In today’s competitive market, it’s important as a home seller to find cost effective ways to add value to your home and make it stand out to home shoppers. Many sellers will take time to research their real estate agents with great detail. When building your team of home selling professionals, shopping for and hiring a stager for your home is just as important.
If you run a search on Craigslist for “staging” under real estate services, several pages worth of stagers pop out. All of them promise to sell your home faster and for more. Good or bad, how do you know? Do you dare to use your equity to gamble on a stager you randomly found on the web?
Here are 5 tips to important tips when on how to hire a qualified stager:
1. Ask for qualifications. But don’t mistake this with the letters behind this person’s name on his/her business card as qualifications. When I was working as a Realtor, although I had passed my exams, it didn’t mean anything until I was out on the field.
Qualifications = how much work has this person done in the staging industry?
Ask to see resume, portfolio, past before & after pictures and certifications and continue education if this is important to you. Ask questions about their work when reviewing their portfolio to generate a conversation about how they might work for you. A nice starter can be, “Oh, tell me about the story behind this picture!”)
2. Ask for their professional policies. As a professional, for example, if you are a bank teller, there are certain procedures to follow when a customer shows up at your window with a wad of cash in their hands, right? If a customer is doing something inappropriate, such as depositing someone else’s check into his/her account, there are certain protocols to follow, correct? Similarly with running a small business, which most of the stagers are. You want to do business with someone who has strong ethics and professional policies because this reflects their professionalism. When your potential stager comes over for a consultation (many do charge a fee for coming out and many don’t), observe what he or she does and his/hers working style. Is he/she listening to your needs? Respectful? Willing to work with you?
3. Do searches on the internet on the stager or his/hers firm. This is the NEW age of real estate. A web presence is VERY important. If your staging professional does not have a website, don’t even think about hiring them. In 2005 79% of all homebuyers used the Internet as an information source before shopping for a home. In 2009, that number has risen to 90% and is still growing.
If your stager writes a blog, that is a bonus, read a few entries to get a feel of how this person works and how credible this person is.
4. You have specific needs, since every home is different, are your stager listening to you or just trying to sell you the most expensive option? Expensive does not always equal good work. Sometimes, you will find stagers who are economical and good (at that point, please thank your lucky stars). Don’t determine on hiring someone based on price. Price does not mean anything really. A good stager WILL work with your budget. (But of course be reasonable, it’s tried and true that paying someone what the service is worth will save you lots of heartache in the long run.)
There are a few different ways stagers determine how much they charge. Some, like me, charge based on how much time, work, assistance and materials I will need for the job. Some base cost on Listing Price, which you may see from the $30,000 price tag on a multi-million dollar homes. Some do it per square footage. In San Francisco bay area, there are quite a few price points. You can expect higher pricing in SF in general, and very competitive pricing in the San Jose area. No matter what city you are in, the stager’s price should fairly reflect the market and area.
If you ask your stager “How do you charge?” they may not give you a direct answer, BUT, they should tell you how they work. You may spend $1000 on a staging job, but the stager may skim on furnishings & accessories just to get your business, comparing to a $3000 stager who will do the job right. So use your best judgment and look at their portfolio. Many times a good portfolio speaks for itself.
5. Don’t take it personally. If you do, you won’t survive the Open House. Stagers may make recommendations that offend you because you feel that your taste in home decorating has been totally dismissed. BUT, it is important to remember that staging is about appealing your home to a broad range of buyers. You may have an impressive collection of neon green wall paper, but it is much more difficult to find buyers who like neon green wall papers than finding buyers who like a pastel palette in their homes. Usually when a buyer enters a home that has such strong personality, they are blindsided. If a buyer is online, they will immediately exit your listing and jump to the next one. Take a moment to think back to your own habits when you shop online: are you more likely to look at more pictures of a neutral home or one where another’s family’s style is bursting through your computer screen? If a buyer is at an open house, they are likely to walk out and move on to the next home. It won’t matter if you have a smashing view and great floor plan, without the right staging, it will be difficult for them to see themselves live in that home.
Remember, when a buyer is shopping for homes, he or she is also imagining what it will be like to live there day to day—– it’s up to you to hire a team of professionals that brings their imagination to life!
Staged4more Home Staging Services
Note: Staged4more is an eco-friendly company and we believe in recycling everything, including blogposts. This is the first in a weekly series of refreshed posts we’re calling “Restyled” from our earlier blogging years. This post was originally written in October, 2006 and has been “Restyled” for your reading pleasure. Let us know what you think!