Bearing in mind there is no governing body for home stagers. No education or insurance requirements, anyone can call themselves a ‘home stager’.
That’s why sellers should take time to ask any home stager they’re thinking of hiring a few questions. Here are a few topics you can cover in that initial phone call:
Educated home stagers complete training of some sort, but there are many courses out there. Staging sounds like a ‘fun job’. And it can be. But there are lots of logistics that go into doing it well.
- Ask about their training. And ask if it’s recognized by the Real Estate Staging Association. The association takes a lot of time vetting programs for quality of education.Certified Staging Professionals, for example, offer an intensive three day course. Three days doesn’t sound like much, but they cram a semester of training into that timeframe. The course consists of two ten hour days, each of which is followed by an intensive exam. In my case, each of those tests took about four hours to complete. Day three consists of about 4 hours in the classroom followed by another 5-6 hours working in a client’s home. An actual home that is going on the market after staging. I call it “Education by Firehose.” While not every good stager is educated, it sure shows they’re willing to invest in themselves and their business.
- Does your home stager upgrade their education? I’m currently taking a color consultation course to help my clients with the current color choices that sell houses. Any stager who is serious about the business should be educating themselves on how to be a better stager. Trends change, colors change, and the local market changes. Good to change along with it.
Knowledge of Appropriate Furnishings and Accessories
- Home stagers should know what furnishings, colors, and accessories should be used adhering to basic standards of design. They should also know when to break those rules. We are, after all, trying to show the features of the listed property, not the stuff in it. Educated home stagers know how to stage a home properly to obtain that “wow” factor to sell homes quickly and for the asking price by accentuating the positive.
- Ask them to provide photos of their recent projects. It’s pretty easy to download photos off the internet and pass them off as your own and while it may be innocent on their part, simply trying to show what they ‘could do’, you’ll want to see what they’re actually capable of doing.
- What insurance does a home stager have? Is it comprehensive or just ‘errors and omissions’. A serious stager should be insured against damage to the property they’re working in. (If an uninsured home stager works on your property, and damages your home accidentally or otherwise, you are on the hook for repairs unless the stager compensates you for that loss).
Adherence to a Code of Ethics
- Most professional stagers adhere to a strict code of ethics or we risk losing our affiliations with both our education provider and the Real Estate Staging Association.
- Ask the home stager for references, both home sellers and realtors they work with. Then call them. Believe me, the realtors I work with keep tabs on whether the homes I stage sell faster and for more money. If they didn’t see a downward trend in Days on Market or an increase in the selling price versus listing price I would be out of business in a hurry.
Failure to check these things with the stager a home seller is considering, may result in increased risks to the home seller. Your home is likely the biggest asset you have. Why would you just hire the lowest cost provider? Good home stagers have invested in themselves, invested in their business and invest in their clients.
A poorly staged home may languish on the market. Staging done well is an incredibly valuable marketing tool, but done poorly, it can actually be a hindrance to the sale of your home. Do your homework, and hire the best person for the job.