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HOW TO HIRE THE “RIGHT” HOME STAGER
The home staging industry has been growing leaps and bounds in the last few years, and the job title becoming interchangeable with decorator and home designer. Everyone seems to be calling themselves a home stager – an expert in preparing and showcasing a home for sale. But be wary not all home stagers are created equal. Just like hiring any service provider, consumers should do their homework and check a home stager’s qualifications before saying yes to working together. Here are some tips and questions to ask a home stager to determine if he or she is capable of completing the project properly. Lowest Quote – you get what you pay for. You are selling your most valuable asset (your home). Look for the staging professional with the greatest professionalism, competency and experience rather than the cheapest price. Beware of home stagers that come in at a much lower bid than others. Usually it’s reflected in the quality of accessories and furniture that they will provide and frequently in the lack of experience.
In today’s world, anyone serious about doing business must have extensive internet presence at least FaceBook Page and a Web site. You should be able to find your stager and, most importantly, her reviews and testimonials on social media, sites like Thumbtack, Houzz, Google Business or professional staging associations websites.
For example, it’s very easy to find TNT Staging Team online.
TNT Team on Houzz.com
TNT Staging on FaceBook
TNT Staging Team on Instagram
Make sure that the home stager has a professional Web site; not just a “cookie-cutter” mini-site provided through their training school. Professional website should look somewhat close to the one you’re reading right now – TNT Staging
If the home stager you are considering hiring does not have a website, more likely she is more of a “hobbyist”. Having a website demonstrates that the home stager means business and takes a serious approach to what they do. Make sure you look for testimonials from other homeowners, real estate professionals or real estate investors as this speaks volumes as to their credibility and capability.
How long have you been working professionally as a home stager? This question is important to determine if you’re speaking to a professional or a hobbyist. A hobbyist talks about the quantity of work he or she has accomplished for family and friends rather than quality and results. If they tell you up front they’re a newbie just starting out, take note of their honesty, though a veteran home stager is usually a better choice when making a hiring decision. An experienced stager will have an extensive portfolio and experience coming up with simple solutions to difficult rooms. Experience and professionalism trumps “certification”, “education” or “designation” in the staging world.
Do you have a portfolio I can see? Every home stager should have a portfolio for you to review. The photographs should be labeled with the company name on them and should look cohesive with one another. Make sure the portfolio is of their work, and not stock photos or stolen images from other staging professionals. A home stager should be willing to provide before and after pictures of their work through a website or in print format, and she should be able to explain the thought process behind the staging project being shown. If they can’t it may be a sign that it’s not their photos.
Some follow-up questions to consider asking on this topic:
If the home stager’s portfolio consists of only a few photos, there’s a chance that these are photos taken from a group staging project at their training school and not actual work that the home stager has completed on his or her own. All photos in a stager’s portfolio should be of their own work. Ask the stager if the photos in their portfolio are of jobs they performed themselves or as part of a class exercise.
This really falls under the Portfolio heading, but it’s so important, that it deserves its own heading. When checking the home stager’s Web site, be sure that the portfolio section of their Web site isn’t made up of stock photos. The portfolio only should contain their work so it does not mislead the public. Look for the True Portfolio logo on their Website. Not all professional home stagers will have this logo, so don’t base your decision just on that, but the logo is one indication that these are in fact photos of their own work. Members of the Real Estate Staging Association are banned from using stock photos in the portfolio section of their site. If they are caught doing this, they will be called before the Ethics Committee.
TNT Real Estate Services never uses photo bank or stock photos. Every picture you find on our website or our social media pages are actual photos of projects staged and photographed by TNT Team.
Ask for references, including phone numbers and/or email addresses. Check those references. Do you have any testimonials you can share with me? Professional stagers should have testimonials on their website and marketing materials from homeowners and real estate agents, but ask if you can contact those past clients to find out how the stager worked. Were they pleased with the results? Satisfied? What should you watch out for when working with the stager? Do you recommend any professionals to help me complete certain home projects?
Home stagers not only have great shopping discounts, but they have vendors they work with and rely on to complete their projects. Especially if you have an older home that needs updating, ask a home stager for recommendations for a good handyman, house painter or electrician. They should be able to supply you with this information.
Are you familiar with the market in my area? Are you familiar with the expectations of buyers in my price range? The most effective home stager is someone who’s familiar with the various buyers who will be looking for properties in the area. Staging an apartment in the city versus a 2,500-square- foot home in the suburbs requires a varied skill set. Look for a professional who can market your property to each niche, not just one type of buyer. A home stager should know the buyer profile and what is expected in various price ranges, so staging is based on priorities on a buyer’s wish list.
TNT Real Estate Services works with many homeowners, real estate investors and real estate agents all over the Carolinas predominantly in Charlotte area. Our portfolio and team expertise covers a very broad range of staged homes: from studios and lofts in downtown to huge family homes in rural areas.
What type of style would you recommend for my home/my listing?
A staged home should look less taste-specific and personal in order to appeal to a broad range of buyers, but the home stager should keep in mind your home’s style, location and the demographics for your area. Most home stagers will have their own inventory of accessories for you to rent from. Many will also use furniture rental companies to fill vacant spaces. TNT Real Estate Services has its own furniture and accessories inventory which eliminates “the middle man” and helps our team to be the most cost-efficient and flexible.
Are the resources you work with insured? Is your business covered by insurance? Are you insured to act as a contractor/project manager? The home stager you work with should at the very least have business liability insurance. Those companies that have employees should have worker’s compensation insurance.
Ask for proof of liability insurance. If stagers are not insured, then you as a homeowner or as a listing agent may be liable for any damages or injuries that may occur as a result of the staging.Ask for proof of insurance coverage: both commercial general
liability and errors and omissions insurance. A professional home stager will not set foot in a client’s home without having proper coverage. The liabilities are just too great (for both parties).
TNT Real Estate Services has its commercial insurance and readily provides the proof of insurance upon request.
What is your availability? Do you have a contract? See what the stager’s schedule is like to get a time frame for the staging, and don’t forget to get it all in writing. Stagers who provide a contract or agreement take pride in their work. Take into consideration all of these qualifications listed before making a decision. Are you willing to put your client’s largest investment into the hands of someone without the expertise necessary to get the results you need? This could turn out to be a very costly mistake. Ensure that the home stager uses a contract as part of their business practice. There are some home stagers that don’t. You want to make sure that you and/or your client is protected. Make sure you are given a clearly written contract and that you understand all aspects of the contract. If you don’t understand something, or something you discussed is missing, ask for clarification. TNT Real Estate Services always provides a contract and never starts installation process before it’s signed by both sides.
What formal training have you received to be certified or accredited? Since, home sellers trust their most valuable asset to a home stager, it’s comforting to know they went through formal training to acquire the skills needed to lure in buyers. There are a handful of reputable staging training companies the Real Estate Staging Association recognizes to separate professional organizations from those imitators who can wind up costing customers a lot of money.
TNT Real Estate Services Staging Team in Charlotte NC:
Active member of RESA (Real Estate Staging Association)
ASP (ACCREDITED STAGING PROFESSIONAL) CERTIFIED STAGER
10+ YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN RESIDENTIAL AND GRAPHIC DESIGN, REAL ESTATE
DEGREE IN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Active member of RESA (Real Estate Staging Association)
INTERIOR DESIGN EXPERIENCE WITH TOP-PERFORMING VACATION RENTALS IN CAROLINAS
10+ YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE MARKETING, SALES AND FINANCE IN TOP FORTUNE
DEGREE IN BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS
Real Estate Staging Association
Lastly, but certainly not least, check the Real Estate Staging Association’s Web site
at www.realestatestagingassociation.com to see if the home stager is a member. All members are held to a strict code of ethics. The RESA designation is something home sellers should look for in a home stager – it shows the stager’s commitment to the profession, since RESA acts as the portal to the staging industry and is the source of education and business tools focused on the needs of real estate stagers. Without formal education, beware of hobbyists, or those who like to decorate on the side.
Home staging involves much more than that; it’s about emphasizing the focal point of the room, showcasing the positives and downplaying the negatives to attract potential buyers.
Do you get a good feeling from meeting the stager? Do they seem well organized? Do they make notes and take photographs? Just as in any business relationship, you should expect to be treated with professionalism, courtesy and respect. The answer should be: yes, they do. Otherwise it’s simply impossible to provide with the exact quote and get the right furniture and accessories for the house.
When you hire TNT Staging to stage a house, take professional real estate photos or to give a staging/design consultation you get all this and more.
In addition to staging your Carolina home to showcase its most appealing characteristics, we will provide you or the listing agent with professional quality photos of your home for use in the MLS, on the internet or in print marketing. Since almost 90% of home buyers are searching for homes on the internet before contacting a real estate agent, this gives your home a distinct marketing edge. This is a value added (free) service for all our vacant and occupied home staging clients (addl. charge for consultation only clients). We treat our staging clients with the utmost respect, courtesy & professionalism.
Our goal is to stage your home in a manner that exceeds your expectations, helps you sell your home fast, and for top dollar.
TNT Staging provides home staging consultations, vacant home staging, occupied home staging services, professional real estate photography in the Carolinas including Charlotte, Ballantyne, Matthews, Pineville, Harrisburg, Wesley Chapel, Concord, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville, Weddington, Waxhaw, Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Stallings, Huntersville, Belmont, Indian Land, Indian Trail, Fort Mill, Lake Norman and Lake Wylie and other places in North and South Carolina.
Written by Yauheni Mayorau, TNT Staging