Sunday, December 12, 2010

Home Staging Training - Navigating the Plethora of Options and Knowing What to Look For and What to Avoid by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, Owner Sensational Home Staging

Home Staging Training - Navigating the Plethora of Options
and Knowing What to Look For and What to Avoid

Nearly 40 years ago the industry of Home Staging was created by Barb Schwarz, and 12 years ago it went to the next step with the creation of the first professional designation and course offered for a much needed service.

Flash forward to where we are today and there are many "courses" (and I use that word lightly) that offer some sort of education for Home Staging.

If I were looking for a class today it would be confusing.

I don't envy those that are researching to find a place to be trained. Did you know there are over 30 "classes" found online you can take to get educated in Staging?

Did you know the Staging industry is not regulated . . . Yet?

It's true. No one is regulating who can teach or offer a course or call themselves a Home Stager.

Fact is, some courses are reputable and others are scams.

There are those in the industry that claim you don't need a professional designation to Stage® and some say that there is no such thing as an Accreditation for Home Staging. The first part is true and the second part is false.

Anyone can claim to have been in business or have all this experience and unfortunately there is no way to stop someone from making false claims. Personally, I am frustrated at how some people even explain their credentials in this industry - falsely stating experience and impact when there are those that know what is shared is not true.
So how can you tell the difference when no one really regulates what is shared?

You have to do your homework.

A. Do the research: Ask the questions . . .

1. How long has this course been around?

2. Is the course content about Home Staging only or does it cross over into other industries, diluting the focus of my business?

3. Do the real estate agents know about this class and recognize the designation?

4. Is my Trainer someone that actually has built their own Home Staging business successfully?

5. Will the company be there 5 years from now when I need help?

6. What ongoing support will I have from my Trainer and the Company?

7. What kind of exposure will I receive online to help me succeed?

8. Do they have a professional Association for me to join?

9. Does this Association have standards for joining like requiring education first?

10. Are there local chapters of this Association that I can be part of for ongoing success?

11. What kind of ongoing education is there?

12. Is there a code of ethics and professional standards that are upheld?

13. What national and regional industry company partnerships do I have to help me add value to what I bring to my client?

14. Ask for references of others that have taken the class and find out what they though and how successful they have been.

B. ASK WHAT the course is about.
If you want to be a professional Home Stager - take a Home Staging Course.

For those reading this post that is a key distinction. Staging is a stand-alone industry that falls under the auspices of the Real Estate industry.

It is not decorating or design or redesign - they are stand alone industries and provide valuable services for people in need of professional decorating or design work.

In other words, if you want to be a professional Home Stager, take a professional Home Staging course that sticks to the fundamentals of what it takes to own and operate a successful Home Staging business.

If you want to be a designer, decorator, redesigner, feng shui expert, color expert, etc. - then take a course specifically catering to that service and industry.

They are all unique industries and services and should not lumped under the auspices of "Home Staging."

I believe in not putting all your eggs in one basket and to diversify, but I also do not believe in diluting.

Diluting is trying to cover too much in one course so that the student doesn't really learn what it takes to be successful in any one industry.

Diversifying is adding knowledge about other services you would like to offer such as color, feng shui, redesign, interior design, interior decorating and so on - and you can do that at a later time so you can offer added services to your clients.

Are there cross over elements with these various industries and services? Sure - but it's important to note that the goals of these industries are not the same.

Staging is about depersonalizing and preparing a house for sale for an unknown Buyer and to make a property appeal to a particular and distinct audience. The likes and dislikes of the homeowner really do not come into play as the house is being prepared for the Buyer so it must be very broadly appealing.

Decorating, Design, Redesign, Feng Shui, and Color Trends are about customizing and personalizing a home and in the process, the likes and dislikes of the property owner are the main consideration. It does not have to be broadly appealing, and in most cases is not simply because the work is being done to please the property owner.

C. You need to ask yourself, "Who is behind this course?"

It seems these days that everyone wants to teach a class or course on Home Staging - and I can't blame them - when you are successful and want to share with others, it's a natural path to take in the industry.

But as a person considering launching a career in Home Staging you have to dig deeper and ask yourself if the class you are considering has any recognition in the Real Estate industry?

Because as a professional Home Stager - you don't want to pay money for a class and just get knowledge - you want to take a course that is actually going to help you succeed in your own business.

Fact is, a new course and designation that has not been around is not going to have the brand recognition of one that has been established and has integrity in the industry.

The only way to get that is longevity. You can either be part of the movement to help brand a new course and set of initials or go with one that is already established - and your participation will be about branding YOU with the muscles of the already established course and designation behind you.

D. Online Exposure:

One of the best ways to determine if a class is reputable or not is how you are represented online and how you are marketed to the public and Realtors that want to hire you.

Yes, you may have your own website, but...

Your training company should have a way of promoting and marketing you online and a way to drive business to you - and they must invest the right amount of money on your behalf to ensure that when the public does search for people to work with, you have a fighting chance to be found.

To do that successfully takes a LOT of money and this is where the smaller training camps clearly fall short. You don't want to go with a training company that lacks capital to fund site optimization and site design that will help build your business and give you proper exposure.

E. Who is Successful?
Next you want to evaluate what Stagers have business in your region - and find out how successful they are.

Find out where their training roots are - I know those that took a reputable class and launched their business successfully, and then may have branched into something else - even training their own course - but you need to go back to that core training as that is what created their success initially.

Ask the people that are successful TODAY - don't ask those that tried and failed or quit. Find someone that is where you want to be and ask them HOW they did it - and then do your own research so that you can be launched on the right path for success and have a business that will serve your clients and you as long as you want to be in business.

Do your homework. Ask questions. Make an informed decision so that when you launch your Home Staging business you have the resources to help you grow for the long term.


1.  Avoid courses that cannot point you to real life graduates that have actual success.

2.  Avoid courses that have not been around long - they have no history of success or graduate they can point you to that have been successful.

3.  Check the BBB rating of the course - and if they don't have one that should be a red flag. These are companies taking your money and should be rated online and pay the fees to be part of the BBB network.

4.  Avoid any course that guarantees you any sort of income post graduation. That is impossible to provide to graduates as you are not employees of their company and are an independent business owner so your success is truly up to you.

5.  Avoid online courses that have no access to a real person that you can ask question of during your training.

6.  Avoid courses that cannot tell you how to price yourself for where you live - specifically - as the range of pricing for Staging varies greatly depending on geography and you don't want to "guess" at how to price yourself in business. You could end up leaving a LOT of money on the table or price yourself out of your market which would be a big mistake too.

7.  Avoid anything that sounds too good to be true - it probably is.

8.  Avoid a course that has no ongoing support for YOU - an Association, exposure online, and ways to market you for success.

9.  Avoid Associations that allow anyone to join. You will have made an investment in your training and business - do you really want to be part of a group that allows ANYONE to join - therefore diluting what you paid for and the standards you set for your business?

I hope this article has been helpful to you - and as a professional Home Stager that has owned and operated a successful Staging business for nearly 10 years and is a professional Trainer for 6 years, let me know how I can help YOU make a choice. Just email me at or go to to contact me.

WHAT ARE YOU PAYING ME FOR? Part 4 of 4 by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP President


In this series of 4 articles on what you pay for when hiring a professional Home Stager, this last article covers the inventory investment for houses that need a little or a lot of pizzazz to attract a potential buyer.

I hear this question a lot: "When it comes to renting items for Staging why can't they just sit for FREE in a house until it sells?" Great question and before I can answer it let's look at some facts.

What is inventory? Inventory consists of décor and furnishing used to add visual appeal to a property. The inventory can be a few items to help enhance a Seller's existing things to help add "Wow Factor" or inventory can be furniture and décor to help furnish a vacant house. Therefore inventory can be artwork, bedding, accessories, greenery, furniture, rugs, and so forth.

Inventory a professional Home Stager brings in is a convenience to the Seller - so that they do not have to purchase extra items, store them, or move them to a new property.

Inventory = Overhead: When an item is purchased it becomes an overhead expense and property of the company. Professional Stagers are not just pulling stuff out of their houses to stick in a vacant house or to help spiff up house that needs some pizzazz. They make an investment in selecting things that are universally appealing, will enhance a house, and make it look better for the buying public. They must also consider the style of the house they are Staging - not every piece of décor is useful in every house for sale. So we have to purchase things specific for types of properties as well.

Think about this: That piece of furniture, lamp, vase or fichus tree costs money every time it is moved or used. There is labor involved, gas and time.

When it is stored - there is often overhead costs associated with warehouse or storage unit space.

Things get damaged in houses - from careless Sellers who may paint interiors, or by Buyers that break something or use something inappropriately.

So why can't items just sit for free in a house? Because all these costs have to be covered by the renting of the items.

So before any Stager turns a profit from "stuff" they bring into a house, they must first cover their overhead expenses of managing and maintaining that inventory, and then pay for the transportation of those items to and from the house.

  • Moving costs average $200 each way per project for 2 men and a truck.
  • A small Storage Unit averages $100-150 per month.
  • A warehouse costs thousands to manage and maintain monthly.

Then there is the wear and tear on an item. Fabrics get stained, woods get nicked, and items get broken. Over time an item must be retired and replaced with a new item. The old one is sold or donated at pennies on the dollar. Things even get stolen from time to time - and have to be replaced. It's all a cost of doing business. And professional Home Stagers operate a business.
So when you are paying rental for things, you are helping that business owner cover operating costs and maintenance costs on having those items as a convenience to you - the Seller or Realtor - so that your house or listing CAN look better than the un-Staged marketed competition.
You pay for the "WOW Factor" to help your house or listing SELL - and when it sells we can say 100% of the time - "THE INVESTMENT OF STAGING IS LESS THAN A PRICE REDUCTION" - that you did NOT have to take because your house SOLD.