Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


Under Qualifed "Stagers" Flood the Market

Too many unqualified and untalented people are entering the field of staging... seeing it as a way to make a quick buck.  It is easy to separate the amateurs from the professionals. Since they are in the business of "good first impressions" then their websites (heck, their business card) should give you just that.  If the site and the portfolio of their work leaves you with a good impression... then I would bet they will be good for you and you seller.  But if their own site to looks poor... then my advice is to move on.   Staging is not rocket science... but it is creative talent. 

Well that's enough for now... CRAIG 


April 9, 2007 UPDATE: Please note this was my 2nd post EVER!... first posted  LAST JULY 2006!

Sorry for the confusion on this one of my rather old post... it was from LAST summer. As soon as someone comments on it... it  kind of resurrects it in the group. (I don't want to delete because it is part of my personal blog history, development and growth.)

MUCH has changed in the industry since writing this... and Active Rain has been quite instrumental in moving our industry along. So keeping my words up is a great way to document the growth, giving a reference point.

The sharing of ideas helps all stagers provide better service and market themselves better. The EXPOSURE to staging via this forum has helped MANY stagers get jobs. AND created awareness in areas where staging was never even heard of. Don't get me wrong... we have a long way to go... but this site has REALLY helped.

As for those who graduate from foundation training courses... there will always be those that rise to the top... no doubt.

I have learned to make sure students are educated in their knowledge as to what to expect from the realities of owning a staging business. AND if they choose to take it on...  there is an AMAZING resource right here in Active Rain / Stage It Forward to help our peers.

HOWEVER... I think that prior to Active Rain there were not places for people interested in Staging to learn the realities (good and bad) of owning a Staging Business.

Anyway... there will ALWAYS be those that graduate and rise up and create amazing staging companies.

Again I am sorry if my OLD words created doubt on just what is possible. Since that post (my second ever) I have learned much and seen much happen.

For those willing to take on the job and work of creating staging successful companies, I sincerely wish you the best in building yours...

Me (Again)

Comment balloon 23 commentsCraig Schiller • July 23 2006 09:44PM


Accreditation is available for staging, but just because someone has initials after their name doesn't mean they have talent or know-how.
Posted by Kristal Kraft, Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022 (Novella Real Estate) over 14 years ago

I've been designing homes for sale for years, in addition to designing them for living.  Both have been done very successfully and long before I became accredited, although as I've mentioned before, it astounded me in the early days that people put their homes and possibly their financial future in my hands without ever seeing any of my work.

Unless the consumer knows the stager well, I would certainly suggest they take a look at photos of previous work or get recommendations.

As an aside, and I know this may come as a shock to some, but there are unqualified agents out there as well.

Posted by Geri Sonkin, Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert (Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103) over 14 years ago

To many coming in looking for a quick buck...that sounds a lot like real estate agents. At least with the slow down we will see less agents over the next few years.

Posted by Ken Smith (Suburban House Hunters) over 14 years ago
I completely agree with your comments about hiring people that have no experience. I have actually taught over 300 stagers for a major staging training company. Many of these women have talent but are not able to run a business. It frustrates me to see consumers hire people because they have a designation when they have no real experience or business skills. A tip I tell my clients, before you hire a staging professional make sure to ask for referral from Realtors and Home Sellers they have worked with, ask if they have insurance (if they are a real business owner they should have it) and ask to see examples of THEIR OWN WORK. So many stagers have websites that they use stock photos of other interior designer's work and call it examples of staged homes- these are not homes that they have personally staged. Thank you for starting this thread. As a former instructor I want to be supportive of my students but also want to educate the consumer. Many of my past students are talented and great business people- it is the non professionals that make it difficult for the rest of us.
Posted by Kate Hart (Hart & Associates Staging and Design) over 14 years ago
I completely agree with you and you are right while anyone can take a course you either have it or you don't. When I go into a home it always amazes me that the realtor tells me that they do stage and that they have "staged" the property but that maybe a second opinion is needed. While I bite my tongue while entering the premises, I proceed to make suggestions. Much to their amazement I hear comments such as "Oh I never would have thought that", realtors are trained in making necessary "suggestions" like clean, paint, declutter...all of which are only the beginnings of staging..Stagers we need to unite so that we can truly help sellers achieve the goal of selling their home
Posted by Phyllis Pafumi about 14 years ago
Well then how do you guys feel about a stager who only hires interior designers to do their work? All because they say they do not know how to stage. Isn't this against evrything we all are? This isn't just a business but creative endeavors, right? Or am I being naive?
Posted by Mary Seferian (DIVA DECOR DESIGN) over 13 years ago

Good post.  Yes, I am certain there are some stagers who are in it for the quick buck, etc.  However, isn't this true in all professions?  Let's face it, when hiring a stager (or anyone else) it is up to the individual to check out that persons credentials and do their homework before making the decision to hire them.

At this time, staging is an unregulated business, with no specific licensing or central authority.  Therefore, whether a person has a "title" means very little.  Anyone can subscribe to the various staging courses and for the price of admission, walk away with a certificate, designation, title, etc, etc! 

With that said, the hope is that the majority of stagers are good at what they do, fair, reputable and honest.  Just like with realtors, teachers, doctors or any other profession, we want to believe the majority are like this, however, regardless of degrees or training there are always going to be a few "bad apples".

So the upshoot to this, when hiring a stager (or anyone else) Let the buyer BEWARE!!!!!


Posted by Maureen Graziano (Third Eye Home Staging) over 13 years ago

What you said is probably true Craig, but the thing is, these same people are probably exiting rather quickly also.

There is an answer which some don't want to hear. A national governing board (GRASS ROOTS -- not from the top down but vice versa) makes since. It is time to take the staging industry from being seen as a Cottage Industry to one with governance and integrity. Like you say, it isn't rocket science but doesn't it make sense that the cost of the "testing" someone pays for in order to call themselves a Stager isn't paid into an individual pocket but rather is used by the industry to further the industry as a whole. There would still be need for teachers, trainers, whatever they want to be called but they wouldn't be claiming to be setting the standards they would be teaching to the standards. Best practice, community awareness, legislation watch dog, discounted insurance, local networking opportunities, civic participation are all things I can think of which would be addressed with self-governance by a National Governing Board. If we don't have something in place like this we will be governed all right and who wants Uncle Sam telling us the standards when we know better than he anyway.

No single person, no matter how good they are can do this. It has to be a team effort and AR is a great place to start. Do you see how the realtors on this site are confused about being certified or accredited or whatever other designation has been used. Let's clear it up. Let's give them the real thing.

Sorry I took so long. Kind-a passionate here. 


Posted by Yvonne Root, Home Stager - Northern Arizona (rooms b.y. root) over 13 years ago

This post made me feel so sad.  I am just coming out of the gate in this business and my website, pictures, portfolio and presentations are still evolving.  Are they perfect?  Far from it!  Are thy even good?  Probably not.  Baby steps and perseverance will see me through.  

I remember starting out in hard line sales 15 years ago. I was a shy thing with no real public speaking experience.  I had several people take me under their wing and provide me with encouragement and advice.  When I left that position last October, I was an industry expert that only presented to Fortune 500 companies with a close rate of 83%.  It was all due to perseverance and baby steps.

I am grateful to those clients that allow this newbie to stage their homes so that I can grow to acquire a spectacular portfolio.  AND I WILL DO JUST THAT!!


Rid you mind of can't.

Posted by Deanne Knutter (Turning Leaf Equities, LLC) over 13 years ago

Oh Deanne, please don't feel sad.  You are here on AR :) Whether you have an accredation, certificate, or a degree from SHK(the school of hard knocks).  You made the attempt to be a part of a larger entity.

I think what Craig and many others here are referring to are the ones that Jump on the Staging Wagon because it IS making a difference and they want to have a piece of it....... and they have no idea what they are doing. We have store after store of decor items here, they are everywhere.  But I walked in the other day to one of them and, upon asking for a designer doscount, discovered that several of the sales people there were saying that they were Stagers. Oh, I said, are you ASPs?.............. (sorry but that is what popped out).  What is that? was the answer. One lady high tailed it to the back room. I explained what it was and feeling a little out numbered and uneasy at the time............... I turned it around and tried to promote some of the upcoming classes in the area. I signed up for a Designer Discount... not Staging because "they had their own".

I am all for people who truly are great Stagers.... name penned on a piece paper or not. But to promote someone who just works at a new decor store as a Stager in that way, crosses the line with me.

Eventually, we will need to unite in some way. We can all be Great at what we do, but we can be Greater in numbers.

Posted by Lori Kim Polk, Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento ( Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services) over 13 years ago
Craig - In any profession there are the best and the worst - In med school half the students graduate at the top half, and the rest are in the bottom half.  Staging really is being flooded with many more schools and entrepeneurs looking forward to Staging the World.  And, poor work can dilute the hard work and efforts of true professionals.  How can we make our profession stronger?  What can we do to make sure that Stagers are "Stagers" in the true sense?  I sense your frustration.  How was your weekend? Something pushed your button - I would take you out for coffee if I could!  All the best.  Margaret
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago
Craig, did you have a similar experience over the weekend?  Please let us know what tripped your trigger.
Posted by Lori Kim Polk, Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento ( Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services) over 13 years ago

FYI guys - Craig had posted this last year, and I ressurrected it by adding a post this weekend!

Posted by Mary Seferian (DIVA DECOR DESIGN) over 13 years ago


This was ONLY my 2nd POST EVER!

LOL... much has changed... in ME and the industry.

ACTIVE Rain has been a BIG part of everyone helping each other out!


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago
This is too funny. Way to go Craig and Mary. Tell us Craig, what do you think differently now than you did then. How have you grown? How have Home Stagers grown because of what you said? Give us your updated version. We are all waiting and won't take no for an answer. I guess we will have to take silence for an answer if that happens. We could sick TLW on you. She will make you talk. I think.
Posted by Yvonne Root, Home Stager - Northern Arizona (rooms b.y. root) over 13 years ago

And it all continues to evolve. To Deanne who may feel intimidated... don't! At some point, we all hung a sign on our door and proclaimed ourselves stagers. I accidentally started staging. And regarding the website, well, a lot of dough can make anyone look like a good stager. So what Debra Gould is always saying about people using their own real production pictures is meaningful, becasue a savvy client will recognize a commercially overworked site. I think the best way to distinguish the best from worst, the serious from the "just dabbling"... is and always will be refferals. The good stagers get them. They are busy. They are posting at 3 AM because they spent the whole day planning or installing, or securing the next job.

Of course, like today, maybe they are posting when they are suppose to be taking the day to catch up with the laundry... wondering... maybe I should just get some help and go stage another home... because it is so much more exciting than pairing socks.



Posted by Julianna Hind, REALTOR, 206-679-4768, Tacoma Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, WA (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago
OK - pull back!  LOL!  Let's do coffee anyway - how have things changed?
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago
Gee Craig, you must have been kinda full of yourself when you posted that first blog!  When you started was your website perfect?  Were your business cards perfect?  What were your credentials as a stager?  Did you have a portfolio brimming with before and after photos?  MOST of us started this venture because we love to do what we do, and we know we can make a difference.  Because our websites are not flashy, our cards less than executive looking, few photos to show, doesn't mean we aren't talented.  I started on a shoestring budget and have to put my money where it counts, in good quality props and advertising.  My website has to wait till I have time to work it and hire a professional webdesigner (currently a family member maintains it), and my business cards look better than some that have been presented to me. So, I'm glad you have done a turn around!  Perfect all of the above does not a good stager make. 
Posted by Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495 (Stage it Right!) over 13 years ago

If I could make (another!) teeny comment here. I know that Craig can stand up for himself, but please note that this WAS in fact posted one YEAR ago! One year ago, I myself wasn't even close to having the nerve to blog. The only reason this post is showing right now is because I found it to be true, and hence it goes to the top of the blogging list.

A year ago, I myself didn't think that AR would remold and reeducate so many of us! Just by looking at all of the websites, it makes up want to better our own business.

Posted by Mary Seferian (DIVA DECOR DESIGN) over 13 years ago


Hmmmm "full of myself" as you put it... If being very VERY DEMANDING of myself and being so from moment I opened my staging doors is "full of myself" then YUP I AM!

When I started my company 3 years ago it was JUST ME.  Yes I made my cards. Yes I created and designed my website. Yes, I staged the houses I did. Yes I managed the books. Yes I shopped for props and accessories. Yes I delivered, installed and picked up all I used in staging. Yes I did my own sales presentations.


We are in the business of creating POSITIVE VISUAL IMPRESSIONS that sell a home. I believe that ANY STAGER, if they claim this is what the do, then they need to DO IT.  They needed to BE it.   

I placed demands upon myself and my company then, I STILL DO NOW! Only now I push myself harder as I have wisdom and experience behind me. This helps create the innovation which, if you have read ALL my blogs, you will see that which makes me so "full of myself" I share FREELY and constantly.

I like EVERY stager started with ONE set of pictures in my portfolio... but after I took them I looked at them. Studied them and the next home I shot I made DAMN SURE the quality got better.... and better... and better with each job I did.

Websites are tough, but they were TOUGHER then. I created mine on a shoestring budget whch one can STILL DO for $60 a year.... that was it. But I did the BEST I could do. If you go to my "pretty" blog you will see that I have a list of EXAMPLES stagers whose websites are what I believe to be AMAZING examples and inspirations for others. SOME have paid a fortune for these sights... others like  Ambiance Staging are created on a shoestring.... but it still looks fantastic. I make sure people know.

When I started there were no such things as home staging blogs. Blogs cost NOTHING except the time it takes to set them up. The tools that are created by the developers of these FREE sites make then a no brainer. Posting pictures the MOMENT a staging job is complete is an easy, effective and CHEAP online porfolio. Just make sure you take the time to learn how to take pictures. Because as a home STAGER you have to selll your self and you skills... clients will want to SEE all the talent you speak of.

Balance, scale, symetery, proprtion, color and flow are some of the key BASIC to staging... and are are reflected in many other areas of owning a staging company. YUP I think a PROFESSIONAL STAGING company should BE THAT TOO.  From the start... and continue to get better.

Oh FYI we designed and maintain our own website (NOT just our blog site.) WHY? because I know INVESTING in the time to LEARN this skill gives us the ability to turn on dime and keep my site fresh intresting and current.

We shoot take ALL our own photos... over time we got better. We did not settle... we push to get better and better with each property we stage. 

My credentials? In my 20 years of professional life I worked in, media/advertising & marketing for 11 years.  Sales was the common denominator to all the places I worked.

I have done graphic design, interior design, product design, landscape design, trade show EVENT management and trade show BOOTH design.

At the age of 38 I put myself back in school to study interior design. This was a 4 YEAR program... NOT a not a weekend workshop.

I see staging as a marriage to what I did for MANY MANY MANY YEARS (which was MAINLY marketing) with my talent for design.

Staging is a maketing tool... FIRST AND FORMOST!

Websites can take some time. Portfolios less time. But, as for a business card... it better be AMAZING. PERIOD... no excuses. There are a zillion people out there with the talent to create them... and it does not take a fortune to have them come up with something that communicates ones ability to BE a FIRST IMPRESSION company.

So, I guess I believe a cheap card is as cheap as the excuse for not having one.





Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago


I agree with everything you've said.  There are many who get into staging thinking that it's an easy way to bring in some extra income.  That's because it is largely portrayed that way.  Just as the Real Estate Industry in general is portrayed in my opinion.

Being in the business of first impressions, having a professional image, website, and marketing materials DOES make a big difference.  

But even though I feel I approached the web, marketing and image/logo aspect properly, I still didn't realize the full impact of what I was getting into was the business/accounting side of things.  Profit/Loss sheets.  Break-even point. Sales projections.  Inventory ledger.  Taxes and bookkeeping.   I realized this when I put together my 25 page business plan at the beginning of this year, which took me over 2 weeks to complete!

For those who want to succeed, all these aspects should be taken into account and handled well!


Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) over 13 years ago
As a stager you are your product - through your language, policies, ettiquette, clothing - even your vehicle.    Craig - you have great curb appeal with your pic! 
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 12 years ago

Clearly this was brought up a long time ago - your second post ever - I would like to say that I think it is just as relevant now as ever (perhaps moreso).  I think your advice is still sound. Maybe it's a good thing that it has been brought up again!

BTW:  love the new photo! 

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 12 years ago