Just in time for the kick-off the fall real estate market, Debra Gould (The Staging Diva®), reveals the top five mistakes homeowners and Realtors® make when hiring a home stager. These include; focusing on price, relying on credentials, not looking at a website or portfolio, not checking for references and selecting someone with no knowledge of the real estate market.
(United States) September 4, 2008 – If you’ve decided to put your house on the real estate market this fall, you might have considered home staging to help your property sell faster and for more money than competing homes in your area. Before you begin your search for a professional home stager to decorate your home to sell, there are a few mistakes to avoid. You’re trusting someone with the sale of your biggest asset and you should take care to put that trust in the right experienced professional.
Debra Gould, “The Staging Diva”, knows exactly what you need to look out for when hiring a house fluffer. Having operated a successful home staging business since 2002, and having trained more than 1000 people worldwide how to become home stagers, she is aware of what you need to look for when selecting an expert real estate stager.
Gould says, “I see the same five mistakes being made by homeowners who eventually come to me to help them find an honest-to-goodness professional stager. The largest mistake, by far, is a focus on price. Hopefully this list of things to watch out for will help some homeowners avoid the costly mistake of choosing the wrong home stager for the job.”
According to Gould, the following are the five biggest mistakes homeowners make when selecting a home staging professional:
Focusing on Price. Many homeowners are pre-occupied with how much the home stager is charging. Saving a few hundred dollars in fees and getting bad advice costs homeowners thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. You stand to make a huge profit from effective home staging, so 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 home staging industry in light of a training company that guarantees its students they will make $31.45 per hour as home stagers. However, 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, charging the client far more.
Professional home stagers 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.
Relying on Credentials. Another common mistake homeowners make is to look for “credentials”. In actuality, 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. Instead of relying on unofficial credentials, look at testimonials from past clients, before and after photos and real estate knowledge.
Hiring someone without looking at a website or portfolio. Gould recommends that people not hire a home stager unless they have a web presence. When you’re hiring a professional in a visual field, you want to see how they express themselves through their biggest marketing piece – their website. As an alternative to building their own website, many graduates of the Staging Diva Home Staging Training Program list their businesses at www.stagingdivadirectoryofhomestagers.com which is like a mini-website, allowing potential clients to view an online portfolio and learn more about their business.
A professional portfolio full of before and after photos is a must. It’s the best way to gauge 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.
When you try to find a particular home stager’s website or proof online of their existence, if you can’t find them you have to question how serious they are about their business. Alternatively, if they have a very unprofessional looking website, you have to wonder whether they’ll be capable of staging your home the way you expect from a professional.
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’ experience 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 names of real estate agents they’ve worked with for their own homes. The point is to look for practical experience.
Neglecting to hire someone with real knowledge of the real estate market. Remember, 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.
Because there isn’t an independent organization or association monitoring whether or not a house stager is operating professionally and providing a high quality service, it’s buyer beware. If you avoid these five common mistakes as you search for the perfect expert home stager for your needs, you should be pleased with the professional you choose.
The creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program and the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers, Debra Gould has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate, including seven of her own homes. She has trained more than 1000 home stagers to start and grow their own businesses and is the president of home staging firm SixElements.com. The Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers helps real estate agents and home sellers locate a home stager in their area.
Debra has gained international recognition through features in major media in the US and Canada including: This Old House, HGTV, CNN Money, CBC National News, CBS Radio, Global TV, City TV, The Wall Street Journal, Women’s Day, Reader’s Digest and more.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva
Six Elements Inc.
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