Posted by: Nick Fundytus

Question of the week:

Realtors not include staging in their commission. Is this the new normal?

When I sold my previous home some years ago, the market was really hot and pretty much all the standard realtys were including staging in their standard commission (2.5/2.5).

I ended up calling around a bunch and found an agent that did 4% (2/2) with it included, although I recognise that’s probably because the market was so crazy at that time.

Now I’m selling again and I’m not even finding them including it in the standard 5%. I know it’s not always worth but I really think this home in particular is very well suited for. Is this the new normal? I’m in the Orillia area.

Nick Answers Reddit

Every week, Nick answers a Redditor’s question about buying, selling, renting, investing or living in Ottawa. This week’s question is about whether it’s okay to dump a Realtor that’s not getting the job done in a Redditor’s purchase search.

Nick's Response

I have noticed that this is very market-dependent, and will also depend upon what kind of property is being listed. Here are a few things that you might negotiate. Any good Realtor will know how to make use of these tools and discuss where they might be appropriate.


Staging Consultation – Cost $200-300

On our team, we always include a staging consultation at the minimum, and for most people this is actually an ideal solution. A stager spends 2-3 hours with our Seller client and recommends what should be decluttered, depersonalized and rearranged to show the property at its best. This tends to be the least disruptive for Sellers that are living in the house.


Partial Staging – Cost $300-$3000

For vacant or under-furnished properties, we’ll sometimes bring in appropriate furnishings to show the house the way that most people will use it. A common example of this would be night-tables and extra lighting for a bedroom, and a dining table and chairs in a dining room that’s been used for an office during Covid. When we do this, we usually stage for at least the first month, and my policy is to split the cost with the owner after that.


Full Staging – Cost varies wildly. A 3-bedroom townhome might cost $10,000 or more for a couple of months. For high-end listings where we have the margin in the commission, I’ll include the first month or two of full staging if it’s appropriate. A good example of this would be a penthouse condominium, where we want to give a luxury feel that’s simply not possible if it’s vacant. Generally this is done by creating “suites” in key rooms, like the living, dining and principal bedroom. White linens are used for towels and sheets, with probably a contrasting colour or texture to make things “pop.” The idea is to look like a high-end hotel or stylish Airbnb, where the Buyer can project their own imagination on it and not spend time dissecting how their furniture will fit or who the current owners are. If we go beyond staging for a month or two with a client (very dependent upon the market, the client and the property) we generally agree to split the cost and dependent upon the client pricing appropriately to the market and adjusting at certain intervals. I have no desire to spend $10,000 or more for the privilege of staging a property that is overpriced because an owner has unrealistic expectations of the market.


Virtual Staging – Cost $500-$1000

This is a good alternative to partial staging, or to complement consultations or other methods. In short, an editor adds furniture in a vacant or partially furnished home, or edits out unwanted items, like if the cat wandered into the frame and wasn’t noticed in time (assuming that she wasn’t included with the sale). For entry-level and mid-range homes, this can be a really good way to get people in the door and differentiate the home from similar competitors while still leaving money in the budget for other marketing.


When physical staging shouldn’t be used

Dogs, cats, toddlers and smokers do not play well with staged furniture. In these cases Virtual or Staging Consultations are really the only reasonable options.


What should your Realtor include?

Basically, the more “full-service” commission you are paying on the listing side, the more reasonable it is to expect staging (and things like a pre-list clean, pre-list inspection, handyman work, status certificate review and others) to be included. Some discount Realtors may offer these as a-la-carte options, but not all. Many of these things give value beyond their line-item expense, so it’s at least worth discussing with whoever you hire.


Good luck on the listing!


Source: I’m a Realtor in Ottawa, Ontario.

3 Quick Staging Scenarios


If you’re still living in the home while it’s being listed, a staging consultation is your best bet, as it’s the least invasive. You might add some partial staging.


When a listing is vacant but the budget is tight, virtual staging can’t be beat.


Full staging works best in vacant, high-end properties to realize the luxury feel.

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