The best RE agent I know ($12M in closings last year, most in the $200K-$500K range) believes staging makes a gigantic difference in cutting time on the market and increasing the price, when done cost-effectively.
She acts as the consultant and thinks most people can do the staging without spending a lot of money. She thinks an empty house won't sell as easily or for as much as a house that looks lived in but super-clean.
She prefers used furniture to allay the suspicions of folks like aesir. (She told me that when I said essentially what aesir wrote....)