Home Staging Tips #5: When to Hire a Professional Stager

Home Staging Tips #5: When to Hire a Professional Stager hero image
In the final part of our five-part book excerpt series on home staging, Tina Parker explains what to do when only a professional will do…

This article is an edited excerpt from Do Your Own Home Staging by Tina Parker, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. For more information or to order a copy, click here.

Anyone can stage a home adequately with a few proven techniques and a lot of hard work (see "Related to this story", below, for home staging tips).

However, there are several occasions when you may need to call in a professional – such as:

  • You are uncertain about your ability to accomplish the extraordinary presentation that your situation demands.
  • You may need to sell quickly, be selling in an extremely competitive market, or be selling a very high-end home and need to exceed the expectations of a high-end lifestyle.
  • You are selling a vacant property. Empty properties take much longer to sell because there is nothing there for viewers to get emotionally involved with, there is no impression of scale, and there is no suggestion of how to arrange furnishings in the space. You can still stage it yourself by borrowing or renting furniture, or using your own furnishings, but it will be a lot of work. Stagers usually have their own inventory and accessories or have access to furniture rentals. Rental may even be cheaper through a professional.
  • You are too busy. If time is of the essence and you are not able to dedicate time and energy to prepare for selling, consider hiring a professional.
  • You do not have help. If you are among the many people who do not have a support network that is prepared to help you, because your children have moved away, or because you are living away from family and close friends, consider hiring a professional to assist you.
  • You have physical limitations. Staging is a very laborious undertaking and can involve moving furniture from one room or level to another. If you have a bad back, are not physically up to the job, or have other physical limitations, consider hiring a professional.
  • You have allergies. Packing up a home, especially when you have not moved in a while, can accumulate dust in places you never thought possible. The process of staging can stir up a lot of dust causing some major problems with individuals who suffer from allergies. If this is the case, be sure to run an air purifier while doing the work (or request that your stager do so if you have hired one to do the work instead).

How to Hire a Professional Home Stager

1) What makes a home stager a professional?

Ask a home stager what makes them qualified for your particular job. Certifications are an indication of expertise, but there are stagers with many years of experience that will have a fabulous portfolio to verify their level of excellence. Ask if the stager belongs to RESA or any other trade associations and decide if you are comfortable with his or her answer.

Remember, you are choosing someone to go into your home and to possibly go through your private belongings. See if you feel comfortable with the stager and whether or not he or she is confident with their business.

2) Look at their service options

Professional stagers are pretty flexible and will offer the opportunity to choose what best suits your needs. You should be able to select from a variety of options, it does not have to be all or nothing.

3) Find out if they offer a contract

Most contracts for stagers are not complicated and more or less describe a list of expectations from both parties. A good contract will be typed, legible, and easy to read, and will protect you and your stager. There should be no fine print.

Look at their portfolio

Good home stagers are proud of their work and should have their portfolio available for you to view immediately on request, whether in person or on their website.

Ensure the photos are of their own work

It is likely that most stagers only present their own work in the portfolio they are showing you, but just to be sure, you can ask them about it and see if you can call the owners of the houses in the photos.

Call references and check testimonials

Do not rely on the fact that the stager offered you a couple of references. Actually call the people who hired this person previously. They will not mind that you called. In fact, they will want to brag about their new experience, if it was a good one.

Here are examples of questions you should ask:

  • Was the person respectful of your feelings and your belongings?
  • Was the home stager punctual?
  • Did the person work alone or bring in someone to help?
  • Did the home stager provide a contract?
  • Were the service fees what the person quoted?
  • Did you have the option to stay during the staging or were you asked to leave?

Also, if you are searching for a stager online, check their list of testimonials. These should also be available on the stager’s website – consider it a “red flag” if there are no testimonials.

Ask for recent success stories

Home staging is a proven, effective tool for selling and good home stagers will have a few success stories that they are excited about that they will tell you right away. Consider it a red flag if they hesitate and unenthusiastically tell you a story.

Look into their code of ethics

Many professional stagers belong to a trade association that has a code of ethics that they are required to adhere to. Ask for the website where you can view it or ask for a copy to read.

Compare quotes

Time spent staging a house varies with every property and every stager has their own way of coming up with a quote. As with most trades, the most economical quote is not necessarily the best one. Compare what services are included, the time allotted for the job, and when the stager can start. Also find out how accurate the quote is, and if it is a reliable estimate of what you should expect to pay at the end of the job.

Keep in mind that there is no black-and-white answer to how much a home stager will cost. You need to remember that staging is not a cost, but an investment; you will make your money back and more.

Once you are comfortable with your chosen stager and their fees, you’re good to go!


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