6 Tips on How to Hire A Qualified Home Stager

If you run a search on Google for "home stager" in your geographic area, numerous home staging companies fill the pages. All of them promise to sell your home faster and for more. How do you know who is the best fit for your listing? Do you dare to use your equity to gamble on a stager you randomly found on the web?

Based on our 8+ years worth of experiences in the industry, here are 10 things that we recommend:

1. Ask for referrals:

Your realtor is your best ally in this. Selling a home can be tough and stressful. There are a lot to navigate and the process can be confusing. Your agent will often have a list of reliable vendors in their back pocket in times like this. If they don't, they have colleagues that have great referrals. In the real estate industry, reputation is really important.

Moreover, even though the technology has advanced, it is still a people to people business. Real estate is an incredibly fickle business with very high turnovers. To be evergreen in this business, we have to be good at what we do and reliable.

Also, the home stager your realtor uses may offer better services and pricing than if you calling a home stager directly. 

Have you had any friends who had sold their homes and used a stager? They may also have great referrals. If you've never hired a stager before, it may be a good idea for you to chat with your friends who have, to get a better sense of what to expect.

2. Talk to multiple stagers

Not all stagers are created equal. Not only every stager brings a different aesthetics to the job, there are also a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds in the home staging industry. Many home stagers get into the business after an already successful career or coming back to work after growing a family. To be honest, there are no set standards on pricing or business practice. There are training schools out there, but the education is mostly focusing on business skills and generally can be taken online or a 2- 3-day workshops. 

Additionally, everyone does business differently. We encourage potential clients to speak with other stagers so they can hire the best fit for their listing.

3. Ask for qualifications & portfolio

Don't mistake qualifications with the letters behind the stager's name on his/her business card. When I was working as a Realtor, although I have passed my exams, taken my GRI and e-PRO courses, it didn't mean anything until I was out on the field.

What I mean by qualifications is how much work has this person done in the staging industry? Ask to see resume, portfolio, past before & after pictures (make sure they are done by him/her, not some stock photos from some website. Usually a good way is "Oh, tell me about the story behind this picture!"), or certifications and continue educations if this is important to you.

We have been in the business for a long time now and we have had unethical new stagers copying photos or marketing copy off our website, even a former assistant had cropped off our watermarks and put the photos on her website as part of her portfolio. While it is difficult to tell if someone's portfolio is truly their work, but there are questions you can ask to decipher how credible this stager is. 

4. Ask for their professional policies, agreement, etc.

If you are a bank teller, what do you do if a customer comes to you wanting to deposit someone else's check into his/hers account? There are certain procedures to follow, correct Similarly with running a small business, which is what most of the stagers' businesses are. You want to do business with someone who has strong sense of ethics and professional policies because these reflect on his /hers professionalism, as well as how serious they will take your project. 

When your potential stager comes over for a consultation (many do charge a fee for coming out and many don't), observe what he or she does and his/hers working style. Is he/she listening to your needs? Respectful? Easy to work with? Knowledgeable? Asking you thoughtful questions about your listing?

Additionally, when someone has been doing business for awhile, they have established certain system or guidelines for their business.  

5. Do searches on the internet on the stager or his/hers firm.

This is the NEW age of real estate. As a consumer, you now have more power than ever with all the information at your finger tips. A web presence is VERY important in our line of business, since we don't have physical store fronts. A website allows the consumers to get to know us before we even set off into the door. 

In a 2005 National Association of Realtors study, 79% of buyers now shop on internet first, and that number is rapidly growing. The number now is well above 90%. If your stager has a great website, that's great news for you too. That means the stager understands the importance of online marketing. If the stager writes a blog, that is a bonus, read a few entries to get a feel of how this person works and how credible this person is.

Through your online search, you may also find clues if they were questionable. Nowadays, with websites like LinkedIn and Yelp, bad behaviors are difficult to hide.

5. Pricing is not everything.

When you are shopping for a stager, it is very tempting to hire the cheapest one, or hire the most expensive one because they seem the most credible. It's true, you do get what you pay for. But the most important factor in hiring should be the stager's portfolio.

What you really need to consider is: Staging needs to fit your demographic. Look at the stager's portfolio, is the styling going to be age appropriate for your demographic? Appropriate for your price range? These are factors to consider.

Price does not mean anything really. A good stager WILL work with your budget. (But be reasonable, you can't really have champagne taste on beer budget.) There are a few different ways stagers determine how much they charge. Some, like me, does it based on how much time, prep, labor and materials I need for the job. Some based on a percentage of the listing price. Some does it per square footage.

So use your best judgment and look at their portfolio.

6. Don't take it personally. If you do, you won't survive the open house.

Stagers may make recommendations that offend you because you feel that your taste in home decorating has been totally dismissed. BUT, staging is about appealing your home to a broad range of buyers. You may love blood red walls in your dining room, but it can be a tough sell. Also, think about it, more than 90% of home buyers start their searches for homes online. Some of your personal decor choice, like blood red walls, do not photograph well.

Usually when a buyer enters a home that has such strong personality, they are distracted. And you don't want them to be distracted. You want them to look at your space and remember your listing even after they have seen other comparable homes on the market.

Have more questions about hiring a home stager? Comment below and we will answer them!


This post is an update of an older post in 2006

Just Staged: Rivera Street Inner Parkside San Francisco Home

We just staged this property couple days ago and it's now on the market! This was a great example of a home getting some TLC and what fresh paint can add to a home that may appeared to the buyers as in need of a lot of updates. 

Here is an example of the Master Bedroom before we staged it:

before home staging by staged4more

before home staging by staged4more

And here is the after:

Master Bedroom after home staging by staged4more

Master Bedroom after home staging by staged4more

Project scope: Vacant Home Staging

Detached Inner Parkside home conveniently located close to Taraval Street shops & restaurants, West Portal Village, Hoover Middle School, West Portal Elementary, Lincoln High School, MUNI lines, and buses. Top floor offers 3 bedrooms & full bath with the large master bedroom that opens to the front balcony with views. Street level features spacious living room with fireplace, formal dining room, half bath, and kitchen in the back opening to the backyard. Beautifully landscaped front yard with maple trees and a very good-size backyard with large deck and a huge matured pine tree - perfect for building a tree house! One car garage plus storage. Newly refinished hardwood floors & new interior paint. This is a very unique home for the area!

Price $795,000

Beds 3

Baths 1.5 

1,600 Sq. Ft.

$497 / Sq. Ft.

Built: 1936 

Lot Size: 2,382 Sq. Ft.

Property Type Single-Family Home

Community Inner Parkside


Information courtesy of Redfin.com

If you’d like more information about our vacant home staging, San Francisco home staging, Sunset Home Staging, Richmond home staging, investor home staging or model home staging services, please contact us at 650-383-SOLD (7653) or email us at hello@staged4more.com to request an in-home estimate.

Moving with Pets

It’s easy to overlook things when moving into a new home. Sometimes it’s a small, fairly unimportant thing like hanging a painting that tackily clashes with the room color; other instances you forget something much bigger, such as helping your pets adjust to a new house. Moving is an equally tiresome and, in cases, traumatic experience for animals and humans alike. Household pets thrive on stable familiarity, and once that is uprooted, they can become confused and anxious. Here are a few ways to help your furry friends adjust to this sudden change.

Moving Out

Skittish dogs and cats aren’t big fans of change or new, strange environments and people. It’s best to keep them in a familiar, secluded room that you plan to pack up last. When packing things into the moving truck, try to keep your pets in a familiar room with the door closed, or at a friend’s—especially if you’re using a moving or junk-removal company. This will stop them from getting scared and trying to bolt away at the earliest chance. 

If your new home is more than a few hours away, familiarizing your pets with their cages or crates is important. Cats are especially notorious for disliking car rides, and if left out of their cages might try to slip out an open window or crawl into a confined area, like under the brakes. The trouble is most pets are not used to being confined to cages, and might dislike that experience just as much as the car ride itself. But by gradually letting your pet get used to recognizing their cage as a comforting place, the process will be less of a headache for both of you. 

The ASPCA recommends placing your pet’s food inside an open crate, and eventually having them eat their meals in the crate with the door shut. After they’re used to that, carrying your pets around the house or taking a short drive with them in the crate will help adjust them to the sensation of being confined while the world moves around them. Lastly, by associating playtime and treats after being stuck in the crate, your pets will develop that experience to be a positive association.  

As a reminder, make sure not to leave your pets unattended during the car ride, and ensure they have access to plenty of clean water. 

Moving In

One of the biggest mistakes when adjusting a cat or dog to their new home is letting them explore it all at once, which can cause sensory overload. Instead, place all their familiar objects (toys, bedding, and water and food bowls) in one room, and then place them inside it while you’re there. Spend an hour in the room with your pet so that they can explore only that room with your comforting presence. After that, let them explore the entire house, one section at a time, and if they get overwhelmed they’ll head back to the familiar area you just established with them. 

If you plan on letting your pets go outside, in a confined yard or otherwise, make sure you’re out there with them at first. Avoid letting cats go outside for the first week to two weeks, so they’re intimately familiar with their new surroundings. Make sure any dogs you let outside are in a spacious, but confined yard. 

Finally, if you’ve moved to a different town, make sure to find a new veterinarian for your pet, and make sure you know of any nearby animal hospitals.

Today's guest post is written by Jason Clinton. 

How Smells Can Help Sell a Home Faster

If you are selling your home, then you will inevitably have people coming to your house during viewings to decide what they think of the property. It is important that your home looks neat and tidy and is attractive in every way to any potential buyers. This includes the smell.

Research conducted by Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University, found that some of the more common scents estate agents may turn to when prepping a home can actually put home buyers off.

Many people would assume that scents such as fresh bread or incense would be attractive to home buyers, but actually these complex smells can be a real distraction to people viewing properties, as they end up subconsciously paying attention to the scents instead of the property itself.

There are also certain smells that work well if congruent with the home, for example if you are selling a beach house, then the smell of the sea would work very well, but it wouldn't fit in a town house. If you live in the countryside, the smell of hay bales would be a lovely addition, but for a city centre flat this would seem out of place.

Hunters Wetherby suggest 3 main things to remember when creating the perfect scent for your home:

Make it Simple

The study from Spangenberg found that simple smells sell.

A simple smell means that your brain is not likely to be overwhelmed and will therefore still be able to focus on the property that is being viewed. A home buyer should be focussing solely on whether they like the house they are looking round, not what the smell in the house is.

Whichever scent you use, make sure you limit it – less is more in this case.

Make Sure it's Pleasant

These is nothing worse than being hit by an unpleasant smell, if you have ever walked through the perfume aisle of a department store, you will know that a strong and intense smell will instantly make you cringe and want to walk in the opposite direction.

Scents should be pleasant but faint, so they don't take over your brain, but give a positive association to the house. If a scent is nice but not overpowering, the brain doesn't need to go into overdrive trying to pinpoint exactly what it is.

Make it Consistent

Once you have decided on the scent you want to represent your house with, you need to keep it consistent. Evaluate your home surroundings, the time of the year and the buyers you are looking to attract, then keep to the same scent in every room.

The scent needs to fit with the house and it's surrounding areas, while also complimenting the time of year (e.g. Don't use cinnamon in summer or fresh flowers in winter) and match the potential buyer – you don't want a feminine scent covering the property if you are trying to sell it to a group of guys.

The affects of aromas have always helped to subconsciously dictate the mind, so making sure you property smells right is really important.  Don't get sucked into the “baked cookie” theory of real estate scents, it may just put potential buyers off. If you don't know where to begin, try heading down the lemon and pine routes, these are always satisfying without becoming too overwhelming.


This is a guest post written by Cormac Reynolds