Are you a fan of home renovation shows and wondered how to start a home staging business?
Do you have an eye for interior design?
Are you looking involved in the real estate industry in some way? Or want to get started in this line of work?
It’s never too late!
Just look at Meridith Baer, a professional screenwriter of 18 years who luckily used her friend’s home as temporary “home” of her 250 house plants and furniture while she moved houses, then ended up selling that “staged” home for over its listing price.
Baer’s first gig was sheer luck, but it opened a new world for her as brokers began seeking her real estate staging services so much so that she quit her job and launched her business Meridith Baer Home. By 2014, Baer has landed her own HGTV show “Staged To Perfection” and was taking home $1.7 million a month from her home staging business.
Pretty inspiring, right?
If you’re as interested as this as I am, check out everything I’ve gathered about how to start a home staging business below…
Real Estate Staging: What is a Home Stager?
As you might have guessed, a home stager is the person responsible for arranging furniture and decorating a house with the intent of showcasing its strengths and potential to buyers shopping around for a new home.
A home stager makes an unfurnished house appear “lived in” and ensures the house gives a good impression to potential buyers.
Making a house-for-sale prettier and cleaner results in a quicker listing-to-sale time.
How To Start A Home Staging Business
Starting any business requires research. Learn, learn, learn everything you can about home staging.
Once you’re 100% sure that you want to explore this line of business, follow the steps how to start a home staging business:
1. Learn about your market
Before opening up shop, check out your competition.
Who are the most popular home stagers in your area? Are they any good? Spy on their pricing, and if you’re lucky enough, visit the houses they’ve staged.
Understand the demand of local home staging. Do local brokers hire stagers to help with their houses for sale?
If there’s no market in your city, are you willing to explore other housing markets? Which ones?
2. Complete Legalities
Now that you’ve explored your chances of breaking into the local housing market and weighed your options, you can now fix paperwork needed in running this business.
- Decide on a name.
- Secure a business license
- Determine your pricing structure
- Hire lawyers to write contracts
- Buy liability insurance
This should also be the time you invest in building a website since it would serve as your online portfolio and “home base” where clients would easily find you.
3. Connect with Local Brokers and Contractors
Reach out to contractors, real estate agents, homeowners selling their properties by themselves, and others involved in the local real estate market.
These people are more than happy to welcome you into the business.
4. Compile Sources
Find furniture stores, home decor suppliers, and other sources of discounted home products.
You’ll be needing these sources once you land your first client.
If you’re interested in specific styles, such as vintage decor, you can go garage sale hunting for pieces that could fit your ideas.
List down furniture rental options as well. This is essential for any home stagers starting out, since large homes may require more pieces of furniture that you cannot provide just yet. Renting can help not only in saving money and remove the need for storage space.*
* Note that there will come a time that you’d need to rent storage units to house your stuff, but it shouldn’t be a priority for now.
5. Market Your Business
Learn how to promote your business both online and offline.
- Learn about optimizing your website for local search. Use keywords that local brokers may use to find stagers like yourself.
- Create a brand and stick to it.
- Liven up your online presence: open basic social media accounts such as Facebook page, Twitter and LinkedIn. Take advantage of Instagram’s picture-centric platform – it would serve your business good.
- Prepare calling cards and fliers to give out
- Advertise on community newspapers, bulletin boards or other similar resources
- Print out a copy of your portfolio, which will be useful when pitching to people
6. Continuously Build Your Business
Never stop improving your business in all fronts.
- Collect testimonials: If you land a home staging gig, make sure to get client feedback, ask permission if you could post it online, and continue doing this even if you’re swamped with new clients.
- Build your furniture inventory: If you’d like to expand your business, you should invest on furniture and decor. Do it gradually and only if the income can support it.
- Share your knowledge: One way to generate buzz for your business is to start blogging about your home staging gigs. Talk about your projects, showcase before/after pictures, and provide useful tips to those who cannot afford your service and would love to stage their homes themselves. Doing this makes you an authority in the field. Squeeze in some keywords into your blog posts and Google would love your for it, too!
Home Staging Business FAQs
Home Stager Salary: How Much do home stagers get paid?
The amount of home staging depends largely on the size of project and number of rooms being staged. Usually, the more expensive a home, the more costly it is to stage.
Home stagers charge around $100 to $600 for an initial design consultation. Online consultations is also possible and often charge lower.
The actual home staging costs somewhere between $200 and $500 a month per room.
Of course, these amounts would depend on a number of factors, such as your experience, portfolio, target market and so on.
What kind of start-up costs are there?
The cool thing about starting a home staging business is that it doesn’t require much investment.
Just look at our example above: Meridith Baer didn’t have to buy furniture for her first “gig.” In fact, the plants and things she used for staging her friend’s unfurnished home was her personal stuff.
If you become a home stager, you can build up your inventory of furniture, decor, and other supplies as you go.
That said, if you want to show off your skills, and find it hard to land a gig, you can always invest on some supplies and stage a house as a testing ground. While this would mean that you’ll be shouldering money upfront, it’s only an option if you wish to jump-start your home staging business.
What requirements do I need to complete? Licenses? Permits?
Aside from having a good eye in design and furniture to use for staging, you’d need paperwork and a plan to run your business.
You’ll need a business license, an official business name, marketing plan, pricing structure, and legal paperwork (such as contracts).
A website is also a must, since it’s the easiest way to showcase your past work, post client feedback, and another platform to use in communicating with existing and potential clients.
Do I have to buy everything used for staging a house?
Staging companies usually invest in high-end furniture to make the house look magazine-worthy, but if you have contacts with furniture stores (that will let you rent items for a month or so), then it’s worth a shot especially if you’re just starting out.
After a while, you’ll be able to buy furniture to add to your inventory.
Many home staging businesses skip the mall furniture stores and either go direct to the factory, or find a local furniture maker who makes something similar to what they had in mind.
Where do home stagers store furniture that are not in use?
When your inventory is still small and you’re just starting out, you can store furniture in a vacant room in your house, at a friend’s house, a neighbor’s garage you can rent temporarily, or other similar options.
Once your clients increase and your inventory requires more storage space, your best bet is to find a storage unit you can rent out.
Do know that many home staging businesses consider this as trap since the continuous expense of renting a storage space will add up, so the projects you bring into the business must compensate for this monthly expense.
The Bottom Line
Lastly, what’s the job outlook of a home stager? Surely, there’s no sense in learning how to start a home staging business if there’s no future here, right?
Ten years ago, at the time when the real estate market wasn’t so good, CNN wrote that Home Staging would be the number one career poised for growth. Today, the real estate market has bounced back quite nicely that brokers can afford to hire home stagers to jazz up their listings.
There’s a ton of numbers pointing to a good future of home staging businesses from here on out, so if you’ve got what it takes, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from pursuing this type of business.
In between jobs, you can put your staging skills to work as a professional organizer.