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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.