First of all, staging is not an expense, it is an investment. And that investment will always be less than a price reduction. The 2012 HomeGain Survey of 1,000 Realtors discovered that home staging typically provides a 196% return on investment! In terms of actual outlay of dollars, an investment in staging could run from a few hundred dollars for a consultation, to a few thousand for furniture or accessory rental, or minor updates and repairs. It really depends on the size and condition of your home, how much you are willing to do yourself, and the price of your home.
Sometimes, the realtor will offer staging, or a portion of it, as part of their listing package, or they pay up front and get reimbursed once the home is sold. Usually though, the homeowner pays for the staging and it is viewed as many other fees incurred in selling a home, like a home inspection or any of the various closing costs.