I read a featured post today called ‘So You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent? Some Unsolicited Advice written by Liz and Bill Spear and it really resonated with me. Reason being is that every week we get anywhere from half a dozen emails or resumes or phone calls from people who want to become a stager and work for our company or they want to start their own staging business and would like to be mentored. I like to help people and appreciate the inquiries but it is a little overwhelming.
It’s really easy to become a home stager – easier than wanting to start in real estate – because unlike becoming a realtor, you don’t even have to take any courses. You can just wake up one morning and decide“hey, today is the day I start staging houses!” Presto! Now you’re a home stager! Do you know what you’re signing up for? Many don’t; they think it’s this glam job where TV cameras follow us around all the time and we get to tell people their stuff is ugly and they should throw it out and buy all new. Ummm! It’s not quite the same thing and it takes a lot of time, perseverance and talent to make a staging business a success.
So here are the top things to consider if you want to become a home stager:
1) Realtors aren’t immediately your friends and most of them won’t want to work with you right away. Often home stagers when they first start out think that if they go to the different real estate offices and introduce themselves, bring some business cards, their portfolio and some treats that the realtors will flock to talk to them. This is a common misconception. Because there are SO many home stagers, especially in larger cities, realtors often feel overwhelmed by all the home stagers who drop by their offices. Many are still figuring home staging out and will say ‘no’ without even considering what is being offered to them. It takes time, perseverance and creating a good reputation to change that. Even then, rejection is a normal occurrence even for seasoned professionals.
2) It costs money to start a home staging business – sometimes a lot of money especially if a stager is investing in building an inventory right from the start. From business registration, liability insurance, staging training & education, branding, marketing materials, gas, storage fees, website, cellphone, laptop, camera … and the list goes on. These are all essential business building items however if you didn’t budget for them they can have you wondering what you got yourself into.
3) Its hard prospecting for clients and if realtors aren’t interested in your services then its even more difficult to get actual staging jobs. If you live in an area where staging just isn’t taking off then it can be very hard to make a living staging homes. I know of many stagers who want to work but are frustrated because the people in their area ‘just don’t get it’.
4) Many aspiring stagers contact experienced home staging professionals looking for guidance, advice and mentoring. As our industry has evolved over the past five years, there are now larger home staging companies that can and do provide all of these things. Our advice is to do your research and seek out the ones which you want to be trained by. When you ask for help and they respond – even if they can’t mentor you or hire you – thank them! We reply to each and every inquiry we get however it is staggering the number of new stagers that do not respond after we have sent them information, advice and/or guidance. For those that do thank us, we remember and are far more likely to hire or mentor them in the future.
5) Home owners and realtors will get upset with you; you WILL offend some of them no matter what you do. Staging by its very nature is intrusive for most home owners and you touch on some very sensitive topics so its only natural that at some point you will offend some of them. Additionally because we tend to work on very tight timelines so that homes can get listed for sale, there is a high level of stress that is felt in both the sellers and realtors and can make for some tearful and angry blowups.
6) Other stagers in your area may not be your friends right away. As much as we want to all get along, the reality is that stagers are fiercely competitive and some may just not play nice at all. The Real Estate Staging Association and local Chapters has come a long way to helping stagers get over their fears so that they can work collaboratively together. If you aren’t a member of RESA, the official trade organization for home stagers and re-designers, we recommend checking them out! RESA is a phenomenal industry resource and provides everything new stagers need to get their business started.
7) The road to becoming a successful home stager is time-consuming. From consults to staging jobs to social media to presentations … and more .. its easy for the job to take over your life. This is one of the areas we constantly struggle with which is creating boundaries between work and my family life. It’s very easy, especially when we are incredibly busy, to be working 10 – 12 hour days, 7 days a week. Investing in business coaching and prioritizing tasks will help new stagers balance both a work and social life so that they don’t burn out too quickly. Additionally, creating a solid business plan and charging appropriately for your services – not giving away services for free – will ensure you work effectively and earn a steady income.
Staging is real estate marketing and the best way to attract full priced offers, quickly.
8) Bad things can and will happen on the job. From scratching a seller’s brand new cherry floors to dropping their antique birdcage that their husband’s mother bought for them for their wedding, these things will happen. Ensuring you are insured, have contracts with your clients to cover you for when of surprises goes a long way in this business. You can’t protect against everything however and there will be jobs where because something unexpected happened, you make no money or you lose money. C’est la vie.
9) That you need to have a solid business plan – and stick to it – to make your staging dreams a reality. Some stagers never do this but the really successful stagers that I know of have business plans not only for the short-term, but also for over the next 5 – 10 years. They are extremely detail oriented, organized and focused. As we said above, charge appropriately, value yourself and the services you offer so that others do too. We have seen too many stagers over the years offer their services for next to nothing only to end up folding their business in under a year because they made no money. If you offer it for free once, people remember and expect you to do that again. Know what your services are worth and don’t be afraid to charge appropriately.
10) You’ll need to become a social media expert to some degree to ensure that you are hitting all your target markets. From interactive websites to Facebook Fan Pages to Tweeting to Blogging .. all of these play vital roles in creating a viable staging business. Building brand and name recognition happens slowly however if you aren’t online then the odds are high your target clients will never find you.
Staging as a career can be incredibly rewarding – especially if it is your passion! Taking the time to create a solid business plan and invest in your staging training will ensure that your passion is also profitable. And if you don’t want to run a staging business, invest in training and then look for a position with a larger staging company. There are lots of ways to be a part of this dynamic industry – you just need to find your niche.
As stagers we are always asked if it really works and chances are unless you’ve actually experienced the results of home staging you are still probably a skeptic. To that I say if staging didn’t work I would not have a successful business. Now yes other companies go out of business and quickly it’s more often a business issue than a staging issue. Many stagers are good at what they do but they can not run a business. Why? because it rely’s on the two opposite sides of the brain the creative side and the analytical side. This is why I chose early on in my business to hire amazingly creative and professional women to do the home staging while I focused on the business and driving it forward.
Six years later we are still going strong, won many awards along the way.
So let’s get to it what are 5 ways staging WILL save you money.
1. Decrease your days on market (DOM)
This is important because every day you are on the market it is costing you money. Monthly operational costs add up and quickly if you’ve already moved out into your new home. To find out how much you will spend by not staging and sitting on the market take all your monthly costs of heat, hydro, mortgage,
seasonal fees, ETC add them up and multiply by 6. This is the average DOM a empty home will sit on the market with out an offer.
2. Attract buyers online
We are in a digital world and let’s face it everyone views the homes they want to see on their computer, iPad or smart phone. When homes are staged they will appeal to buyers online by showing them an attractive space they can live.
This will increase foot traffic and in the life of numbers the more buyer foot traffic you can get into your home the more likely you will receive an offer.
3. Reduce lowball offers
Buyers want the BEST home that they can afford which means if you have bold paint colours, significant updates or damages be prepared to get a lowball offer. No one wants to pay for the previous owners wear and tear on the property. To avoid lowball offers address everything you can first. Paint is the cheapest and easiest way to update a home make sure it is neutral and appeals to your targeted buyer. Which means ANY neutral is NOT good enough. If you do not know what neutral is appropriate a stager can help you.
4. Sell for top dollar
Homes that are properly addressed and well staged are more likely to obtain multiple offers. This happens when many homes on the market are not able to compete with this home on price and attractiveness. Some agents will price a staged home near or under market value so it is an attractive home at an excellent price which has been known to obtain multiple offers. Note: This strategy is not guaranteed as it depends on many factors including market conditions however it does allow for the likelihood of a multiple offer situation to happen greater than a standard selling situation.
We’ve helped a high end home that sat vacant for 4 years with no action sell in 2 days for $15,000 over asking after we staged the entire home.
During a buyers market we also helped a town home sell the first weekend it was listed for over $40,000 over the original list price just by fixing up many issues with in the home prior to sale.
5. For every $1 you invest into your home you will SAVE $3-5
This loosely links to reduce lowball offers. That’s because home buyers will obtain multiple quotes on how to paint or fix an element with in the home and submit to the sellers the WORST CASE quote so if it costs you $100 to fix the issue the home buyer will be asking for $300-500 off of your home. HOLD ONTO your homes equity by doing as much as you can before you list your home.
Written by Kristy Morrison - thank you for sharing
Kristine Vowles the Founder of The Luxury Look still enjoys after 30+ years being involved in the Real Estate Industry as a Leadership Trainer, Investor, Mentor as well as the world of Design and Renovating. Now it is about building relationships, good design, assisting others in achieving their goals and having fun with family, friends and colleagues.