Selecting a Home Stager to help you get a house ready for sale used to be pretty easy since there were so few people in the industry. In the past 6 years we have had a literal boom in this service for preparing homes for sale. There are some that have jumped into this field with no training, no credbility and have not set up their businesses professionally, which could cost the client money. The public needs to know what to ask for when selecting a Home Stager and this top 10 list should help give you some food for thought.
1. What kind of Training Does the Home Stager have?
It is important that the person you invite to help you with readying you house for sale has some training behind them specific to the field of Home Staging. There are courses a home stager can take and earn a designation, certification or accreditation. Of the 3, the accreditation is the highest form of education offered in the home staging industry. You can find accredited home stagers by searching online or by asking for referrals.
All stagers have a natural ability to do their work – that is a given. When a Stager proclaims they don’t need training, what they are saying is they don’t value education, or they don’t want to invest in their education. That is a mistake as Staging is not decorating or design, and handling clients involved in the selling process is very different than a client who is decorating their house. Any person that expects to succeed in business needs knowledge specific to that industry. Home Stagers are no different.
2. Should the Stager have insurance?
YES! Definitely ask to SEE a copy of a current policy that includes liability coverage and coverage for any of the stager’s items they may use to add pizzazz to your house. You don’t want to be held responsible if something is stolen or broken, or if damage is done to the house during the process, you want it paid for under an insurance policy. A professional home stager should carry insurance – both liability and coverage for items provided from their inventory.
3. Is it all about Price?
No. Staging should not just be about price because cheapest does not always mean “best.” You want to interview your Stager and ask for a proposal for services that is reasonable for your house. Most Stagers have a range of fees they charge depending on the service provided. You want to make sure the job that you pay for actually is a good job. When the average price reduction on a house sitting on the market is now between 5-20% (based on National Association of Realtor – July 2008) it’s important to remember: Staging your house is less than a price reduction – in any market and in any price range.
4. Should the Stager be Licensed?
The Stager should have a business license and be set up properly through the proper channels depending on where you live. You can ask to see a business license and also ask if the stager has any additional services or discounts to offer you from vendors they may partner with in your area or nationally.
5. Experience Matters.
Most stagers have been staging their whole life – they just did not realize there was a business they could wrap around their talent. That said, depending on your house, you need to ask for examples of their work and ask how much experience they have. A newer stager can do a fine job on certain houses, but a more complicated Staging job requires the services of an experienced Stager to make sure it is done properly and within budget. As for references and testimonials as an experienced Stager will have those readily available. As Stagers gain more experience, they are able to conduct work more quickly, and have better ideas on how to handle projects.
6. Who Pays?
Staging services are paid by either the homeowner that is selling or the Realtor listing the house. Ultimately it is up to the seller to ensure their house is Staged but some savvy realtors are including Staging as part of their services to list a home – and a way to get a listing over competitors. The dollar amount they are willing to provide for this service is typically $200-$500 and they may require that the seller pay up front and they reimburse at the close of escrow.
7. How much Does it Cost to Stage my Occupied House?
For Occupied Homes a Stager has two types of services. They can provide detailed plan to the seller who then implements the recommendations with a basic follow up on the back end for about $350.00 average. The stager can also bring in inventory to help add “wow factor” which is typically an average of about $200 per house per month. The Stager can provide total hands on staging using the seller’s things – and is paid for their time in the house to transform each room. This average investment for this varies based on size of the house, what needs to be done – and a stager will provide a proposal to the seller.
8. How much Does it Cost to Stage my Vacant House?
For Vacant houses, the staging costs depends on the size of the house and the style, price and location. For smaller condos or townhouses, Staging can start as low as $700 and go up from there with monthly rental involved. For average houses, the fees are on average about $2,000 to Stage. Larger houses have higher fees because there is usually a need for more furniture and decor. The Staging includes the time to install the furnishings and the rental on those furnishings for a designated period of time. The primary rooms of the house are staged, leaving some rooms vacant. With all vacant houses the client pays for rental of furniture and decor that is in line with the price and style of the house. The furnishings help make the house look more inviting for buyers and helps them imagine living in the house. It also helps them envision the scale and size of the rooms using the furniture as a guide. The rental is at minimum 30 days, and can be contracted for a 60 or 90 day period, or longer depending on the market conditions. The house needs to stay staged as it is a key part of getting a buyer to make an offer. The Staging also includes fees for delivery and removal of Staging items.
9. What else should I ask for?
Stagers that are part of larger associations may have the ability to help with some marketing of the house including featuring it on national websites. Stagers can often provide photos of the houses they have staged that may help with the marketing, as well as provide real estate shows that function similar to a virtual tour. You can ask your potential Stager what they offer to help with marketing once the house is Staged. Look for a Stager that belongs to a reputable association that is founded on educational and code of ethics requirements. Associations that include everyone without regard for educational standards of excellence or enforcable code of ethics have no merit. Ask to see membership certificates and find out what else the Stager can offer you as part of a professional association.
10. Rapport and Relationship Matter Most
When it comes down to it – you need to work with someone you trust can do the best job for you. If you find a connection to the Stager’s personality, that helps you to know you are in good hands, and so look for a Stager that is engaging, and not all business. If you are a Realtor, this Stager can become a valuable part of your team, even sending you referrals for future business. As a seller, your Stager is coming into your house and helping you transition to your new home and should be someone that you trust.
These Top 10 suggestions for location a great Home Stager should serve you well when you follow all of them. Ultimately the goal is to get all properties Staged prior to coming on the market so that Buyers get the best first impression of the home. For statistics on Staging you can go to Stagedhomes.com and see current statistics that show a Staged house sells 2-3 times faster than the unstaged competition. Staging also helps a seller keep more money as they are less likely to have to reduce their house either once or multiple times in price than the competition that is not Staged.
Jennie Norris, ASPM, IAHSP is an Accredited Staging Professional Master (ASPM) and Owner of We Stage Sacramento, a full-service Home Staging company serving the greater Sacramento region. She was the first Home Stager to launch a company in that region and has staged thousands of houses. She was privileged to be part of national Home Staging features on ABC’s 20/20 and NBC’s Today Show. A local resource for media and newspapers, Jennie is a recognized expert in the field of Home Staging.