Home Staging Course Unit 1
Intro to Home Staging
When I wrote my first home staging training course material back in 2005, staging was a lot less mainstream than it is now.
Since this home staging course is written for anyone to be able to get a complete staging education, you may find that some of the information presented seems like common knowledge to you if you are already familiar with the concepts.
If you fall into that category, then congratulations, you have a head start! I know you will still find some useful nuggets of info.
If you’re totally new to home staging, don’t worry, by the end of the course you’ll be more knowledgeable than many working in the field.
Staging homes is easy once you understand the thought process.
I plan on teaching you to understand it, so that you never make the kind of obvious mistakes that you sometimes see in homes that are professionally staged.
I’ll mention more of those mistakes as we get further in.
There may be some debate about whether or not a single individual invented home staging.
My belief is that home staging is a natural process to go through when getting ready to sell, so it seems hard to believe it was invented by one person.
It’s a lot like washing and cleaning up your car so you can get a good price when you sell it, or putting on a nice suit when you’re going to a job interview.
It just makes sense.
Home staging has become the norm in residential real estate.
HGTV and print media have educated the public fairly well at this point, which has made it much easier to convince sellers that they should stage.
And who doesn’t want to get the highest possible price for their home?
It’s important to keep in mind that there is no one way to be a home stager.
When you’re faced with staging a vacant home, that’s a pretty straightforward situation where you will come in with furniture and décor and work your magic.
However, a lot of homes will be occupied, so that’s where we will focus much of our attention in this course.
Don’t worry if you don’t have everything figured out before you start. A lot of the fun of staging is that you get to use your creativity and create solutions on the fly.
Let’s move on to a quick overview of the reasons why we stage.
Why Stage Homes?
As I mentioned in the previous section, we stage homes so that we can attract buyers and get the highest price.
It does take some effort to properly stage a home and some sellers may be resistant to the idea. They might think it won’t make that much of a difference so it isn’t worth the trouble.
Lucky for us, staging is a lot easier to sell than it was a decade ago, since more of the public has become hip to the idea.
Some buyers can visualize a home’s potential and see through any existing distractions like screaming paint colors, strange décor, clutter, pet odors, 1970s linoleum, etc.
But the majority of buyers simply can’t, and a bad first impression can be very hard to overcome.
These days, you might not even get buyers to come view the home unless the online photos look appealing.
That’s why staging is more important than ever.
Once we have potential buyers looking at the home, we need to make sure the home looks as desirable as possible.
We can’t hide the flaws, but we can downplay them. We can accentuate the home’s best features.
We can engage buyers with a compelling picture of what life would be like in this particular home.
Home staging that’s done properly helps give buyers that emotional response that tells them, “This is the one!”
Home Staging Helps Sell Homes in Any Market
Homes should be staged no matter what kind of market you’re experiencing.
Sometimes a market can be so hot that sellers may come to the conclusion that staging isn’t necessary since everything is getting multiple offers and selling for asking price or higher.
Still, why not stage? Your sale price could be $15,000 over asking instead of $3,000 over.
Here’s a quick note about my neighborhood here in Portland — not long ago, a house up the street sold for more than $50,000 over asking.
I believe smart home staging played a major role, as the house conveyed the highly sought after “urban farmhouse” vibe to a T.
Right now, the market here (and in many other areas) is transitioning from a multiple-offers-over-asking climate and heading toward longer listing times and even price reductions.
It’s been years since I’ve seen price reductions around here. And it’s been a change that started taking hold pretty quickly.
As a rule, staged homes will sell faster and higher in any type of market, so it can help make homes less susceptible to weakening conditions.
The point is, no matter what the market is doing, you should always stage!
Go to a home search site and enter your own zip code. Take a look at what’s on the market and start looking at average-priced homes.
It could be $300,000 where you are or it could be $90,000 so just pick a price range that represents nice-looking starter homes.
Look at individual homes in detail. Check out the photos and just start making mental notes about what works and doesn’t work. Notice what jumps out at you and what you might do differently. Spend 20 to 30 minutes and try to look at five or more houses.
Depersonalizing a home is an important step to take because it allows buyers to see themselves in the home.
When you depersonalize, you turn the home into a blank slate where buyers can imagine spending their lives.
Family photos, mementos, and other highly personal items can be a distraction and actually block a buyer’s mind from engaging with the home the way you want them to.
It’s easier to form a connection with a house and start thinking of it as a home when we have properly depersonalized it.
Think of it as a way to create universal appeal.
We’ll get further into how to depersonalize later in our home staging course, but the main items we’ll remove include photos, highly taste-specific artwork, religious items, and mementos.
This is going to seem like a random exercise but trust me, it will help hone your staging instincts for working with occupied homes. Walk around your home and try to view it with fresh eyes.
Start at the entryway and tour the home as if you were a buyer. See where your eyes rest as you view the home — objects on the coffee table, pictures on the wall, furniture placement, décor, and everyday life stuff like mail or books that may be in view.
Think about each item and whether it’s something that should stay or go if you’re staging.
I know we haven’t discussed the specific staging steps yet, but I want you to just go with your gut feeling.
Just think about the psychology of staging. This is just to practice starting to look at a home as a home stager.
It’s kind of challenging to do this with your own home. Try to spend at least 15 minutes.
Home Staging Course Unit 1 Assignments
1. Choose three homes in your market and do an in-depth assessment of each one. You can use online photos or you can attend an open house.
2. Create a list of pros and cons for each home. For each home, make a list of five personal items that should have been removed so that buyers could more easily see themselves in the home. If the home has been staged, make some notes about what the stager did well, and if you see room for improvement please include these details. For each home, choose one feature that sets it apart from the others in a positive way. Also choose one issue that makes it slightly less desirable than the others