Here’s How to Become a Home Stager, According to an Expert

published Jun 24, 2022
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When it comes time to sell a home, some owners don’t always know the best way to get their home sale-ready. On the flip side, many potential buyers struggle to picture themselves in a home that bears the mark of its current owners — think cat collectibles and puppy-destroyed rooms. That’s where home stagers come in.

While a common misconception about home staging is that it’s simply moving things around the house to make it look nicer, Cindy Lin, founder of Staged4more School of Home Staging, says, “A well-staged home appeals to the targeted buyers’ aspirational lifestyle through strategic placement of furnishing, lifestyle accessories, and art. A home stager pulls all this together through research, design, and project management to tell and sell the story of home visually.”

Home stagers can work with a wide range of clients and in various specialties, using their decorating and organizational skills to help clients sell homes faster and for more money.

The home staging industry relies on courses, certification, and training programs to educate new home stagers and provide continuing education for experienced home stagers. After gaining the training you need, you can strike out on your own and start a home staging business, or you can join a home staging company. Here’s how to become a home stager.

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Complete a certification program.

The real estate staging industry does not have an official governing body, meaning that there aren’t certain requirements that you have to meet or licenses to obtain to become a home stager. Lin says home stagers “can be self-taught and start home staging businesses without any education, but they usually start with a staging training course to get an overview of the home staging business and skills required and then learn on the job.” 

Home staging is more than just tossing throw pillows on the bed. Lin shares that home staging “requires strategic placement of furnishing, lifestyle accessories, and art to create an aspirational lifestyle that potential buyers want to buy into. This requires understanding of design and composition theories, demographic research, current home and real estate trends, and project management skills to manage all the moving pieces of staging installations.”

When you make the decision to become a home stager, finding a certification program will help prepare you to start your own business or join a home staging company. 

Home staging does have its own trade association, the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), which was formed in 2007 by a group of real estate stagers who wanted to create an accredited certification program to standardize the training that’s available and offer resources to home stagers.

There are also a wide range of price tags for certification courses. A beginner course can cost less than $200 while some of the more in-depth courses can run into the thousands, so you’ll likely find one that fits your budget as well as your goals. But beware of courses boasting how easy it is to become a home stager. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme and requires time to gain the experience you need to be successful.

Choose a niche.

Home staging encompasses a range of different properties and styles, and choosing one to focus on will allow you to become an expert in a specific area and create a more targeted marketing plan. For instance, you could work with single-family homes, beach homes, luxury properties, or condos. You can also focus on who you want to work with, including homeowners, real estate agents, or developers.

Create a business plan and market your services.

Creating a business plan is no small feat. Lin points out that while “staging may look fun and glamorous on TV, it’s still a real business to run, with a lot of moving pieces.”

You’ll need to research the requirements for starting a home staging business and create a plan to market your services. To get started, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I need to form an LLC or other type of company?
  • What licenses, if any, are required by the federal, state, and local governments?
  • Who will do my taxes? And what records do I need to keep? 
  • Who will I serve? What is my niche?
  • How can I best showcase my work and reach potential clients?
  • What are my rates?

Lin says her favorite part of home staging is “getting to marry the creative and the business side of things, and I’m able to make an impact in my staging clients’ lives. Knowing that the successful sales have contributed to them starting a new chapter of their lives with more equity and peace in hand, that’s an amazing thing to do!”