Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. I provide a detailed report consultation for Staging a house for sale - letting a Seller know exactly what they need to do room by room to get their house show ready. This is most often done on an occupied or furnished house where the seller has things to work with.
I provide furnishing and decor for vacant houses focusing on the key rooms in the house. This helps the house feel more inviting, it gives buyers an idea of how large the rooms are versus looking at a photo of an empty room, and helps houses sell faster.
Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.
A. #1: I just Staged a vacant house where I provided furniture and decor for key areas of the house. The house had been totally remodeled and just needed the final touch of furnishing key areas to help create the necessary buyer appeal. The house is on the market and getting great activity which means an offer is coming soon!
#2: I wrote a Staging Consultation Report for a seller to let them know room by room what they need to do to prepare their house for sale. The Consultation addressed paint colors, lighting, and packing up things they did not need or should not have out during showings.
#3: I helped a client update their existing house by adding some new decor and furniture to a living room. I resourced the items being added to the house, and arranged them for the homeowner.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. When hiring a professional Home Stager, ask for credentials and training as the industry is not regulated and anyone that wants to can set up a Staging company. Ask if the Stager is insured and licensed to do business. Ask if the Stager has any value-added services to help you as the client. Check their website and look at testimonials from other clients.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. Staging is a stand-alone industry and is not part of the Decorating or Design industries. Most people believe Staging is decorating - and yet the goal behind the two services is totally different.
Decorating and Design are customizing a space for the homeowner. The professional has to consider what the homeowner likes, dislikes, etc. It is a very personal process and can be very long term.
Staging is the opposite. Staging is de-personalizing for an un-known Buyer. We know nothing about the Buyer except they have money to invest in a house. Staging is all about the Buyer - so the Seller does not necessarily have to like what is done to their house, they just have to trust that the Stager knows what is needed to get a Buyer's attention.
When Staging, we often will remove color from walls - leaving them a nice warm-tone neutral (not white), versus decorating where people will paint custom colors and accent walls. Those are great for living but not for selling because not all buyers are going to like those colors, and painted walls can make a room feel smaller and too dark.
It is important to work with a trained Staging professional - not just someone that has a flair for decorating or design. A true Stager will know what to do to your home to ensure it is show ready - and do what it takes to sell the house - not overdo it and create the focus on all the stuff.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. Consumers should ask a Stager what their credentials are - and where they were trained. Staging is not regulated meaning anyone can set up shop and someone that is Accredited has the highest level of training. A Stager should have training in the industry to know what Staging is (it is not decorating or design), how it works as a real estate tool, and how they need to serve the Seller and Realtor clients. (Hint: It is not emulating what they see on HGTV where the "stagers" are mean and critical).
Consumers should also ask about insurance - a professional Stager will have an active insurance policy that protects the consumer from any incidences happening in their home during the Staging process.
Consumers also need to ask what accountability the Stager has - what outside group they belong to that would act a mediator in the event the Consumer is unhappy with their work. Professional Stagers should belong to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) as it is the only Staging association that requries education as a Stager to join. All other groups allow anyone to join which puts the Consumer at risk. IAHSP has been around since 1998 and is the only trade association that has ethics, education, and excellence standards for any member joining the group.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. People seeking out my services need to ask themselves if they want the best price for their house - because Staging is an up front investment to ensure the house looks its best before being listed for sale.
I work with the timeframe and budget of a Seller, and many Realtor clients will provide the Staging consultation for the seller, and yet the Seller needs to be realistic about the real estate market, how their house fits within that market, whether they need to do any updating to ensure the best sales price, and how much they are able to do up front.
When a house is not Staged or does not show well, it will sit on the market longer than necessary and most likely be reduced in price in order to attract a buyer. The price reductions are always much more than the Staging investment.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. My experience and expertise in the industry set me apart from other Stagers. I have Staged over 2,700 properties so have seen it all - from modest to high-end, vacant and occupied, and have dealt with every type of client and situation. My statistics prove that the houses I Stage that are priced right for the market sell in 30 days or less.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I love helping people and being creative. Finding Staging as a profession combined my two skills successfully. A Stager is not just someone that comes and moves things around, removes things, or brings in decor to Stage a house. A Stager should be a partner in success - helping the Seller, Realtor and Buyer achieve their goals. When I have helped others succeed, then I am the happiest.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. People always ask me if I own a bunch of inventory - and believe all Stagers have warehouses full of furniture we lug around to houses. I have been there-done that. I do have what I call "soft goods" - the accessories and decor that is used in houses.
For the big furniture pieces, I would rather partner with companies that carry the larger items and rent from them - so that I am not responsible for transport and maintenance on these large ticket items. Styles change and I don't want to be stuck with an outdated sofa I am putting in a house simply because it's what I have in my warehouse. I can actually work faster and more efficiently when I partner with a 3rd party versus doing it all myself.
Consumers also want to know what I charge for Staging a house - and the answer varies depending on the type of property, occupied or vacant and price-point of the house.
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. Customers are watching TV Shows and I want them to know that a Professional Stager is not like what they see on television. My colleagues that are trained like I am are taught how to handle a client and treat them with respect. What I see on TV is cruel, critcism, and mean treatment of the Seller - all for entertainment value. Also the prices being quoted on TV are very high compared to what the reality is of actual professional Home Staging.
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. I have always been creative - painting and doing crafts. I was tired of the corporate rat race and politics and had come home to raise my 4 children. When it became necessary for me to once again contribute financially to our family, I decided I was going to look for something I could do from home that used my creativity, was lucrative, and part time.
I lived in an area of the country where Staging was prevalent and had moved to an area where it was totally unknown. I looked at that as my opportunity to start the first Staging company in a large metro area - and built a very successful business.
Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.
A. I recently Staged a house that had been on the market for a year, did not sell and then was rented out for a year. The Sellers decided to try their hand at Selling again, and wanted the house Staged. They interviewed 4 other Stagers before they contacted me. The Sellers were turned off by the others Stagers who were bossy, arrogant, overpriced, or lacked the quality they sought.
I met with the Seller, explained how I worked, asked them what their budget was, and made my Staging work fit within their parameters.
The house received a full price offer in 10 days after Staging! Sensational Home Staging works!
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. My continuing education consists of monthly meetings with the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) Denver Chapter, and an annual IAHSP Convention where cutting edge ideas are shared by the top Staging professionals in the country.
As a recognized leader and expert in my field, I have been asked to speak at every convention to share my insights and knowledge.
Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.
A. Pricing for services varies depending on what is needed.
When the Seller wants to do the work to Stage their house and needs to know what to do - that is a Staging Consultation Report. It's a documented summary of what is needed - room by room, and includes curb appeal and landscaping suggestions.
The Staging Consultation starts at $125 and goes up from there based on the square footage of the house and time needed to prepare the report.
Consultations are most often prepared on occupied houses where Sellers have things to work with (furniture and decor) and just need to know what to pack up, remove, and rearrange. Occassionally it will include the addition of furnishings and decor to help update the house and these are purchased by the Seller or rented from the Stager.
When the Seller wants me to do the work I am going to provide a Staging Pricing Proposal where I share my prices to hire me and my team to do the Staging work.
I do a complimentary preview of the house in order to get a feel for the floor plan, figure out which rooms need to be Staged and begin to mentally Stage the house. It's difficult to provide a price on a property I have not seen in person - and clients need to allow that preview to take place.
Proposals are most often done for Vacant houses but can also be done on occupied properties where the Seller wants our team to just come in and Stage their house so it gets done quickly and it not a stressful situation for the seller.
Once I have seen the house, then I prepare a Staging Proposal where I am paid to Stage the house - making furniture selections, installing the furniture and decor and then removing the items once the house is sold. Or if it is an occupied house the proposal would include time for Staging the house room by room, using what the Seller has. This could include packing and removal of items as well.
The pricing for a vacant house varies based on the number of rooms being Staged, size of rooms, and price-point of the house. For most vacant houses we Stage only the KEY rooms of the house - it is rare that we would Stage the entire house and it's a good idea to get a professional opinion on just what areas are necessary to Stage before making any decisions.
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?
A. The biggest piece of advice I can give is get educated in Staging - take a course and earn credentials to give you credibility. I recommend the ASP Course - www.Stagedhomes.com - because an Accreditation is the HIGHEST form of training in the industry - higher than a certification. Staging is a Real Estate tool - not decorating or design. The goals are totally different in D-land versus Staging.
Also - realize this is a BUSINESS and do your homework so you don't come in and do things unprofessionally or undercut pricing because you did not know better. Education is they key to success - knowing WHAT you do, HOW to do it, HOW to price services and HOW to get clients will be taught in a reputable Staging Course. Make the investment to do that so that you start off on the right foot.
Q. What is your greatest strength?
A. I love what I do - and I love working with my clients. I believe if you are not passionate about what you do and the help you bring to others, you should not be doing what you do. Life's too short to spend time in a profession you don't like.
I have the ability to visualize change in a house - whether occupied or vacant - and be able to translate that to a workable plan or execute the plan myself in a short period of time. Staging usually does not happen over a long period of time - so it requires someone to be a fast thinker, good planner, and excellent executer of the plan.
I am an excellent marketer and understand that Staging is a marketing tool - for the house and for the Realtor - and it helps set the product (the house) apart from the other products it is competing against.
My whole goal is to partner for success with the Seller and Realtor - and help a Buyer easily envision living in the Staged house so they make an offer.