What To Look For When Choosing A Home Stager

By
Home Stager with Dezigner Digz

                 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With the growing number of home staging training schools popping up to make a fast buck, the result is a glut of "Home Stagers" in the marketplace with absolutely no experience and no idea of where to start.  Are you willing to put your client's largest investment into the hands of someone without the expertise necessary to get the results you need?  This could turn out to be a very costly mistake.  

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a Home Stager:

 

LOWEST QUOTE/FREE CONSULTATIONS

 
Beware of Home Stagers that come in at a much lower bid than the others.  Usually it's reflected in the quality of accessories and furniture that they will provide.  Some Home Stagers may offer you free home staging consultations.  As my parents always told me, "nothing in life is ever free".  There's always a catch and in this case, it may be that he or she has absolutely no experience and may give your client potentially harmful advice.
 

WEBSITE

 
Make sure that the Home Stager has a professional website; not just a "cookie-cutter" mini-site provided through their training school.  In today's world, anyone serious about doing business must have a website.  If the Home Stager you are considering does not have one, perhaps he or she is more of a hobbyist.  Having a website demonstrates that the Home Stager means business and takes a serious approach to what they do.  Make sure you look for testimonials from other Real Estate Agents as this speaks volumes as to their credibility and capability.
 

PORTFOLIO

 
When interviewing your Home Stager, ask to see a hard copy of his or her portfolio.  If they don't have a hard copy version, you should pass on this person.  In today's world of technology, with the click of a mouse, photos can be taken from another Home Stager's website and passed off as someone else's work.  If the Home Stager did in fact do the work, they will have photographs that they can show you.  They will probably have several photos of the same room taken from different angles.  This is one way of proving who actually performed the staging if there is a discrepancy.  A "Copy and Paste Stager" would not be able to supply these other shots.  
 
Also, if the Home Stager's portfolio consists of only a few photos, there's a chance that these are probably photos taken from a group staging project at their training school and not actual work that the Home Stager completed on his or her own.
 

STOCK PHOTOS

 
This really falls under the Portfolio heading, but is so important that it deserves its own heading.  When checking the Home Stager's website, be sure that the portfolio section of their website isn't made up of stock photos.  The portfolio should only contain their work so as not to mislead the public.  Look for the True Portfolio logo on their website.  Not all professional Home Stagers will have this logo, so don't base your decision just on that, but the logo is one indication that these are in fact photos of their own work. 
true portfolio logo
 

BUSINESS INSURANCE

 
Ask for proof of insurance coverage; both commercial general liability and errors & omissions insurance.  A professional Home Stager will not set foot in a client's home without having proper coverage.  The liabilities are just too great (for both parties).
 

BUSINESS CONTRACT

 
Ensure that the Home Stager uses a contract as part of their business practice.  There are some Home Stagers that don't.  You want to make sure that your client is protected.
 

REAL ESTATE STAGING ASSOCIATION

 
Lastly, but certainly not least, check RESA's website at www.realestatestagingassociation.com to see if the Home Stager is a member.  All members are held to a strict code of ethics.  Some RESA members have also chosen to participate in RESA's Staging Excellence Alliance program which is similar to a Better Business Bureau for Home Stagers.  It will give you added comfort to know that they subscribe to the standards set out by that program.
Current RESA Member
 
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when hiring a Home Stager.  The decision should not be taken lightly since there is a lot riding on it.  Don't be left looking like the bad guy with your client if something goes wrong.  Make sure you do your homework before choosing your Home Stager.
~~~~~~~~~~
Copyright 2009 Charlene Storozuk, DeZigner DigZTM. All rights reserved.
 
 
DeZigner DigZTM is a professional home staging and interior decorating company located in Burlington, Ontario.  The Owner, Charlene Storozuk, is a member of the Real Estate Staging Association and currently servces as Regional Vice-President, Canada.  For more information about DeZigner DigZTM, visit our website at www.dezignerdigz.com
 
 
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Groups:
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Real Estate Staging Association
Advice for Sellers
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Rainmaker
145,946
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Sheldon - I'm really glad that this was of some help to you and thanks for the congrats.  Glad you are a believer in staging.  You should look on AR for a Stager near you.  P.S.  I see that you had a soccer scholarship in NY.  My cousin played professional soccer many, many years ago in NY - I think the team was called the New York Apollos? 

Kris - Websites can be a good indicator of what a business is like.  It's the first impression that someone will get.

Kerry - Unfortunately, I've heard of it happening. 

Kathy - Thank you for your very kind words!

Annie - You make a really good point about RESA.  There aren't local chapters in all areas, but even joining the national office is well worth doing.  Why don't you talk to Shell about starting a local chapter in your area?  You'd be awesome at it I bet!  

   

Jan 24, 2009 09:33 AM #26
Rainmaker
145,946
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Jeffrey & Mona - Thanks!  You make a good point.

Jan 24, 2009 09:34 AM #27
Rainmaker
820,143
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Charlene ~ Your post contained excellent points and reminders for both homeowners and Realtors seeking staging advice and expertise.  Another thing that I recommend asking a stager for is recent client testimonials, with complete names (and contact details if requested).  There's nothing like hearing how a company performed than from one of their recent clients.  Congrats on the feature!

Jan 24, 2009 10:10 AM #28
Rainmaker
394,850
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Charlene, What a great post.  I would have never thought to ask half of these questions...I tried to find a stager here in Huntsville to no avail...found one here on AR but never got a return phone call :(  Come on down!

Jan 24, 2009 11:24 AM #29
Rainmaker
564,004
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Great post Charlene...As a broker/owner/REALTOR and Accredited Staging Professional (ASP), I believe in 100% transparency, everything you said, and lots of wildly happy (and successful) references, as there isn't anything that speaks louder than helping clients acheive success across multiple property types and price ranges, and having it all on your website for proof, and references provided on request!

Jan 24, 2009 01:24 PM #30
Rainmaker
123,665
AMBER NOBLE GARLAND - Top Real Estate Expert, Property Tax Appeal Specialist & Author
Strategic Marketing Expert & Relocation Specialist Serving New Jersey and nationwide! - Marlboro, NJ
- The Agent You Can Trust To Deliver REAL Results!

Charlene your photo & header is gorgeous...Your advice is priceless.

Jan 24, 2009 02:40 PM #31
Ambassador
627,972
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Great tips for choosing a home stager. We don't have many of these in our area.

Jan 24, 2009 03:17 PM #32
Rainer
24,854
Charles Fischer
Housing Market Realty - Merritt Island, FL
Professional Real Estate Services

Thanks Charlene great suggestions, never thought about the stock photo thing.  Thanks!

Jan 25, 2009 02:19 AM #33
Anonymous
Sheila O'Mara

Charlene this was a great article.  As an ASP I have relied solely on the Company's website and my feature page there.  I am trying to get my own up and going.  I do have the hard copies and original before and after pictures.  The pics and the testamonials from respected area realtors really do help.  I appreciate that there is need for ethics in the field - I strongly advocate that.  I will look into joining RESA - I didn't know it existed!

Jan 25, 2009 01:58 PM #34
Rainmaker
206,197
League City, TX - Worrell Team, REALTORS, GRI, CNE
RE/MAX 1st Class - League City, TX

The first thing to consider when choosing a home stager is... where do they live and work.  Ontario seems like it may be too far for you to help me in League City, TX!  ;-)  Thanks for your post and advice!

Jan 25, 2009 03:34 PM #35
Rainmaker
2,118,993
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Excellent post, Charlene.  I wasn't familiar with the True Portfolio logo.  I have a "all photography is the original work of" statement on my home page and portfolio page. 

Jan 27, 2009 05:18 AM #36
Rainer
138,881
Kym Hough
www.Staged-to-Sell - Danville, CA
Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA

Great article Charlene. It's so important to find the right Stager for Each client and one that has experience and a professional business. It's a process that should be handled by a professional at all times!

Jan 27, 2009 05:14 PM #37
Rainmaker
145,946
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Maureen - Great point - homeowner testimonials are very important too.

Elizabeth - I'm glad to hear that you recognize the value of home staging.  I'm sorry to hear that you have had trouble finding one in your area.  I wish I could come down and help you out.  Why not check RESA's website?  Maybe you'll be able to connect with a stager in your area through them.

Chris - Very well said.  100% transparency gives credibility.

Amber - Thank you for your very kind words.

Roland - Have you checked on AR for a stager in your area?  You can also try RESA's website.  Good luck!

Charles - You're very welcome.

Sheila - RESA's website has a lot of great information that should be useful to you.  Good luck with your website.  It's a lot of work to get a website up and running.

Brian - LOL!  Good point :-)

Sharon - There is a group on AR that was started by Julianna Hind (I hope I spelled her name right).  Just search for "true portfolio" and you should be able to find it.

Kym - Thanks!  You're right - experience and professionalism are key.

Feb 01, 2009 08:21 AM #38
Rainmaker
165,357
Sandi Gerrard
Saint Thomas, ON
It's all about colour

Hi Charlene,  All excellent points to help educate homeowners, however, I don't think that being a member of RESA is an important qualifier.  That's almost like saying you should have taken training course A or training course B, and RESA has not been around that long.  Keep up the good work though, you're blogs are great.

Feb 02, 2009 01:04 AM #39
Rainer
32,468
Emer S
casaGURU - Toronto, ON

I enjoyed your article, Charlene. I thought you might be interested in this video that may help support your piece through a different medium. let me know if you found it useful: https://www.casaguru.com/a/-/j/59685/casaGURU-TV-Stage-it-for-Top-Dollar.

Feb 02, 2009 07:34 AM #40
Rainmaker
145,946
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Sandi - You have a very good point that there are other organizations out there as well that support our industry.  I guess I'm just a bit partial to RESA :-).  Thanks for your kind words about my blog.

Emer -  Thanks for the info.  I just checked out the site.  It's something I'll definitely keep in mind.  In fact, your link was to Sandi Gerrard who commented above you on this post.  Well done Sandi if you're reading this comment!  

Feb 03, 2009 10:38 AM #41
Rainer
54,023
Kimberly Uksik
Independent - Pickering, ON
Home Stager - Durham, Toronto, On.

Charlene,

Excellent Information!  I think it is very important especially the photo issue on websites.  I often wonder when going to other stagers and designers websites if those photos are actually of their own work. 

I have to say I am almost stock photo free on my site.  I just have the chair on the front page but am in the process of completely revamping my site and will be stock photo free!!  Woo hoo!!

Thanks again,

~~Kimberly~~

Feb 04, 2009 11:47 PM #42
Rainmaker
145,946
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Kimberly - Thanks!  I'll have to check out your new site!

Jul 18, 2009 08:11 AM #43
Anonymous
Mandy McGleish

Charlene,

I just found this tonight and agree with you on most aspects of this post about there seems to an influx of stagers and training programs that are available today. I also agree that you should be using your own pictures as part of your portfolio. I know that there is a way that you can protect your pictures on the website and make them uncopiable. I don"t know exactly how to do it but have seen it on various websites, that I have tried to copy contact information into my contact software.

It aprears that you are slamming the new people who are just starting out. You are painting all the new businesses with the same brush and don't beleive that is fair or encouraging to legitimate, honest and ethical people who are looking to start up in this industry. What advise would you give someone who is just starting out and does want to do this as a serious business without alot of experience, or huge resourses to throw at a professional website (the kind you recommended). There is something to be said for starting out small without encurring large amount of debt to appear professional.

Oct 01, 2009 01:19 PM #44
Rainmaker
145,946
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Mandy - I am certainly not slamming new people starting out in the industry.  That was definitely not my intention.  I'm sorry if you took it that way.  I've been asked for advice from home stagers in my area on several occasions at past meetings of our local chapter of the Real Estate Staging Association.  I'm always willing to share information with them.  I'm not painting new businesses with the same brush as you state.  What I was trying to do by writing this post, was just help educate agents on what to look for when selecting a Home Stager.  The advice I would give someone starting out is first off, just like the old saying "it costs money to make money", so if someone is starting up a new business, they have to have resources behind them to get things up and running so that they can purchase business insurance, rental accessories, marketing materials and much more.  There are web designers out there that don't charge a fortune and there are websites that you can go to such as Go Daddy (I think that's the name) to create your own website.  It takes a long time for a business to start making money, so you have to be prepared to be out-of-pocket for some time.  I would be happy to discuss this further with you if you'd like.  Why don't you email me and we can chat further. 

Oct 02, 2009 12:27 PM #45
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Charlene Storozuk

Home Stager - Burlington Ontario
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