How To Become a Home Stager...
…the ultimate guide on how to become a home stager delivered to you 100% free by the team at The Home Staging Institute.
Read First: The below guide is written by our course tutors at the Home Staging Institute. To learn about our most popular home staging course, view our Professional Course.
Our Professional Course is for students who would like 5-7 clients per month and wants to show they earned their home staging certification. It is roughly twenty hours worth of reading, the Professional course takes the average student six to eight weeks to complete.
It is 100% online for just $247 (or six monthly payments of $42). Learn more.
Did you know that 83% of people visiting the Home Staging Institute are wondering how to become a home stager?
Home staging is a profession that merges the worlds of interior design and real estate. Many people who choose home staging as a career come from one of these two fields. Others have no previous background but think they have the right skills to transition into the field. Luckily, this is a profession you can learn to do without one specific background or education.
Instead, the impetus for success depends on your skills and creativity. Learn how to become a professional home stager through these steps.
We train more people looking to get into the home staging business, than upskilling those already in the business. This is because our online home staging certifications go right back to basics.
In fact, Unit One in our course is simply developing your eye for real estate, and the first assignment in Unit One is simply “Do an online search for homes for sale in your area. Pick five average starter homes and create short pros and cons lists for each home.”
Home staging is a booming industry at the moment. The nation seems to love all things real estate, and staging a home is one of the rewarding aspects of getting a property ready for sale… in my biased opinion!
Although we encourage anyone seriously wondering how to become a home stager to start with one of our online courses, since they start at just $177 for the Basic course, we understand that you might still be deciding if this is a career you want to pursue.
For this reason, we’ve written the guide below. It’s freely available, and a small peak into what it takes to become a home stager.
But first, claim your free resource pack
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Sample Contract / How to Become a Home Stager / Home Staging Checklist / Income Guide / PLUS more
Decide if it is right for you
Home staging is a journey worth exploring, at least in our opinion. For those interested in real estate, but don’t necessarily want to be involved in the selling of homes (can’t be bothered with the legal side of things and all the paperwork), staging is a great way to dive in head first and be responsible for showing the home in it’s best light to potential buyers.
Essentially, you’ll be in charge of the emotional side of the purchase.
Before we go any further, let’s take a little bit of gloss of the home staging industry. I always like to highlight the negatives up front because many people don’t even consider them! I absolutely love the home staging industry, and writing this guide on how to become a home stager is going to be super exciting, but I need to pull back the curtains and reveal exactly what it takes to become a home stager.
Let’s list some of the tasks you will be involved in while starting a home staging business.
- Finding your niche. What style of staging are you striving to achieve?
- Finding your market. Are you hoping to be able to stage each and every property in your area? Or are you focusing on homes currently for sale? Or perhaps just apartments?
- Defining your brand. You’ll need a logo, website, portfolio, business cards, stationary, letterheads etc. You might even add on a sign written car or truck at some stage too.
- Pricing. You’ll need to define your services, and know how to price them
Now let’s look at what it takes to run a home staging business.
- Managing enquiries. I always recommend turning around quotes within 24 hours. Can you achieve this?
- Relationship nurturing. Being close with realtors can help get a good volume of business through your doors. Can you network, or at least reach out via email to introduce yourself?
- Ongoing marketing. Stagers typically have no “shop front”, so people aren’t going to simply walk on past and enquire. You’ll need to showcase your work via your portfolio on your website, or put out regular content on the likes of Instagram.
- Managing furniture. Will you rent it from other suppliers, or buy your own? Do you have storage, or access to a moving truck?
- Labour. Some bits of furniture you’ll be using will be heavy! Who will support you? Can you hire contractors, or do you have a strong partner (or kids!) to call upon when required?
- Invoicing. Yeah it can be a bit boring, but it’s the part that gets money in the bank!
After immersing yourself in the real estate industry for a few weeks you’ll begin to get a gut feel whether this is something you want to pursue further.
But let’s be honest, if you are even reading this article you probably do a bit of scrolling through the local real estate listing already, and have a good idea of what goes into becoming a home stager. In that case, head to Chapter 2.
Build your foundation
One of the best parts in learning how to become a home stager (at least in our opinion) is the time spent getting to browse real estate listings in your area. It’s a bit of a passion of ours, especially when the realtor includes a floor plan in the listing! Your mind will run wild redecorating and arranging the house to present it well.
It’s all a bit of fun, so let’s start with that, and see how you cope…
In order to become a great home stager, you must understand what makes buyers tick.
What are they looking for in a home? Yes, it’s about square footage, amenities, and schools.
But on a much deeper level, it’s about happiness, safety, and fulfilment. Buyers want to look at a home that sends these messages. A home should be a sanctuary and a place for joyful living. As a home stager, you have the ability to trigger these feelings.
Buyers respond to homes that are uncluttered, bright, airy, and happy. Flowers, daylight, bowls of fruit, candles, and color all play a role. These little touches are aesthetically pleasing, of course, but they also touch humans on a much deeper level, stimulating the senses and creating a desirable atmosphere. Humans are naturally drawn to pleasure – keep this in mind as you stage.
Disarray, clutter, and darkness have no place in a staged home.
In addition, home stagers must become masters of creating a blank slate. We don’t mean strip a home of its character, just its current occupants. Family photos and mementos must be removed so that buyers can see themselves in the home and not be distracted by the tastes, life milestones, or quirks of the current owners.
If you’re going to be successful as a home stager, you’re going to need to develop a keen eye for positive and negative features in homes by looking at as many listings as possible.
- Use national and local home search sites until you find one or two favorites (we suggest using one national and one local site depending on the search criteria you want to use). Search all listings within the zip codes where you will be working. Look at the photos and read the description. Check the square footage and note any amenities. This will develop your eye very quickly, and it also puts you in the buyer’s shoes because this is how most buyers get their first impression of a home these days.
- When you notice a new “For Sale” sign, go check out the home. Size up the curb appeal – what needs work? What looks great? Carry a notebook at all time and actually bother to make notes (or, more likely these days, use the note feature on your phone).
- Go to as many open homes as your schedule allows. Size up the floorplan, use of space, pros and cons, décor, and take note of what works well. Think about what you’d improve.
Home Staging Basics
Writing everything you need to know about home staging theory in order to become a successful home stager could take me months, and I could write a few hundred pages on the topic.
But I’m going to just touch on a few topics in this guide, since there is a lot of other information in our home staging courses which will help in becoming a home stager.
The process of home staging takes a total of seven main steps, each with its own sub-steps.
To become a successful home stager, you need to master each of these steps. Let’s explore them in more detail below…
1. Crafting a detailed staging plan.
When I was growing up the teachers in school often said, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.
They were talking about school exams, but the same applies to home staging as well.
You need to think 5 steps ahead to be a successful home stager, or you’ll find yourself running in circles.
Can you imagine turning up to a house with a car full of products to stage a house, without fully understanding the role each of these items plays in staging this particular house?!
So how do you make a detailed plan?
- Conduct a walk-through of every room from the buyer’s perspective.
- Now is the time to have the seller get a professional home inspection to learn of needed repairs.
- Help the seller hire a contractor for major repair or renovation projects.
- Have the seller get an appraisal to learn the home’s current market value.
- Suggest holding a yard sale to the seller. They can sell anything you don’t need.
Obviously for the sake of this guide I am simplifying things a little bit. If you’d like to get our free home staging checklist template, it is available at the link provided.
2. Help the seller clean and declutter the home.
If the seller needs to still live there while you show the home, they will need to depersonalize it by removing photos and knickknacks.
- Bleach and scrub all household tile surfaces in the bathrooms and kitchen.
- Clean and polish the hardwood floors.
- Have the carpets and drapes steam cleaned. If stains persist, counsel the seller to replace the carpets.
- Ditch the dust bunnies and cobwebs.
- Repair wall cracks and holes.
- Re-paint the interior walls. Use neutral colors. Beige, cream or pastels work well in living areas, while bathrooms in blues and greens sell well.
- Remove most of the furniture, especially the oversized pieces.
- Rearrange the remaining furniture to maximize space.
- Clear out closets or at least organize them. Store things off-site.
- Have the seller remove the small appliances, children’s toys, pet paraphernalia and books and magazines.
- Also, have them pack away and store family photos, collectors’ items, jewelry and medicines.
- Clean out the garage and put it all in storage if the seller has not yet moved into their new home yet.
3. Maximize the home’s curb appeal.
A welcoming lawn and home façade can help sell the home more quickly.
- Have the seller paint the home’s exterior, trim, doors and shutters.
- Double check the appearance of the front door, welcome carpet, and address number. Check that the doorbell works.
- Power wash the windows and any siding.
- The seller should have the roof inspected. Make repairs if necessary.
- Mow and edge the lawn. Also, water and fertilize it. Trim and shape shrubs and trees. Rake, bag and dispose of any leaves.
- Sweep the entryway, walkways, sidewalks and repair cracks in any masonry.
- Plant bright flowers and shrubs, if the landscape does not already have them.
- Put any outdoor furniture or toys in storage.
- Clean up pet excrement.
- Clean the home’s gutters and downspouts.
4. Clean and update the bathrooms and kitchen.
Start by mopping and waxing the floors. Clean and clear the countertops.
Give both rooms a mini-makeover with new hardware and caulk around sinks and bathtubs.
Clean all appliances and fixtures, plus the pantry, cabinets and drawers. Organize the kitchen storage if the home sellers are still living there.
Bleach the bathtubs, sinks and toilets to remove the stains. Keep the toilet seat lids closed while showing the home. Hang fresh hand towels.
5. Set an appealing ambiance
This’ll help potential buyers picture themselves entertaining in the home or enjoying being there. Bake cookies in the oven, then serve them up as refreshments. Burn scented candles or potpourri.
Brighten the home by installing high wattage incandescent light bulbs and turning on all the lights. Let in fresh air by opening windows and open the blinds or curtains to allow natural light. You’ll also showcase its views.
If there are still televisions in the home, turn them off. Institute a no smoking policy for the home. The day of the open house or any showings, have the owners relocate any pets if they are still living in the home.
6. Showcase the top features of the home.
Remove all throw rugs or runners to show off the hardwood floors. Check that the fireplaces are working properly. With respect to the exterior, stage the front porch and patio or deck with potted plants and furniture. Clean the swimming pool.
7. Make logistical preparations for your open house.
Host a brokers’ only open house with refreshments to let them all know about the new home available. Have the seller tell their family, friends and neighbors about the public open house. Advertise in the local newspaper, industry publications and on Craigslist.com. Place “Open House” signage in the front yard and at key points on the way to the home. Write up your property description sheets. Complete the inspection reports and purchase offer forms. Have a copy of the homeowner’s association rules on hand.
Can you picture yourself doing these tasks for a clients home? How about doing it for three clients homes each week? If so, it sounds like home staging is in your blood! Read on…
Understand Your Market
To be successful in your home staging career, you need to know about the current home stage professionals in your area. Researching home stagers near you is vital for multiple reasons.
- First, it gives you practical information that can help shape your proposals for jobs, such as price setting.
- Second, doing your research can help you determine your niche. Perhaps most of the home stagers in your area only do minimalistic designs while you can provide rustic looks. Doing your research can help you find the gaps in the market.
Don’t be afraid to email other home staging professionals in your area to ask for a hypothetical quote.
Who else is in the market?
There are multiple ways to find out who else is staging homes in your area. Try a quick search on the internet to see how many hits you get and look around their websites. Check for prices, clientele, and the exact services they offer. If you know any realtors or interior designers, ask them who they use and get their details.
So, let’s do some stalking and see who your future competitors will be!
Perhaps you know them already, if so, add them to the top of a spreadsheet, one in each row. Double check on Google that you have them all – at least within about 50km from where you plan to operate.
Searches like home staging Brooklyn should give you a good list. Be sure to go onto page two and three of Google results as well to capture all those that haven’t optimized their website as well as the others.
Then take note of what companies will be your direct competitors. Hopefully you’ll see a trend – some will be highly successful that you can strive towards, others will be dead in the water with broken images on their website, and no jobs in the last 3 months.
See if you can discover their pricing
Where do their sales come from?
Search their brand you have found in each and every corner of the internet to see where they advertise, what platforms they are on, and why they are so popular.
Here are some tips, using a fake home staging company called “Home Staging Suzie”.
- Go to Google and search for “Home Staging Suize” with the speech marks around the search phrase. This will hone in results on websites which show exactly this phrase on other websites. You’ll see what directories they are listed in, and what websites they feature on. Soon you’ll need to ad yourself to those directories, and email various other websites to see if they can cover your own brand too.
- Go to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and search “Home Staging Suzie”. Are they active on these platforms? Is the community responsive to their posts, or are they shouting into thin air? If they have an active following you can assume the brand is well known, and they get some business via word of mouth. Unfortunately many home staging companies are horrible at social media, so if you notice no one is interacting with the brands in your area, this is a good opportunity for you to come in and be exceptional!
- Facebook now has a tool called Facebook Ad Library which lets you look up all the ads other pages are currently running on Facebook and Instagam! Type in your competitors and see if they are currently running social media ads, and even screenshot your favorite ones as you might want them for inspiration when you make your own.
What are they charging
We are often asked by students wondering how to become a home stager what they should be charging.
The problem we face is, it’s really tough to tell you the answer without knowing which country you are in, which state you are in, and which city you are in.
Million dollar homes in New York City can be priced higher than $150,000 homes in Niagara.
However, you should have some level of success finding what your competitors charge from looking at their websites. We’ve found about 20% publish their prices online, and the other require you enquire.
On that note, don’t be afraid of using your brothers or partners email address to send a few enquiries. A simple “Hi there, we really like your portfolio and are looking to stage a 3 bedroom, 1 lounge home nearby. Could you please send through your pricing information for us to consider?” will do the trick 9 times out of 10.
For those who are really desperate for me to write some numbers here, below is a copy/paste from one website I looked at this morning…
- Essentials Styling Package – From $2200
- 2 Bedroom styling – From $2600
- 3 Bedroom styling – From $3200
- 4 Bedroom styling – From $3800
- Partial Styling for houses / priced on inspection – From $1800
This method keeps things simple for everyone involved. Just be sure to keep note of how many other rooms need styling and charge accordingly. This is why the word from is in each of the prices above. You’ll need to account for the entry, bathroom, laundry, kitchen, living areas, and sometimes improve the curb appeal too. Each of these areas makes the price go up.
Don’t undersell yourself or you will resent the job!
How to Become a Certified Home Stager
Two questions we are often asked are “do I need to be certified to be a home stager” and “how to become a certified home stager”.
There are two short answers for this.
Firstly, no you don’t need to be certified to be a home stager.
We’ve be providing online home staging training since 2006, and have training thousands of students across the world in this time. Although most of our students are in America, a good portion are in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK as well. We’ve also had students from Africa, Japan, Germany, and Italy this year alone.
Based on this, we feel we are in a good position to to teach you how to become a home stager.
… But you said I don’t NEED a home staging certification?
That’s right. No law states that you need a home staging certification to become a home stager. So what is the point of getting a staging certification?
Firstly, it is a great way to learn how to become a home stager. Our courses are designed for absolute beginners, with Unit One being a nice read on the basics of home staging. By Unit 3 you’ll have a good understanding of the home staging process and comfortable to stage any house.
Secondly, having a staging certification is a great way to say loud and proud to potential customers that you completed a trusted course, and have the badge to show it.
It shows that a third party has not only taught you some of the key home staging skills, but they have tested you, and that you passed the test.
Start your Business
Since you are reading a guide on how to become a professional home stager, no doubt you’ll eventually want to start your own own staging business.
This could either be as a side-gig, or a fully fledged business with a team to support you.
Whatever you decide, you’ll want to know the basics on how to start a home staging business.
We’ve written another highly popular article on the topic of How to Start a Home Staging Business, so start there is you want to get in depth on this topic.
Let’s review where we are currently at:
- You’ve decided you want to become a home stager
- You’ve built your foundation and understand the basic of home staging theory
- You understand the local market, know who the competitors are, and have an idea of what they are charging
- You’ve upskilled yourself with a home staging course
And now you are ready to take the next steps in starting a home staging business. Let’s talk through the steps of this process.
1. Create your Home Staging Website
A good way to find and reach out to clients is to create an online presence. Having a website and social media presence lets you connect directly to prospective and current clients.
You don’t need to spend thousands building your first home staging website, and we in fact strongly recommend against it. A home staging website doesn’t need eCommerce functionality, so platforms such as Wix and Squarespace will work just fine.
Use a consistent logo and aesthetic across online platforms. Build a professional website that showcases your services, samples of your work and a way to contact you. Consider a blog to help drive more traffic to your website.
Keep your social media accounts professional. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter make it easy for you to share pictures of your work and participate in a conversation with others in your field and prospective clients. Your connections on social media can also help give you endorsements.
Develop your online home staging portfolio
Clients want to see your work so that they can verify if you are a good match for them. For this, you need experience in staging a home.
If you completed a home staging course, then you should have multiple samples to include in your portfolio. If you need more samples, try staging for a friend or family member selling their home. Even designing areas in your own home can provide pictures as you start to gain clients.
Make sure that your portfolio expresses the brand you want to present and what you plan to deliver. Take photos of every job you do so that you can keep updating your portfolio.
If you use one of the website builders mentioned above, you’ll see they have templates for online galleries and portfolio’s that you can select and use for your own work.
2. Determine your prices
We often get asked how to set the prices for your home staging services, but with students in United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and New Zealand, we recommend looking locally at established firms to get a good idea of what you should be charging for home staging.
You’ll find many firms charge for an initial consultation, then per room.
3. Source your products
Some homes you stage will have no furniture, while others might only need small touches, decluttering, or changing some of the furniture.
Many home stagers use a mix of rental and purchased furniture for their designs. What you want to do is a matter of preference. It is a good idea to have some pieces that you own. Look for discount decorations and furniture that could commonly match your niche. Pay attention to sales on items like paint or paintbrushes.
Try to stock up on the basics you plan to use, but keep your budget in mind.
Likewise, you should research furniture rentals before you start staging professionally. Note which rentals are available and the style you can find in each store.
4. Get your contracts, invoices, forms, and checklists sorted
You can skip much of this section if you have taken a home staging course from the Home Staging Institute, as you’ll get all the forms you need for free. However not everyone is a Home Staging Institute student, so if this is you, you’ll need to prepare the following:
- Home staging contract
- Home staging proposal
- A generic invoice template
- A home staging checklist to use
We previously relied on Microsoft Word and PDF documents for all our forms and contracts, but these days we like to keep them all as Google Docs or Google Sheets. This makes them easily edited from any device, and avoids printing any paperwork.
Be sure to consult with an attorney to make sure you cover the responsibilities of each party and limit your liability. Having a standard home staging contract in which you can simply change the name and cost saves you time and helps you look more professional. Especially when you start, you may be bidding for projects.
5. What about home staging licensing?
For many people wondering how to become a home stager, one thing they’ll also be curious about is home staging licensing.
So, do you need to be certified or licensed to become a home stager? As mentioned previously, the answer is no.
What about a general business licence? Although there might be a few leading brands in your area, home stagers typically work for themselves. This means you may need to be fully licensed and insured.
You may not be able to take on a client until you do this. Licensing also enables you to file your taxes and qualify for any possible tax credits. Procedures for getting a business license vary by state. The general procedure for licensure includes filling out a few forms, providing identification and paying a small fee.
The rules for getting a license will also depend on the exact type of business license you want, such as for a limited liability company. Once you are officially a business, you need to get liability insurance before you take on a client to protect your personal assets and your business.
6. Continue Your Education
To keep your mind fresh with new ideas and to keep up with design trends, you need to continue your education.
This might mean taking another home staging course, or you could do simpler things like subscribing to top design magazines. Follow the popular designs you see on social media. Keep checking out boutiques and art galleries to feed your inspiration. Stay current on the real estate market, including the types of homes that sell. Regularly sell your older inventory items and buy new ones that reflect current trends.
Starting a career as a professional home stager requires a lot of effort, but the benefits can be well worth it. In your new profession, you get to use your creativity to help other people realize the potential of a home. Combining your skills in design with your knowledge of real estate, you can use these steps to create your career as a home stager.
Completing a home staging course is an easy way to add some credibility to a new home staging business.
If you can also demonstrate a home staging certification then you have something a little extra that you can add to your website to win more business.
You can find home staging courses online, and you can in fact get your home staging certification online.
Courses typically take a few weeks to a few months, depending on how intensive you want to go!
Although this guide is on the topic of how to become a home stager, the sister guide to this page, how to start a home staging business, delves deep into the topic of home staging marketing.
For that reason, we won’t get in-depth on this topic right here, but we will skim the surface from a slightly different angle.
Marketing is a board topic which covers everything to networking at the local coffee shop, to buying radio ads, to placing ads on Google. We’ll summarise the marketing methods we find most effective for home stagers below.
As an aspiring home stager, your marketing budget is likely very small. That means you have to get down and dirty, and out of your comfort zone (unless networking comes naturally to you).
Networking can either take place in person at local events and conferences, or virtually through the likes of Linkedin.
Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to have an established website, and a completed Linkedin profile before you start networking.
In the early days no one is going to find your website. When you first become a home stager, there will be no links to your website from other sites, and you’ll rank on page 20 of Google.
For this reason, paid search can be a quick way to drum up new leads. With Paid Search you literally pay to be at the top of the search results pages. You get charged per click (usually a dollar or so), and you choose the keywords that you will show for.
Tip: Be very specific when choosing what keywords to show your add for. A search phrase I often try to use is simple the words “home staging” with your city, and variations of this. Here are some examples:
- home staging portland
- home staging companies in texas
- home staging auckland
- home staging companies in miami
- best home staging company in toronto
You get the idea. Everyone searching for these phases is looking for a home stager, and you can pay $1 to Google to get these people to your website!