporary style is defined by “clean lines with a casual atmosphere, open spaces, neutral colors, and elements and materials inspired by nature”.  We use color, texture and lighting to draw the eye of the buyers to certain features we want them to notice, but the overall room is pared down and has a feeling of tranquility and spaciousness. Remember that the staging style may not be your specific taste, but we are not decorating for you to live in the house, but staging it to SELL.

I see that you charge a $60 vacant staging or accessorizing preview fee.  Please can you tell me what is included in the initial preview and do I have to be there?

You do not have to be there, as long as we can access the house via the MLS lockbox. We will analyze the condition, and provide suggestions on necessary updates or changes to make to the house prior to staging. We analyze the style of the home, and determine a staging color scheme, and, based on the price point, demographics and psychographics, select the best inventory for the house.  We will then send you a proposal for staging the house, taking into consideration the above evaluation.

My house sold so quickly and I’d like a pro-rated refund of my staging fee.  Do you offer refunds?

This question was asked of us recently – quite cute actually!  According to the agreement you signed before we staged, we do not offer refunds if your house sells quickly.  This means we did our job by correctly analyzing the buyer demographic and the staging the house with that buyer in mind, and it means that the Realtor did a great job of pricing and marketing the house.  By selling quickly, your monthly holding costs are greatly reduced – one less mortgage payment, one less electricity payment!  Our goals are to sell your house for the most amount of money, in the shortest time possible!

When do I have the cleaners come – before or after staging?

Before!  We don’t stage a dirty or dusty house.

Can I be at the house while you’re staging a vacant house?

In the interests of efficiency and time management, we ask that you and the Realtor are NOT at the house on staging day.  We get stage fright if we’re under the microscope! :O)

Now that my vacant house is staged, do you have any other recommendations?

Yes – make sure that your heating and air-conditioning is set to a comfortable level. We want people to linger in the house and not rush out because it’s uncomfortably warm or cold. Make sure that the house is cleaned every two weeks, and check on the house if we’ve had a cold snap/freeze.

Will you come back to ‘tweak’ before my MLS photos are taken?

Yes, if you’d like us to.  We charge $55.00 per half hour.  Please call to arrange this service as soon as you have your photographer lined up.

When is payment due?

For vacant stagings, payment is due 5 business days before staging.