Home staging has become an important process to get a house sold. The tough economic climate hit the real estate very hard, and sellers nowadays have to try harder to sell their houses. To compete with other sellers, their homes need to be clutter-free and clean. But more importantly, they need to make their homes look a cut above the competition and be the hottest property in the neighborhood.
When home sellers do not have the budget for extensive renovations and repairs, the best option is to turn to staging their real estate listings in order to result in a faster and more profitable sale. The ongoing recession and buyers’ market in real estate has significantly boosted the demand for home staging. A growing number of agents and sellers are embracing home staging to help make sales during this time when there are more sellers than buyers.
What is home staging?
One important distinction between home stagers and interior designers is that home stagers are not designing a space for living but for reselling.
Home staging is about fabricating the space. It is about enabling prospective buyers to see the possibility that the property represents in every manner. It is about helping buyers see that they can live in the place. It must feel like home to them, so much so that they are willing to buy the place.
The main goal of a home stager is to make sure that the house for sale looks best and inviting for the buyers. It is their job to highlight the positives of the house, minimize any negatives while making sure that the house appeals to a wider pool of buyers.
Home staging involves de-cluttering the house, rearranging the furniture, doing quick and inexpensive fixes, even using new furniture and accessories to give the house a better look and feel. In addition to the house’s interior, the home stager also prepares the outside of the house to get it in sale-ready condition and improve its curb appeal, including working on the outside living spaces, gardens, yards, mailboxes and front porches.
How to start a home staging business
Home staging is a low-cost startup business that fits in with home-based operation. It is a business that can be run part-time and even on weekends – perfect for corporate employees looking for a side business to income. Inasmuch it is focused on design, the home staging business is a people-business where excellent communication and networking skills are a must to succeed in the business.
Here are some tips to help you start a home-staging business:
1. Hone your design talents. Home staging requires a good eye for design and a talent for organizing. It is all about making space look good, and you need to be able to critically assess the space and uncover its hidden gems. To achieve this, some home stagers take courses to better understand this business (there are even online courses on home staging). Taking classes is helpful, but not essential. Others take certification courses to boost reputation in the business.
2. Build your portfolio. This is a business where potential clients need a solid demonstration of capability and performance. They need actual results. They need to see the previous spaces you’ve worked on, and how you made them look to get ready for the sale. Redo the spaces of your friends and acquaintances, even for free, on the condition that you can use what you’ve done in your portfolio. As you get jobs, be sure to document them, including testimonials from your clients. Ask clients for reviews of your work. Not only will feedback help to create potential problems but you can also use positive feedback as references.
3. Know the various services that you will provide. Some projects will only require staging advice and consultation where the client will do the work. Other projects will ask you to do the actual staging work. Be clear on the expectations of the clients and the deliverables. Prepare your pricing list based on the scope of the project and term.
Another important consideration in determining the staging services you will provide is whether the house will be occupied while you are staging. When the clients are living in the house while you are bringing in furniture and accessories (especially high end) to stage the property, there are liability concerns that you need to consider. The homeowner can break your furniture and unnecessarily add to your assets’ wear and tear, compromising your business. In cases where the home is occupied during staging, some staging companies do not bring in their assets on the property and instead simply redesign the space using the client’s own furniture and accessories.
4. Set a system for your business process. Determine the steps from the moment a client contacts you to the end of the staging. Ask for an initial consultation to meet and to view the property. Based on the consultation, you can provide the client with a quote, which also details recommendations, resources, overall merchandise concept for the property and a few options on staging; partial or full house staging. Once the quote is accepted, you can enter into a staging contract detailing the terms. Keep everything in writing (this is important – prepare a contract!). Then schedule the staging, which usually takes place within 1 week or a few days of the first open house. Depending on the size of the house, staging on average takes 1-2 days.
If you are providing assets in your client’s home, be sure to spell out how long the client can keep them in the house, and when you should pull out the furniture and other assets you brought in. if the client has closed on the sale of the property, you need to be alerted so you can be given adequate time to retrieve the items you’ve loaned the place. Spell out the charges clearly, especially if there are additional charges for keeping your items beyond your initial agreement if the property has not sold. Let the client know how many days you need to remove everything from his/her property.
5. Understand the real estate trends in your area. Know what buyers are looking for when searching for properties to buy in your area. The more you know about what buyers want, the easier it will be to design the space that will appeal to them.
6. Hone your communication skills. To become a home stager, you need to be very skilled in listening with a healthy dose of people skills. You need to be able to communicate with clients well and listen to what they want. It is very important to establish clear, open lines of communication, including budget, design ideas, and even expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver.
7. Build a strong network with real estate agents. Real estate agents are your lifeblood in this business. Developing relationships with real estate agents is key, as they can refer you to clients who may need home staging. Be the go-to home stager of the real estate agents in your area.
8. Expand your networking to include residential painting companies, residential contractors and repair companies. To get their homes ready for sale, many homeowners will tap these businesses to fix and repair problems and give their homes a fresh new look with paint. But even with those fixes, the homeowners may still need your design talents to give their homes that extra “wow factor” needed to compel potential buyers to make an offer. These businesses may be able to refer your services to the homeowners.
9. Also, include condominium-building managers in your networking. In addition to single-family homes, owners of townhouses, condominiums and apartments may also require home staging help. Office managers in these buildings and complexes may be able to alert you of tenants looking to sell and may help you with their referrals.
10. Build a relationship with furniture rental businesses. When staging a home, you may need furniture, appliances, even artwork. Instead of purchasing these items, home stagers look to rental companies to lend them items their clients need at a good price.
11. Assemble a team that can work with you in your projects. Enlist the help of a local contractor and painter for projects where you may need to do some quick fixes, including painting. For work outside the home to improve curb appeal, get in touch with local landscaping businesses. Find people who can help you move the furniture around, and they should be on hand when you are working for the client.
12. Think of storage. As your business grows, you may decide to purchase certain furniture and accessory pieces that your clients can use. Plan how you will store the pieces, whether you will rent a storage facility, move your business out of your home, or build a storage facility in your home. Bigger home staging businesses own the majority of their furniture and all of their accessories; while occasionally leasing from design studios to complement their inventory.
- International Association of Home Staging Professionals
- American Association of Home Stagers and Redesigners
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