Why Charging a Flat Fee Can Flat-Line Your Home Staging Business

The pricing structure (and items you charge for) you set up for your home staging services can either make or break your business. Good for you to follow your heart and get into a career you enjoy, but if you’re doing something you love and not making money, it’s not a business – it’s a hobby.

Even if you’re the best home stager in your city, if you charge a flat rate for your services, you could end up broke faster than you think. In fact, you could be setting yourself up to “flat-line” a business that could otherwise be extremely profitable.

Charging by the square foot or setting a flat rate per room is a common mistake that has ended more than one home stager’s career. Why? No two spaces are ever the same. It could take more time for you to stage a 900-square-foot condo than a 3,000-square-foot detached home. Why should you charge the same rate for both?

When you’re elbow deep in a project and realize it will take hours more to complete than you originally estimated it’s too late. By charging a flat rate instead of by the hour, you will have successfully undercut yourself!

There are several scenarios you’re likely to find yourself in if you do any amount of home staging at all. In these classic time-sucking situations, your flat rate couldn’t possibly compensate for the amount of time that’s wasted:

o Your home staging client has to tell you the entire background of each piece of furniture or art work in their home and why they love them all.

o Your staging consultation is interrupted dozens of times by a client that’s constantly taking phone calls or breaking up fights between screaming children.

o You find yourself elbow-deep in a project only to learn that the client has changed their mind about using your services.

o You end up in the midst of heaps of clutter that would rival an Oprah ‘hoarder’ episode, spending hours to go through your clients’ beloved items.

If you have the proper hourly pricing strategy in place, none of these time-suckers will matter. In fact, if clients like these are eating up your time, you’re making more money by charging hourly. However, if you charge by the square foot or by the room you will find yourself working for nothing much of the time. I’m sure you didn’t go into business for yourself to lose money.

If you don’t charge by the hour for your home staging services, you really need to reconsider your pricing strategy before you burnout from all the extra work you must do to make ends meet or your business flat-lines.

Why Home Stagers Are Busier Than Ever Helping Homeowners Try to Sell Their Homes

Home staging has become more popular as houses are sitting on the real estate market longer and longer and homeowners are trying to get their properties sold. Home staging is a business where a person certified in staging services prepares your home to look better by either rearranging the items that you already own or filling up an empty home to make it look more appealing to prospective buyers. With the real estate market at a near stand still having your home look better than others in the neighborhood at the same price point is imperative. Some of the tips in this article will include getting rid of personal items and extra furniture and putting them in mini storage buildings with roll up doors for later use in your new home.

One of the first tips a home stager will have you do to stage your home is to have you remove anything of a personal nature in your home. This would include personal photographs that may be on many tables and the mantel on your fireplace or even hanging on your walls. Family photos or portraits can be a large distraction to the prospective buyer and they may spend the whole time looking at those instead of your house when going through your home. Any other personal items should also be packed up and put in storage.

The best way to try to picture how your home should look when you are trying to sell it is to have it like a model home. This includes having smaller scaled furniture and probably not as much furniture too. Usually, double sized beds are used in master bedrooms to give the room a larger appearance than if you had your king sized bed in there. It is about creating the idea of more space to the buyer and letting them think that they are getting more for their money. If you hire a home stager, you most likely will have to rent a storage space to put all of the extra items in.

Another big component in home staging is to make it look like it is clean and nothing on it is dirty or old. This may require repainting some of the rooms to give it a cleaner appearance and hire a cleaning service to do a big deep cleaning on your home. If a prospective buyer sees your house as dirty they will wonder how well maintained the property is if you couldn’t even keep it clean. Removing all of the clutter from countertops in the kitchen and eliminating the knick knacks also helps a great deal.

Along with a clean looking house, having it smell good is also another great trick when prospective buyers tour your home. Baking fresh cookies right before an open house is a nice touch and will leave the visitors with a good memory of your home. Also, put out fresh flowers in some of the rooms makes a nice finishing touch to the space.

Home Staging – Questions and Answers

Question: Do I really need to stage my house?

Answer: Home staging is recommended to homeowners who are serious about selling their house in the shortest amount of time. Think of this scenario: Two comparable houses are for sale in the same general area. House A was staged and is in prime showing condition. House B was not staged and may have some design issues. Which house do you think buyers will be more interested in? Statistics show us that homes which are professionally prepared for the real estate market sell in one-third less time than non-staged houses.

Question: My Realtor told me to wait to stage, is this good advise?

Answer: The sooner you stage your house, the better it will be for you. If your agent told you to not stage or to wait to stage, your Realtor may not have a complete understanding about the value of home staging. Some agents are concerned about recommending more out-of-pocket expenses for their clients. It is a noble concern but not a necessary one when considering home staging. Stagers work with real estate agents as a team, and most stagers will be happy to answer any questions that Realtors may have regarding the staging process. Realtors may not know it, but stagers may be their greatest asset in the marketing of a client’s home.

Question: How do I choose a stager?

Answer: There are many things to look for when choosing a stager. Before you hire a stager, consider these qualifications:

  • Look for credentials. A good stager will be professionally trained in staging and design principles.
  • Ask for references. An experienced stager will have references and a photo gallery of personal projects.
  • Interview your stager. Most staging businesses are independently owned and will operate differently from each other.

Question: Can I stage my own house? or Can I have my friend stage my house?

Answer: It is best to use an independent staging consultant who has an objective view of your home. Professional stagers are specifically trained to find and remove the obstacles that could interfere with the sale of your house. Homeowners and friends who are familiar with a house may find it difficult to apply staging and design principles to areas in which they are emotional attached.

Question: Doesn’t staging cost a lot of money?

Answer: Staging, like any quality service, is not free. Staging costs may range anywhere between $100 for a consultation evaluation to $2500 for full staging services, (Actual costs vary depending upon company pricing and location.) Think of the cost of staging as an investment in your home that will save you time and money when your house is listed. Statistically, the investment of staging a house has a return of approximately 120%; (for a $1000 staging project, a homeowner may see $1200 return when they sell their home. Statistics cited from http://www.stagedhomes.com, with permission). The bottom line is that your investment in staging will usually be less than the first price reduction on your home! Can you really afford to not stage your house?

Question: Isn’t staging and decorating the same thing?

Answer: No. Staging and decorating are on different ends of the spectrum. Staging uses proven techniques that creates an emotional response in buyers; thus generating greater buyer interest. Interior decorating uses design principles and decor to display the homeowners individual tastes and styles. When you decide to sell your home, personal styles will need to be set aside to make your house appealing to the most amount of buyers.

Question: How do I get started?

Answer: Ask your Realtor if their agency provides staging services or stager referrals. Otherwise, to find an Accredited Staging Professional in your area, visit Staged Homes.

Your home may be the biggest investment that you make in your lifetime. When you are ready to list your home, do not sell your investment short. A properly prepared home will sell in the shortest amount of time while commanding the highest offers. For more information on staging visit KFM Staging & Design.

Home Stagers – Don't Undervalue Your Services!

Home staging is an extremely lucrative career if you know how to properly charge for your services.

It makes me cringe when I hear figures as low as $ 31.45 per hour being touted as 'great income' for a home stager. That is an impossibly low rate for any independent professional to charge, but an expert home stager should actually be making at least double if not four or five times that amount.

Home sellers stand to profit anywhere from $ 10,000 to $ 50,000 after employing the services of a home stager, so they are willing to pay a premium for that expertise. The cheapest stager in town will only attract clients who don't really value what a home stager does. After all, if you save a few hundred dollars on staging advice but you don't get the results you hoped for, what was the point?

The knowledge of an expert home stager is extremely valuable because of the effect it can have on how long a home takes to sell and its final selling price. A two hour home staging consultation should cost anywhere from $ 250- $ 800. After the initial consultation, a home stager can make at least $ 1,000 if the client wants the stager to complete the home staging project for them. This figure can go as high as $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 depending on the needs for that property, the home stager's expertise and where they live. Typically costs will be higher in major urban centers where house prices are also higher. If the home stager has to furnish and / or accessorize the home, that price can creep even higher.

Now back to why I object to anyone advertising $ 31.45 as a good income for a home stager. It completely devalues ​​what we do and the difference our work makes to a client. Not only that, it misleads aspiring stagers into believing that this is a good income.

Even bumping that pay from $ 31.45 up to $ 40 per hour, if you do three two-hour staging consultation each week, that works out to $ 240 per week or roughly $ 960 per month. If you also do three "full-blown" staging projects each month which each take you five hours, you can make an additional $ 600. That's an unimpressive $ 1,560 per month or about $ 18,700 per year.

Depending on where you live, that amount would classify you as part of the "working poor," and comes out to around what you'd make answering phones or asking "would you like fries with that?"

When you're self employed, you have lots to do that you don't get paid for. For example, talking to prospective customers, standing in line at the bank, doing your paperwork, etc. So when you are working on a client's behalf, you need to make sure you are well paid for it.

If you charge a rate of $ 300 per two-hour home staging consultation which is still at the lower end of the industry standard, those same three staging consultations a week will give you $ 900 per week or $ 3,600 per month. Those three "full-blown" staging projects per month will give you another $ 2,250 per month. That's a total of $ 5,850 per month or $ 70,200 per year.

That's $ 70,200 per year versus the $ 18,700 you would make earning $ 40 per hour.

If you want to grow a profitable home staging business rather than dabble in home staging as a hobby, you have to charge a fair rate for your services.

I can't fathom a home stager charging anything close to $ 30 or even $ 40 per hour unless they are working full time for another company who will be reselling their services at the more appropriate rate. Advertising a home staging hourly rate of $ 31.45 does nothing but de-value the service. As a home stager, you're operating a business. Can you possibly sustain (let alone grow) a successful business of any kind at such a low hourly rate? When you're operating a service-based business, time is your product and we are all only given so much of that each day!