The following information is provided by award-winning home staging expert Shauna Lynn Simon. It’s backed up by thousands of clients, up-to-date and independent research, and 14 years of real-world experience in the home staging industry.
There are many paths to becoming a professional home stager and, yes, a career in home staging can provide you with a good stable income.
With the right tools in your pocket, you can start (and grow) your business quickly and efficiently. I’ve personally helped thousands of home stagers from all kinds of backgrounds and economic circumstances to become successful home stagers in their local area.
Here’s what you need to know about how much home stagers make, and how you can kickstart (or rejuvenate) a career as one!
What does a home stager do?
Home staging is the art of furnishing and decorating a home to make it aesthetically appealing to anyone walking through the front door. A professional stager typically works with real estate agents or home sellers to prepare and stage owner-occupied and vacant homes prior to listing their property for sale in their local real estate market.
Professional staging is not the same as interior design. Interior designers work with clients and create an environment based on their personal likes, dislikes, personal functional needs and preferred home look.
A home stager, in contrast, is trained to turn open houses into future homes that potential buyers find universally attractive. Selling a home is about marketing to today’s home buyers.
The day-to-day life of a home stager involves:
- Doing consultations with new clients.
- Planning room layouts and furnishings.
- Physically managing the movement and placement of ALL decor and furniture into vacant show houses.
- Advising clients on how to arrange their existing furniture and decor
- Helping clients clear clutter, clean surfaces and repair cosmetic defects
- And much, much more!
Home stagers often work to make small spaces appear bigger and more attractive to prospective buyers.
Why do people hire home stagers?
Home stagers position homes against their competition so that they stand out to and attract buyers. With more buyers interested in a home, the property will sell at a higher price — often 5-10% above the asking price. In most cases, it also helps the home sell after spending very little time on the market (1-2 weeks). If you think about a $500,000 home, a mere 5% increase in sale price net’s the seller an extra $25k! Considering the cost of staging, their return on investment is five times more than the cost of staging.
Three types of home stagers
While estate agents have governing bodies like the National Association of Realtors ® as well as state/provincial licensing boards, there’s no formal roadmap to becoming a home stager. In a self-regulated industry, the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) provides standards and professional guidelines for members, however, membership is not mandatory to be a home stager.
As a home stager, your revenue is based on referrals from happy customers, partnerships with real estate agents, and the success of your marketing efforts within your area.
Here are the different ways you can run a home staging business.
You help homeowners develop a DIY plan of action in your initial consultation. This business model doesn’t require much capital to start, but you will spend less time doing actual staging, and more time advising, planning, and building resources.
In-house stagers work for real estate agencies or home staging businesses. To find a full-time job in home staging, you need a portfolio of work, training, and experience. You may also start out as a staging assistant while learning the ropes.
A full-service home stager manages home staging projects from start to finish. They hold consultations, plan staging designs, arrange for furniture and decor to be moved or replaced, and physically set the stage of the house for prospective buyers. This type of business requires an inventory of furnishings that you rent to your clients or an agreement with a third-party furniture rental service.
Real estate agents are known to exclusively engage the services of a full-service home staging business.
A professional home stager makes spaces aesthetically pleasing and creates a blank slate for the new owners.
How much money can you make staging homes?
Data supplied by ZipRecruiter indicates that most people working as a home stager will earn between $26,000 and $42,000 per year. The top 15% of home stagers earn between $48,000 and $81,000. (Note: The average salary of a home stager works out to be around $48,000, thanks to these outliers.)
If you are running your own home staging business, you will likely bill a rate of anywhere from $100-$200 per billable hour. Alternatively, if you opt to own inventory, you would also make a rental fee on items you use in a staged home. If you choose to work for a home staging company, your pay rate will depend greatly on your role and responsibilities within their company, however, you can expect to make an hourly rate between $15-$50.
But stats without context don’t really give you the full picture.
Let’s dive into what your monthly income might look like as a solo business owner.
Consultation fees on average cost +/- $300. This covers a couple of hours in which you assess the current state of the house, the number of rooms you need to stage, what the future home will look like, and the amount of work required. This consultation usually includes an upsell tailored to the client with one of the following solutions:
- Complete staging in each room with your inventory.
- Affordable staging with their EXISTING household items.
- A hybrid solution, such as staging key rooms only like the living room and master bedroom only, or providing a mix of your inventory with their existing items.
Each room staged with your inventory can be charged at an industry cost of roughly $500 per month. (It’s possible to charge much higher prices and furniture rental fees to clients if you work with luxury homes.)
Based on these numbers, the following monthly scenario could be what a 1-person business brings in every month:
- 6 x Consultations: $2,400.
- 2 x medium-sized staged homes for one month: $4,000.
- 2 x service-only stagings to stage the house with existing items: $1,000.
And that works out to a monthly gross revenue of $7,400. Next, you need to factor in your expenses to know how much you actually take home.
Understanding your local market
Different locations will allow you to charge varying fees. For example, stagers in New York and Los Angeles will charge a premium for their services due to increased expenses, cost of living, and luxury expectations. On the other end of the spectrum, stagers in a small town an hour outside of Ohio may find that their market won’t bare the same prices and may need to price their service fees far lower.
Factoring in your expenses
While most people will be happy to throw big salary numbers at you, they neglect to mention the costs of securing that revenue. I’ve noticed many people feel overwhelmed by the idea of expenses and operating costs, but it’s all part of running a business. And once you understand your expenses, setting goals and following budgets is as easy as pie.
When creating your business plan, think about the additional cost to do the following:
- The purchase or rental costs of your inventory.
- Training and certification in home staging and business skills.
- Your finance and administration costs (e.g., a bookkeeper).
- Movers, trucks, and storage fees.
- Mobile phone and internet costs.
- Marketing costs (such as a website developer, social media manager, and even Google ads).
- General office supplies.
There are some clever ways to manage and curb your expenses while you’re growing your home staging business. Here are a few great options:
Option 1: Go all-in at the start
This is the method I personally chose. Because I purchased the bulk of Beyond the Stage’s furniture and decor upfront, I expected to run at a loss for a whole five years (home staging was an extremely new concept in my market at the time). In reality, that panned out slightly better, and it took just a little more than three years for us to become a profitable business. And boy was it worth it! I have enough inventory to stage several houses at any one time, and I was quickly becoming the go-to in my area.
This option is entirely possible, but it will take some upfront investment — so you need to go in with a clear plan for not only operating the business but paying your personal expenses (i.e. do you have savings, spousal support, or a second job that could assist in covering costs while you build the business?).
Option 2: Start slow with consults and furniture rentals
Instead of purchasing your large inventory off the bat, keep costs low and rent them from furniture rental companies. Running a consults-only business avoids the expense of moving furniture in and out of houses entirely. Recently, virtual consults have helped stagers reach an even larger market while keeping their running costs at an all-time low. If you wish to provide inventory to clients, invest in the small goods only and leave the big stuff to a furniture rental company to provide. Alternatively, you can assist your clients with shopping for the staging items they need, and since they purchase the items themselves, they get to keep them in the next house!
Option 3: Become a home staging assistant
This has a little less of the glory, but provides a close-up look at the ins and outs of a home staging business, without the upfront investment. You will help a home stager assemble furniture, clean surfaces, make and steam beds, arrange movers, and more. If you feel nervous about entering the industry, it’s a great foot in the door. I’ve trained many assistants over the years and have found it’s crucial to have some training before you start.
Get started with your career in home staging. Click here to check out our free resources.
Home staging tips for people looking to enter the industry
- Passion for home decor is a must!
On those days where you need to put yourself out there and give that little push to get yourself on the right trajectory… it’s passion that will keep you going.
- Build systems from day one.
It all comes down to the systems you create. If you have a strategy for virtual staging consults, traditional homes, and empty homes, you can free yourself from repetitive admin work and focus on getting new clients.
- Get clear on your target clients from the start.
Home staging is still a people game. Understanding where your clients will come from, and how best to interact with them, will be your secret to success.
- Invest in professional photography.
This is your biggest sales tool and poor quality photos (no matter how great your smartphone camera is) could turn off clients before they’ve even contacted you.
Resources to help you get started
Styled, Listed, and Sold (SLS) Academy has all the resources you need to start a career in home staging. Unlike other training programs and academies, we also focus on business skills — our comprehensive training has helped many of our students grow a profitable business from scratch.
We recommend signing up to our FREE 1-hour training webinar to learn more. Sign up here.
Staging a home is no longer just the purview of the elite. Eighty-three percent of buyers find that staging makes it easier to view themselves in a prospective home. As a result, buyers today expect homes at every price point to be staged.
Unsurprisingly, demand for home stagers is through the roof and projected to keep climbing. But for many would-be stagers, the prospect of getting started in the business can be intimidating. The costs of buying and storing inventory can be especially worrisome.
But how expensive is it to become a home stager really? Here are the facts.
Is Inventory Essential for a Home Stager?
Inventory can be a double-edged sword. As home stagers, we can get endless use out of the perfect piece. Having a collection of versatile pieces on hand can also make it quick and easy to add some style and texture to common spaces like seating areas and foyers.
On the other hand, inventory is an investment. It takes time and money to acquire it in the first place, and then more time and money to transport, store, maintain, and manage it over time.
Inventory can be especially difficult for new home stagers. No new small business owner wants to spend a chunk of their salary buying up and managing inventory. Many new stagers also need time to dial in their target market, the demands of their region, and other details before they can commit to investing in a storage facility and the staging items to fill it.
What too many of us forget is that we don’t need inventory to be a great home stager.
In fact, non-inventory business models can be more than just a thrifty way to get started in staging without breaking the bank. Done well, they can be powerful marketing and growth tools!
If you are interested in how to become a home stager, there are three great models you can use that do not require an investment in inventory.
- Consulting-only staging
- Client-funded staging
- Hybrid-source staging
In a consulting-only staging model, we as stagers help clients present their homes at their best using only items the clients already own. This model can hold tremendous appeal for both us and our clients.
It offers us:
- Freedom from the costs and hassles of buying and managing inventory
- A fresh challenge with each home
- A chance to show our creativity in unique ways with each client
- An excellent marketing pitch
For our clients, this method often appeals because:
- They do not have to worry about or work their lives and schedules around rented items during the selling process
- They do not have to put as much of their stuff in storage as they otherwise might
- It keeps their costs to a minimum
- It shows them new, creative, and attractive ways to use or display their belongings that they can carry with them to their new homes
This method may also strongly appeal to clients’ personal beliefs in minimalism, simplicity, frugality, or eco-friendly living because it gets the job done with minimum “stuff” and fuss.
For those among us in the staging community who like to shop, client-funded staging can be a delight. We evaluate how to stage a home for sale, buy the perfect items using clients’ money, and then allow the clients to keep the items at the time of sale.
For us, this:
- Prevents the accumulation of inventory
- Ensures we can select the perfect pieces every time
- Keeps business costs low
For our clients, this:
- Provides personalized staging results
- Makes it easy to see exactly where every dime of their investment goes
- Results in beautiful spaces that they can pick up and take with them to their next homes
Under this model, clients often feel like they get home staging and interior design services all in one. This creates value that rolls forward and gives them the feeling of getting extra bang for their bucks.
The Magic of Rental Companies
Another option for how to stage a home with little or no inventory and minimal costs is to become a master of using rental companies for your large staging furnishings. Essentially, this gives stagers access to fantastic inventory without the costs and hassles of buying and maintaining that inventory themselves.
It may take a little more legwork to arrange delivery and pickup of items between the client and rental company, but the benefits often more than outweigh that minor inconvenience.
Supplementing With Small Items
Some stagers supplement the “use a rental company” model with a small personal inventory of favorite items or pieces that fit the hottest new trends. This allows us to keep versatile odds and ends that we always seem to need on hand without a huge investment on our part.
One of the most ideal things about low inventory and hybrid staging models is how flexible they are. If we as stagers find that these models are a perfect fit for our businesses and markets, we can use them indefinitely.
Or, if we prefer, we can use them as jumping-off points until we are more established and have a clearer idea of what inventory pieces will serve us best. Then we can transition to other inventory models that serve us better as our businesses grow and expand.
Mastering Low or No Inventory Staging
Choosing the right home staging course is the first step to mastering the art of running a low-inventory or no-inventory staging business.
We know that launching a new career can be stressful and confusing, so our home stager certification training course takes the guesswork out of every step. We walk new stagers through:
- The behind-the-scenes secrets of how the home staging industry works
- How to competitively price staging services
- How to write client contracts and handle client communications
- The best staging techniques for every space
- How to establish the policies and practices that make a business thrive
- Portfolio building
- The biggest mistakes new stagers make and how to avoid them
- How to start a business without a big financial investment
Unlike many other courses, our course also sets you up for success by providing you with the essential tools you’ll need to get started right away. These include, but are not limited to:
- Reference materials you can use on-the-job
- A color wheel
- An architect’s ruler
- Our Consult Toolkit
- A Sherwin-Williams Fan Deck
No matter what type of low-inventory or hybrid staging model appeals to you, we have the tools and knowledge you need to make it work.
Learn how to get started as a successful home stager during our free virtual training session. Sign up now to learn how we turned our passions into a profitable career and how you can, too!
Did you know that my business almost failed before it ever really got off the ground? It’s easy to see a business that has been around for years, and assume that it has always been successful, but the truth is that many new businesses struggle, and mine was no exception. In fact, most small businesses fail in the first 5 years!
#1: Identify Your Ideal Client
In the spring of 2010, my dad was experiencing some health issues and found himself in the hospital for about a month. I drove the 3 hours to be with him and my mom and helped out any way that I could. I was back and forth for approximately a month while he was hospitalized, and my business took a back seat.
One day, while I was sitting with my dad, he said something to me that took me by surprise. He said, “You know what honey? You gave it a really good shot, no one can say that you didn’t try.”. I was confused! My dad had always been my biggest supporter, and here he was acting as though I was closing the business and giving up. The truth was though that for the month that I had been helping out him and my mom, there wasn’t exactly anyone missing me and my business. That certainly gave me pause, and I decided to do a little reflecting. I knew that I wanted to be a home stager, and I knew that I was good at it, so when my dad was released I headed home and went back to the business plan to see what I could be doing to grow my business. When I had initially created my business plan, I had identified my ideal clients as homeowners and real estate agents. While that was technically correct, it was not nearly specific enough.
This was where my marketing was failing. When you market to everyone, you market to no one. You need to dive deep and determine specifically who your homeowners and real estate agents are – only then can you identify what they will value, and how to craft your marketing message for them.
What characteristics do they have? And what in turn do they want from you?
Let’s take real estate agents for example:
- Do they work for a large brokerage or a small one?
- Are they an individual agent, or a part of a team?
- How long have they been in business?
- What is their personality?
- What other characteristics do they convey?
You may not have specific answers to all of these questions, but this should give you a guideline of the types of criteria that you w
ill want to examine in determining your target homeowners. This is probably one of the hardest things to do in your business, but it is also the most critical, or everything else that follows is challenging. By identifying who your ideal client is, you will be better equipped to find them. This is not to say that you will not provide services for other clients as requested, but it will allow you to better focus your marketing plan.
Once you understand who your client is, and what their needs are, you can position yourself and your company accordingly. This will
affect everything from how you brand your company, to the events that you attend, where you spend your marketing dollars, and of course, how you set your pricing.
#2 Evaluate Your Value
Now it’s time to do some evaluating. Take some time to reflect on your value, and identify what makes you and your company awesome. This is probably one of the greatest challenges when it comes to building your business – you’ve been taught all your life to be humble and modest, and now you need to be confident and boastful!
Your value is EVERYTHING that you do that enhances the overall experience for your client. Brainstorm, and write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. Some examples may include:
- Formal training, including continuing education (i.e. events, market research, etc.)
- Registered business
- RESA member (are you a RESA-Pro, or a member of leadership?)
- A Client Care Package
- The Staging Risk Management (SRM) policy option
- A photo prep service
- A team of home staging professionals
Do not limit yourself to the above list. Even if other home stagers are offering these same value-points, it does not take away from the value that it provides to YOUR clients, and it helps to define your company’s overall brand. Remember, what makes you valuable is not just the services that you provide every day, but it also includes how you got to your level of expertise. Reflect on the path that you took to get to where you are today, and make that a part of your story.
Value doesn’t need to cost you a ton of money – if you feel that you are coming up short for where you want to be in your market, look at what may be added to your services for little to no cost, such as the SRM policy, a Client Care Package, or a unique upsell/upgrade service option.
#3 Create Your Value Proposition
A value proposition is a statement that summarizes why a client should buy from you. This is your foundation for creating your marketing material and will help you to establish your unique selling position (USP). Ask yourself these two important questions:
- Why am I here?
- What do I bring to the table that no one else does?
Identify how you solve your client’s problems. Be as specific and concise as possible for this. What makes you different and unique?
#4 Communicate your value
Now that you have identified what makes you valuable, and what makes you unique, you need to communicate this effectively to your clients and prospects.
Start with your mission statement – if you don’t have one yet, create one, and share it on your website and other promotional materials.
Review your logo – does it portray the image and brand that you want it to?
Your value points should be noted on your website, on printed promotional materials, and in your communications. Create bite-sized videos answering questions about your company’s processes, about your training, and more. Update your internal intake forms to list your value points so that you remember to note these items as a part of your initial call with clients. And most importantly, LIVE YOUR VALUE. The best and easiest way to communicate what your company stands for is to live it every day.
Ready to take your business to the next level? SLS Academy’s Business of Staging course provides you with the business strategies that you need to operate a successful and thriving home staging business. From setting your pricing and policies to sales techniques, understanding today’s buyers, and what motivates them. We will walk you through the steps that you need to take to create your business plan, plus we will help you to identify your mission statement, understand your value proposition, and run the day-to-day business. PLUS, you will get the tools and templates that you need to make running your business easier, allowing you to spend your days assisting your clients. We will even teach you proven sales techniques and strategies to help you to close more deals, and keep your cash flow…well…flowing. Learn more and get started today by clicking here.
Hindsight is 20/20 – we’ve all heard this, but it’s never more true than immediately following a terrible mistake that you have made in your business, that often can be costly. Have you ever had that moment of clarity following a disaster where you thought “I wish someone had told me that!”? Trust me when I say that every home stager and every entrepreneur, regardless of what level they are at in their business, has had that moment.
Well I polled the industry’s best, and I asked for their best tip for home stagers, whether it’s a business tip, a staging hack, or just something that they wish they knew sooner. I have compiled them here for you in this Top 10 List (in no particular order) to help you to grow, learn, and above all else, hopefully avoid some mistakes that we have made!! Check out what they have to say:
1. Transform Old Books and a Simple Option for Staging Built-Ins
David Peterson, Synergy Staging
Stagers have a love / hate relationship with built-ins. Some love them and some want to avoid them at all costs. With this simple solution you’ll be able to update your old (or newly acquired) books while also giving a slick and time saving look to mix into your stagings.
For years we wrapped our books with wrapping paper so they all had a uniform and neutral look. However, after many trips to and from various staged homes, the wrapping would wear down, rip, and we’d have re-wrap them. We are now spray painting all of our hard cover books to give them a consistent look that is cost effective and durable.
The best paint we found is pictured below and can be purchased at Home Depot. Feel free to try other colors, but this Satin finish of Heirloom White has proven to give us the best and most versatile look.
You can see a close up as well as a photo from one of our stagings.
The painting is quite easy and requires no taping. Simply open the book in the center, turn it face up on a paintable surface (we use large sheets of cardboard and paint outside on the rear driveway of our warehouse) and spray both front and back covers simultaneously. Once it is dry you are ready to go. No need to do anything with the pages.
If you need a good source for hardcover books I recommend searching Craigslist for “Free Law Books”. There are many times when law offices are getting rid of their large collections of legal books and generally will give them away for free or a very nominal cost. We’ve gotten hundreds of free hardcover books this way.
2. Create a Company Language
Bobbie McGrath, Successful Staging/Occupied Consultation Specialist™
As you grow your business you will find yourself hiring people. I recommend you take the time to meet with your ENTIRE staff (delivery people, packers, consultants, administrative support, installers, etc.) to instill a common vocabulary across your company. This will help reduce misunderstandings and also provides an opportunity to elevate and brand your business. (Think Starbucks…Short, Tall, Vente, Grande…see what I mean?) Remember, what you have in common UNITES you. Let the words you choose not only brand your business but also unite your team!
3. Create a Quoting System
Yvonne Laanstra-Rooth, Staging Calgary
The number 1 tip I like to give to stagers: Create your quoting system, working with packaged pricing per room. Yes, all homes are different but if you look closely, 90% of the time, a living room or bedroom needs the same amount of staging items. Estimate and calculate what you need per room for furniture, artwork and accessories as well as your staging time and destaging time. In case a room needs one extra piece of art or an extra chair, it is easy to add to your price. By quoting with set prices per room, you save yourself so much time in calculations, inventing the wheel over and over. In my first years, I calculated every vase, flower and piece of art, generating quotes that were more or less the same. Now working with set prices per room, there is no more guessing. You can make a quote in 5-10 minutes. A huge time saver.
4. How to Close a Sale for What You are Worth
Tracy Molendi, Simply Organized & Staged
Realize your value, and what you are bringing to the table. Don’t sell yourself short or get talked into discounting your pricing. Remember, someone else’s financial issues are not your financial issues, unless, of course, you discount you’re pricing for them!
You are increasing the value of the home, shortening the time on market, reducing the need for price reductions and lowering your Realtors marketing cost. Know with full assurance you bring a great deal of value to the process of selling a home. If you always have the clients best interest at heart, stand tall and tell them what needs to be done to get the house to stand out in the market and what it will cost to make it happen. When you talk to your clients with confidence and show them you have their best interest at heart, explaining why these things need to be done and how it will help them sell, they will trust in you and in the process.
It is always best to deal directly with the client, the person who owns the property, so you can explain why you are recommending what you are recommending and show them you are knowledgeable, that you care and that you want to help them sell their house. They need to trust you and believe in you! That won’t happen though email or their Realtor® relaying the information. Make a point to “Sell” face to face when you can! Use marketing terms instead of design hot phrases, they will see you as a professional who understand the Real Estate Industry.
When you appreciate your value, talk with confidence and always have your clients best interest at heart you will be able to close most deals face to face with the decision makers.
5. Invest in a Solid Home Staging Contract
Michelle Minch, CEO Moving Mountains Design
The first thing you should invest in when starting your home staging company is a good home staging contract (assuming you’ve already taken a comprehensive home staging course). Do this before you have a website or business cards. It will be the backbone of your company and it will give you confidence knowing you have this very important piece of your business puzzle in place. Your contract should lay out the terms of how your business will operate. It should set your boundaries so it is clear what you will and will not do. It should help eliminate any questions your client may have and provide them with a road map for working with you. You should consider your contract a “living” document that will change over the years to incorporate different guidance to cover you for events you never imagined encountering. A well-written contract will help you to sleep at night, knowing you and your business are covered.
6. Manage Your Inventory, Don’t Let it Manage You
Todd McAllister, OnStage
Have some type of inventory system – it doesn’t matter how big you are or if you only have accessories. If you are renting items, you need to know how much money these items are generating for you. If you have something that is just sitting on the shelf taking up space, get rid of it, every square inch of your storage space should make you money! An inventory system is also good if you have theft or disaster. Your insurance company will want to know what you paid for things if you want a payout. An inventory system doesn’t have to be complex, a simple spreadsheet will do. Get into the habit of entering your purchases as they come in. Also spend money on racking your storage space to store as much as you can: go as high as you legally can.
7. Versatility is Key
Johnathan Miller, Jsquared Interior Staging & Design
Starting a Home Staging company was exponentially harder than any other job that I have had. Evaluate your time and commitment. You will not instantly have success and you will be wearing many hats as you grow. Operating well across a variety of areas: sales, marketing, finance, operations, HR, etc. Your first order of business is to create a product that showcases value and is an irresistible solution to the target agent.
8. Be Consistent
Tori Toth, Founder of The Stage to Sell Strategy and The Video Visibility Course
Whether starting a home staging business or being an established veteran the key to success is consistency. You need to be consistently upholding your company’s systems, marketing platforms and relationships to make your business more visible and viable for that matter. Aristotle says:
So my question to you is, what do YOU do daily in your business and is it directing a positive narrative for your brand and your clients? If it’s not, make a conscious decision to remain consistent by having a plan and knowing your objective.
9. Marketing is a Part of Life
Marianne Cherico, Coaching by Marianne Cherico
My biggest tip for home stagers is that, like it or not, marketing will always be an important part of growing your business so you might as well embrace it. If you want to attract your ideal clients and create a lucrative business that makes you happy, you need to become a savvy marketer or pay handsomely for someone else to do it for you. Either way you need to be clear about who you are marketing to and have a solid strategy to attract clients.
10. Leave Your Mark
Ginny Truyens, Feels Like Home 2 Me
Have a signature accessory that identifies your company for realtors who view the jobs frequently. I have silver birds – they’ve been in every home we have staged for past 8 years and have made their rounds to every room!
If you are considering home staging as a career, you might be underwhelmed by the amount of information about how to get started. While some colleges offer some basic courses on home staging, it can be difficult to figure out where to get your training, and whether or not it’s even something that you need.
If you are planning to offer home staging services, it is recommended that you enroll in a reputable home staging certification training program. Here’s the skinny on this – home staging is NOT a regulated industry, therefore, you are not required to receive any licensing, diploma, or certificate in order to call yourself a home stager. In fact, you can wake up tomorrow, call yourself a home stager, and *poof*, you’re a home stager.
Now that you’re calling yourself a home stager, what exactly makes you a home-selling expert? Why should people hire you? Why should your clients take your advice?
Sure, there are some great online resources available today that will provide you with some general information about staging a property for sale, but to become a qualified and successful home stager, you want to be sure to arm yourself with the best resources. Who do you trust with your money? Do you have a financial advisor, or an accountant? I’m sure that they have likely received some pretty extensive training; after all, you are trusting them with your money. What about your doctor, they received some training as well, didn’t they? I mean, you are trusting them with your life. When working with homeowners to sell their home, you are working with their largest asset, and they are trusting you to do great work – this means selling their home in the shortest timeframe possible, for the most amount of money.
You might be thinking that you have “staged” and sold many of your own homes already, and your friends have probably told you that you should pursue a creative career because of your natural eye for design, and this is certainly a valuable skill when it comes to becoming a home stager, but it isn’t the only skill needed.
Did you know?
Home staging is just as much about marketing, as it is about decorating.
Home staging is about properly merchandizing and marketing a property for sale. Even if you have received formal training to become an interior designer or interior decorator, you will find great value in taking a home stager certification course. While many concepts of the two industries overlap and inspire each other, home staging is a part of the real estate industry, and operates with very different guidelines, processes, and “rules” (whether official or not) – your home staging certification will teach you which design elements to use and when. Setting up a home for sale takes a lot more than a little cleaning and decluttering. Here are just a few things that your certification training program should outline and teach you:
- The ins and outs of the Real Estate Market, the key players and how home staging fits in
- The various business structures, creating your business plan, and registering your new home staging business
- Creating your staging plan by addressing buyer perceptions, decluttering, and eliminating distractions
- Furniture selection and placement for optimal flow and buyer appeal
- Step by step review of the home staging evaluation – what to look for, and what to address with your home sellers
- Accessorizing techniques for selling
- What role textures and fabrics play in home staging and design
- Organizing spaces for selling and living
- Repairs and updates – what to address and how to understand the value and impact of each recommendation
- Creating curb appeal and lasting first impressions
- Identifying design styles and working within them
- Creating and preparing accurate floor plans
- Colour theory – using the colour wheel as a tool in colour palette selection; understanding the components and significance of colours
- Preparing your home sellers for the process of selling their home, including managing seller expectations and resistance
- The home staging consultation, from start to finish
- The people factor – the importance of working with the homeowner throughout the process, and understanding their needs
- Managing your owner-occupied and vacant home staging projects, start to finish
- Building your portfolio (especially when you are first starting out)
- How to set up your office to run efficiently and effectively to keep you out meeting with clients and building the business
- Contracts – what clauses to include, policies to consider, and how to create these to ensure that they are ironclad
- How to work with subcontractors
- Health & Safety, and how it applies to your home staging business
- Insurance – what you need, to ensure that you are properly covered
- How to set your policies and procedures for smooth operating practices
- Inventory management and best practices (applies regardless of whether or not you choose to own large furniture pieces)
- How to outline your services and set your pricing (including identifying the various services that you can offer to help your clients, such as color consultations, shopping, decluttering, organizing, project management, and more)
In addition to teaching you how to run your home staging projects, a quality home staging certification program will provide you with the tools and templates that you need to be successful – this is invaluable! I can’t even begin to explain the amount of time that this alone will save you when you are first starting your business. Why re-invent the wheel? From outlining what your services will include, how to provide each service, pricing your services (to get paid your value as an expert in your field), plus contracts, insurance, and SO MUCH MORE! Mistakes can be very costly, so arm yourself with the tools and the information to safeguard yourself, and your business.
Becoming certified as a home stager will also add to your credibility. Keep in mind that the very real estate agents that you will be working with are required to take an intensive training course before working in the industry, and they are also required to earn additional credits through continuing education courses throughout the year, in order to maintain their license. They expect that the people that they work with as a part of their home-selling team are just as qualified, and have invested a similar amount of time, money, and energy.
Above all else, in taking a home staging certification course, you receive the thrill of learning something new, and I promise, you will learn something new. For more about how to choose the right home stager certification training program for you, check out our blog here.
- No insurance
- Regardless of whether or not you intend to invest in owning your own home staging inventory, you are still a business, and your business takes place in other people’s homes. Not only will the insurance protect you from any liability (such as mistakenly leaving a light on that later bursts and starts a fire, or accidentally knocking over a precious heirloom), but it will also establish you as a professional and genuine company.
- Over-decorating or not enough
- Less really is more when it comes to staging, but you still need to ensure that you are meeting the main principles and goals of your service – to clearly define the space, showcase the features, and sell the experience of living in the home. Every item used in home staging should serve a purpose – use the goldilocks method – not too much, not too little, but just enough! Keep things neutral, but not sparse. You want to create an experience, and sell a lifestyle, while maintaining effective flow and marketing the home.
- Improperly scaled furniture
- Effective home staging will showcase a home. One of the most important tasks that home staging intends to accomplish is to properly define each room, and that means defining the size of the room as well. This means selecting the proper scale of furniture to best showcase the space. Staging a room can help buyers to better visualize the space, and show them the optimal furniture selection and placement for the room. A common mistake made by new home stagers is the use of furniture that is either too large, or too small, for a room. This can adversely affect the flow and perception of the space, and overall creates an unappealing room.
- Decorating instead of merchandising
- Home staging is an effective marketing technique that integrates decorating with marketing to create an experience for homebuyers. It is about more than just furnishing a room – it’s about selling a lifestyle. Just because something is pretty, does not mean that it should be used to stage a room for sale. Staging items should not overpower the features of a space, but should accentuate them.
- Marketing to the masses and not understanding your niche and position in the market place
- If you are trying to market to everyone, you are often reaching no one. Take the time to understand who your ideal client would be, and create your marketing messages to resonate with them. Be deliberate with your marketing. Identify where your ideal client hangs out, and connect with them on their turf. Do you want to work with large real estate teams, or smaller, independent real estate agents? Do you want to work in luxury homes, starter, or mid-level homes? It’s not to say that you won’t work with a client just because they don’t fit your avatar, but having a clear marketing plan with a specific target will help you to create a stronger relationship with those that you do wish to work with.
- Not understanding the real estate industry, and the language of real estate agents
- Many that enter into the world of home staging do so for a love of home décor, and while you might know your damask from your gingham and your finials from your fascia, understanding real estate terminology and dynamics is critical to success. This is something that your home staging certification program should cover, but be sure to clarify before you register to ensure that you will get the coverage that you expect in your course material.
- Under-pricing/under-valuing your work and your expertise
- Just because you are a new home stager, does not make you any less qualified – don’t undervalue yourself and your expertise. Set yourself up for success from the beginning by demanding to be paid your worth. Review industry standards, evaluate your expenses, and be diligent in setting your prices. You have invested in your home stager training, you have invested in the registration and launch of your business, and you have overhead, just like any other business. You deserve to be profitable, regardless of how long you have been in business.
- It’s not uncommon for clients to request a discount on the promise of future business – instead of offering a discount now, provide value and show them that you’re worth it – they’ll be knocking down your door to hire you again! If you’re so inclined, reward them on future projects as a thank you for their loyalty.
- Letting your clients run the show
- It’s easy for a homeowner to create a pre-conceived staging plan in their mind – they are emotionally connected to their home, and often can’t see your final vision. While it is important to select staging items that will work well with the style of home, it may not always be to your client’s personal taste. Remember – home staging is NOT interior design – take the time to understand the demographics of the buyers that will be interested in the home, and direct your marketing to them.
- Not treating your home staging business as a business
- One of your greatest traits as a home stager will be your ability to empathize and relate to your clients. Because of this, it can be difficult to avoid letting your emotions get in the way of running your business as a business. Abstain from doing unpaid “favors” for that real estate agent friend, or giving more than you quoted to that client in the tough situation – do what you can for them based on their budget, and focus on providing them with low-cost solutions for maximizing their home’s potential. Remember, you have bills to pay as well.
- Using inventory from your own home and/or sub-standard inventory
- Your clients are paying you for your expertise, and your quality home staging services, including your staging rentals – be sure that you deliver on this. If an item is marked down, there is often a good reason for it – just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t always mean that it is a good staging item. You will score some great finds – be frugal, and be creative, but don’t be shabby – provide quality home staging items and maximum value to all clients (that said, you wouldn’t be the first home stager to deplete your own home décor for the sake of a staging project – ensure the items are well-maintained, and only do so when absolutely necessary to get the job done).
- No Certification
- As with any profession, proper certification and training is critical to success. The investment in a quality certification program is just like the one that you would make to become an accountant, a plumber, or any other skilled profession. While you may have a natural talent that will serve you very well in this industry, it’s your training that will make you an expert in your profession, one that your clients will be happy to pay for. Regardless of your natural talent or previous design training and experience, a qualified home stager training program will provide you with “techniques” for showcasing and merchandising a space, as well as an understanding of the home staging processes, buyer insights, managing your clients, and so much more. This will not only save you time and energy by providing you with essential skills, tools, and resources for home staging success, but it will also provide you with the support that you need, especially when you’re first starting out.
Interested in learning more about becoming a Real Estate Staging Professional? Check out our upcoming FREE training – REGISTER HERE!