You want me to stage when? A day in the life of a North Texas Professional Home Stager

Home Stager with Home Star Staging

Dear Clients,

I would like to explain to you how I work.

This is not meant to offend, just to educate you on the steps I take when I start the home staging bid process and when you'd like me to stage your property in the next day or two from initial contact, I'd like you to understand the process I undergo before we can even begin and I hope you understand why I can't do it with a snap of my fingers

I only wish it were that simple. BELIEVE me I do!

Let's set the scenario:

Day 1: I get a phone call let's say on a Wednesday : (actual) Client says:

"Hello, I have a (vacant) house that needs staging, how does it work and how much does it cost & can it be done possibly this Friday?"

My reply usually goes like this, "Thank you for contacting me, of course I can explain the home staging process but may I ask you some questions first?"  

(I have a list of questions I ask prior to even getting to their question and I can thank my friend Michelle Minch  for this idea on a blog she wrote a while back)

  1. "Where is the house located? (if it's not in my area I will refer)
  2. How many square feet?
  3. Is it already listed on the MLS? If yes, how long?
  4. What is the list price?
  5. Have you had any feedback or offers?
  6. How did you find me?"

For my area, and I stress MY AREA,  North, TX, the general, ball park, average figure to stage a vacant property is 1 to 1.5% of the list price of the house (which includes, rental furniture, accessories, professional staging and de staging once sold, delivery and set up for 3 months or until the property sells).

To explain further in the North Texas market, we have large homes that are not as large dollar as the rest of the country (we've never been in a "bubble") so please don't send me comments saying that that would never fly where you are - it's a ball park figure and it flies here much of the time if you're pricing it right. And pricing is not the point of this blog to begin with.

After about a 10- 15 minute phone conversation (sometimes longer) I send the client on to my website if they have further questions or I schedule an appointment to "go see" the house and write a bid.

I do offer a variety of options though as well, from verbal to written reports (for the diy'ers) rental furniture options with accessories, they do part, I do part or all etc.

There is no "one size fits all" in my book when it comes to home staging.

People who are budget conscious need a variety of options. Those who aren't need quick facts and price. Period. No sense wasting their time or mine.

Let's say we proceed from there.

  1. We schedule a mutually convenient time to meet at the property
  2. Or (in the case of out of area people and there are many here in that situation) I call their Realtor and schedule a mutually convenient time to meet at the property to see what needs to be done.(trying to make it as soon as possible after the phone call)
  3. We meet.
  4. Usually after about an hour or less I have the photos and information I'll need to write up my bid.
  5. I do not offer advice on what could be done to further improve the property. However, if I see that there are some things that need focus/dollars more than staging can help, I will insist that I do see areas that are in need of addressing prior to investing in staging because in some cases, staging is NOT what they need to concentrate on but updating.  This information will be provided in a paid report, not my "go see" for a bid. I have had much success in being up front & honest with my clients. Some I've only done a report for others it goes through to a staging contract, but I will be up front and honest about what should be done PRIOR to staging - always. Whether I get the full  job or not.

I return to my office at some point during the day (and believe it or not, your property is probably not the only one I'm seeing today nor is it the only thing I do in a day. This doesn't even include the days that I'm actually staging either or presenting reports to clients which are often done after 7PM when clients return home from work)

FYI: Here are some other things I do regularly on my work days;

  • I shop fast for inventory for other properties I'm scheduled to work on (my inventory runs low sometimes)
  • I may be destaging another property that sold
  • I drop or pick things up from my storage facility and itemize new inventory for my records if I'm dropping off new items
  • I field/make calls from/to other potential clients, current clients, family and friends
  • I schedule other appointments
  • I attend meetings to network or help others learn more about the home staging profession
  • I take care of problems that may occasionally arise with inventory at other staged properties ("oh darn, that inflatable bed has a leak?")
  • I prepare contracts and other bids I've been working on
  • I pay bills, make deposits (all the general office stuff)
  • The list goes on but....
  • Once back at the office I start the process of preparing the bid exclusively for your property.

Let's take it from there:

  1. Once back at the office (sometimes not until 4 or 5 or later depending on the day) I prepare my company's end of the bid (staging and accessory fees) and the furniture choices needed for the property (this is a process unto itself since I don't carry large furniture myself, I utilize the services of national furniture rental companies for my clients. I choose the furniture that will compliment YOUR home specifically based on the rental companies collections)
  2. I write the furniture quote and send it off to the rental company for their "official" bid. They get back to me as fast as they can, but again, I'm not the only stager or person they need to get back to so it can take up to a day and a half to get the quote from them.
  3. In the meantime, I estimate what the rental furniture will cost (and I will play hardball with the rental company if it doesn't come back close to the figure I quote you - I want the best price for YOU)
  4. I prepare and send you the bid for your property via email
  5. I wait for your call
  6. I sometimes hear back after days or weeks from the time I sent the bid, sometimes never again at all(I've called and left emails but it is your decision if you wish to proceed)
  7. I get a phone call.
  8. You want to stage? Great!
  9. You want to do it by when? Friday?
  10. Today is Wednesday.
  11. I am already booked. I have already scheduled more appointments and a de staging that day.
  12. The furniture rental company needs at least 48 hours to schedule your job.
  13. You need to sign and return their contract with payment.
  14. I still need to send you my contracts.
  15. You'll need to review and sign the contracts.
  16. We need to set a date.
  17. I'll need initial payment (yes I take Credit Cards, no I don't take payment after closing)
  18. I'll have to start pulling inventory for your property to compliment the furniture collections already selected.
  19. No, I'm very sorry I can't do it this Friday.

I truly wish it were as easy as the asking for it, but the process of home staging is not instantaneous at least where my company is concerned. 

The process can be quick if all parties are on the same page and scheduling permits and the stars are in alignment that week.

But please understand the next time you contact a professional stager, that although they wish to work as quickly for you as they can, in many cases that it is impossible to work on less than 48 hours notice.

Client and Professional Stager feedback most welcomed here!

Posted by

Home Staging Dallas - Karen Otto


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Minnesota Home Staging Firm, Minnesota
Minnesota Home Staging Network~ MN's Top Home Staging Firm - Inver Grove Heights, MN
Always speaking the truth my friend.  Can we get this published in the Wall Street Journal next week...wait tomorrow???
Jan 15, 2008 01:56 PM #27
Margaret Gehr
Chicagoland Home Staging LLC - Naperville, IL

Even when you can turn around a fully staged vacant in 3-5 days I find that its more stressful for everyone- the sellers, agents, and me.. the stager. Your whole life becomes that one project. Constant calls for...contracts to be signed, furniture rental availability, applications, confirmations, payments, accessory selection, quick shopping, loading trucks, and still running day to day operations. I also find it can cost more too, for example if I need to add inventory I'm not looking for bargains but the right pieces or my selections are not available from the rental company and I go up a level.  AS professionals its important to slow sellers or agents down, educate them on the process and make it easy for them so they'll come back again. 


Jan 15, 2008 03:06 PM #28
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

Thanks for reading Cindy

Yeah Beth, the deadline was yesterday

Margaret I couldn't agree with you more. One project can end up taking days, weeks, even months for those who have work to do prior to even staging, that wasn't even mentioned here. It should make us all feel a bit better to know that we all feel the same stress and understand the time needed to do this. We just need to keep spreading the message that staging works and then explain the process.

Jan 16, 2008 12:38 AM #29
Wendy Casey
A-List Home Staging & Decor - Surrey, BC

Karen, it's so true that the client tends to count only the hours we are at their property. There's a lot more to staging than the TV shows can show in an hour! Thanks for doing your part to shed some light on the process of staging...from start to finish.

Wendy Casey - Vancouver, BC 

Jan 16, 2008 07:01 AM #30
Kathleen Garvey
HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver - Denver, CO
Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales
Hi Karen....your words are spot on!  In today's world of 'immediate gratification', some days I feel like people call for your help, expect that you have nothing else to do and demand that you are available at all hours.  I know that the reality of ALL that we do is not forefront in people's minds....and the backstage work takes energy for creative thought and careful planning for the end result to look it's best!  Thank goodness for the clients who come along and are ever-mindful of our business time and appreciate our professionalism during these financially-stressed times (for many people). Regards-Kathleen G
Jan 16, 2008 07:50 AM #31
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

Wendy I'd love to see a "real world" staging show one of these days an in the trenches type show that reveals what really goes on behind the scenes.

Hi Kathleen, of course we want to make it easy on our clients who are surely under enough stress when getting ready to sell or are at in a lot of cases already on the market and seeing no results. They want that immediate gratification you mention, who wouldn't and I am happy they are calling.

I just want for consumers to know, just like many professions, it just can't happen as quickly as they'd like.  Where my true passion rests, is for Realtors and Sellers to see the need to stage BEFORE listing and truly TAKE THE TIME necessary to prepare the house right the first time out!

Jan 16, 2008 10:40 AM #32
Phyllis Pafumi
ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey - Old Bridge, NJ
ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ

Karen how true this is...clients just don't understand the back end work involved. I often remind them that we are filling a whole house with appropriate decor to enhance the space and if this was their home to decorate it would take them months. Just packing our accessories to match the home and furniture chosen is a full day job. And of course you will always need that one more special piece. So it's out to the store.

You forgot one thing...EATING, huh who has time to food shop these days?? This is a great post. Thanks and have a Happy New Year

Phyllis Pafumi

Jan 16, 2008 10:46 AM #33
Gayle Balaban
The Best Spot Realty/Waterfront Real Estate/Ooltewah Real E - Chattanooga, TN
E. TN Waterfront Real Estate
It always irks me when people don't want to pay for the time doing a job properly involves but they want it done yesterday.
Jan 16, 2008 10:47 AM #34
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

Oh yeah Phyllis I do sometimes forget to eat (not always a bad thing (-:)

I feel your pain Gayle

Jan 16, 2008 11:27 AM #35
Anthea Click
Fresh Perspectives - - Franklin, TN
Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly!


Were you watching me today? Ok, the only thing different for me was that I carry my own inventory and don't use a rental company. It still takes me a few days if I have to buy new furniture and wait for it to come in.  There is no way possible I can turn around a job in 48 least not yet!

Jan 16, 2008 11:42 AM #36
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,
Wow Anthea! More power to ya girl and yes I'm always watching my fellow stagers (-:
Jan 16, 2008 11:49 AM #37
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals
I am tired from our MN/WI roundtable , dinner with Beth Patnode, and trying to hit every good store in the Twin Cities plus the 3 1/2 hours drive time. Staging - who has time for that??
Jan 17, 2008 02:24 PM #38
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,
Kathleen, I'm jealous that you and Beth had dinner together! Can't wait to hear about the RT.
Jan 18, 2008 12:21 AM #39
Trisha Lane
Simple Inspiration Home Staging - Portland, OR
Simple Inspiration Portland Oregon


Thank You for this post.  Don't you wish anyone looking to hire you would read this first?  The truth is our clients truly do not know the amount of work it takes to make their property a shining star.  All we can do as stagers is continue to spread the word.


Jan 19, 2008 05:49 AM #40
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,
Yes it would be nice Trisha if everyone who hired us knew really what goes on behind the scenes!
Jan 19, 2008 09:13 AM #41
Yvonne Root
rooms b.y. root - Prescott, AZ
Home Stager - Northern Arizona
Karen, Karen, Karen, you are in need of a bit of rest child! Would you like to stop over at my place? I have tea just waiting to be steeped for you. You are so fun. You have laid this out quite well. If Friday won't work can you fit me in Saturday morning? :)
Jan 19, 2008 11:01 AM #42
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,
Yvonne I accept! Get the pot ready my friend and when I come it's for the weekend!
Jan 19, 2008 01:04 PM #43
No Longer Available
White Rock, BC
OMG, Karen what a fabulous post!  I have not read all the comments, but my goodness, I am running into this a lot.  Staging can not be done over night!   I am going to bookmark this and keep it for future reference so that I may address this issue with my clients.
Jan 22, 2008 05:22 AM #44
Tina Parker
Keller Williams Select Realty - Bedford, NS
CNE, REDM, SRES, CSP Home Staging REALTOR, Halifax
Well put Karen!  I answered the call to stage two properties at the same time two doors from each other and ended up developing "tennis elbow" in the process (I say banging my head on the wall).  This post perpetuates the fact that consumers/agents need to be educated to the "realities" of home staging. 
Feb 12, 2008 10:45 AM #45
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

Thanks Joelle for reading, sorry I took so long to respond. It is not an overnight process and it's something that we need to make sure our clients understand.

Two properties two doors down at the same time Tina? WOW I am duly impressed on top of writing a book you are a woman of many talents! - sorry for your bodily aches though.

Feb 12, 2008 02:44 PM #46
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Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,
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