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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Home Stager

Debra
by Home Staging Expert Debra Gould

When you decide to hire a home stager to decorate your property to sell faster and for more money, you need to make sure you’re investing in the right person. After all, you’re trusting someone with the sale of your largest asset, your primary real estate, so you have to be careful to put that trust in an experienced professional. Here are the five biggest mistakes homeowners make when looking for a house staging professional:

1. Focusing on Price

The last thing you should be focused on is how much the home stager is charging. Saving a few hundred dollars in fees and getting bad advice will cost you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. Of course you have a budget in mind, but you stand to make a huge profit from effective home staging. That’s why you should consider hiring a home stager as an investment in the sale of your largest asset. For optimal results, invest in the highest quality stager you can find.

There are ripples being made in the industry in light of a training company that guarantees its students they will make $31.45 per hour as home stagers. You should know that this is not what the homeowner or agent actually pays, it’s what this particular company is willing to pay people who take their course, they actually charge the client far more.

Professional home stagers expect to earn anywhere from $250 to $500 for their initial consultation. Beware of anyone willing to work for significantly less for doing work that you stand to make anywhere from $10,000 to $70,000 profit from.

Rates will vary, depending on your geographic location and the stager’s experience, but you shouldn’t hire someone just because they charge a ridiculously low rate. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

2. Looking for Credentials

Another common mistake is to look for “credentials,” since none exist in the home staging field. There is no governing body or official organization ruling over the home staging industry. There are no official home staging accreditations or certifications in this completely unlicensed field. The letters you see after some home stagers’ names simply come from a particular home staging training company who pushes them as part of their marketing strategy.

All members of the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers are graduates of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, which is based on the principal of dealing with clients with honesty and integrity. However, any stager you hire is an independent businessperson and any third party does not guarantee their work. It is up to you to determine whether they are the right person for your project.

3. Hiring someone without looking at a website or portfolio

Because you’re hiring a professional in a visual field, you want to see how they express themselves and review their portfolio.

A professional portfolio of before and after photos is a must. How else will you know what kind of results you can expect from a real estate stager? Because some companies provide ready-made portfolios to home stagers as part of their training programs, it’s important to ask questions about the photos anyone presents as their own work. If they can’t tell you details about the property or you’ve seen the same shots on another stager’s website from the same “school” or training program, this should raise a red flag.

4. Not looking for references or a proven track record

Read through the testimonials you’ll find on most home stagers’ websites. If there are none available (or they only provide initials and not full names), contact the stager and ask if they have any references. You shouldn’t hire someone to stage your property without hearing about others’ experiences with them.

Every stager has to start somewhere. If they haven’t staged a client’s home yet, they should at least be able to tell you about the many homes they’ve bought, staged and sold of their own and be able to provide real estate agents they’ve worked with for their own homes. The point is to look for practical experience.

5. Neglecting to hire someone with real knowledge of the real estate market

You’re not looking for someone who just knows how to decorate. Make sure the home stager knows the local housing market. A home stager is as much a part of the real estate industry as a real estate agent, and they should have a good grasp of the market they’re in. If they don’t know what homes usually sell for and how long they can sit on the market, you should look for another stager in the area.