IAHSP Chairwoman, Jennie Norris, featured in The Top 100 People in Real Estate

Jennie Norris is featured on the cover of The Top 100 Magazine – Top 100 People in Real Estate Issue

Decorated with honors such as Innovator of the Year, five consecutive Best of Home Staging Awards, multiple individual awards for her staging work, and the only two-time winner of the Staging Award of Excellence, to say that Jennie Norris lives and breathes the art and science of home staging would be an accurate statement about a woman who has had her hands in over 5,700 staged properties and dedicated 20 years of her life as a preeminent authority in field. She is a changemaker, a torchbearer, and a champion of the industry. Recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the Home Staging Industry, Jennie is an international expert and speaker on the subject and the author of the go-to sourcebook for anyone working in the field: Marketing Made Simple – A Guide for the Home Staging Industry. She is an Accredited Staging Professional Master® (ASPM®) Stager trained by none other the Creator of Home Staging®, Barb Schwarz, and part of the elite group of professional home stagers to have earned the rare double certification of ASP® and ASP® Master.

As chairwoman of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®), Jennie is the energic, passionate force driving the largest home staging industry trade association in the world—and she’s determined to help its over 4,000 members of real estate professionals and stagers across the globe to thrive in ways they never imagined. For 22 years, the IAHSP has been dedicated to advancing the education and staging excellence of the home staging industry—and it’s the only association that requires quality education to join. It’s also the only organization led by home staging experts who currently own and operate their own successful businesses—Jennie among them. She is also the president and CEO of the world’s leader in home staging training and education—StagedHomes®. It goes without saying, if anyone knows the intricacies of the industry, it’s Jennie.

After serving in leadership roles in the organization since 2003, Jennie took the helm of the IAHSP in 2016 and, with her team, worked to double its size, expanding into 20 countries to answer the growing demand by industry members. She’s also the imaginative mind behind its wildly popular conferences, attended by thousands of members each year. These lively, star-studded events are replete with keynote celebrity speakers—Jonathan and Drew Scott, better known as “The Property Brothers,” Jeff Lewis of Flipping Out, and HGTV stars Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, and Candice Olson, to name a few. From speakeasies to champagne diamonds, awards dinners to dancing till dawn, for guests who manage to grab a “golden ticket” to these galas, it’s a night to remember.

As Jennie prepares for this year’s blow-out SOAR Conference with the awards gala set in the Great Gatsby theme and welcomes the steady wave of new IAHSP members, she took a few minutes to sit down with Top 100 Magazine to share more about how the industry is evolving and how she and the IAHSP are helping to propel its members—and the industry—into the future.

With home staging videos across the Internet and TV reality shows, why has a formal education and credentialing in home staging become critical for staging and real estate professionals?

Successful home staging is much more involved than what is depicted in 30-minute video tutorials or TV shows. The staging industry has evolved, and real estate agents need to understand that staging is a key market differentiator for them to get business. Staging is no longer an option—it’s a critical necessity for both their success and that of their home sellers. The impact staging has on a property is proven with statistics that have been tracked since 2003.  There are an estimated 10,000 professional stagers worldwide and several million real estate agents, and staging makes a positive impact on 20% of the real estate sold each year just in the U.S. alone. This means properties sell faster and/or for more, making REALTORS® more successful, sellers happier, and buyers excited about the houses they purchase.

Real estate agents need to seek out education on how home staging can help them differentiate themselves and increase their business by using it as a key listing and marketing tool. I wrote The Real Estate Agent’s Guide to the Home Staging Industry, available on the IAHSP.com site, to help agents understand how and why to include home staging as part of listing a property, process, pricing, and where to find a Pro-Stager™.  Home stagers need a professional education in staging so that they know how to own and operate a successful staging business, including logistics, pricing, services, marketing, and growth. They need to understand how to communicate their value, and to understand the partnership they have with REALTORS®, builders, and investors. Credentials also give us credibility and clout with our clients and separate us from the masses of untrained hobbyists who watch HGTV or YouTube videos and market themselves as home stagers. A reputable staging course greatly shortens the learning curve and the struggle cycle so many business owners enter when they do not invest in a proper foundation for success.

We’ll get to the IAHSP and its mission to provide these critical credentials. But first, the burning question on the minds of many readers right now—how can real estate agents and stagers benefit from taking your accredited courses?

In addition to being a key listing and marketing tool, staging impacts the agent’s reputation. Many agents believe they do not have to stage a listing because we are in a strong seller’s market. Agents are tying their reputations to a product that should never be for sale and shown publicly, and it makes them look bad. Many are afraid to tell sellers the truth about their properties, opting to remain silent instead of partnering with a pro-stager who can be their liaison with the seller and help preserve the client relationship. A REALTOR® has a fiduciary responsibility to get the most in the sale of a property, and staging helps them achieve that. Our ASP®-RE course increase their confidence, teaches marketing strategies, provides scripting and role playing, and supports agent productivity and profit.

Our stager graduates rank in the top 2% of all home staging company owners in the world as far as success and revenue, and it has been one of our grads that launched staging in every major market in the U.S. and Canada. To run a successful business, stagers need to understand how they fit in the process and why a client would hire them.  Staging is not decorating or design, and people who enter the industry believing that based on what they see on TV need to adjust their perspective quickly in order to obtain business.  Our courses teach them how to market, manage and maintain a thriving and lucrative business.

The IAHSP is the only organization that requires education. Why is this important, and how are you helping home stagers and real estate professionals keep up with the evolving trends of the industry?

Home staging is our passion and helping our members succeed is our purpose. Since 1999, IAHSP has advocated for education, excellence, and ethics, and our members adhere to a higher standard in these three areas than any other staging association, alliance, or organization.   No one else requires education first, and that means our base level of membership is elevated and stronger.

I believe strongly as an industry we all must establish and strive for higher standards and professionalism to make sure the public can differentiate between untrained hobbyists and educated experts. By increasing our professional standards, we will increase the visibility of our industry and the impact we make in the real estate industry as a whole. We also increase the viability of the industry for future members.

We offer our members resources and education for business success and growth, the opportunity to network and engage with industry colleagues through our member chapters and online social media groups.  We host educational events that teach vital topics to help business owners thrive.

Since 2003, IAHSP has hosted educational conferences for our members that are truly a celebration of our industry.  From quality speakers teaching on topics vital to all business levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced), to our Vendor EXPO, where we bring key companies directly to our members, to our Industry Awards Gala Dinner that honors members for their staging quality in various categories, to the relationships that form from meeting colleagues from all over the world—no other group hosts an event like IAHSP. And they’re a blast!

The IAHSP has experienced astounding growth under your leadership. To what do you attribute this?

When I took over as chairwoman in 2016, I opened up our association to the entire industry, where previously only graduates of one educational course could be a member. I felt that as the leaders of the home staging education industry, it was incumbent upon us to support all members across the growing home staging industry and the real estate agents they serve, plus mentor and groom the next generation of industry leaders. We expanded into Europe in 2018, and now have members from 20 countries as we continue to make a global impact.

I also believe that people are looking for a place where they can connect and are accepted, a place where the negativity often found in the world is gone, and members are supported, encouraged, and cheered for their growth and success. That can only be accomplished by leaders with a heart for helping others. All our IAHSP leaders have a spirit of giving back. We either volunteer time or are paid very little compared to the number of hours we invest. We give back because we are passionate about our profession and we want to ensure our industry—and the members we serve—thrive now and for decades to come.

Unlike other staging organizations, you and all the leaders of IAHSP currently run your own staging companies as well, is that right?

That’s right! My entire leadership team, our IAHSP Board members, and I all own and operate staging companies. Collectively, our leadership team has over 150 years of experience and over 20,000 properties staged, so we not only talk the talk; we walk the walk. No other industry association can say this. We have a personal stake in the longevity and viability of home staging.  I believe to understand what a stager experiences, a person has to live it themselves. We do not just teach theory or tell someone what they hope works—we teach what we know works.

In what other ways is IAHSP different from other staging organizations?  

Because we believe education is critical to the success of industry professionals, IAHSP reviews and accredits home staging courses for quality and content. We do not charge for this service, so the public knows we are truly objective, and it is not a “pay to play” scenario where the course provider has paid us to say they are a quality course. We also provide resources, such as industry statistics and informative guides to the public and clients we serve so they can see the data behind the dazzle. In early 2020, we were the first to respond to the issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity and formed the Staging Industry Diversity Coalition (SIDCglobal.com) to support our minority members now and into the future. Lastly, IAHSP has heart. Our members truly care about one another and our leaders care about our members.  We are a family and that is why one of our slogans is: “IAHSP® is Your Home in the Home Staging Industry®.”

You mentioned that you’re not paid much for your work as the leader of IAHSP or StagedHomes. What drives you?

That fact may surprise people, but it is true. I lead these organization because I feel that it’s my calling. I had worked in the field for 14 years before assuming the role here at IAHSP, so people look to me for guidance. My whole mission is to help people succeed, and I’m passionate about it. I am dedicated to an industry I love that has supported me and my family for years.  The reason I devote the hours I do to both the IAHSP association and StagedHomes is I feel a responsibility to carry the mission forward that was passed to me by the founder of our industry, Barb Schwarz, who was my personal mentor for years. This is why I’m in this industry, and this is what drives me every day.

The IAHSP conferences are the most unique and popular events in the industry.  I understand this year’s theme is SOAR—Seek Opportunities and Rise—with your gala awards dinner theme of Roaring 2021—The Great Gatsby, complete with a speakeasy, is that right?

We are all incredibly excited for this year’s conference in Denver, Colorado—The Mile High City! We added the words “Family Reunion” to our event as it is a time where our industry family comes together to learn, celebrate success, and forge strong friendships.  “The IAHSP Family Reunion Conference & EXPO” is the official title. Last year was a challenging year for all of us. We were unable to meet in person, many businesses were hampered with shutdowns, and for many it was a scary time not knowing what to expect. The anticipation of this event gives people hope and joy as they look forward to being together! 

In addition, we are the only group that hosts a big gala awards dinner with a fun theme.  This year our theme is “Roaring 2021–Great Gatsby Gala,” and attendees are encouraged to come in costume, enjoy a great dinner and hopefully win some awards! We have a VIP Speakeasy planned and dancing to wrap up our three-day event.  We have keynote business and motivational speaker Chris Widener, sharing on Making a Big Impact in Business and Life. He’s written 22 books, worked personally with Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn, and is ranked in the Top 50 Best Motivational Business Speakers in the world.  We also have one of the best social media experts I have ever heard, Jonny Fowler, as our keynote marketing speaker.  We have Ravi Hutheesing, cultural catalyst and former band member for Hansen, speaking on staying viable as an entrepreneur.  We’ll have over 25 speakers total and will cover a wide variety of topics with general sessions and breakout sessions by topic and business level. We also have our Advanced Stager Training (AST) workshop for six-plus figure business owners.  This training is held the two days following our annual conference and the conversations and discoveries that take place with the advanced business owners is incredibly valuable.

That sounds like a lot of fun! Tell us about some of your past conferences. I understand one of them involved a massive diamond giveaway of sorts?

It did! In 2019, we held our live conference in Nashville with the theme “ROCK Your Business in Music City.”  Our gala theme was “Denim and Diamonds.” I actually got a two-carat diamond and 99 cubic zirconias, put them all in individual glasses of champagne and sold them to attendees as part of a fundraiser for the IAHSP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation that supports the World Wide Staging Service Week® initiative. Since 2005, our members around the globe have completed service projects to give back to their communities.

In 2018, we were in Charlotte with keynote celebrity speakers Jonathan and Drew Scott, better known as “The Property Brothers.” In 2017, we held our conference in Fort Lauderdale and welcomed Jeff Lewis from Flipping Out as our keynote celebrity speaker.  In 2020, our conference theme was “Vision for Success: Focus, Clarity, Future,” and we delivered the best virtual event given the remote limitations and everyone had a blast—and learned a lot!  So, each year, we bring quality industry pros sharing on educational topics, and then add a little fun or flair with a special guest speaker.

Tell us about StagedHomes and how you’re helping stagers and real estate agents thrive.  

StagedHomes is the world’s largest and longest-running home staging training company.  It was founded in 1999, and I took over as president and CEO in 2016. To date, tens of thousands of real estate agents and stagers around the world have taken our courses. Education is the key that unlocks the understanding of the importance of proper presentation of a house for sale.  Staging is no longer optional—it is critical. First impressions matter, and as the old adage states, “You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.” We help all levels of stagers and real estate professionals gain the knowledge they need to capture these dollars and provide the best service possible to their clients.

Can you give us some details about the courses and credentials StagedHomes offers?

I’ll be happy to! We offer four core courses. The Accredited Staging Professional® Stager Business Course is for those who want to build a successful staging business. Our Accredited Staging Partner® Real Estate Agent Course is for agents who want to learn how to use staging as a key listing and marketing tool for their business.  It teaches the process, foundation, and communication skills agents need to get sellers to say yes to staging, and then they know who to partner with them for staging their listings.  We offer the Accredited Staging Assistant® Course for those who want to plug into an existing company and stage for them versus running the entire operation.  Lastly, we have the Accredited Staging Professional Master® Course, which is the advanced-level training for stagers who want to increase their success, profit, and knowledge. These courses are taught worldwide and anyone can attend from the convenience of their home and learn with a virtual live course with one of our Certified ASP® Course Trainers or a self-paced recorded webinar. All graduates receive a full-year membership in the IAHSP and get access to the private Staging University®, the only online resource for our industry with forms, templates, agreements, and the ability to obtain leads for business with our exclusive online directory. 

All graduates receive ongoing education resources that come along with their training, including over 100 hours of the Home Staging Talk Show Live segments, over 20 hours of FAST Track Sessions – Focused Accelerated Stager Training, and other niche-specific courses taught by industry professionals. We can never stop learning, as the industry is always evolving. If a person stops learning and advancing their skills, they fall behind and become stale.  It is never “one and done” with staging, and that is why we continue to update and develop new curriculum based on where our industry is headed, and not remain stuck in the past.

Let’s end with a somewhat personal question. What do you find most fulfilling about your work?  

I often ask my students and colleagues what their “why” is. It has to be more than money to keep a person committed long term to their business.  What you do in life has to be a passion—and that will drive a person to continue forward even when they’re facing challenges. I knew when I discovered home staging way back in 2002 that I had found my passion.  I have a degree from UCLA in Psychobiology and was pre-med. I realized that I didn’t have it in me to continue the long—and expensive—journey to med school and found my way into marketing and business development for environmental companies. I was using my science background, I loved marketing and working with people, but it was not my passion.  When I found home staging, I was excited as it combined my love of helping others with my passion for creativity. Plus, my marketing background made understanding how staging is used to help make properties more marketable. My “why” is that I truly am about helping others succeed. 

My whole mission is to empower business owners to success—whatever that means to them.  If a person wants to learn how to make seven or eight figures in staging, I can show them how. If they want to have a smaller business, I can show them how to accomplish that. No matter the size of their dream, I know I can help someone achieve it. My “reward” is the joy I get from seeing our industry advance, the satisfaction I get from helping launch and support new business owners, and the pride I have in our team and leaders who are my colleagues and my staging family.

(article written by Heather Andrews of The Top 100 Magazine – from an interview with Jennie Norris)

https://www.thetop100magazine.com/jennie-norris

Jennie Norris

Chairwoman — International Association of Home Staging Professionals®

President and CEO — StagedHomes®

Website: www.iahsp.com

Website: www.StagedHomes.com

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennie-norris/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JennieNorr/

Instagram:  @iahspworldwide ǀ @stagedhomesworldwide

IAHSP® Family Reunion SOAR—Seek Opportunities And Rise—Conference: www.IAHSPConEXPO.com

Are YOU Ready to SOAR – Seek Opportunities and RISE? Join us in Denver Sept 24-26

THE Home Staging Industry Event of the YEAR is coming to you LIVE in Denver – Sept 24-26, 2021.

The IAHSP Family Reunion Conference & EXPO brings TOP Educators, Expert KEYNOTE Speakers, Topics that will INSPIRE, MOTIVATE, EDUCATE and CHALLENGE you to RISE above your competition and bring in MORE business!

SEEK OPPORTUNITIES AND RISE!

We chose our conference theme carefully based on what we all experienced last year with not being able to travel, to see our colleagues and friends in person, to shift to stay viable, and more.

SPACE IS LIMITED! Do not wait to register. We have to share numbers with the host hotel – and plan for food, space and hotel rooms. You can pay 50% now and 50% later – just get registered! Go to www.IAHSPConEXPO.com and get EXCITED about what you will LEARN and who you will MEET at this year’s conference!




HEADQUARTER HOTEL: The Gaylord Rockies

Make your reservation now – don’t wait as the hotel block with our special rate goes away August 23rd! You can reserve your room – and then if you need to change things, you can with no penalty (based on hotel terms) when canceled within the time permitted by the hotel.


THANK YOU TO OUR CONFERENCE SPONSORS! These wonderful companies will be at our conference to meet YOU – and you can learn about the products and services and SHOP while at the conference!

Home Stager’s Guide to the Home Staging Industry

Check out this GUIDE for people who want to be Home Stagers and have a successful business. It includes all the important information you need to know to make the right choices when considering establishing a staging business and working in the home staging industry.

IAHSP Magazine – May-June Double Issue

Our May-June DOUBLE ISSUE is our BIGGEST issue yet! With over 55 pages of content – this issue is all about FAMILY! From working with family, tax strategies with family, what defines a family, Occupied Home Staging and working with our Client Families, and Marketing Messaging to get business in a HOT market. All issues of our magazine are available to current members and can be found by logging into the http://www.IAHSP.com site and accessing the archives.


ENJOY!

Real Estate Agent’s Guide to The Home Staging Industry

Our latest benefit for our members is a guide we want to share with real estate agent clients, their offices, office managers, brokerages, leaders and all who need to know how we work to support them and the real estate industry, and what to expect when working with a Pro-Stager. From protecting a Real Estate Agent’s Commission to the Process of Staging, Who to Hire, Where to find a Pro-Stager, Pricing and Stats, and more – this is the quintessential guide to help understand how to incorporate Home Staging to maximize profits in selling a property.

You can share the link or download the guide and send.

https://www.flipsnack.com/IAHSP/re-guide-to-home-staging-industry/full-view.html

Seven Tips to Protect Your Commission When Recommending Home Staging Services

By Jennie Norris, ASPM®, IAHSP®, Chairwoman, International Association of Home Staging Professionals®, President & CEO of Stagedhomes.com, and Owner of Sensational Home Staging – We Stage Colorado


Real estate agents are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. Some Agents invest their own dollars to prepare and market properties, paying for services on behalf of their seller to ensure the house is ready for buyers to see prior to hitting the market. One of the key value-added services is home staging. Statistics provided by both The Profile of Home Staging (NAR®) and The 2020 Home Staging Industry Report (IAHSP®) both share staged houses sell for up to 20% more than the non-staged competition. Sellers need to make sure their house is show ready and throughout the years, the home staging industry members have seen a steady increase in the number of agents providing this as part of the marketing services to prepare and successfully sell a property. 

Realtors hire a professional home stager to provide a staging consultation for the sellers where they receive detailed information on what to do room by room to prepare their house for sale. A consultation costs about $250-$500 around the country and agents consider it part of their marketing strategy and pay for it on behalf of the seller. When compared to other services agents will often pay for to prepare and sell the house, such as carpet cleaning, window cleaning, professional house cleaning, landscape clean up, photography and virtual tours, staging is a the only service done in preparation of the house for sale that bring measurable value proven by the statistical surveys conducted by NAR® and IAHSP®. 

But what happens if the property needs more than a consultation? Many houses need the addition of furniture and décor brought into empty rooms in a house or added to supplement homeowner’s items to fill the gaps and provide a more updated look for buyers. Sellers may not have the available cash flow to pay for professional staging, so agents are offering to pay for the hands-on staging and inventory fees because they know the staging will help the house sell faster and at the best price. It is a win-win for the agent-seller team. 

The challenge is the market can be unpredictable. A Realtor is not in charge of the market and cannot guarantee a house will sell in a certain timeframe, although they approach every listing with the strategy of getting the house under contract quickly. There are external factors that impact the market including interest rates, the economy and other properties that are for sale. When a REALTOR® offers to pay for staging services, they need to make sure to protect their commission and offer creative solutions to their sellers. 

Here are seven tips to keep in mind when incorporating home staging into your listing process and protect your commission: 

1. Get an estimate for the staging BEFORE you establish your commission

The Staging should be an add-on service that is covered by the commission. If you don’t get a price first and then agree to lower your commission in order to secure a listing, you are now receiving less money for the sale. Most agents who incorporate this strategy of paying for staging use the staging as a way to validate being paid MORE than another agent who is not bringing staging to the table. Depending on what pricing you received from the stager, you would increase your commission percentage by 0.25 or 0.5% to pay for the initial Staging and could increase by 1% or more if the house is luxury property. In most markets, this small increase in commission earned will cover the initial Staging investment.  Contact your stager to get a price for staging the main rooms of the house and use that as a guideline when negotiating your commission. 

2. Do not pressure your stager for “the price” to stage when they have not seen the property yet. 

You want to know what the costs will be to determine how you will structure your commission but a stager usually needs to see the house to provide you with accurate pricing and this is ideally done in person but can also be done using photos. An experienced stager can give a price “range” – but even with that it could be inaccurate when they have not really seen the house. Some stagers provide pricing based on list price, square footage or number of rooms being staged, and with this type of pricing, you need to ensure you are getting the appropriate style, volume of furnishings, and quality that is appropriate for the type of property you are listing.  When an agent does not get an accurate estimate, they risk their commission because they do not own the staging business and do not know how a stager prices their services. When the Stager provides the estimate, the listing agent can be in a tough position because they agreed to pay for services that are more than planned. This means the Staging could be scaled back, or the agent has to pay more than planned. Getting the estimate UP FRONT before negotiating commission ensures agents do not end up getting less than they deserve for selling the house.

3. Make sure to cap the amount you are contributing toward the Staging. 

If furniture and décor are provided, there can be an ongoing fee paid for inventory supply or rental. The items ideally need to stay in place until the house is under contract and it is safe to remove. This could be in a month or it could be several months after the initial staging, and when an agent does not cap the amount they are contributing, the ongoing inventory use fee is added to the amount paid by the agent, which means you are making less and less commission. You are not able to re-negotiate your commission at this point, and so the ongoing fees are coming out of your earnings. This could add up to thousands of dollars, and when the seller is benefitting the most from the sale, they need to be the ones paying for the ongoing staging investment. 

4. Share what, if anything, you are willing to pay toward the staging and put it in writing. 

What we recommend is you share with the seller, “I will contribute up to $___ towards the Staging, and then any fees beyond that will be your responsibility.” If the seller is not able to pay up front, you can share, “I will cover the costs associated with the initial staging and will be reimbursed at the successful close.” There is a risk involved as the client could decide to cancel the listing. Make sure to protect your money in the agreement sharing, “If for any reason the house is removed from active listing or other changes occur (you) will be paid in full for the Staging investment paid on behalf of (client).” 

When you are willing to pay a portion of the staging, ideally have the seller pay up front and you reimburse them at the successful close for what you want to contribute. “I will pay $___ towards the staging cost and it will be paid to you at the successful close of the sale.” That is the ideal scenario as you are not having to come out of pocket for any of the staging service, and if anything happens to the client or sale, you are not risking leaving money behind. If you just want to provide a consultation, you would share, “I pay for the services of a professional staging consultation where you will receive detailed recommendations on what to do to prepare your house for sale. Any additional staging services would be paid by you.” Always make sure the terms are in writing in your contract and clearly understood by the homeowners. 

5. Do not quote pricing for the staging unless you received pricing from your stager. 

Your clients may ask what the staging will cost, and if you have not received proposals and pricing for staging, please do not guess at what you think it should be. You may end up setting false expectations for the sellers, and the pricing could be way off – either too low or too high. There are other factors to consider with the staging, and it is best to put the emphasis on the results they want versus putting the focus on the price. Lastly, let the Stager negotiate any price adjustments and be the one to explain the services and how they work. One key point to share is, “The investment in Staging is always less than a price reduction or a lower starting price.” And Staging is a tax write deduction (IRS Publication 523) and a price reduction or lower starting price is a loss of equity. 

6. Always quantify the value of any services you are paying for on behalf of the Seller so they understand upfront your commitment and contribution to help them sell their property. 

When a person gets things for free, it is human nature to not really assign any value to the service or item and a nonchalant attitude seems to prevail. Let them know you are investing in the sale of their house – give them the value – and reinforce your quality reputation and standards. This applies for staging and any other preparation services such as cleaning, carpet cleaning, window washing, landscape touch up, photography and virtual tours. When there is no value, there is no appreciation or understanding of the benefits you are providing versus other agents. 

7. Be creative with options for staging and needed home improvements and connect with companies that provide this service. 

There are companies, such as ZoomCasa,that will pay for any improvements needed for a property and require the house to be staged. They pay for all the services up front and get reimbursed with an added fee for loaning the funds. They evaluate the property, make sure there is enough equity or margin in the sale to cover all the closing costs, agent commissions, their fees, and provide all the financial resources for whatever work needs to be done prior to listing. Your professional stager will be vetted by them in advance and can share the names and contacts for the company. This option helps protect and preserve your and your sellers’ money as you are not having to put out any up front for the prep and staging of the property. If you decide to contribute a portion toward the staging, you can put that in your contract and have it paid at closing. One of the great aspects of this program is the companies providing the services to repair, remodel, improve and stage the house are paid when they do the work and do not have to wait for the house to close. You won’t have to ask anyone to wait to be paid, which can be a hardship for these affiliate companies. 

Use these 7 Tips to help you protect your income while being seen as a Realtor that does more for your sellers than the average agent.  Staging adds value to the sale and it should not break your bank.

Want to know the 2020 Statistics for Home Staging?

Go to www.HomeStagingStats.com and download our 34 page report with statistics on vacant, occupied, regular priced, and luxury priced properties, plus infographics on the process for consultations to help you better educate your clients.


About the author: Jennie Norris has been staging professionally since 2002, and to date she has Staged over 5,400 properties. She has yet to meet a house she could not help and she stages all properties from modest to multi-million dollar. Jennie runs the world’s largest home staging industry trade association, and the largest real estate home staging training company. She is passionate about the industry she serves and is committed to helping partner in education with real estate agents, sellers, builders and investors. Jennie resides in Littleton, CO with her family.

RIGHT and WRONG – Is Staging really that Black and White?

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By Jennie Norris, IAHSP Chairwoman

There are numerous groups on social media where idea sharing takes place to help provide guidance or tips to industry colleagues.  One of the more common questions or posts I see are from newer Stagers posting pics of properties they are going to Stage or have Staged, asking if what they did is “right.”  The answer to what all stagers need in order to stage a house in the best way is at the end of this article.  This leads me to the question, is there one “right” way to Stage® a room?  Are there a lot of rules that if you violate them, your staging is “wrong” and the house now will not sell? 

In short. No. 

Staging is subjective.  It always has been and always will be.  We need to be careful about boxing in our creativity and assigning one set of rules to every staging. Not only is that restrictive, it is unrealistic.  Things like budget, timeframe, and resources are all factors in how a property is Staged.  It is important we do not compare our staging to someone else’s or judge a staging that may not be as embellished as others because what is not being openly shared is how much of a budget the stager had to carry out the staging.  Of course, someone who has a large budget can provide more than one that has a tighter budget, and the question we SHOULD be asking is, “Did the house sell?” When that answer is, “Yes,” the staging worked, the stager did a great job, and the client got the results they wanted.  Of course, please never stage a house with too few things as it cheapens not only the buyer experience, the house, but our industry.  Better to walk away from a client with too small a budget than diminish your reputation and staging integrity.

If a house is occupied and being Staged using what the homeowner has that is very different than a vacant property where the Stager gets to select all the furnishing and décor to create a look that fits the property and the budget provided.  And when the homeowner is still living in the house, there is the added challenge of maintaining the look of the staging with an owner who is less-than-attentive to detail.

How often does PRICE factor into a Staging?  Every time.  It’s pretty rare that a Stager gets carte blanche for a Staging to charge whatever they want to for their services.  I never have. Eighteen years and 5,400 properties and counting and I have never had a client tell me to spend whatever I wanted to get their house ready for sale.  There is always a budget to consider, and more generous budgets allow for more items and more profit to the stager. The tighter the budget, the fewer options there are for Staging.  And there is a point where all Stagers need to walk-away from a Staging project when they will be losing money.  None of us got into this as a charity to pay our clients for the privilege of getting their house ready for sale.

The rules I see being shared have to do with things like area rug sizes, whether-or-not to karate chop a pillow, how to make a bed, how to dress a table, and how to position furniture.  These are all subjective opinions, and not a reason a house will or will not sell.  And I will share my thoughts and guidelines regarding each one.

Area Rugs: If you want to use a 5’x7’ rug because it fits in your inventory space better, or you don’t have access to 8’x10’ rugs from your inventory provider (most of the rental companies do not provide larger rugs), then use the 5’x7’.  Staging colleagues who share a smaller rug is “wrong” used to use those same sizes when they were newer. When a wood floor is the selling feature in a room, I would not cover up the majority of it with a rug.  This deviates from design principles where you want to have the furniture grouping on the rug and a larger size is preferred.

Logistically, the larger rugs are difficult to store, they weigh a lot, and one person cannot carry them because if they are good quality, they are like a bag of wet sand.  Aesthetically the larger rugs may be preferred by some, however, until I hear the words, “We did not purchase the house because the area rug was not an 8’x10’size, we will continue to use them in properties for Staging, along with our larger rugs for houses that do need a bigger size.  And a TIP from experienced Stagers is use two 5’x7’ rugs that are the same and put them side by side, to create a larger rug.

Pillows: The only rule for pillows would be use them on sofas, accent chairs and beds as way to add layers of texture and color. Ideally you want matching pillows in pairs however the eclectic look is acceptable. Karate chop the middle of pillows with feather inserts or don’t do it.  Either way is fine.  One benefit of karate chopping is if you go to the house and the pillows no longer have that look, you know someone used your pillows, moved them, or sat on the sofa. Buyers do not run screaming for the door when they see a karate chop pillow.

Beds: Some stagers like comforter sets with bed skirts and shams, some like coverlets draped over the bed to the floor.  Some like to layer up the bed and others are more streamlined and minimalist.  Do you use a throw or a blanket folded neatly across the end of the bed? Do you have to make the bed with sheets?  Do you put a tray on the bed?  The answer to the questions is yes or no.  It all depends on what you prefer.  For higher end houses, you do want to take the time to make the bed with sheets and layers.  These are the beds that would be rolled back tastefully to show off the layers.  In other houses, a bed could be made without sheets and layers.  One of the reasons we choose not to dress beds with sheets for all houses is we do not want people “in” the beds and when the mattress has plastic covering on it (for sanitary purposes) and not sheets there is less likely to be fooling around in the bed.  Yes, that does happen.  Stay in the industry long enough and you too will have the pleasure of discovering unmentionables in your beds.

Should you use real mattresses, box springs and frames?  Stagers who share only real beds should be used must have forgotten when they were new(er) and had to make beds out of air mattresses, platforms that were camping cots or boxes or bins. Yes, our industry has progressed, and we do not want to promote cheap-looking staging.  Much like the issue with the large area rugs, for stagers without a warehouse, carrying mattresses and box springs becomes a logistical impossibility.  Good news is third party rental companies provide mattresses and box springs that are reasonably priced. And a TIP from experienced stagers is use two sets of box springs instead of a mattress to save budget.  You can always put a topper on the box spring to create a softer layer before the comforter or coverlet is placed on top.

What about Headboards? They provide a nice, complete look to a bed and dress up a bedroom for a professional finish. There are headboards that fold up but most of them are going to be too large for even a large SUV.  Stagers have created headboards out of foam, fencing, and other creative methods that create the “look” of a headboard without the storage needs.  Sometimes a large piece of art is hung over the bed and shams bolstered up against the wall.  It is all about the budget for the Staging and type of property.

Placement: When arranging a room, a stager needs to consider focal points and function.  An architectural focal point would be a fireplace or a view window.  A living room could have two focal points while a bedroom may not have any and it has to be created with the furniture arrangement.  In general, you want to feature what the room is from the entry way of the room, so placing the main furniture piece across from the entry or in that zone is usually the best option.  Should you angle furniture? Angling furniture helps soften the corners of the room and provides an interesting alternative to having everything squared off.  This may not work for smaller rooms as angling the furniture does create a “dead zone” behind the item and cuts the square footage. It is a subjective choice and harkens back to the notion that there is not one “right” way to stage a room, however there may be a better way.  A Stager learns this with experience and/or moving things around to see various options. 

In my opinion, the word “rule” needs to be changed to “guidelines” and then to “preference,” and when asking for feedback on social media, at some point you need to learn the answer to the question posed at the beginning:  Gut Instinct and experience.  Those two elements will provide you the confidence you need to successfully stage any property and trust your choices.

Coronavirus-Covid19-Recommendations for all home staging industry professionals

The International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) is monitoring the current health pandemic with great concern for all our members around the world. We are hopeful none of our family is impacted personally with this virus and pray for all those who are to date as we continue to see the spread globally. As the home staging industry association leader, we wanted to share guidelines specific to how you can remain viable and earn income during this time while not risking your health and safety.


VIDEO-Consultations or E-ConsultationsThese are a great way to provide necessary information, guidance and support to homeowners who want to prepare their homes for sale now. The steps to accomplish this are fairly simple given today’s technology.

  1. Start with having them send you photos of each room in the house from the doorway, and from all corners (if possible). This will allow you to assess the room as a whole versus from just one vantage point. It allows you to see what is on the walls, in the corners, and see how the room and furniture is positioned relative to other parts of the house.
  2. You would analyze the photos and provide a typed summary for the clients to follow.
  3. Email the summary to the client and agent (if one is involved).
  4. Call the client or do a face-time chat on your phone, use Zoom or Skype or WhatsApp to do a video call. This is recommended so you can see their reaction to the guidelines you shared. If you are not able to see them or them see you the important part of “rapport” is lost and they may not agree to do all you recommend.

Note: We are doing our best NOT to use the word “VIRTUAL” as we are opposed to Virtual Staging as a cheap alternative to real Staging, and as such we do not want to be using that word in conjunction with our services. Alternatives are “E-Consult” or “Tele-Consult” or “Video-Consult” – which all indicate the type of services being provided.

E-PreviewsThese are a great way to provide a proposal for Staging a vacant property without you having to go in person.

  1. Follow the steps above with someone sending you photos of the property.
  2. You prepare the proposal for recommended areas and send to the client.
  3. Follow up on the phone or via a video call.
  4. The Staging can be scheduled and installed as long as your state/region allows you to be out OR you get things set when bans will be lifted.

Property Showings:

Tips for BUYERS: Buyers are still out looking for properties and have to purchase for work or lifestyle decisions. A property that is Staged shows great online and in person showings can be done taking these precautions:

No open houses are being done to protect the public and homeowners. Tips to share with buyers:

  1. Keep hand-sanitizer by the front door for all buyers to use.
  2. If you are an agent bringing buyers, make sure you all use the sanitizer before anyone enters the home.
  3. Do not touch door knobs, cabinets knobs and light switches. Do not use the restroom in the house. If there is an urgent need, please make sure the homeowner knows this was done so they can take disinfectant measures.
  4. If anyone in the buying group is not feeling well, do NOT go to a home to look in person. Stay home. Let someone else be your eyes.

Tips for SELLERS: Your house is for sale and Buyers need to see it in person to make an important decision to purchase. If you are in an area where showings are allowed, take these precautions to ensure your home is protected from potential exposure.

  1. Keep hand santizer in a basket outside the front door. Make it mandatory that any agents and buyers use the sanitizer before entering your home.
  2. You can provide disposable gloves for buyers and agents to wear as an added precaution. Keep a small trash can outside your front door (or in other discreet area out front) for buyers and agents to throw their used gloves away once they exit your home.
  3. Keep all doors open throughout the house. This will minimize the chances of other people touching your door knobs where germs can be present.
  4. Wipe down all switch plates for lights and turn on all the lights in the house so agents and buyers do not have to do this. Instruct agents NOT to turn off any of the lights.
  5. Fold your toilet paper end into a point in every bathroom. If you return home and the end is not folded anymore, you know someone used the bathroom and you will want to sanitize it.
  6. Keep plenty of lysol and disinfectant wipes on hand to wipe down doorknobs, cabinet knobs, and light switches.

SYMPTOMS and TIPS to help minimize the exposure and impact of this virus.


If you suspect you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor. Do not immediately go to the ER as the hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. To find a location for testing in your area, GOOGLE your city and state/province/country as there is not one site that has the information pulled together by state or country.


If you or someone you know is struggling due to this pandemic please let us know how we can support you through this challenging time. Email Jennie@iahsp.com

Why Seeing Your Path Clearly is the KEY to Business and Personal Success

By Jennie Norris, IAHSP® Chairwoman

Text Box:
Have you ever gotten in your car and just started driving along with no destination? Have you ever gone to the airport and taken a random flight to somewhere? 

For most people, the answers would be, “No,” unless they were on some random adventure quest.  We don’t want our businesses to be a random adventure quest.  We want our business success to be strategic and predictable based on our efforts.

VISION – SUCCESS – FOCUS – CLARITY – FUTURE

All of these words have a common thread – being able to see clearly and know where we are headed.  And these are the words for 2020 for IAHSP® – and the theme of our conferences in Lisbon, Portugal and Denver, Colorado. Our theme and these words were chosen in October 2019 as we started thinking about 2020 and what our goals were as an industry, an association, a business owner and person.  These are great words and we hope you take the time to think about what they mean to you.


VISION

VISION.  We are already into our second month of 2020 – do you have your vision for the year mapped out?  Vision is not only what drives your effort every day, it is also about having goals that support your overall vision and mission.  What is the vision for your company – what is the message you want prospective clients to know and understand about what you do? Why do you do what you do? Do you have your marketing strategic monthly plan to support your goals? Do you know what your revenue goals are for 2020? Do you need to increase sales or reduce costs and if so, how are you planning to accomplish that?

SUCCESS

SUCCESS.   What does Success mean to you?  The general definition is the achievement of a goal. 

What were those goals for you in 2019?  Was it to increase in the number of clients you serve regularly or to maintain your same level of business and revenue? Was it to focus on increasing the number of houses you Stage or types of properties you stage – vacant, occupied, consultations, etc.? Did you have unexpected success?  That is a great type of success – however if it was unexpected, why was it not planned as part of your strategy? This could be recognition or awards you received or something else that added to your revenue or client base.  We need to think about all aspects of our business and there is nothing wrong with planning for recognition or added revenue.

As the old adage says: Fail to Plan then Plan to Fail. We need to set goals for where we what we want to achieve, make sure they are measurable, assess our success quarterly and make any adjustments, and be open to adding to the plans where it makes sense.

If someone were to ask you the following questions, could you answer them?

  • What is your ratio of consultations to vacant staging?
  • How much revenue did you generate? 
  • How did that compare to 2018?
  • Did you have goals for growth, or did you want to maintain status-quo and refine your process? 
  • What was your net profit?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of costs to run your company?

In order to assess and quantify success – and measure it – you need to know the data from your business.  As a business owner you cannot use the excuse that you are not a details person.  You may have had measurable goals and did not hit all of them – and that is OK as long as you know why you did not achieve the goals and put measures in place to get back on track.

Our past can give us keys to our future.  So many people are afraid to look at their business and analyze the good and the bad as they are afraid of feeling like a failure.  Or they don’t really want to know what is going on and go through each day with business blinders on – not really seeing the impact of their actions or attitude and are on the proverbial hamster wheel of work.

Embrace the past as a learning experience or example of what you are capable of and be sure to not let it confine or restrict your potential.

FOCUS

FOCUS. When our Focus is blurred, our path it not clear. Have you ever tried on glasses that were dirty so you could not see through the lens or put on a pair of glasses that were the wrong prescription?  In both cases, you cannot focus or see through the blurry lens and if you do wear the wrong prescription, you can get a headache. Things that can blur our vision and focus are distractions in both action and attitude.  When we encounter something that begins to blur our focus, we may have to take time to handle the circumstance, and then get our focus back on track.

CLARITY

CLARITY.  Clarity is about having Clear purpose behind our actions and attitude.  Our WHY is the biggest motivator for getting us up every day to continue to work in our businesses.  What is your WHY?  Clarity is about removing anything that might cloud our vision or distract us from our goals.  When we have clarity about our intent, our focus, and our goals, our actions and attitude will be alignment.  Focus and Clarity go hand in hand.

It is not a coincidence that CLARIFY and CLARITY are spelled almost exactly alike – one leads to the other.

FUTURE

FUTURE.  We live in the present and plan for our futures. None of us are guaranteed a future but we do need to plan for it and put actions in place that have a positive impact for us and our businesses, for our families, friends, and colleagues.  Every action we take has a reach and impact on others.  Things we do today whether Staging a house, running a business, being part of industry leadership and planning for standards – the impacts are far reaching as what we do impacts others. Our goal is to be an Impact Player for the betterment of life experiences for all we have the pleasure and opportunity to have in our lives.


As opportunities present themselves, we need to assess whether they are in alignment with our overall vision for our lives, and our goals for our business.  We must remain open to adding things that support our vision and adjusting our path for success as needed and taking risks in order to experience the rewards.  It is important not to put blinders on as then we miss opportunities to add to our path for success.  Rewards are not monetary – they are intangibles.  The relationships we receive, the opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life, the ability to guide an industry for the future, these are responsibilities we need to take seriously.


To be part of the Vision for Success: Focus, Clarity, Future that IAHSP® is providing to the industry and our members, go to www.IAHSP.com.  IAHSP® is your Business Support Association® and Your HOME in the Home Staging Industry®.  We have FAST-LEAD Workshops being held live in major cities, our two conferences that bring you high level education and the largest Vendor EXPO for our industry, and the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world.

Special GIFTS for YOU from IAHSP

‘Tis the Season for Giving and IAHSP has some SPECIAL GIFTS for you! Whether or not you are a member, you can take advantage of these gifts and Save $$! Click on this link to take advantage of your gifts! https://iahsp.com/holiday-promo

GIFT 1: Save $35 OFF the Luxury Home Specialist and/or $35 OFF the Buyer Trends Specialist Courses – Dec 16-17 only!

GIFT 2: DEC 18-19 ONLY! Save $50 OFF your Las Vegas Market Tour – Jan 27th, 2020! Learn how to shop with the pros as part of the IAHSP Wholesale Buying Program that saves the MOST $$ of any industry program!

GIFT 3: DEC 20-21 ONLY! Save 25% OFF VCON – Virtual IAHSP Conference 2019! You can watch ALL the Speakers at your leisure and learn! Don’t let your lack of attendance make you miss out on key education!