Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog

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Clearing Up Churned Waters

 Recently I wrote and posted  2 similar blogs entitled: Inconvenient Truths about Home Staging. A shorter edited down version was posted here on Active Rain while a more complete and comprehensive version was then posted here on what I call my "pretty blog." 

The post created quite a ruckus with a foundation training company whose website, at one point, I quoted directly from and linked to to prove that I was not making an unsubstantiated point. They, however felt attacked and prestented me with Cease & Desist email and comments. I have since removed all of my direct references to them in my posts and all links I had placed in my blogs to their site.

Unfortunately, I think they saw my words as personal attack on their program, which was not the point. They are NOT doing anything that most other staging foundation training organizations within our industry are doing.  For all I know they may have one of the most in-expensive & compressive training programs available for those interested in learning about home staging.

But regardless, I bigger insight and message was the point of this and the initial post.

Foundation training programs are a big part of the the home staging industry. Being that I am one of the LEAST formally schooled in home staging (I am self trained) I have tried to stay neutral about training. Staying neutral, yet believing in the benefits of training, I tried to be a trusted resource to those that seek out my advice on "which foundation training program they should take." To make it easy for people to do their homework I have compiled a FREE reference list (in alphabetical order) of 33 different training programs I know of and placed it in the right hand column of my pretty blog. Thanks to Goggle Analytics I know that people researching staging utilize this list. 

Anyway, the point I was originally making in the "Inconvenient Truths" blog was that I see the staging INDUSTRY (note INDUSTRY not one player) being partially responsible for the bashing it got from a report on staging by the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA). While much of what the NAEBA said was wrong and sensationalized I still don't believe it was all wrong. The report got me to think about the Home Staging Industry... and the collective "who and how" we have been and how there could be some truth to what the NAEBA reported.

So with the home staging industry in my sites I started writing.  My writing took me back to re-examine what I refereed to as a "Frankenstein" of a problem in our industry... Credentials.  I have found at least 34 different foundation staging training programs in North America.  I have no idea how good or bad any of these courses are. I can tell you that I have spoken to MANY stagers from all over the USA & Canada... some have raved about their training others were not impressed. I've heard it all. In general I believe people are pretty happy that they received formal training... if only for the fact that it got them going in the industry.

However, with no "board of staging education" overseeing what is actually being taught... there is no way of knowing  how good or bad the training these organizations are offering is.  Or how compressive and complete it is. To be a staging trainer all one needs to do is open their doors.... and say they are a staging training school.

Lump on top of that the fact that so many of these organizations are then offering quick "Accredited Certifications" for their graduates to tack on to their names in the hopes to legitimize their graduates as "stagers" to the eyes of the consumer, I believe this is now further compromising the whole industry. What is good? What is Bad? What is Right? What is Wrong? Who knows!

For the most part the consuming public has no understanding of this. The public views and relies on credentials as proof of ability. The consuming pubic believes the person who has been "Accredited" by an organization has gone through a process were they have been trained, tested and PASSED. TESTING is TYPICAL and expected in an ACCREDITATION PROCESS. As the industry stands today, staging really is NOT about the credentials, it is a combination of talent, experience, & education... and yet so much emphasis is placed on Accrediting Credentials. This has been a topic of conversation time and time again here on Active Rain.

The industry's allowance of  and reliance on unregulated certification and accreditation can expose the consumer to less then good and qualified staging... ultimately diluting what staging can make available. With no regulation on training, training schools, curriculum, testing, or certification this will a problem that will continue to get bigger. Not having standards will ultimately mean there will be consumers that use stagers that do substandard work and give organizations ammunition to continue to write negative reports on staging as the NAEBA did.

In my opinion, because of the way the home staging industry currently is, the consumer is becoming more and more exposed and could loose out on what is possible from good and proper staging... and our industry will loose face and legitimacy.

THAT WAS ONE OF MY TRUTHS in Inconvenient Truths about Home Staging.

Stage It Forward,

Craig

 

Comment balloon 30 commentsCraig Schiller • September 07 2007 05:33AM

Comments

Thanks for the clarification....but I thought the first version was perfectly clear as well!  :)

While self-regulation is ideal...I'd be interested in hearing everyones ideas on HOW to do it!  Especially w/so many new players entering the market. That's one reason I posted a blog asking for input for a Stager's Oath...

Great thought-provoking stuff...thx!

Susan

Posted by Susan Smith (Rooms That Work LLC) about 13 years ago

Craig -- this is great info.  I rec'd 2 e-mails yesterday, one today,  on which class/trainging program would I recommend.  How  do I get started? Are you hiring? 

Would you also post this on the new group, Real World Home Staging for Newbies.  I think it good info for that group.

Thx for a great post of info.

Posted by Karen Dembsky, Atlanta Home Staging (Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA) about 13 years ago
Craig, I understand the point you were trying to make and I agree that this is an unregulated industry.  You might think this next bit is off topic but please bear with me.  While I was teaching everyone had a university degree.  We were all certified and accredited - we had the credentials.  We all received the same wage increases - it didn't matter whether you were top notch or a bottom feeder.  No one ever figured out an easy way of distinguishing the deserving from the not so deserving.  However, you were hired by the better schools based on your portfolios, teaching references, and years of experience.  The cream of the crop were sought after - the rest changed schools many times and were not particulary well thought of within the school district.  So like you said, it doesn't really matter what training you have had - or not, what matters is what you accomplish with the talent, experience, and education you receive everyday.  Your portfolio, testimonials, 'word of mouth' and a lot of marketing will get you the jobs.  Betty  
Posted by Betty Haney (Haney Consulting) about 13 years ago

I've been so busy lately I missed the first blog - darn it!  I'll have to go look for it.  (or use your widget on the side)  I agree with what you've written.  As a training provider, when asked the question about 'certification', I always advise that it is more or less just a word that training companies use (including my own) to say that a particular individual has been to the course and performed 'sufficiently'. 

My company is undergoing major changes at the beginning of the year and this is one of the core elements we actually will address.  Thanks for enlightening the public as always...

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 13 years ago

Craig,

The more we educate the public on what we do, how we do it, and how to judge the quality of the stager, the better it will be for those us who are serious about this business. I for one, am tired of agents who have taken a class, but haven't a clue, offering free staging. Since I'm a Realtor, who has been staging my own listings for almost 20 years I think I can safely say that offering a service that you have no particular skill in is a disservice!

Posted by Susan Peters, The Better it Looks the Better it Sells (Dove Realty Inc.) about 13 years ago

Melissa- this is an excellent example of an alternate course the other company could have taken.  You didn't get offended and fire off a nasty email or letter and stomp your foot like child (metaphorically speaking of course).  As trainers and leaders in the staging industry, you should all work toward the same end.  I hope more can get on this train and work toward a better industry.  You impress me over and over again.

Craig - You've already heard from me on this - just thought I would say HI!!

Posted by Kimberly Wester about 13 years ago

Craig-with the Home Staging industry soon to explode with many more hopefuls, I feel concerned too. 

Talent and professionalism is what a Stager should be judged on, not whether or not you have some sort of certification or other.  The tails of varied 'course study' letters ('superfluous alphabeti') attached to surnames may eventually come back to sting the industry.  The credibility of the whole industry will become scrutinized and questioned. Add this together with the lack of regulation and we open ourselves to an increase of public distrust once uncovered. This may lead us to a position of defense and marred reputations as a Home Staging professionals. (Regardless of talent, training etc...) I would not like to see this happen.

Unfortunately, with stressful real estate challenges increasing each month, we will also see the finger-pointing and blame-game increasing as well.  The more we educate and work hard to keep the bar high, the better positioned we become to answer scrutiny.

Regards-Kathleen G.

Posted by Kathleen Garvey, Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales (HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver) about 13 years ago
Training is great, but just sitting through a class (even when it includes an afternoon of group staging) doesn't qualify someone as a stager, in my opinion. I compare the staging designations to the real estate designations - if getting the designation depends only on attending a class, and not on demonstrating ability, and preferably also having positive recommendations from your clients - how does that make you a designated expert?????
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) about 13 years ago

I believe RESA was born out of a need for regulation and it too is in it's infancy stage.  Correct me if I'm wrong but I understand it to endeavor standardizing home staging for North America.   

Perhaps this is a place where a set standard is established and supported as being the "certification" police to ensure an acceptable/exceptional standard is taught by all. 

Posted by Tina Parker, CNE, REDM, SRES, CSP Home Staging REALTOR, Halifax (Keller Williams Select Realty) about 13 years ago

Craig, what you are describing is exactly what I'm seeing in my market place.  A couple of Realtors that have taken courses and gotten "accreditations" and have no talent  and no experience.  In my opinion, anything to do with design you are either born with it or you're not - yes education helps, but in my opinion those courses do a lot of damage to the staging industry.  And you are hearing it it from a trained architecture that has done a lot of interior work and has worked with a lot of talented interior designers.

I'm a true believer in staging, but the consumer is getting the short end of the stick.

Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) about 13 years ago
Hi, Craig - First, I was disappoined that the link to your pretty blog (in the first paragraph) did not work for me... I wanted to see it!  Second, what you describe sounds a lot like the early days for the home inspection industry.  Since their growth from a new idea, to accepted practice, to professional associations and now licensing in many states is fairly recent, you might find something in their history to help guide the people in your profession.  In fact, it was so recent that some of the pioneers are still out there to consult with on the growth of a new industry that serves consumers and the real estate community.  At the very least, maybe some blog material as you look for comparisons...
Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) about 13 years ago

Great information Craig!  I'm disappointed that I missed the first blog.

I made a HUGE mistake in choosing my trainer.  My first choice did not work because of timing and location and I went with plan B.  While my training and experience comes from several different sources I find it sad that the organization that "accredits" me was the worst one!!  It makes me sick to think of how much I spent on inferior materials.

I wish that someone would rate the different trainers and compare them.  That would not only protect the Staging Professionals but unsuspecting public as well!  We would all benefit from a little regulation and I have a feeling that it's just around the corner.

Posted by Rebecca Quinones (Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors) about 13 years ago
One thing I can't grasp is the training company sending you a cease and desist letter. If what you wrote was factual and you gave proper attribution they have no standing to make you take it down. On top of that you gave them a free link which gives them more exposure and free Google juice. From the way it sounds you were not bashing them and free speech applies to the Internet so even if you were bashing them that is your right. 
Posted by Mark Pilatowski (myClosingSPACE) about 13 years ago

I support (some) Stagers and recommend them to some clients, but the problem I have is when they take it upon themselves to:

1.  suggest market price or to tell my client they are above or below market value.  Recently a certain ACIVERAIN Stager put in her advertisement "Do not lower your price until you talk to me".  Unless you have an appraisers license for appraisal OR a real estate license to study comps, I feel this is out of your expertise.

2.  I recently had my seller choose her own stager (one that I wasn't impressed with and her "portfolio" seemed to be the same as other new start up stagers with "stock photos").  After the mediocere stage, she started suggesting directly to my seller different marketing avenues she recommended I try including open houses.  Stick with staging and I will stick with selling.

Posted by Jennifer Walker-Derby, Real Estate Extraordinaire (Re/Max Westside) about 13 years ago
Hi Craig, I thought you did a great layout and sometimes companies have other motives for being sensitive.  Some clients put value in staging other want nothing to do with the idea...they feel the home is perfect already.  The staging industry is going to have developmental issues like any other industry.  Nice post.
Posted by Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375, Real Estate Services You can Trust! (Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions") about 13 years ago

Shucks.  I think you should have ignored their Cease and Desist e-mail.

Unless you violated the law, on what grounds did they send the e-mail. 

Since when are folks not entitled to an opinion??  Have you agreed somewhere to refrain from disparaging your fellow stagers??? 

What is their authority to tell you what to do???

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 13 years ago

Craig, I have long agreed with you. People can get all the credentials out there that are available for the taking but if they lack common sense and talent, it will not serve the community. I have been staging the homes that I listed since 2000 long before it had a name. Didn't have any credentials for home staging but my houses sold.

Sometimes, it would seem as though it is just a get rich quick scheme on the part of those entities that offer classes and credentials.

You're either good at what you do or not...credentials or no credentials!  Just my opinion.

Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) about 13 years ago

As a 'graduate' of the class of last Tuesday from one of the InstStager schools I really don't feel qualified to advertise myself as a stager until I get some successful experience under my belt.

It was a good beginning and my teacher was a former instructor of the Godmother of blogging, Barb Schwartz, so I felt she knew as much about what she was teaching as anyone.

I don't ever plan to become a full time stager but rather use my newfound knowledge and budding skills to enhance my listings and investment properties for sale.

I sold my personal home recently and I had intended to rent some furniture and stage it but it sold the second day on the market so I had to cancel the furniture delivery.

I believe the only way you'll ever put some teeth into staging qualifications and qualitify what a stager actually does, is to require some sort of licensure and minimum skills testing with maybe some apprecticeship along with it.

I also think that would likely be a tough sell to most state legislatures.

Posted by Jim Lee, Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH (RE/MAX Shoreline) about 13 years ago

As a 'graduate' of the class of last Tuesday from one of the InstStager schools I really don't feel qualified to advertise myself as a stager until I get some successful experience under my belt.

It was a good beginning and my teacher was a former instructor of the Godmother of blogging, Barb Schwartz, so I felt she knew as much about what she was teaching as anyone.

I don't ever plan to become a full time stager but rather use my newfound knowledge and budding skills to enhance my listings and investment properties for sale.

I sold my personal home recently and I had intended to rent some furniture and stage it but it sold the second day on the market so I had to cancel the furniture delivery.

I believe the only way you'll ever put some teeth into staging qualifications and qualitify what a stager actually does, is to require some sort of licensure and minimum skills testing with maybe some apprecticeship along with it.

I also think that would likely be a tough sell to most state legislatures.

Posted by Jim Lee, Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH (RE/MAX Shoreline) about 13 years ago
Home Staging is still in it's infancy as far as the consumer's perceptions.  Like Home Inspections 20 years ago.  Things will change as they did for the early inspectors.
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 13 years ago
craig, great post
Posted by Joshua Talayka (Chase Internatinonal) about 13 years ago

A "cease and desist" rather than an educated response or rebuttal? To me that's a negative rather than a positive reflection on the sender.

I'm all for continuing education (i.e., these courses, not the required state courses) to learn new niches, trends, ways to better serve our clients. In the pursuit of honesty, however, I'd like to see them listed as just courses. A certification or designation should require evidence of completed transactions or jobs - i.e., CRS, CIPS, CLHMS, CCIM, etc.  I admire the ASR (Accredited Seller Representative) program for requiring not only the course and evidence of completed transactions representing sellers, but actual letters of recommendation from sellers who were pleased with the service they received. 

Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) about 13 years ago
Craig, Your links don't work to the other posts.  I'll have to get there the hard way!  ;-)
Posted by Bonnie Erickson (Tangletown Realty) about 13 years ago

Craig, My mom used to tell me that I need not go around trying to get other people to agree with me that a particular person was a bully, or a creep, or a jerk. She said, "They will be a bully, creep or jerk to everyone else and all will know." Of course, she was correct. You choose the adjective, but the B, C, or J has proven it again. If it weren't so sad it would be truly laughable. 

As for your other point. Yes we do need to be self-regulating. If Yale could claim that only people who graduated from Yale were actually doctors, then . . . Well, you see where that is going. Written testing, minimum skills testing and portfolio proofs are all things which come to mind when thinking of the basis for a self regulated industry. AR is a great start. The real question, which you have asked before, is where do we go from here? As you imply, and so do others who comment on your posts, we have 3 choices 

  1. Self regulation
  2. Governmental regulation
  3. Strangulation of the industry

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

Craig once again you bring up excellent points and yet I am sure once again you have been misunderstood because of those points. It is a scary thing as this industry grows that more and more people who are NOT design savvy or have an eye for home staging will simply become a home stager because they think of the $$$$.

As we have all discussed before, as the competition grows (and it is growing), once the wannabees start getting into the knitty gritty of this profession, they will begin to drop off. THose of us who are committed and have paved the way will set the precedence.

I for one establshed that almost 2 years ago and at realtor presentations I would say just that. Thankfully today my business is a referral based business. The only letters I care about to be associated with my name are these 4 SOLD!

Phyllis Pafumi

Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) about 13 years ago
Wow - experiencing the firsthand attitute described right now .... probably not the same organization... I feel your pain.
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 13 years ago

I think it's similar with realtors, who can have tons of letters behind them and actually don't know how to do their jobs correctly. I feel that our designations/certification/accreditation should reflect experiences and less emphasis on education part since most courses in my opinions are about business side of staging. That's why I feel that the realtor's designation like ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representatives) is meaningful because you don't automatically get your designation just because you finish the online course and pass the test, you actually have to have proof of actual buyer's side transactions to *earn* that designation.

Cheers,

Cindy 

Posted by Cindy Lin, Host, The Home Staging Show podcast (Staged4more School of Home Staging) about 13 years ago
Thanks for the post. Appreciate your information.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) about 13 years ago

The Internet is an anonymous vehicle where any person can pose as anything they wish.  People who use the Internet to enlist a services be it from an individual or a company, need to do their homework.  A little bit of detective work goes a long way.  Follow up on references, do Internet searches, ask questions and interview someone in management and then go with your gut feel.  To me the biggest red flag in a website offering education would be spelling and grammatical errors.  Hopefully not too many unsuspecting people will get burnt and time will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Andy Capelluto

 

 

 

Posted by Andy Capelluto (International School of Staging) about 13 years ago

Craig,

 Just like every other profession those that are getting the jobs are doing so because of referrals, they will continue to thrive while others will not, so they will probably leave the profession. 

The Profession will SELF REGULATE in time as many other professions do. 

As for the different training schools, get all the training you can either from online schools, workshops,  job shadowing or any other means that you can afford, each one of them has something to offer if you are open to it.  I know learning and growing is part of living.  Not one of us knows it all!

 

Posted by Sherry Woolever * Seller's Edge (Seller's Edge) about 13 years ago

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