Are Real Estate Agents Allowed to Own a Home Staging Business?
by Jennie Norris, Chairwoman for The International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®)
The Home Staging Industry is growing and is the perfect partner with the Real Estate Industry! In fact, Home Staging is a REAL ESTATE TOOL – not decorating or design. Yes, there are crossover elements with our sister industries: Interior Design, Home Decorating, Professional Organizing and even Feng Shui. However, at its core, Home Staging is a Real Estate Service – because the goal of Staging is to help a property SELL at the best price and in the fastest time! Our sister industries have different goals – none of them focus on SELLING a HOUSE as the primary goal of their business.
Now – Real Estate Agents – can you own and operate a Home Staging Business? The answer is YES!
The industry is a free market industry. There are no rules from the REALTOR® side that say you cannot have a business in Home Staging, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. A Home Stager serves the real estate industry, so if you did decide to ADD Staging as a business option for your overall income, you would have two businesses – one where you work with Buyers and Sellers of properties, and the other where you help make those properties look great for photos, showings to help them sell faster and for the best price!
In FACT, the Home Staging industry was STARTED by a REALTOR® – who saw the need to help houses look better for Buyers. In 1972, the phrase, “Staging” was coined by Barb Schwarz, The Creator of Home Staging®. As a REALTOR® she knew houses would sell faster if Sellers were willing to do some basic things to prepare their houses for sale. The industry has evolved greatly since then, but its birth was rooted in Real Estate!
Your first step is to set up a professional Home Staging Business and to do that you need to understand HOW to make that happen.
First, get some education. Earn an approved Industry Accreditation or Designation. Go to www.iahsp.com to see the list of approved courses and make your determination about which one is best for you. Courses are comparably priced, and there are options for live, in person courses, live webinar courses, and self-paced courses. IAHSP®, the International Association of Home Staging Professionals®, has approved courses listed on their site. Our membership is comprised of industry professionals that have education in the industry, which sets us apart from other associations that do not have the same membership standards. INVEST in your education from the start so you do not struggle and guess at how to be successful.
A quality course will teach you the ins-and-outs of owning a business from marketing, pricing, strategic growth and what to do for various industry services from consultations, hands-on Staging, and vacant property staging. Staging is not just adding a few plants and towels to a property. It is a process and when done properly and professionally can be lucrative for a business owner who understands the potential from the start.
There are resources available to Home Staging Industry Professionals including rental resources, discounts on purchases from retailers and the ability to establish wholesale accounts. The Training Company you choose and the Home Staging Association you belong to should provide industry resources and discounts to you. Not all Home Stagers have huge warehouses and invest in inventory. There are many very successful Home Stagers that run businesses utilizing 3rd party industry resources for the furniture and décor needed to Stage properties. You can also focus on consultations and hands-on Stagings where you use the Seller’s things only – that is a large market segment and one that does not require acquisition of any inventory. Again, how you grow your business and the services you decide to provide are up to you.
HOW DO YOU MINIMIZE CONCERNS?
You would essentially be working with your colleagues/competitors. This can present a sticky situation if you are in an area where competition and possible distrust exists.
You bring up the concerns your potential clients will have about you being BOTH an active Real Estate Agent or REALTOR® and a Professional Home Stager – before they do.
Will you steal my client? The trust factor with this relationship is key. Let your prospective colleague clients know that their clients will never know you are a REALTOR® when you are working with them in Stager mode.
What if my client finds out you are a REALTOR®? You need to let your colleague client know that if their Seller figures out you are a REALTOR® and asks you to take on the listing, you will decline. That shows integrity.
What about Leads? If a lead comes to you from the Staging work you did in the house, and the potential client does not have a listing agent selected, you will pass that lead on to the colleague client that brought you in as the Stager (or refer the lead at an agreed %). See, if you had not Staged that house for the listing agent colleague client, that person that needs a REALTOR® to sell their house would never have found you. That shows ultimate integrity.
Is it WISE to DIVERSIFY in Business? YES.
Depending on your market and your financial goals, having more than one income stream is wise. There are many agents that focus solely on Real Estate. Taught to put all their eggs in one basket, it is sink or swim for their success. There are also many that diversify and are licensed appraisers, lenders, title reps, business coaches, trainers – they have other sources of income outside the industry. It is your life and your financial goals are yours – and doing what is necessary to reach those goals is your decision. Home Staging provides you with another option for income. You do need to have an “eye” for placement, understand spatial arrangement, color, industry trends, so getting education is key.
BOTTOM LINE: If you want to have a Home Staging Business and you’re a REALTOR® you CAN do both. Depending on where your passion lies, you will most likely end up gravitating towards one as your primary business. As the saying goes, “Do what you love and you will never WORK a day in your life!”