Not All Bananas in the Bunch are Ripe and Ready

Industry Observer

 So my home selling pets, would you like to pick a home stager to regularly work with, but are not sure which in the bunch to hire? Plus does it seem as if daily there are more and more staging bananas out there to pick from?

Well, you are right; it can be a tough to know which stager you should bring to your seller, especially since staging is still a relatively new service offered in most parts of the USA. You are also right if you noticed that there are many new bananas rapidly joining the staging bunch.

To make a wise and informed choice, that best serves you and your sellers, you need to understand that a "professional stager" may just be an average green Jane or Joe who just fell out of a training tree. Many stagers are newly transformed into "professionals" merely due to the fact that they sat through a one, two or three day foundation training course. That's it, in as little as one day... a newly credentialed staging banana is thrown into the bunch.

So be wise and discerning, staging credentials that hype "trained," "certified" or "accredited" can be a bit deceiving... especially considering onyone can be trained and graduated from some foundation staging training programs in as little as one day. This is not to say that there are plenty of well qualified stagers who have been trained through these courses. But remember, above everything, the ripeness of EXPERIENCE trumps all else... even "credentials."

Unfortunately, unlike Realtors in the real estate industy, Stagers in the home staging industry are an unregulated wild bunch. Because this so... your sellers are at risk, especially in this tough selling market! Picking a green stager could cost them some green and a sale. So while staging looks mighty tasty, to those of you who are looking for some hope and help, don't blindly accept the fact that a stager, with a horde of initials after their name, has the experience needed and fully yet knows what they are doing.

So how can you pick out a green novice stager from the ripe experienced stager? Well, it is not the difficult, if you keep in mind that home staging is an "image" industry.

Considering it is a stager's job is to create a good first visual impression of home seller's property, then a good stager needs to do the same for themselves. A good stager knows the importance of and how to present a good visual first impression of their company and their work.

To start to weed out amateurs from the experienced, first look closely at the stager's portfolio, for examples of their work. Also, make sure that you ask the stager if they ACTUALLY staged the properties they show in their portfolio... believe it or not there are some foundation training programs that give green stagers a set of "starter" portfolio photos. Finally if you have any doubts, of course you can always ask the stager for testimonials from past clients and/or references.

So that's it, pretty easy actually. That is all you need to know and do to be a good home selling monkey and pick the ripest stager that will best help you and your sellers.

Ripening It Forward...

Monkey Me


Comments (36)

Mona & Richard Reeder
Amazing Staging & Redesign, LLC - Santa Rosa, CA

Hi Craig,

My Staging company has been in business for almost 5 years now so our portfolio is extensive but more and more I hear from prospective Clients and Realtors that our website represents us well and often sets us apart from the newest stagers.  Of course I always carry my portfolio to show but, I prefer asking the client to get online with me, via the phone as I set the walk through appointment and we discuss the property and their needs.  This way they see what I look like, my work, my crew, and our style and professionalism.

Mona Reeder, ASP, IAHSP Amazing Staging & Redesign, LLC Sonoma County CA

May 01, 2008 02:11 PM
Judy Greenberg
Coldwell Banker Long Grove - Buffalo Grove, IL
Coldwell Banker - Buffalo Grove - Long Grove Homes
I promise I will only use a stager that is ripe?
May 01, 2008 03:08 PM
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells


Due diligence is just as important iwhen selecting a stager as it is when selecting a Realtor. 

May 01, 2008 03:25 PM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

I needed a good laugh tonight & this was priceless.

No monkey business just good ole' fashioned good sense.

No wonder you're King of the staging jungle... but I'll never look at a banana the same way again Mr. Schiller.

May 01, 2008 04:13 PM
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
'Just want to let you know that I highlighted this post on my outside blog, Focus On Crofton.  I love your blog, and could easily have chosen any of them. 
May 01, 2008 10:39 PM
Yvonne Root
rooms b.y. root - Prescott, AZ
Home Stager - Northern Arizona
Hey Craig! This post is just bananas. Or is it? Good advice, well put, once again. Way to Stage it Forward! 
May 03, 2008 04:58 AM
Karen Dembsky
Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA - Peachtree City, GA
Atlanta Home Staging
 Great Post!  Nothing evil about the truth!
May 06, 2008 12:56 AM
Michael Fontana
Round Rock Home Stager Austin Home Staging - Round Rock, TX
@ The Stage Coach

Interesting post, Craig.  I am not saying I agree with you 100%, but would like to chime in that I continually see people adding Home Staging to their repertoire of services.  Competition is competition, but just hanging a sign out that says you offer the services does not make a Stager.  I always say, Home Staging is 50% Creativity, 50% Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.  You either Have it, or you don't.

But the real point I would like to sound off about, in answer to Amy's question is:  I got my start by 'interning" with other Stagers while I still worked full time.  Once I went Staging Full Time, I continued to work with them, but I could tell prospective clients the truth: I recently started Home Stagign full time, have worked with several successful Home Stagers in the area, I have pictures (some Good, some OK - live and learn, right?) of some rooms I worked on, and people (stagers) I could reference.  You would be surprised at the number of people who were accepting of the "interning" as work experience.  It is Staging experience, and being able to point to another Stager who can testify to your work is a Great asset.

Plus, a busy Stager who knows your work is more likely to refer a job to you if they are in a bind or just too busy.

Michael - The Stage Coach

May 06, 2008 01:31 AM
Home Staging
Showhomes - Nashville, TN

Great post -

There are all types of people huddled under the staging umbrella these days.

It makes it difficult to stand apart

May 07, 2008 09:17 AM
Erik Hitzelberger
RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes - Louisville, KY
Louisville - Middletown Real Estate

Craig, I described my experience trying to find a good stager in Louisville in our previous discussion.  You are right, presentation is key.  Stagers (more than any other real estate professional) must have good-looking websites as well as good-looking portfolios.  To expand on your point, if you can't make yourself and your business attractive, why should anyone think that you can make their homes look attractive. 

May 08, 2008 02:18 AM
Susan Cunningham
NE Atlanta Home Staging - Suwanee, GA
R.E.VISION - Suwanee, GA

Craig ~ you have very good insight, knowledge & wisdom with this industry for sure!  However, I guess I am a fruit of a different sort.  I don't have a web site, or a good portfolio, as yet.  I keep intending to get on board with that, but my referrals are keeping me swamped, and I am not buying out the time to make sure this is done.  I don't like the camera I have - lacking good wide angle abilities.  I was set to get a Panasonic - but then I read a post where the owner of one wasn't happy with hers.  Back on hold with that.

My business is growing solely on referrals.  Maybe I'll regret not having those ducks - oops - monkeys in a row.  :-)

At any rate - I really enjoyed and appreciated your post!


May 08, 2008 05:25 AM
Craig Schiller
Trempealeau, WI

Hey ~S~

NOTICE I never said HOW LONG it takes for a stager to ripen? SOME stagers do fall out of the tree ripe and ready to go... but NOT all.

Congrats on your success.


May 09, 2008 04:54 AM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Well, actually common sense when hiring anyone is to ask these sorts of questions.  Stagers come in all shapes and sizes, just like Realtors and their past clients referrals really do the speaking.  I would ask for references and then CHECK them, often the missing link. 

May 09, 2008 06:40 AM
Susan Cunningham
NE Atlanta Home Staging - Suwanee, GA
R.E.VISION - Suwanee, GA

Craig~true dat!


May 09, 2008 09:24 AM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

Craig -- I LOVE IT!!!!  Can I share this with agents in Omaha?

May 09, 2008 10:21 AM

I'm quite relieved that you don't need a home staging certificate or accreditation. so, that means, my natural talents are all it takes so I can excel in my <a href="">home staging career</a> , right? I just need to hone it up a little bit. Anyway, I'm still a newbie in home staging business but I'm doing a lot of decorating before but just on my own house, you know, when the family is away at school and at work. Thanks for the blog. At least, I can have new ideas on how and where to enhance my home staging skills without much hype!

May 19, 2008 05:56 PM
Dawn Shaffer Life is good!
Battle Ground, WA

AMY and Craig (the Staging Adonis),

Amy, I'm in your area and am a pro photographer (just less expensive than the BigBoys), and I'll help. Scope out our site to see if our quality is what you are looking for.

I saw on your website you've got a photo of half a couch. The staged breakfast area doesn't show what I believe to be the "money shot" of the room: outside the windows. In the NW it's difficult to keep windows clean, but make sure they are for photos.

If you do your own photography, Craig's got a great list of things everybody needs to make sure to do which he could probably share.

(Hey, Craig! It's been years!)

Dawn Shaffer,

May 31, 2008 07:16 AM
Phyllis Pafumi
ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey - Old Bridge, NJ
ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ

Hey Craig
I am finding more and more that clients are asking to see my portfolio and testimonials prior to working with me which is great. I am happy to oblige. One client asked if they were all family members since they had all great things to say, another plus.

Here is what I am finding...too many beginners are getting out there and doing presentations to try to gain business and conveying false information because they don't know how to sell their services. They will either tell the realtor that it is their place to pay for staging or they will have LOW fees and say things like staging does not have to cost as much as so and so...HA, just let them do some REAL properties and walk away spending more on their accessories than they are making.

THEY WILL LEARN and so will consumers...the cream will rise to the top..HOPE YOU ARE DOING WELL and talk with you soon,

Phyllis Pafumi

Jun 01, 2008 08:10 AM
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

I just came across your post.  I love it! As usual you are right on.  The stock photos, especially the headers are misleading to the consumers.  People don't think to ask for client references or other pertinent questions it seems.  Which reminds me, my portfolio is so outdated, it's pathetic, haven't had time to update...that's a good thing, but it's giving out my first impression, that's everything!

Jun 16, 2008 07:01 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Excellent advice, Craig. As an agent I get information from staging professionals all the time, and having some criteria to use for selection is most helpful.


Jun 24, 2008 01:46 AM