I have seen this trend recently where some stagers are advertising and claiming that they will stage your home - and because they own their own inventory - they will not charge you any rental fees.
As a professional home stager myself and as someone who is dedicated to running a successful staging and design business whose services will benefit many clients for many years to come, I wanted to write about this trend and clarify some things.
My goal and desire is that all you who are seeking staging services - where the stager claims they will use their props and inventory and not charge you for it - will be better educated in making the right decision that best addresses your staging needs.
First I would like to make you all aware of the fact that Home Staging is not a regulated business. What that means to you as a consumer and as a seeker of staging services is that anyone can put a shingle out there and claim to be a “professional home stager”, but that does not necessarily make them so.
For anyone to achieve the highly sought “professional” status in any field a few things need to take place. I read once that it takes an average of three years or about 6,000 working hours for someone to hone in their skill set in the profession of their choice.
It is a known fact that a lot of people who claim to be home stagers, stage on the side, and on the weekends mostly. Staging is not their full time profession.
Secondly, like with any other profession, on-going training and education is a must. There is absolutely no way around it, if anyone as a professional is set on providing stellar service and products to all their clients 100% of the time.
As an example of this I have committed to investing up to $5,000 a year towards on-going training as it relates to what I am engaged with on a daily basis and that is, staging, design, and renovations.
Since Staging is not a regulated business, on-going continued education is not required. That is not to say, it is not needed however.
Thirdly results always speak for themselves. Check out their on-line reputation, portfolio and results. Reading reviews from clients who have actually worked with them in the past would be a great thing to check out.
And as always be weary of stock photos used on ads and websites, as they are not reflective of what the stager can actually do or accomplish; rather they only speak to the fact that those stagers can pick a pretty picture, no problem.
A professional home stager, one who has done the time so to speak and on an on-going basis hones their professional skills is very well versed in things like, fundamental design elements, what makes a staging design stand out, what does not, scale, balance and symmetry, how the style of the home and the fixed elements in the home dictate how the home is staged etc. For those reasons I am also against verbal staging quotes, but I will have to write another blog on that and why you as a consumer should not fall for it.
Please realize that all those items I listed above dictate how the buyers will respond to your home. Why would you want to risk having the potential buyers focus on bad staging when they should actually focus on your beautiful home?
You are making the buyers experience of touring your home memorable o’right but it is not your sellable home they will be remembering I can assure you of that.
Case in point, check out these two homes below.
One belongs to the Tuscany brown trend which is no longer trendy now btw. This property was located in Prestonwood in Dallas and it sold in one week once it was professionally staged by Design by KETI and it relisted as such.
This other home which is located in Preston Hollow in Dallas belongs to the current Parisian gray trend. This home sold in two weeks after it relisted as a professionally staged home by Design by KETI.
Here are some other examples...
This condo sold and de-staged in less then 30 days...
This luxury Home in Lake Highlands sold in three days from being listed as a professionally staged home. It de-staged in less than two months.
This renovated home in Preston Hollow sold and de-staged in two and a half months...
Different type of props, inventory and color schemes were used to stage those homes as the fixed elements and the color scheme in the home dictate how the home should be staged.
For those reasons – so that you ensure that you hire the right stager for you, whose staging will add value to your home and not take away from it – some good questions to ask would be along the lines of their professional staging background and how much actual time do they dedicate to staging homes on a weekly basis and for how long have they done so.
Some people might excitedly say “staging is my passion”. Please understand Passion Is Not Enough.
Although there is nothing wrong with being passionate about staging, having the skill set to also deliver a top staging and design plan that will yield results and that is to sell your home swiftly and at a desirable price point, is of utmost importance.
Passion does not make you a professional!
For example, I love dancing. I am very passionate about it. Everybody who knows me on a personal level knows this fun fact about me.
And I exercise this passion of mine by social dancing on a regular basis. On occasion and when my schedule permits it, I will take a group class but that is about it. But IF I want to become a professional dancer however, I would need to dedicate a lot of time and money to it. I would need to allocate time in my schedule to take a lot of private lessons so I can hone my dancing skills, and be really good at it. I also need to practice what I learn during those private lessons, so that one day in the near future I would be able to call myself a professional dancer and make a living out of my dancing.
My point is having passion about something – even staging - is not enough!
Cultivating your passion by dedicating time and resources to it, will elevate you to a professional status in the field of your choice!
Now that you have a little bit of a background on what distinguishes a pro stager from an amateur stager, let me tell you the reasons why we charge rental fees when we use our own props and inventory to stage your home.
Let’s apply this to hiring a stager to stage your vacant home and you need not pay rental fees for props and inventory.
Although it appears you may be getting a good deal, in actuality you may be getting a really bad one.
It pays to invest more in the front end. When you pay a rental fee for props and inventory to stage your home, you are ensuring you are getting top of the line items that are on-trend, are ispirational to the buyers and in line with the architecture of your home. Since staging is nothing but packaging and merchandising, it is of utmost importance that the right props and inventory are used to package and merchandise your home in other words stage your home.
Please understand each added input/benefit (in other words, "free props and inventory") will lead to a decrease in the quality of what you thought the outcome of staging was going to be.
So you find yourself six to eight months down the road and not only do you not get the return on your initial staging investment, you suddenly find yourself losing money because of it. Those losses come in the form of several price reductions, and on-going mortgage, tax, insurance and upkeep payments and fees.
The quote from John Ruskin comes to mind:
“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”
So I encourage you to pay for something better, all the time.
3.1 We charge rental fees when we use our own props and inventory to stage your home because not charging accurately for services provided is not a sustainable business model. Specifically such type of business model will drive the business and the business owner into bankruptcy in no time at all.
Let me explain this a bit further. The three basic components that make up a vacant staging price quote are: 1. Staging Design Fee, 2. Moving and Logistics/Packing/Unpacking Fee and 3. Furniture and Accessories Rental Fee.
The staging fee covers things such as putting together a staging design concept, selecting all the props needed to stage the home (things like furniture, accessories, artwork, and soft good, lighting), and packing and wrapping all such props and inventory, and then setting up on site as well as styling.
The moving fee covers the cost of moving all packed and wrapped props and inventory from the warehouse all the way to your house. And then from your house all the way back to the warehouse when your house sells and it needs to be de-staged.
If you have moved recently you know from experience that it is expensive to hire movers in Dallas. Our experience has been that when staging vacant homes – based on the scope of the project, the rooms we have staged and the distance of the house from our warehouse– moving costs can go anywhere from $700 and up to $2,000 on any vacant staging project.
And then there is the Furniture and Accessories rental fee. Please understand that there is a lot of money that goes into purchasing new inventory items on a regular basis. Inventory purchase and warehousing are two of the largest expenses any staging business has on their books.
We have a special formula in place when it comes to pricing out the rental fee for all items that are needed to stage your home.
What those other stagers are doing when they say “they don’t charge rental fees” is no different that you reaching out to some of the furniture rental companies out there and have them let you lease their stuff for free. I can assure you that will never ever happen. Why because they are a for profit business. An exchange of products (staging props and inventory) for dollars ( inventory rental fee) needs to happen.
That makes a lot of logical, business and financial sense.
Red flags should go up when someone claims they do not bill rental fees. Some valued questions to ask would be, where did they get their props and inventory, how much money they spent towards it, will they bring cardboard furniture to stage your home, are they bringing stuff they got on garage sales to stage your home, or is it their parents oversized peanut butter color leather sofa from the 80’s that will make its debut in the formal living room of your $900K home.
I am mentioning all those things because I have seen them actually happen over and over.
And last but not least do they have insurance for their inventory. And do they have insurance to be working at your home. Unforeseen/unexpected things happen all the time. And the smart and savvy business owners plan accordingly for such things.
At the end of the day – as a consumer myself – I would be reluctant to hire someone who appears to not understand the intricacies of basic pricing. In my head that is something that would raise flags related to their professionalism, knowledge of real estate and their skill set.
Since they are not capable of doing such elementary thing – meaning pricing their services correctly - I would wonder if they are capable of being a top notch professional who will provide top notch staging designs so that your home is packaged and merchandised the correct way, so that your home sells fast and for top dollar and so that you get your money’s worth and return in staging it the professional way by a professional stager.
…those are all my thoughts. What are yours? Please feel free to share your opinion on this. I would love to hear it.
And if you are set on working with a professional home stager to help stage your home the right way, we would welcome the opportunity to be of service. And because we care for results and we care that YOU turn a profit, we will bill you rental fees, not because we are greedy, but because it's a win-win for all parties involved, we are fair, and we are really good at what we do. 🙂
O: (214) 814 – 5967