The real estate industry has been a rollercoaster over the last few years. Interest rates, home prices, and the balance of supply and demand have fluctuated drastically in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of all this unprecedented change is a clear need for home stagers who can help prepare available homes for sale. If you are considering starting a home staging business, now might be the right time. Read on to learn more about the basics of launching a home staging business, finding clients, and managing your home staging inventory.
What is home staging and what does it involve?
Simply put, home staging is preparing a home to hit the real estate market. This could include rearranging home decor, switching out lighting fixtures, adding or removing furniture, and much more. The overall goal of staging a home is to help buyers visualize themselves in a house, and potentially sell it quicker. This is incredibly important in today’s market, where some buyers are bidding on homes without even seeing them in person.
Most people in the home staging industry enter with experience, or at least interest, in interior design—but there’s more to staging a home than just having good taste. Staging homes professionally and launching your own business involves a lot of work and upfront costs, including obtaining furniture and other home decor items, building a clientele, marketing yourself, securing storage space, and tracking inventory.
How to start a home staging business
1. Research your local real estate market and identify customers
Before starting your home staging business, do lots of research on the current local real estate market. This will help you understand the potential customer pool and real estate trends in your area. You’ll need to identify your target market. Are you focusing on investment properties? Home flippers? Apartment building owners? Office spaces? Determining your specific market will then determine what furniture and decor to get, along with creating your pricing structure. Not to mention, analyzing your local market can help you focus on what specific design trends are popular in your area and will help you determine what specific design and furnishings to purchase.
2. Create a pricing structure
The upfront research should arm you with enough data to take a first stab at your pricing structure. The goal for creating a pricing structure is to create a formula that allows you to quickly come up with quotes from inquiries. To start, determine how much you’ve already invested into your business. This includes everything from your business license to the actual furnishings and equipment you’ve purchased. From there, determine the pricing based on how much time each job will take and any potential difficulties you foresee. Don’t forget to create a client contract when creating your pricing structure, as well.
3. Obtain furniture and home decor
One of the most important steps in starting your home staging business is obtaining furniture. Most home stagers don’t stock one type of furniture—it’s a mix of new and used. New furniture is certainly more expensive, which may be a hindrance at the outset of launching your business. You can always buy from budget retailers (think Ikea and Target) since it’s only staging furniture, but mixing in a few nicer pieces can really help sell the look, particularly if you are targeting affluent buyers. You should also invest in used furniture and decor pieces—thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, and vintage sellers on Etsy are all great places to start building your used furniture inventory. You may also want to research furniture rentals in your area, which may be more expensive upfront but could save you storage costs in the long run.
4. Find and attract the right customers with marketing
To bring in new customers, you should have a mix of inbound and outbound tactics. Start with creating a beautiful, SEO-optimized website that features rich information and photos of your work (feel free to stage your own space or a friend’s space if you don’t yet have customer examples). Your contact form should be clear and easy to find—your website should encourage your customers to take action and get a custom quote.
In time, you can include case studies, including data about home value (pre-staging) and selling price (post-staging), and even how quickly the home was sold. It’s a good idea to include your portfolio with homes that you have staged before, along with customer testimonials. These last two elements could be your selling point to the customer.
You should use social media to attract customers and build awareness for your business. Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are good places to start for home stagers. You’ll also want to ensure you have claimed your Yelp listing and Google business listing (and hopefully generate some great reviews). Houzz is also a great resource for sellers and agents looking for home stagers, so make sure you have a strong presence there as well.
Having exquisite branding across your website, social profiles, and print marketing materials will help your potential customers feel confident in your taste as a home stager.
5. Get out there
With a business like home staging, there’s still an in-person component that can’t be ignored—even with the best digital strategy. Having good relationships with brokers and agents is essential to getting their referrals (in some cases, they may even hire you themselves), so find ways to network in your area. That could mean going to networking events and conferences or even just reaching out on LinkedIn to see if you can buy them a cup of coffee. You can also attend open houses (of unstaged homes) and establish a relationship with agents that way, but don’t try to push your services too directly. Letting them know that home staging can help them sell the home more quickly and that they can keep you top of mind for their next property is a good place to start.
6. Find the right storage solution
Given how much furniture and decor it requires to run a home staging business, you’ll need to invest in a storage solution for your inventory and equipment. The type of storage solution is entirely up to you. Storage units are a good option for beginning home stagers, as they are flexible and readily available.
Another option is to build a small storage unit on your property. This is a good option if you already have a flourishing home staging business; it’s an upfront investment but will ultimately save you time and money in the long run. It can also be helpful for rush jobs, as your equipment and materials will be on site with you, so you can easily load up your vehicle or trailer before heading out the door. A home equity line of credit can actually help finance these types of expenses.
7. Find a flexible, all-in-one inventory management software
With a home staging business, your inventory will be constantly changing hands and locations. That furniture might be there for a few days, weeks, or even months, and it quickly becomes unwieldy to track by hand or even on an Excel spreadsheet. Having an inventory management system like Sortly can help you track and manage your home staging inventory, all right from your smartphone. This is critical to not only tracking where your staging furniture and decor are but also can help you visualize your stored items without going to a physical location.
Sortly also allows you to track key details like condition, appearance, cost, quantity, warranty dates, and any other detail that matters to you. You can even organize your inventory based on current jobs and future projects. A flexible inventory management system can save you time, money, and hassle on a daily basis—so you can focus on building your business.
Sortly is top-rated inventory management software that can help new home stagers stay organized and efficient. Perfect for businesses that store inventory across multiple locations, Sortly’s powerful features will help you stay on top of all your stuff, even as it moves back and forth between job sites and storage facilities.
It is a fully visual inventory system that allows you to upload photos right from your phone, share photo-rich reports with real estate agents, and track the condition and value of your furniture inventory–all while streamlining your everyday inventory management operations.
Ready to see how Sortly can help your home staging business? Try Sortly completely free for two weeks.