Home Staging Hurtles - Challenges & Solutions

Home Stager with Final Touch Designs, Inc.

For the last few years I've been enjoying the business of Home Staging, Redesign, and Home & Office Organizing.  I will admit that this business hasn't come without its small and large hurtles.  But no matter what size of hurtles I've encountered; I seem to get over them by using my creativity and determination.  But weekly I get calls from a number of people new to the industry who feel as if they are reinventing the wheel with each step they take. It can be difficult and exhausting learning how to make a successful business in Home Staging.  This is where I would like to help.....

My goal is simple, but I need your help.  I'd like to collect your five most common "hurtles" that you as a home stagers ran into when you begin your business.  In other words, what were the missing details your training did not cover or details you ran into that you didn't expect to encounter?  Then, how did you overcome those challenges or fears? 

I hope most of you will help me to compile this list of challenges and solutions that we have all faced in this industry.  After a few weeks, I will then put together the ten most common hurtles and their solutions, to share with people who are just getting into the industry.  Of course those who've been in the industry for years might also benefit from these new ideas.  This list will hopefully give home stagers a peace of mind and help them know they are not alone out there. 

 This industry calls for us to work together to help each other, to creatively and successfully tackle a variety of different situations, and to provide standardization for the industry.  The more tangible information we have available, the better equipped we are to educate homeowners.


Possible hurtles you had to overcome:

•-          Pricing

•-          Making the "sell" over the phone

•-          Approaching real estate companies

•-          Creating/managing your website

•-          Consultations - free or not too free

•-          Marketing challenges

•-          Working with, not against other home stagers

•-          Offering too many services

Thank you in advance for your time in reflecting how you got to be where you are today.  I look forward to your comments, ideas, stories, and strategies.....and know that others will enjoy and benefit from them!

Cathy Dick

Final Touch Designs, Inc.

Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Cathy -- there are many hurdles for new stagers to overcome!  That's why I always recommend taking one of the better nationally-known home staging courses.  Most of the hurdles and obstacles to starting a successful business are covered in some detail, including many of the business aspects of staging (often overlooked when using creativity skills alone).

May 28, 2009 02:57 AM
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Cathy, my biggest hurdle, from 5 years ago, remains today.  Convincing Realtors and home sellers that staging works.  I put out my statistics, show them the results but the acceptance and reluctance remains.  I also agree with Maureen...newbies need to get educated with training that addresses their weakness. 

May 28, 2009 04:00 AM
Cathy Dick
Final Touch Designs, Inc. - Roanoke, VA
Final Touch Designs, Inc. in Roanoke VA

Thanks Ginger & Mureen!

Yes training is so important, but for some, they are working a full- or part-time job AND taking part in the training....over time.  Then upon getting their certification, they begin the process of applying what they learned and attempt to use it.  Now what WAS it they learned...........?  Time and life gets in the way and the sponge-like brain becomes dry.  Then they feel as if they're on their own....when in fact they're not.  Some claim they don't want to be a "pest" and ask a lot of questions, while others think they've "got it" only to find they lack some of the finer business details, then they loose confidence in themselves.....only to find it's winter and the market has slowed down........ Some made the mistake of not taking part in the marketing packages due to financial restraints....

So, I've spent a lot of time boosting new stager's confidence by sharing some of my strategies, according to my small area (which still needs much education) -- which doesn't reflect the same needs as in their area........hence the reason I put together this post.  We've all been there, but our area needs are all different as well.  So I'm looking for specific challenges AND solutions.

So, if you care to, please share what you've run across.  What are some comments you hear most?  What are the attitudes you run across?  What strategies did you have most confidence or sucess with?  What changes did you make to keep you moving forward for 5 years?  And I applaud you--FIVE YEARS!!!  You are obviously doing something very right!  Congratulations!


May 28, 2009 04:23 AM
Janice Ankrett
Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Cathy, My biggest hurdle since starting in 2005 has been the 'Why should I pay you when I have always done it myself.' attitude of agents. Or the 'I'll call you if I get a really bad house' Or the 'If I tell my client they need a stager I'll lose the listing' attitudes. I have always had an answer but it was like butting my head against the same wall too often.

Finally I am having agents approach me because Staging has become so well recognized that their presentation package is missing something if they don't have a stager as part of their team.

I have tried print ads, flyers, presentations in offices and booths at Realty shows to market myself. I visit agent open houses to get them one on one. The thing that works the best is WORD OF MOUTH. An agent tries you out, likes your work and recommends you to another agent. Some agents of course keep you as a 'secret weapon' and don't pass you along.

So I say a big THANK YOU to all my clients that have helped my career.

May 28, 2009 08:28 AM
Kelly Townsend
Coldwell Banker - Santa Rosa, CA
CDPE, Realtor

I'd say my biggest hurdle in the last year has been pricing. I know with the economy many stagers have folded and the ones that are left are discounting their fees so much that it's impossible to compete. I'm not sure what the stagers' think they are accomplishing for the industry? I understand discounting in this economy but I don't see how they can supply a whole house worth of furniture for next to nothing. They can't sustain their business that way an it hurts the whole industry. I've lost the last 3 bids to unbelievable pricing. Sorry... a little venting.

May 28, 2009 12:07 PM
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

I have to agree with Kelly.  Pricing is my biggest challenge and has been for years.  The stagers in my community seems to continually lower the industry standards by not charging rent and staging for very low fees to win bids. 

May 28, 2009 05:23 PM
Linda D. Pufford
Stage with Divine Style - Home Staging - Novato, CA
ASPM, Marin/Sonoma Home Stager


What a great idea...gathering information so that you can help others.  I got my training from and there has always been someone in the ASP/ASPM family to help when I have run across any hurtles. 

When I went to the Masters class (ASPM) that's where all my questions got answered.  During the class we went through everything and fine tuned it.  Although we never stop learning and everytime we come to an opportunity eventually it helps us grow and become stronger.  So it has always been a good thing which has lead me to appreciate those opportunities.

The five things that I needed to improve on when I was new were:

1.) Bid/Proposals  2.) Detailed Evaluation Reports  3.) Contract/Letter of Agreement  4,)  Realtor Presentations  5.)  Realtor Interviews

After the Masters Class I became more confident in what I do and everything else has developed more with time and experience.   Great post and thanks for the opportunity to share!!!

May 28, 2009 05:38 PM
Lori Kim Polk
Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services - Roseville, CA
Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento

Great post. I would definately check out EVERY staging training that there is. I have some suggestions  because I could put several letters behind my name. E-me privately for choices.

If you are in this for the long stretch... you need to adapt to the real estate changes. I can't say that there has been any one thing, more so, finding a niche in the already established area every year. Stay up on stats, area findings, and market. That has been my hardest quest ;)

Jun 01, 2009 03:04 PM