By Holly Reisem Hanna
I love me some HGTV (Home and Garden Television); from Fixer Upper and House Hunters to Flip or Flop – I could watch this channel for hours if my daughter and husband would let me. So, needless to say, when I saw a business opportunity on HGTV for Home Stagers, I geeked out a little bit and decided to take an inside peek into the profession and find out what home staging is all about.
Similar to professional organizers, home stagers come in and assist home sellers with decluttering, organizing, and improving the appearance of their home before putting it on the market. Home stagers might work hand-in-hand with realtors, or they might work with homeowners who are forgoing a realtor, but still, need some help getting their house stage-ready for viewing.
In today’s cutthroat real estate market, a well-staged home can make all the difference between a quick or slow home sale. In most real estate sales, homes are extensively photographed for websites (like Zillow) where potential buyers can scroll through their options. Almost all home-selling and real estate professionals recommend that any home seller should create a portfolio of online photographs, as well as ensure their home is well-staged for and during walkthrough visits and open houses.
Getting Started in Home Staging:
Currently, the home staging industry is not regulated, so anyone with a flair for design can become a home stager. But, just like anything else, the more certifications, education, and accreditations that you have, the more marketing power you possess.
Many home staging courses take less than six months to complete and cost as little as $1,000 – $2,500 for tuition—which is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of a college tuition.
Besides the cost of training, as a home stager, you’ll need a computer, printer, telephone, business license, insurance, website, and business cards to start your home-based business.
Home Staging Courses + Resources:
Nore sure where to begin? There are lots of resources out there to help you get started with home staging:
- American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners
- International Association of Home Stagers
- Home to Become a Home Stager
- QC Design School
- Staging Diva – Home Staging Business Training Program
What You'll Be Doing As a Home Stager:
Home stagers help people organize and “clean out” their homes before they sell, but they also may need to bring in some attractive items to accessorize and polish up the “look” of the home for potential buyers. Home accessories like throw pillows, plants, rugs, and even wall art add warmth to the home that can speak to potential buyers.
When you look at real estate photos, you’ll notice that homes are often photographed clean, organized, and with minimal decor. Furnishings used are usually homey and charming, but not overwhelming. A home stager’s job is to help the buyer connect with the home so that they’re able to see its potential, as well as imagine what it would look like as their future home. A client should be drawn in and connected to the home, not put off by quirky wall art or too much clutter. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking things down—other times it’s more complex. A great home stager understands the balance that's required.
Working with Clients:
When you get started, you’ll need to establish your relationships with clients. If you’re working on building up a client base, you’ll need to set up a website. Adding a blog and a photo gallery to your site can be a great way to showcase your portfolio to prospective clients.
You’ll also want to explore potential contracts and select a standard contract you’ll use to ensure you’re clear in your agreements with clients.
- Do you set an hourly fee or a flat rate?
- When do you get paid?
- Do you store decorating inventory or do you rent home and decor items?
While offering organizational services and working with the items a client has in their home costs very little — when you start staging with additional home decor items and furniture, your expenses can quickly add up. This is one reason why you'll want to educate yourself on best practices within the industry.
Industry expert and home staging instructor, Debra Gould, teaches a method that doesn’t require any inventory, so there is no wasted time in managing, caring for, storing, or transporting goods to your clients. In fact, she handles all the additional home decor items and furniture with an outside company and earns a commission from this (she teaches this method in her Staging Diva Business Model).
For many, home staging is a fun and creative work-from-home opportunity. You can explore a wide range of your own talents, from design and interior decorating to home organization, marketing, client communications and relations, and more.
So if you have a flair for design and an eye for color, or if you’re great with home organization and decorating, a home staging career might be the perfect fit for you.
Do you work as a home stager? What tips do you have for launching a home staging business?
Originally posted August 25, 2009. Updated on April 14, 2017.
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