Today's buyers are looking for turnkey homes. That is, they want to move right in without having to do a lot of work. Buyers with busy lifestyles pay a premium for listings that are in prime condition. Staging can make the difference between a listing selling or not, the time it takes to sell, and the ultimate sale price.
Sellers who are financially strapped often have a hard time accepting that they'll need to invest in preparing a house for sale even though they may sell for less than they paid. Fix-up costs can mount up; your agent can help you prioritize so that you don't waste money. It's important to keep your goal in mind, which is to sell your house in a difficult market.