Most people credit Barbara Schwartz with shaping and mass marketing Home Staging beginning in the 1970’s. From 1972 to today, there have been countless people who influenced and drove what we call Staging currently. Despite the players, the industry has been pliable and nimble, responding mostly to the ebbs and flows of the real estate market. Today, Staging occurs to some extent in every city, town and county in the United States. There is literally no place in this country where real estate professionals and many average consumers do not broadly understand the notion of cosmetically preparing a home for sale. And everyone proclaims to be a Stager-from the homeowner, to the realtor, to the person in between jobs, to the highly trained interior designer and architect. After all, despite what you read, there is no authoritative training or certification required. It’s the wild, wild, west out there, with little agreement on pricing structures, whether Stagers should have furniture, the quality of that furniture, charging for consultations, and so forth. For the customer, this has led to tremendous confusion. They have no idea what to expect when they make initial contact with a Stager. As a result, one or two stagers receive 90 percent of the jobs based primarily on predictability.
On top of the inherent disarray in the staging industry, we are in a new economy. There are pockets of prosperity in the country, but in general the real estate market is plagued with challenges- Short sales, homes under water, abandoned homes, etc. Most realtors I know complain about how tough it has been for the last couple of years. Others have jumped ship and started selling insurance or ventured into something else. In Washington, DC, there are some Realtors doing extremely well, easily earning a couple of million dollars in commissions. They too are in the one or two percent. Most of them routinely ensure that the properties they sell are staged. Realtors experiencing difficult times are most unlikely to insist on Staging properties or pay out of pocket for Staging services. Successful realtors have Staging down to a science. Often supported by their brokerages, they own their own furniture, work with the same designers and are able to absorb the costs of Staging for clients unwilling to pay for the service.
How do staging firms survive in this wilderness? There are new rules of the road for those seeking to enter the staging industry.
Today’s Stagers must be good- No longer is it OK to use one size fits all staging. One must be trained in this profession. Even a little goes a long way.
Today’s Stagers must be flexible and adaptable- Sometimes even with the best staging, in this market a house can sit for several months.
Today’s Stagers must be resourceful-Staging is the price of entry. All homes deserve it. Figure out how to get it to the customer within the budget available.
Today’s Stagers must be professional- It’s a real business, not a hobby. Hire professional staff, interact with clients in a professional way. Even though most Staging businesses are home based. If you do not, you’ll find that you’re not in business for very long.