Classes for Home Staging

May 23, 2009

Recently, here in Phoenix there have been ads for home staging classes. I think there are online and then you get some certificate. The fees are $997 plus taxes. Supposedly, they have employers help train you and perhaps give you a full or part time job upon graduation. Would any of you hire a professional stager? Don't you think you can learn most of this stuff from watching HGTV like the new shows The Stagers or Design to Sell, Get it Sold, The unsellables, etc.?

Comments (35)

  • Jamie

    I have hired a stager twice and would like to do it again.
    The first one did a beautiful job on shelves and mantle in my living room. I have a lot of stuff but don't have a clue about dislays. They make me nervous and all I can think about is clearing it all away. But if somebody else does it, I can appreciate the look of my stuff, each individual piece of which I really like, put together in different ways. I paid hourly, and the rate, while I can't remember what it was, was not low at all. I would do this even for a home I'm staying in.

    As for staging the big pieces, I would only do that if I were moving, because for staying I need the armoires where they are, whether they look perfect or not.

    I wouldn't count on the employers, but let me share how I found my stagers. I got the first one's name from a realtor. The second one was working in a consignment store and I saw that should could put people's random consigned items together very, very well, time after time. I figured I couldn't lose.

  • Jamie

    P.S. I didn't ask if they had a certificate. The recommendation of the realtor who I knew had an eye, in the first case, and the many, many chances I had had to observe the stylings of the stager, in the second case, were more reassuring to me than a certificate. These ladies were not incorporated or even doing staging full time. They were just out there and capable. I love finding a talented person who's willing to share that talent in small doses; these two were not about taking you to the Merchandise Mart.

    P.P.S Even if I took the classes I don't think I'd be able to do this alone. For me, it is a process that requires tons and tons of trial and error that wears me out. With a collaborator I can get to the finish line in one piece.

  • les917

    I am not sure about the quality of any certain classes, etc. However, I think about it this way. If you ever see people posting pix of rooms that clearly could benefit from some 'staging' or re-arranging to get the most from the space, and yet they have not done it, there is the answer to the question. Those people have access (and many may watch) the home shows, staging shows, etc. and still are not able to see their own space clearly. Perhaps it is easier to see how someone else's space could be changed, than it is to see our own spaces.

    I have seen the one company advertised on The Stagers show, and checked out the site. There is also a school or two in this area, and they charge WAY more than $1K for the classes, which last 5 days, about 8 hours a day I think.

    That to me would be a dream job!

  • palimpsest

    I would try to get a look at their curriculum and see if it is worth taking and spending the money. It really may be something that if you already have a good eye, you could just start doing on your own.

    Some of these courses are several days, honestly, I am not sure what they can teach in such a short period of time. A lot of it may be intuitive to someone who is design savvy.

  • ctlane

    Les, I don't think you need to take the class. You already have a great eye for arranging furniture etc. I would pay you to help me any day. I think it is harder to do your own because you see the same things everyday, whereas you can see someone elses(sp?) things as a whole and usually spot the problems easier.

  • randita

    I had a realtor with a good eye for staging walk through my house with me and she said the most important things to consider were to create a flow from room to room through choice of wall color, trim color and flooring and to limit furnishings so that rooms look inviting and spacious. She kept saying, "you don't need much."

  • terezosa / terriks

    I did take a "staging" class for Realtors a couple of years ago. All I learned in the 2 days was that the company giving the class was making a boatload of money! Sure, there are staging "principles", but you have a great eye already, and could probably learn everything you need to know from a book. There is a difference between staging and decorating, as decorating is very personal, and with staging you are trying to de-personalize and appeal to the broadest possible range of buyers. I work in a RE office, and don't know of any agents in my office that routinely hire or recommend stagers. I think that it would be a tough way to earn a living - at least in my small city. Larger metropolitan areas may have a greater demand.

  • palimpsest

    Do you have any friends that are realtors?

    Try an experiment. Take pictures of your rooms as you live in them. Then, stage them as you think you would to depersonalize them, and take pictures. Examine them yourself with an unbiased eye and then have a realtor look at them.

    Unfortunately, I think the TV realtorspeak overstates the need for the homogenization of every home for resale. While some houses *clearly need to have things removed, I don't think personal items are all that distracting. We look at a *lot of real estate, and granted as a designer I may look at things differently than some people, but there were Very few houses where the contents were so distracting I didnt look at the house closely.

  • graywings123

    The home staging training company that advertises on HGTV, Haverhill, has a lot of unhappy former students who have posted on the internet about their training experience. Apparently Haverhill promises you a job when you graduate, but these former students claim it is just about impossible to graduate.

  • threedgrad

    graywings, that Haverhill is the company that has been advertising here in Phoenix. I kind of had a feeling it was a scam. Thanks.

  • Lucille

    Staging sounds like an interesting concept. Can anyone recommend a book?

  • Lucille

    Thank you, I'm getting the book, it has a lot of good reviews, it sounds like a worthwhile read even though I'm not selling my home.

  • oceanna

    That to me would be a dream job!

    Les, go for it! Of all the people here, I think you would be a natural to step right into that job.

    Call some real estate folks or go see them and tell them you want referrals. Give them your business card. Tell them you'll charge less right now because you're just getting started and want to build up a reputation.

    Then keep a photo album (portfolio) of your accomplishments. Once you get a few homes in your portfolio I know you'll be able to charge the going rate or better, because you have a terrific eye!

    If you have a regular job, tell them you'll work in the evenings only. When you're doing well with it -- and I'm sure you will -- then you can quit your day job.

    You will need a truck. You will need your garage packed full of furniture, tablecloths, and accessories you can haul around to different jobs (and take home after the job). You will need a hand with loading and unloading sometimes, no doubt. At least, that's how the stager I met does it.

    Another idea would be to contact someone who is doing it and ask if you can help them when they need help. You could get your feet wet and learn that way without investing your own money in the beginning.

  • oceanna

    I think, to answer your questions, some people can learn by watching TV. Some people can learn by going to classes. And some people can't learn it; they just have no flair for it no matter what, or it doesn't interest them. I think you have a good flair for decorating. Are you considering going into this as a business for yourself?

  • threedgrad

    Oceanna, I would like to get a job at an architecture firm, a design firm of some sort, or an interior decorating place. But it's hard to get in these places at this time plus a lot of people are holding on to their money and not hiring professionals or not building homes. Phoenix area has over 50,000 available homes for sale, a lot in foreclosure too. Californians bought up a lot of houses to "flip" them and tried to double the price of the house. It worked for a short while until people started walking away from these mortgages. I will order this book so I can see what advice the authors give. I love designing and decorating and art and architecture, of course since that is what I have studied. Let's see where God leads me.


  • roobear

    If your going to take classes I think you would get more out of art and design courses. Learn the basics of color and design, in particular I would study things like color and design psychology as well as a few business/marketing classes - this would give you a much better edge over the average person who takes those home staging trade classes that I think would be pretty cookie cutter.

    For me personally, I looked into the home staging classes and it was nothing compared to even part of the education and background I got from my 4 year degree at an art and design school. I really think even taking a few classes in art and design at a local community college would be money better spent.

    A big part of staging is more psychological advertising than anything else. Your looking to create spaces that will make potential buyers have good psychological reactions (usually on a subconscious level) and form an emotional attachment to the house through color and design placement of objects in a room, showing off a home in the best light possible.

    If you plan to look into helping a home stager to learn and get on the job training make sure your up front about it- many may feel like you could take their clients away if you plan to later go into business for yourself-

    A good place to talk to stagers in the biz and ask your questions/learn is the active rain home staging groups/forums like "stage it forward" or "Staging in the nude" (which is a forum for working stagers that don't attend those trade classes and have no accreditation's.)

    And remember the accreditation's from these trade classes don't technically mean anything right now in the world of staging.

    Here is a link that might be useful: One of active rains home staging forums

  • threedgrad

    If I take any classes iit would be painting classes. I have had a lot of art and design classes since my degree is in architecture and I went all through graduate school in architecture as well. But brushing up on my art skills would be nice. Maybe I will do that once I actually get a new job.

  • loribee

    I thought it may be Haverhill based on the price...
    I had clicked on their link before...
    I honestly find the whole staging process FASCINATING.
    (Remember though, how they always point out on HGTV or Sell this House, staging is not intended for you to live this way, it's only for when you are trying to sell your home. would be a natural!)

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do & plse let us know. :)

  • Jamie

    If you want to work in the business, don't forget that your service can extend beyond home sellers. Personally, I find it easy to clear out a room and make it look large and impersonal. Staying put and warming up a space is harder for me.

    A stager can help with tablescapes, mantle and bookshelf arrangements, and wallscapes using the owner's own collected items. The effect of such help on me is better than 6 months in the counseling chair. She can also be a tremendous resource for helping people get things reupholstered, framed, installed.

    The last arranger who helped me moved a picture to another room, where it made both room and picture look much better. Seeing the old toy chest with her eyes helped flip a switch in me. I actually felt better about about life after I moved it. What's not to pay a lot for?

    It works both ways of course. She also loved my bedroom, which is gorgeous EIIDSSM, but she used a word - tropical - that made me appreciate her a little less. (The room has ancient birdseye hand carved faux bamboo furniture) But she had basic talents that I don't have, as do you, and I'm sure she liked the money. Who wouldn't?

  • IdaClaire

    I'm torn between completely understanding and relating to the concept of staging, while at the same time finding it utterly ridiculous. Staging a home with the "right" furnishings and creating the "right" vignettes apparently helps sell houses in some instances, but ... the buyers of these homes aren't purchasing the stuff -- just the house. In a sense, it seems more than slightly futile to me. Then again, it does seem to get the job done as far as the selling goes (sometimes!).

    Is it just me? Does anyone else have a love/hate thing going on when it comes to the concept of staging?

    I also wonder how staging has held up in the current economic climate. With more people being unable to unload homes, are they paying for staging? There's a gorgeous home right around the corner from me, staged to perfection. It's been on the market for a number of months now ... and that's simply because homes aren't moving.

    (Sorry to derail your thread a bit, Eileen!)

  • threedgrad

    Auntjen, I agree with you completely. I think the HGTV shows are unrealistic. Like staging is the key to an instant sale. A house in good repair at the right price is the key to sell a house, IMO. For me, I would rather look at an empty house so I can measure the rooms and not look at other people's stuff, staged or not. I know how big my stuff is. If a stager came in here, they would take at least 1/2 of my furniture out and most of my art work. I was just wondering about how legit this school Haverhill is. It seems to be sort of a scam. I doubt they can guarantee each graduate a job. Because even if people are struggling to sell the house, they may not want to pay a stager. And then what if the house still does not sell? The person would feel ripped off.

  • palimpsest

    On HGTV they have to keep the show going don't they? So their concept of "staging" starts to get more and more like renovation. (A "$2000 budget" ---with $10,000 of free labor)

    A&E (?) used to have a staging show with Tanya Memme and a guy that looked like Stretch Armstrong.

    He would do things like this "Ok this bedroom looks so small that people don't think a queensize bed fits in here" and then get a cardboard box for a queensize mattress or an airmattress and make it up like a bed.

    Much more realistic, but how much of that can you watch?
    Staging really should involve getting rid of clutter so people are not distracted by it. Or if the house is so Personally decorated that you can't see past it, toning it down. Staging is *not putting in new kitchen cabinets or renovating.

    Like I said, I look at a LOT of real estate and there *Have been a few times that I did not see the house, because of its contents. However I bought a house where I dragged a pair of dirty underwear around on my foot while I looked at the upstairs. Staged it was not.

  • terezosa / terriks

    I doubt they can guarantee each graduate a job.

    I agree. I believe that most stagers operate as independent contractors, just as real estate agents do. I don't think that there are many actual full-time staging "jobs".

    I do think that staging can be a factor (after price, location and condition) in selling a home. When a home is staged properly the staging should enhance the features of the home and not be distracting. Good staging will create a positive feeling. Most people will spend more time in a well staged home than an empty home, and the longer a buyer is in a home the better chance that it will sell.

  • threedgrad

    I just watched the Stagers show. They had two apts to stage in 5 days. They were under a lot of pressure and had to return furniture to warehouse because it was too big. You have to have a team to do this because who is going to haul all this furniture in and out of the house? And hang shelves or chandeliers?
    That show with Tanya is Sell This House and that show is the most realistic. But he paints the rooms also.

  • palimpsest

    Thanks, yes, Sell this House. Most people, I think could paint or hang some shelves or things. I am pretty handy, but hanging cabinets or a new front door, or some of the things they do on the other shows are a bit much for a lot of people to handle.

  • loribee

    I love Sell this the reruns every Saturday AM.
    Embarrassed to admit that I DID use Roger's box trick for a mattress while selling our old house!
    We had already moved and our realtor said it was easier to sell a furnished home....
    he said most people don't have imagination when viewing a blank slate.

  • graywings123

    I doubt they can guarantee each graduate a job.

    But they do. From their website: Our employer assisted job training program guarantees you full or part-time employment as a Professional Home Stager . . .

    And this apparently is what some former students are complaining about. They claim that the school makes it extremely difficult to complete the course to qualify for the guaranteed employment. If you do a google search of haverhill staging +ripoff, you find stories like this:

    Here is a link that might be useful: There is a stager born every minute

  • patricianat

    AuntJen, I totally agree with you. Besides, most of the staging they do is quite tacky aside from the repairs, which any 3rd grader would know are necessary and any realtor worth his/her salt will advise confused sellers of the repairs that need to be made on evaluating the property.

  • threedgrad

    graywings, well that article answers all my questions - the guy is a crook through and through

  • gsciencechick

    There is a house down the street that has been for sale for at least 6 months. Nice size, corner lot, garage, nice landscaping. When I looked at the online pics, it was like OMG, no wonder. This house REALLY needs some staging badly as there are many outdated things that could be updated easily and inexpensively for staging. It is also probably a bit overpriced, which is the other part of the story.

    There was an article in our local city magazine that people are spending the money for stagers and staging because they want to sell the house.

    I don't think you need a class. Like several of you said, either you have an eye for this type of stuff or you don't. If you want to get started, get in contact with several realtors, get some business cards, and start up a website with a portfolio once you start building it.

  • trisha57_ny

    Please save your money. Either you have that EYE or you don't. I don't think you can learn this. I really think it's a god given talent.

  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya

    Have to be careful with these kinds of "classes".

    I see the same thing - seems like once a month - with folks who are hawkin' that they can make you into a color consultant in a matter of days for "as little as" a grand or so. Offered by downloads, or books, or boxed programs, just name it.

    I can't believe that some people will actually PAY a company for not only color training but the "chance" to sell product for that company. Not only do they ask you to pay for training, but you also have to buy all the support materials to sell their product for them -- and people do it!

    Some of these programs or classes lump staging and color together. Content is usually what they've *borrowed* from some place else and the classes are taught by people who have never actually done anything with architectural color. They just take color concepts from other sources and then talk about color in strange, abstract terms.

    So the first question would be who exactly is teaching the classes and what experience do they have that's relevant -- really relevant. Second question would be if they're so good at it, why aren't they out there doing it? Are they really so accomplished that they are now in a position to just talk about the topic and ask other people to pay 'em for simply speaking well in front of a group and their ability to make a nifty Power Point presentation?

    I know several people who are stagers. Couple went through training with a specific stager's organization, not the one mentioned. Some are better than others and do/have made money. From what I understand, connections are more important than a certificate from some whack-a-doodle source. They either knew someone or made a point to get to know someone who hooked them up to the market so they had access those in need of their services. Meaning those people who are trying to sell or those who are tyring to get that polish for their space and just do not have the know-how. The network thing seems to be a huge factor.

    The other thing I see is the stagers who really aren't all that good or expert at any one thing in particular and they have a business model that includes everything but the kitchen sink. They're a stager, a color consultant, an expert in traffic flow and layout, they sell fabrics, window treatments and wallpaper, they "specialize" in faux finishes and all the products to go with, etc., etc., etc.

    Jack of all trades master of none.

    Maybe they have to offer all of that stuff because staging alone might be too difficult.

  • oceanna

    (A "$2000 budget" ---with $10,000 of free labor)

    Yeah, that always cracks me up, Palimp.

  • CaroleOH

    I think staging a home would make a difference. I also think that you have to have a natural decorating flair because if you have bad taste and cannot arrange things - I don't think a 8-10 hour training session is going to help!

    Some people just have this flair. I do think that reading a book or looking at pictures could help the average homeowner declutter and simplify their home which helps a new homeowner picture what their things would look like in a house.

    On the other hand, how many people have walked into a model home and said this is the perfect house, and then on move in day when they're staring at all white walls and builder grade carpet and lighting - this isn't what we expected!

    Those model homes are staged and I don't think new home builders would sell many homes showing a bare, unpainted house!

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