A HOME SELLER’S GUIDE TO CHOOSING A PROFESSIONAL HOME STAGING COMPANY
It’s no secret that home staging is a critical part of the Real Estate selling process. Statistics bear out that staged homes sell faster and for more money, consequentially making the return on the investment in staging a no-brainer.
In a 2021 survey by the Real Estate Staging Association, sellers who invest about 1% of the sale price in hiring a professional stager saw a 7% return on investment. In addition, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2021 Profile of Home Staging shares that 82% of buyers consider that staging makes it easier to visualize a property as a future home.
While most homeowners have trusted pros for other home service needs, home staging may be new territory and the criteria for choosing a professional may also be unfamiliar. Staging is a unique niche service and certain markets may have a plethora of provider options while others may have few. Pricing is an obvious determining influence in making a selection; however, other considerations may not be as apparent. Homeowners and real estate professionals should weigh these actors when making this decision.
EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE
The home staging field has grown exponentially in the last five years, notably because of the hype from media and television. Staging a home looks as easy as 1-2-3 on HGTV® and many home staging businesses have launched from the inspiration of home design programs. Choosing a company with certified professionals who have taken appropriate courses to learn the art and skill of home staging fundamentals cannot be understated. Investments in appropriate courses and affiliations with professional home staging associations will point to a business that maintains high integrity for the professional. The amateur or home-based stager may lack the depth of knowledge and skills that may be required for specific properties. As with other industries, experience and expertise matter. You wouldn’t hire an amateur plumber or electrician; selling your home is one of the most important decisions in your lifetime. A company with years of experience and a solid track record of success will likely provide a stronger staging result.
INVENTORY AND INSURANCE
A diverse and plentiful inventory from which to stage should also be counted in the decision-making process. It is important to be able to satisfy the style requirement of the home and the potential age demographic of prospective buyers. For example, a sophisticated downtown loft will require furnishings that reflect the character of that property. A historical home in a traditional neighborhood will most likely need an entirely different look. You will want to ensure that your home can be represented in the best way possible and that your property does not look like every other property the company has staged. Be sure to look at portfolio photos to gain a sense of what the company can achieve.
(In addition, a professional staging company should have appropriate business licenses and insurance, including liability and workers’ compensation. Don’t be afraid to ask.)
MARKETING AND MEDIA
Most real estate transactions today begin with a view of the listing online through various sites including Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Refin.com, and other online real estate sites. Therefore, marketing is everything, not only for the real estate agent but also for the staging provider. Investigate their website and social media posts. They should be partnering with the homeowners and real estate professionals they serve to promote and advocate their staged properties. You want every opportunity for your home to be marketed. Many stagers have huge social media followings, and this allows a great additional reach for your home’s listing. Most buyers make their decisions about a home online, and only confirm that decision with an actual showing. Because the listing will primarily be viewed online, every photo matters and proper staging and promotion are critical to a contract and closing.
For home sellers, choosing high-quality staging should be approached thoughtfully, and not necessarily on price. Strong considerations should also be placed on professionalism, product and promotion. For a list of professional stagers in your area, visit www.realestatestagingassociation.com.
Lorelie Brown, M.A., CPRES, CID is the Owner of Showhomes Charleston in Charleston, SC. RESA-PRO member, an HSRA-Elite Member, and part of HSRA Elite Leadership. She is passionate about the power of home staging and has staged over $300 million in real estate.