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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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-Consultations: These 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.
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.
You would analyze the photos and provide a typed summary for the clients to follow.
Email the summary to the client and agent (if one is involved).
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-Previews: These are a great way to provide a proposal for Staging a vacant property without you having to go in person.
Follow the steps above with someone sending you photos of the property.
You prepare the proposal for recommended areas and send to the client.
Follow up on the phone or via a video call.
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.
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:
Keep hand-sanitizer by the front door for all buyers to use.
If you are an agent bringing buyers, make sure you all use the sanitizer before anyone enters the home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keep all doors open throughout the house. This will minimize the chances of other people touching your door knobs where germs can be present.
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.
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.
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
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. 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. 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.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 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.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.
IAHSP® Conference & EXPO – the Home Staging Industry Event of the YEAR is bringing exciting, knowledgeable and quality KEYNOTE SPEAKERS to you! We have 3 we have lined up – we have announced TWO so far! The THIRD one will be announced soon!
Go to www.IAHSPConEXPO.com to register now before prices go up! Lock in PRIORITY ATTENDEE STATUS and be first in line for KEYNOTE Meet and Greets, Premier Seating, and Special Exclusive Speak Easy during our Awards Dinner Great Gatsby Gala!
JONNY FOWLER: Jonny is a marketing and social media guru. Jonny founded Hancock Mortgage and has helped grow a thriving business. One of his main passions is marketing and social media, as an Industry Leader Professional Speaker Social Media Specialist and Industry Innovator. Jonny shares in-depth, timely information that works to bring you business. He understand how platforms like Facebook and Instagram work and teaches how to work the system to outsmart algorithms that limit our exposure. You will learn not just what to do but HOW to do it. His two-hour keynote session will be one of the BEST you have heard to help your business grow and thrive.
RAVI HUTHEESING is an international keynote speaker and cultural catalyst. He empowers businesses, educators, and millions of people worldwide to pivot and transcend cultural and generational divides, and his incomparable life story keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.
The first American-born member of the family that created and governed the world’s largest democracy for over 40 years, Ravi is the grand-nephew of Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first prime minister) and the cousin of prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
His worldwide visibility skyrocketed in 1997 when he became the guitarist for triple Grammy nominee, Hanson, whose massive millennial fan base catapulted them to the White House, Madison Square Garden, Tonight Show, Good Morning America, Saturday Night Live, and more.
in 2014, he was invited to serve as a cultural diplomat for the US Department of State and went to Russia to give presentations on arts, entrepreneurship, and youth leadership. In 2016, he went to Indonesia and created songwriting and cultural entrepreneurship programs that bridged the most severe cultural and religious divides. As a global citizen, Ravi continues to pivot and grow. He shares his experiences and revelations in an effort to increase cross-cultural understanding and create a pathway to world peace.
NEW INDUSTRY DESIGNATION FOR ALL ATTENDEES!
We have industry experts sharing on this topic. Ravi Hutheesing will be part of this designation education.
All attendees at the 2020 IAHSP® Conference & EXPO will earn their IAHSP®-CDE – Cultural Diversity Expert Designation.
We are in a people business and Staging is a global service. Our cities and communities are becoming more diverse with multi-cultural influences from people from all over the world.
Misunderstandings or misimpressions about differences can offend people by mistake and we need to understand cultural differences, nuances and traditions in order to better serve our clients.
The IAHSP® Cultural Diversity Expert Designation (IAHSP-CDE®) will teach you:
About major cultural groups and what their expectations are in business
Do’s and Don’ts in working with various cultures and ethnicities
How to approach sensitive issues related to Staging
Why Diversity and Inclusivity are linked together Our Speakers for this session will provide expert insights on the topic.
The IAHSP-LHS Designation that was issued at our IAHSP Conference & EXPO is now available to attend ONLINE! This is your opportunity to ADD this skillset and qualifications to your services as a professional Home Stager or as a Real Estate Agent.
Once you watch the entire session, you will receive your IAHSP-LHS attendance logo. You will have to email Jennie@iahsp.com to receive it. THEN you will have to turn in 3 projects that qualify as LUXURY properties in YOUR market. You will learn what those are once you take the webinar. You will submit your 3 properties for review and when they are approved, you will receive your CERTIFIED LHS Logo.
You will receive the link to the recorded webinar session on your order confirmation page. Once you attend you will be sent your LHS Logo and a PDF handout of all the slides.
For questions, please email Christa@iahsp.com or call 844-IAHSP99 (If you earned your LHS in the past and would like to take this webinar as a refresher, please email Christa@iahsp.com so we can validate your designation and send you the link for the webinar.)
Check out some of the testimonials from attendees: “I just completed the Luxury Home Specialist Designation Course. This course includes a significant amount of very useful information. I now understand what constitutes a Luxury Property and how to market my business in order to obtain these types of projects. The resources we have through our IAHSP Vendor Program are invaluable to help control costs while providing a high-quality, upscale look. I found the visuals to be very relevant and helpful. This course was well worth the investment!”
“The LHS (Luxury Home Specialist) webinar was fantastic. The presentation was extremely informative and interesting. I am a seasoned Stager and I learned so much. Well worth the money and your time to stay up with today’s market and break into the Luxury Market. You owe it to yourself and your clients to be informed on the latest market niches and income opportunities. Thank you IAHSP!”
The home staging industry was birthed in 1972 and it was not until 1999 that any sort of organized entity was formed to help guide the industry. The first industry association, The International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®), was started by the Founder of the industry as an entity to help guide the industry relative to education, ethics and excellence. IAHSP® helped set standards for the industry, hosted the first educational conferences, and launched the first regional chapters to serve members.
It was not until 2007 that a second association, RESA®, was formed by people who used to work at IAHSP®. At that time, IAHSP® remained the only association requiring education as a standard of membership. In 2008, HSRA™ was formed in answer to a need for a more focused business building resources and support. In 2016, IAHSP® came under new ownership and opened its doors for the first time to approved credentialed industry members. The requirements for membership in IAHSP® remain rooted in education as the leadership team and members believe education is the key to promoting the professionalism of our industry to not only help all those entering the industry understand how to be successful, while not diminishing or diluting the professionalism of those who have invested in their business from the start.
Now with several associations operating within the industry, how does an industry member know which group is right for them?
Will there ever be just ONE association for the industry? Let’s examine some terminology that is being shared and what it really means and then look at ten things to expect from your home staging association.
What is a Trade Association?
DEFINITION: noun. an association of people or companies in a particular business or trade, organized to promote their common interests. A Trade Association, also known as an industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry. An industry trade association participates in public relations activities such as advertising, education, publishing, lobbying, but its focus is collaboration between companies. Associations may offer other services, such as producing conferences, holding networking or charitable events, or offering classes or educational materials.
Is IAHSP® a Trade Association?
Yes, it is. When you look at the definition above, IAHSP® clearly is a Trade Association for the Home Staging industry. So is HSRA™.
Does a Trade Association have to be a not-for-profit entity?
No, it does not. The key to remember is that “not-for-profit” is a tax status, not a business strategy. Setting up a tax-exempt entity is a tax strategy to avoid paying taxes. It is not a business strategy that somehow makes this entity more legitimate than others who are not set up as a not-for-profit. To share otherwise creates fear and confusion as a strategy to build membership.
Why isn’t IAHSP® set up as a not-profit entity?
When IAHSP® was founded, it was set up as a part of an overall corporation and currently is a DBA under an S-Corp. That was the choice of the founder. There is no legal requirement that an industry association must be a not-for profit nor does it mean it is any less reputable than an entity who opted to set up as a not-for-profit for tax purposes. IAHSP® is not a profit maker for the corporation. The funds paid to the association through memberships and events, are used to support IAHSP®’s mission, outreach, and events. A not-for-profit is required by the IRS to file annually and returns are public record (if they are missing this legal requirement by the IRS ask why they are not posted) and you can see the revenue that is left at the end of the year.
The question members need to be asking is, “Where are the funds I pay being used by this association?”
IAHSP® uses the funds to support our events throughout the year that we host such as our Conference & EXPO, Market Tours, European Conference, Affiliate memberships with industry entities and pay for staff that help run our association. The annual IAHSP Conference & EXPO is not a fund-raiser for the association, unlike other groups who use ticket sales to fund their association’s operation and pay salaries.
Ten Things to You Should Require of Your Home Staging Association:
1 SOLID STRUCTURE AND LONGEVITY
Consider the structure of the association you are considering joining. How many years have they been in operation? Is their membership growing? Do they have a mission and vision statement that is congruent with how they treat their members and other industry professionals?
IAHSP® has been in existence since 1999. It has always had a mission of serving its members to provide ways for continued growth and education. Our association has doubled in size in the past two years, due to the varied resources we provide and the warmth of our membership community. We are attracting members who are seeking true community and family, as well as business support. The Founder of IAHSP® ran a successful business and then began the first home staging training company.
The current leadership team and owners all own and operate Staging companies and have a vested interest in the longevity of the association that serves the industry in which they work. That is a big differentiator from other associations whose executive leadership have never been successful as a home stager.
MISSION: “The International Association of Home Staging Professionals IAHSP® is dedicated to advancing the education of the professional Home Stager and real estate agent as they prepare homes for sale. IAHSP® members strive to serve the public to the best of their ability built upon the principles, practices, and education of approved Home Staging courses and designations.”
IAHSP® serves not only its members, but the public as well who are looking for qualified professionals who can help them get their properties sold. IAHSP® provides recourse for clients who may be unhappy with a service provider and can act as an intermediary between our member and the customer when necessary.
IAHSP® has a traditional corporate structure with a business advisory and leadership board in place. IAHSP® uses a third-party CPA to prepare tax returns, has attorneys review important documents, and has a business plan in place for measurable growth initiatives. None of the Leadership Board is paid a salary for their roles except for the Chairwoman, who is paid a very low 5 figure income annually to run the association. The association has members who volunteer to serve in leadership positions for the association at the regional, state and local levels.
In our social media platforms, IAHSP® has a standard policy of not allowing unkind, snarky, or negative remarks. Information shared needs to be helpful and positive, and those who want to engage in negativity are unwelcome on our platforms. It is not that we don’t have challenges, there is a way to share that does not entail tearing another person down in order to boost ourselves up. We have a policy of speaking kindly about other colleagues and using “the Golden Rule,” when topics are brought up publicly and on social media. Learning lessons from the past and understanding life is too short to engage in negativity, IAHSP® chooses to set a positive example for current and future members.
An association should be run by people who have actual success and experience in the Home Staging industry running a company. An association leader should love the process of Staging. Ask your association leaders, the ones who run the daily operations, “How many years have you owned a staging business? What is your favorite part about the Staging industry?”
Association leaders need to understand first-hand what their members need as their businesses grow. You cannot teach what you do not know and cannot truly understand the issues a staging business owner faces unless you have personally experienced it. Association leaders need to have a passion and love for the industry they serve.
Do you want to be part of an Association whose leaders cannot relate first-hand to what you do and have publicly shared they dislike the service and process of Staging?
When you ask that question of IAHSP® leaders, we will share we have been at this for years – some of our leaders are going on 18 years actively owning a staging business – and we love helping our clients and seeing the transformations that take place with the properties we stage. We are committed to this industry. We are leaders in the industry, setting standards for excellence with our work. Because our board members own and operate successful staging companies, we understand what our members need to succeed. We also have a vested interest in the longevity of the industry and will do what is needed to ensure our industry is protected and preserved.
What types of resources are provided as part of your membership? Do you have an opportunity to network and learn from colleagues? Do you have business support materials provided and included in your membership?
IAHSP® was the first association to start industry member chapters. In 2003, our current Chairwoman launched the first chapter to help collaborate and pool resources in order to better brand the service of Staging in her market. Since that time, many member chapters have been launched by IAHSP® and other associations. Providing a place where colleagues can meet and discuss areas of interest, challenges and learn is vital for longevity. In 2008, IAHSP® created the first “Remote Chapter,” for association members who lived a distance away from any physical chapter. This meant no matter where a member lived in the world, they could attend a chapter meeting using technology such as conference call or go-to-meeting.
IAHSP® has business resources from marketing materials, business support documents, staging agreements, and added education provided to our members at no added cost. Members need to log in to the IAHSP member portal and they have access to many resources to help them grow and thrive.
4 RECOGNITION – UNBIASED AND COMPLIMENTARY
A trade association needs to provide recognition opportunities for its members. One of the best ways an industry professional can share their expertise with their client base is through recognition. Recognition should not be monetized.
We submit to win and receive awards to be appreciated by our colleagues and show our current and future clients we are outstanding in our industry. As a marketing tool, it helps us gain added business and expand our reach. An association needs to provide ways for its members to receive recognition and create ways that allow any member to be considered, and not recognize the same companies and/or individuals each year.
Charging for submissions for awards means only those who want to “pay to play,” will win awards. With funds being raised by memberships, and the cost of an average nice quality cut glass award between $20-$35, an association should provide these as part of their overall annual business plan, not charge members even more money to participate. Whether on principle or affordability, members who are not able/willing to pay the fees are not considered for awards therefore the awards are not representative of the association let alone the industry.
In 2003, IAHSP® gave the first awards to deserving individuals who were making a difference. IAHSP® recognizes individuals in various categories with the “Staging Industry Awards,” given at our annual Conference & EXPO. Winners are awarded in various categories from vacant and occupied staging, individual and team recognition and specialty awards. The awards are open to anyone in the industry, regardless of affiliation and are without bias. IAHSP® does not charge its members to submit or nominate a colleague and absorbs the cost of producing the awards and paying staff to facilitate the process.
In 2017, IAHSP® launched “Best of Home Staging” to offer recognition to industry members for Leadership, Customer Care, and Staging Excellence. The awards were created in direct response to Best of Houzz, which is a design site, to provide a focus for the Home Staging industry members who deserve recognition. The awards are without bias, and individuals have been recognized regardless of affiliation with an association.
5 VENDOR PARTNER AND WHOLESALE BUYING PROGRAM
A Trade Association needs to cultivate relationships with companies who support the association members. As part of their mission, expanding programs that help members operate businesses more successfully and strategically is key.
IAHSP® has a robust Wholesale Buying Program (www.iahspwbp.com) and because of our large membership numbers, we have been able to negotiate discounts and incentives usually reserved for large retail stores or other large order entities. We attend the wholesale furniture markets and provide tours for our members to learn how to shop wholesale, and easily set up accounts with our partner Vendor Companies. (www.ShopWholesaleMarket.com) These are paid to help support the efforts of the staff who are present to conduct the tours and support transportation. It is not a money maker for the facilitators, and we do not charge extra for access to the Wholesale Buying Program.
Our EXPO at our conference is the largest industry expo in the world. Our vendor partners are excited to work with our association as they see the value in having access to our active membership through our focused marketing program and follow-through.
6 EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
Do you have added educational offerings that are included? Can you earn added industry credentials to help advance your business success? Are there resources for all business levels? Is your association looking for ways to incorporate education beyond their capabilities?
IAHSP® provides added education included with membership. There are 12 FAST Track Sessions (13 hours) any members can watch and learn to help them with both business building and marketing. We have over 65 hours of added education through the weekly Home Staging Talk Show found on our YouTube channel and at www.HomeStagingTalk.com. Industry Designations such as Buyer Trends Specialist, Color Specialist, Luxury Home Specialist, and Investor Staging Consultant are some recent educational advancement offerings provided by IAHSP®.
IAHSP® offers business information for members as well as an Advanced Business Portal for those members who are six-figure and above income earners. Our members have access to power points and education on a variety of topics from our past conferences.
IAHSP® is the only industry association that provides NEW credentials each year at our Conference. These designations are taught by industry professionals and experts and are targeted to an industry niche service in which our members have indicated they would like to earn specific credentials.
IAHSP® has paid to provide outside speakers at its conferences, recognizing the need for external and unrelated experts to share on topics outside the realm of membership expertise.
Is the Association working with other leaders and reaching out to build bridges of cooperation and collaboration?
If a trade association is unwilling to participate or its leadership is not able to contribute due to lack of personal experience, that would be a cause to pause.
You want to be part of an association with leaders who are paving the way for industry growth, recognition and success. The leadership of the association you choose as a member needs to value and incorporate other educators and influencers and be able to work with them for the betterment of the entire industry. Industry leaders need to build-up and edify others in the industry and be an example of bringing our industry together.
IAHSP® was the first association to provide a combined collaboration with other associations, educators and influencers. The Advanced Stager Training (www.AdvancedStagerTraining.com) brings together industry educators, association leaders, and influencers to help provide six-figure and above business owners with added knowledge and resources to continue to grow their businesses.
Instead of looking at other associations, educational companies and influencers as a “threat to membership,” IAHSP® has taken the approach that “more means more,” and none of us knows it all. By bringing together other people who have expertise and wisdom, it allows us to provide a more fully formed educational offering for our members.
IAHSP® recognizes the talent of many educators and leaders in the industry and has officially aligned with entities offering added education in color, photography, decorating, mentoring and coaching resources and more. We have officially partnered with HSRA™ because we have the same mind-set pertaining to the future of our industry and how we want to serve our association members.
IAHSP® is collaborating with real estate and staging industry influencers from Inman, NAR®, International Market Centers (IMC), and others for education and strategic alliances. In order to cultivate these professional partnerships, IAHSP® leaders network, speak at and attend key industry events to meet with important influencers. HSRA™ is strategically engaging with the same entities and by partnering together, IAHSP® and HSRA™ are forging key relationships that will be used to help support our industry standards initiatives.
8 VARIED MEMBER BASE
Why is it important to have a variety of members? How is the association working to attract different types of people?
IAHSP® has the most diverse base of membership of any industry association. We are truly global with over 20 countries on 5 continents represented in our current membership and growing. We have members from all age groups, sexes, backgrounds, races, faiths, and family statuses. We do not discriminate based on any of these factors and encourage the exchange of ideas that helps better the industry and members. We share ideas and learn from each other’s cultures and backgrounds, making IAHSP® a global force for the home staging industry. We work to attract members with our online social media presence, events, and interaction with industry colleagues. Like attracts like, and IAHSP® is known for being warm, welcoming and inviting to members. Our slogan, “Your Home in the Home Staging Industry,” is not just words – it is a core value and motivation for our association.
The ONE thing our association members do NOT vary on is the foundation of education as a requirement for membership. All our association members have made an investment in their education to help further success and longevity. All IAHSP® Board Members own and operate successful businesses and have invested in their education as part of their growth.
9 INDUSTRY STANDARDS
Why do standards matter? Should the industry have standards and who is responsible for enforcing them?
IAHSP® values ALL industry members and does not want anyone to struggle in their business journey. A firm foundation in education is well worth the investment and that is why education remains the base requirement for membership. To allow anyone to join without any standards, puts the focus on money and numbers versus standards and quality. We need to encourage anyone interested in starting a Home Staging Business to get education FIRST. Just like the real estate industry – agents cannot sell houses without education first and passing a test and maintaining their license with continuing education.
If we are part of the real estate industry, shouldn’t we also have baseline standards for education and business practices?
Encouraging those interested in being part of the industry to obtain credentialed education uplifts and enhances the industry in its entirety. To do the opposite, makes the weakest link the standard for all other business owners who are part of that association. It lowers the base standard of our industry and allows those who want to be successful but have not been taught how to run a staging business, to gain legitimacy as part of an association. It hurts this individual who may not know better and causes them to struggle needlessly in their pursuit of success. Because the industry was not established with standards at the start, it is up to associations to provide the guidelines to those desiring to enter the industry.
Home Staging is not interior design, decorating, feng-shui, professional organizing, or a hobby. It is a professional real estate industry service provided by expert business owners who understand how to create a marketable product for home buyers.
When it comes to the topic of “Neutrality,” challenge any association who claims they are 100% neutral.
History and common sense have shown they act in the best interest of their association, and the industry at large is secondary. The only way for an association to be completely neutral would be for all its leaders to be disassociated with the home staging industry and the board members not paid by the association they represent. A third-party entity that represented ALL associations and groups would be the only true unbiased entity directed by its members with equal voices for all influencers and leaders.
9.2 APPROVED STAGING COURSES:
IAHSP® approves educational courses and providers and does not charge for this process. IAHSP® does not benefit monetarily from those requesting review and approval, and it is the only association who is truly unbiased when providing this service. The leaders in IAHSP® have more experience to evaluate an educational program than any other association because they are home staging educators and know what is needed in a quality program.
A “pay to play” process where the association takes substantial revenue from the education provider is a profit maker. The process for review is subjective, and not necessary to take days or weeks to review course content. A qualified reviewer can tell whether a course is qualified or not, and at most a few hours is needed to review course content. Charging over $2,000 to course providers seems a steep fee to pay for a review and seal of approval that other entities are willing to provide as a courtesy.
An education provider who does not want to pay money is often downplayed as a course by associations who get paid for review, which is hardly an even playing field for education providers. Many of the approved education providers funnel their membership to the association that was paid to approve them, which presents a possible conflict of interest where the association being paid to approve the course is benefiting monetarily from the course itself.
An Association should not compete against the educational courses they approved.
Courses that teach real estate agents about home staging, that have been developed by the association that has stagers pay a fee to the association for the ability to teach real estate agents, and who then compete against 1 and 2 day training courses offered by educational companies who paid to be approved by the association represents a conflict of interest.
Taking business from the course providers who have been educating real estate agents for years is something IAHSP® will not do. Education offered through IAHSP® are courses and designations that are added education to advance the home staging professional, not baseline education provided by qualified training companies and schools.
9.4 DE-VALUATION OF OUR INDUSTRY
Courses that are offered by approved instructors that are free to the real estate agent undermines our industry value.
When an agent can learn about home staging for free and even receive continuing education credits for their license renewal, it plants the impression that staging has no value, and feeds into the issue home stagers deal with regarding agents/clients who do not want to pay fairly for our services and want things for free. There is no value in free.
An association who is intent on raising the standards for professional home stagers understands this fact and does not endorse or recommend free education with continuing education credits for any agent course. Educating agents about Home Staging is important and should not be free.
10 FUTURE FOCUSED
An Association should be future-focused and anticipate changes to the industry and do what is in the best interest of their members.
IAHSP® leaders have been working with HSRA® leaders, industry educators, coaches and influencers to discuss how to establish professional standards for our industry and address the increased interest and visibility the Home Staging Industry is attracting from government entities such as the IRS and FTC.
The Professional Home Marketer Alliance (PHMA) is an organization that will bring the industry together and provide standards for those who want to be recognized as professional home stagers.
There are four fundamental baseline qualifications professional stagers need to have in order to be seen by the clients we serve and outside regulatory agencies as professional business owners with standards.
The standards will include: • initial staging business education from one of the approved entities or qualification under “the exception rule” • adherence to a code of ethics and best practices guidelines • membership in one of the approved industry associations • and continuing education annually through conferences and online education from approved providers
The alliance will have equal representation from influential industry entities, and will be headed by a third-party, outside individual who can act without bias.
PLANNING FOR REGULATION AND STANDARDS:
Leaders from three largest industry associations (IAHSP®, RESA®, and HSRA™) were invited to participate in the process of forming a “United Nations” for home staging. In order to bring us together and unify the staging industry under one common goal, PHMA is comprised of equal representation from the major associations. Because current associations are not going to walk away from what they have built, turn over leadership and revenue, the only way to accomplish this is to create a neutral organization whose focus is to create a structure for regulating who is called a professional home stager, and provide resources for petitioning, lobbying and protecting our industry from invasive regulations and scrutiny from external agencies.
To date, only IAHSP® and HRSA™ have agreed to work together on this initiative, along with industry educators, coaches and influencers who agree with the common goal. RESA® was invited and opted not to participate.
It is important those in the industry know all leaders from the major associations were invited to join, to participate, share ideas, and be part of this process, and RESA executives declined. On three separate occasions (once live and two times on the phone) the attempts to share the goals of the PHMA were met with disinterest and RESA executives declined to join in a discussion with the executives of IAHSP® and HSRA™, which was disappointing. Those who are part of the process will move forward for this necessary initiative.
CONCLUSION: Where do you belong?
Home Staging industry members need to align with an association who truly understands home staging businesses, has the best interests of members at heart, are doing what is necessary to bring members together and establish professional standards that will raise the level of expectation of our clients we serve.
Your Association needs to protect our industry now and into the future, help protect your business, provide education and resources to advance your business success, have a mission and purpose rooted in serving others and giving back.
Jennie Norris, IAHSP Chairwoman and John Norris, Sr Exec VP, shared an article with Inman that was published on September 30th. The article covered what is an Improvement versus Maintenance when selling a home.