Home Staging As a Career – What Is the Average Salary For a Home Stager?

You’ve probably seen pictures of staged homes in real estate and weekend newspaper house and garden sections. The rooms look perfect, welcoming, and emotionally neutral.

Creative staging with a few pieces of furniture and decorations can help prospective buyers envision a property as their home, filled with their belongings.

What is Home Staging?

Home stagers are individuals who prepare a residence for sale or rent by making it appear attractive and appealing to prospective buyers.

Staging may be a simple process of rearranging a few pieces of furniture to maximize space and improve the flow of traffic from room to room. Or, it may be complicated, requiring many steps to make a property more presentable and sell- or rentable.

Do you have that instinct for decorating and placing things just so? Perhaps you should put your decorating instinct and talents to work as a home stager.

Educating the Home Stager

There is no mandatory licensing or formal education requirements to become a home stager. However, many professional stagers (and some real estate agents) have taken courses, completed certificate programs and/or interior design degrees to learn the fundamentals of interior design, decorating, color schemes, window treatments, and furniture placement.

Building a Home Staging Career

Home staging was listed as “one of the best jobs for 2013 and beyond.”

However, becoming a full time stager is not necessarily a fast process. It may take a stager several years to develop sufficient skills, experience, clientele and a reliable full time salary as an independent business person. Some stagers work with large real estate agencies, setting the stage for home showings and open houses. Others work with construction companies and modular home manufacturers.

Staging is a deadline-driven business that requires the stager to be able to quickly “see” or envision a staged home before work has even begun. Stagers must be mobile and flexible as clients’ needs can occur on very short notice.

A home stager’s income will depend, in part, on location. An average salary may range from $50 – $150 per hour (according to the Accredited Staging Professionals). The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a stager’s average earnings per job as $75 for a consultation and $500 per house.

Higher incomes are found in areas where there is more expensive real estate (on either coast and in larger metropolitan areas). Home stagers on the east or west coast are reported as charging $250+ per hour. Hourly job rates in more rural areas can be as modest as $30 per hour.

The Value of Staging

The value or Return on Investment (ROI) should not be underestimated. Industry observers have published studies showing that:

  • Staged homes, on average, sell between 50 – 80% faster than homes that are not staged.
  • Staged homes generally sell for more than unstaged homes – by about 7%.
  • Buyers tend to decide within 15 seconds of first seeing a property whether they will have continued interest in viewing the house.

To be a home stager is to creatively reinvent the appearance of a home to help prospective buyers see the excellent qualities of a property and to help the seller realize the most advantageous purchase price possible

How To Hire a Home Stager

Home stagers have the ability to show off your home’s best features. With some paint, some cleaning and decluttering, and some knowledgeable furniture placement, your home will shine above others in the same market.

The goal of home staging is to sell your home faster and for more money. Home stagers can do this because they know what the buyers want and know how to produce those “wants” in your home whether your home is a million dollar mansion or a modest starter home.

How do you know if a stager is a good one? Here are a few tips:

1. The stager knows the market. They know what the buyers in YOUR area want and expect. They stage your home accordingly.

2. If you are asking for more than a consultation (the stager will actually be doing the work in your home), you should be able to see before and after photos. These can be shown by the stager via the Internet or a brochure.

3. Like with many service providers, a great way to find out about a home stager’s experience and expertise is to ask around! If they are good, you will find others that tell you so. A good place to start is with real estate agents in your area.

4. Price does not equal experience and expertise. Once again, be sure that you see photos and ask around. New stagers may be a bit cheaper and have great expertise. Experienced stagers may be more expensive but have less expertise!

No matter who you pick, the stager should be able to transform your home into an incredible, sell-able house!

11 Expert Tips to Make a Small Home Feel Larger

As a professional home stager in Pasadena and Los Angeles, one of my primary jobs is to make smaller homes feel larger, or at least, feel as large as they really are.

Here’s a list of my expert home staging tips for making a small home feel larger. You can use these tips whether you are staging your home to sell or if you are planning to stay, but just need some help dealing with smaller rooms. These tips will work with either vacant or occupied homes:

1. Pare down what you need to have in a smaller room to the essentials. Do you really need a chair in your bedroom, or can you sit on the bed to put your shoes on?

2. Clutter makes a room feel smaller. Lots of smaller items, like your Hummel collection or your bowling trophies displayed on every horizontal surface, eat up visual space. Only display 3-5 items at a time. Store the rest and rotate them out of storage throughout the year. Not only will the room feel larger, but each item displayed will stand out more.

3. Use fewer pieces of furniture. Its better to have one larger dresser than 2 smaller ones.

4. Use appropriately sized furniture. Having a large sectional in a small family room will highlight how small the room is.

5. Cooler colors recede, so painting a room a pale blue, green or gray will make it feel larger.

6. Show more hardwood. The larger the expanse of hardwood, the larger the room will look. See how the room looks without an area rug.

7. Try using one larger area rug instead of several smaller rugs.

8. Use fewer patterns on upholstery and bedding. For instance, use a solid color blanket or bedspread on a bed in a small bedroom to make the room feel larger.

9. Strategically placed mirrors make a room feel larger.

10. A well lit room feels larger.

11. Minimize window treatments. The simpler the better. Shutters, blinds or simple drapes (no flounces, ruffles, strong patterns or complicated valences) take up less “visual space”.

These home staging tips work if you are staging to sell or just want to make the home you are living in feel larger.

If you need some help figuring out how to make your home feel larger, consider hiring a professional home stager for a home staging consultation. You’ll get some expert home staging and interior design tips. Its the best home staging “bang for your buck” and it’s a great investment in preparing your home for sale, or making your home more livable if you are planning to stay.

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.