Saturday, July 28, 2012

Starting a Home Staging Business - A Lucrative Business as a Home Stager Part 1

Entrepreneur Magazine recently named home staging as one of its Hot businesses for 2006. And with start-up costs of $1000 or less, barriers to entry are low. So you can jump right in with very little risk while you keep your current job.
Learn about home staging (hint: staging is also called "home redesign" or "interior redesign" or simply "redesign") by reading everything you can find on the subject. There are many great resources out there and they all explain the principles a little differently. You will probably take a special liking to a particular author's style, but it's good to read as much as you can. You'll be more comfortable working in the field if you've read all of the home staging books you can get your hands on. Not all of them agree on every point, and you will be able to decide for yourself what you think works the best after you gain a little experience.
You can find many types of home staging courses to sign up for.
Some home staging courses are home based while others are conducted in a seminar-style classroom format. The home staging courses that are classroom based are often weekend sessions set up in meeting rooms at hotels - not at a permanent home staging training school.
After your home staging course, you'll be ready to work on business building.
Practice on your own home and then branch out. You really do not need to get certified or attend expensive programs. The people selling those programs would very much like you to believe you can't enter the business without their backing. That just isn't true.
You can keep your current job because home staging is perfect for weekends. Start marketing yourself and use your cell phone as your business phone number. Change your voice-mail message to something professional sounding, stating your name and youe business name. Or just say "Jackie Riley, Professional Home Stager" for now. You do not need to come up with the perfect business name right now--don't get stuck on that part.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Home Staging and Real Estate Marketing - Top Ten Reasons Real Estate Agents Should Use Home Staging

1. Professionally staged homes stand out from the crowd.
A professional stager will examine the property with an objective eye and make recommendations to give the home that "wow" factor necessary to entice potential buyers. Did you know that only 10% of people can look past the clutter and unsightly decor in a home and see the potential of a property? First impressions mean everything in the real estate market, having a home professionally staged will ensure that those critical first 10 seconds of a showing are a deal maker, not a deal breaker.
2. Real Estate agents often make suggestions for improvements needed, but they aren't as detailed as a professional home stager.
Many realtors feel they provide adequate suggestions on repairs and changes needed to get a property sold, but usually these suggestions don't cover all the elements a home stager would. As a real estate agent you know most homes are purchased based on emotions, professional stagers will advise making all the obvious repairs and improvements needed, but they also help provide the emotional connection points throughout the home that make potential buyers fall in love. Most real estate agents don't have the design expertise to help their clients carry out a masterful home staging, and most homeowners don't have the knowledge, objectivity, or time to carry out the changes suggested.
3. Just because you recommend home staging for a listing does not mean you have to pay for it.
Although some real estate agents are opting to provide home staging for their clients as part of their fees and services, it is not the norm for agents to pay for staging. Recommending a professional home stager is just like recommending a home inspector. Your clients don't expect you to pay for the home inspection services, so why should they expect you to pay for home staging services? In the end, staging doesn't cost the homeowner a dime either, a 2007 Home Gain Survey of over 200 realtors reported that sellers who spent typically $500 on staging services for their home recovered over 343% of the cost in the sale of their home.
4. Home staging has been proven to help properties sell faster and for more money.
This is a clear win-win situation because turning the property quickly means less hassle for you and your client. Also, a higher sales price brings you more commission and benefits your clients' pocket book as well. Professionally staged homes sell over 50% faster than non-staged homes and on average for 6-10% more.
5. Your listings will show better if they are professionally staged and this will reflect well on your professionalism.
If you become known for always having properties that show well, other agents are more likely to show your homes, and homeowners will seek to have you as their listing agent. You will gain a reputation for turning homes fast when people notice your name on the lawn signs of all the "sold" homes in their neighborhood.
6. Stagers are experts in tackling sensitive topics in a diplomatic manner.
Stagers can relieve your anxiety of offending your clients by taking over the responsibility of discussing sensitive subjects like odor and unattractive decor. Home stagers will explain to your clients that they aren't there to put down their design choices or cleanliness; they just want to help their home appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers. While the d├ęcor may suit their tastes, properties need to be neutralized before they are put on the market to attract as many buyers as possible. Professional home stagers will explain that the way you live in a home is very different from the way you present a house for sale.
7. Home Stagers free up your time to focus on what you do best.
Professional home stagers will take over the daunting task of preparing your listings for the market. This way you don't have to waste your time and efforts on something outside of your realm of expertise. Stagers will take your weak listings and turn them into "model homes" so that you can focus your efforts on your real estate skills. Having a property staged can help make the entire selling process easier because homes that are organized and free of clutter are seen as being well taken care of. This makes all aspects of selling a home go more smoothly from showing to inspection.
8. Having a home professionally staged provides you with eye-catching photography for your MLS and marketing materials.
According to the NAR Profile of Home buyers and Sellers 2008, "87% of all home buyers and 94% of buyers aged 25-44 used the internet to search for homes", this is why you need to have the strongest marketing photos possible. Many home buyers are eliminating properties from their viewing list based solely on the photos they see online. Having a home professionally staged will arm you with valuable marketing photos that will draw in the buyers.
9. Professional Stagers can prepare a home for sale more quickly than an agent or homeowner.
Some real estate agents and homeowners do have an eye for design, but home staging is not their profession. Professional home stagers prepare homes for sale day in and day out. They know the right contacts and have the knowledge and skills needed to achieve the most bang for your buck in the least amount of time.
10. Home staging is becoming the standard in the real estate market.
Home staging is growing more and more prevalent, especially in today's saturated real estate market. By not informing your clients about the benefits of home staging you are putting them at an immediate disadvantage. Leaving a property in "as is" condition will only help sell the competition, especially when the competition is already using home staging as a marketing tool. With the tough real estate market sellers are facing today, it's critical that you help your client put their best foot forward by recommending staging. Be sure to inform your sellers about the benefits of home staging, your clients will appreciate your suggestion to utilize one of the most innovative and successful marketing techniques in real estate today!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Five Common Costly Mistakes Made by Untrained Home Staging Consultants

Selling a home is never easy. However, the challenges today seem overwhelming to most sellers. The main criteria for selling real estate have always been location, size, and price but never before have presentation and condition been as important as they are today. 95% of buyers are shopping first on the Internet and "driving-by" properties in a "click." Without a doubt, appealing website photos are the key to attracting buyer traffic. Visiting the property, buyers form first and lasting impressions within seconds. 90% of the population cannot visualize and base their judgments solely on what they see and how they feel, and research is proving that emotions play a much larger part of the decision making process than previously assumed.
In this tough market, buyers are also demanding and getting best value, so properties that are in good condition sell faster and for money. According to Barbara Corcoran, for every $1 a home seller does not invest in condition work, a buyer will deduct at least $3. Most buyers today are putting their full investment into the purchase price of the home and don't have extra money for any major work. In addition, the majority of buyers do not have the time or the desire for renovation.
As professional home stagers, we cannot influence location, size and price factors. Our role is to collaborate with agents and home sellers to prepare properties for the marketplace to sell for top dollar as quickly as possible. This is impossible without thorough attention to condition issues and enhanced presentation. A successful home staging process begins with a professional analytical consultation that includes specific recommendations for the homeowner. It is our responsibility not only to tell the seller what they need to do but also to make sure they understand the importance of staging and to motivate them to follow through with the recommendations. Otherwise, they will not achieve their objectives of selling quickly and for top dollar. In fact they may not be able to sell at all.
With so much at stake for home sellers, the staging consultation is critical to the preparation and marketing of the property. The expert advice trained staging consultants provide has significant financial importance. That is why real estate agents and home sellers should invest in trained professional home staging consultants. Unfortunately, many "stagers" are not trained and make serious mistakes that can be extremely costly to the home sellers. When the staging process is ineffective this can lead to longer time on the market, increased carrying costs for the seller, reduced selling price and increased stress. These are all extremely costly consequences for a home seller.
Here are five common costly mistakes made by untrained staging consultants:
1) They give away free consultations:
My view of this is "you get what you pay for." Trained professional home stagers understand the critical importance of the consultation as the first step in the staging process. They provide comprehensive room-by-room assessments and thorough, prioritized recommendations. They counsel, explain and motivate homeowners to invest in what needs to be done. The consultation should be value-rich. Free consultations are generally "meet and greet" with some general information about the benefits of staging. They are superficial and fail to capitalize on this opportunity to address all the important staging issues of the property. In many cases the lack of attention to detail and other omissions can lead to ineffective staging, longer time on the market and reduced selling prices.
2) They provide decorating advice versus marketing strategy:
Trained professional home stagers know that staging is not decorating - it's marketing. A room can be beautifully decorated, but fail from a staging perspective. Our focus is on showcasing the best features of the property, making rooms look as bright and spacious as possible and creating buyer appeal and wow impact. Our work is strategic, always considering the buyers' preferences and the camera's eye. Even if someone is a talented decorator, they may not be qualified to give you professional home staging advice.
3) They perform check-list style assessments but don't analyze and prioritize recommendations.
This really demonstrates the level of expertise of your consultant. The room-by-room assessment is just the beginning - it is simply information gathering. Identifying the key strengths of the property, and analyzing and prioritizing recommendations in respect to market trends, buyers' wish lists, and budget issues provides the homeowner with a clear understanding of not only what has to be done but why these actions are so important. This expert consulting advice helps sellers make the best financial decisions.
4) They don't know how to handle sensitive issues so avoid them.
Mastering the art of difficult conversations with home sellers is a key skill for professional home stagers. We are trained to address sensitive issues with home sellers and understand that it is imperative for us to do so. One strong negative impression can override a list of positive factors and prevent a sale. These sensitive issues can include odors, cleanliness problems, unattractive and dated decor, clutter, an abundance of religious items, provocative art, etc. A lack of understanding and or skill in handling these issues is not an excuse and avoiding them can be a very costly mistake.
5) They fail to motivate the client with an action plan.
Professional home stagers know that it is not enough just to tell home sellers what they need to do. The true test of an effective consultation is that the consultant has been able to motivate the sellers to follow through with the recommendations. Trained home staging consultants understand that the staging recommendations may seem overwhelming to their clients, but by outlining a feasible action plan, they will inspire confidence and demonstrate their ability to help with some or all of the process. Trained professional home stagers are serious business owners who are experts at consulting, design planning, problem solving, project management and showcasing. A home seller is far more likely to get the best advice, follow through with the necessary staging process and succeed at selling faster for top dollar if they invest in a consultation with a trained staging professional.