Home staging is an extremely lucrative career if you know how to properly charge for your services.
It makes me cringe when I hear figures as low as $31.45 per hour being touted as ‘great income’ for a home stager. That is an impossibly low rate for any independent professional to charge, but an expert home stager should actually be making at least double if not four or five times that amount.
Home sellers stand to profit anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 after employing the services of a home stager, so they are willing to pay a premium for that expertise. The cheapest stager in town will only attract clients who don't really value what a home stager does. After all, if you save a few hundred dollars on staging advice but you don't get the results you hoped for, what was the point?
The knowledge of an expert home stager is extremely valuable because of the effect it can have on how long a home takes to sell and its final selling price. A two hour home staging consultation should cost anywhere from $250-$800. After the initial consultation, a home stager can make at least $1,000 if the client wants the stager to complete the home staging project for them. This figure can go as high as $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the needs for that property, the home stager's expertise and where they live. Typically costs will be higher in major urban centers where house prices are also higher. If the home stager has to furnish and/or accessorize the home, that price can creep even higher.
Now back to why I object to anyone advertising $31.45 as a good income for a home stager. It completely devalues what we do and the difference our work makes to a client. Not only that, it misleads aspiring stagers into believing that this is a good income.
Even bumping that pay from $31.45 up to $40 per hour, if you do three two-hour staging consultation each week, that works out to $240 per week or roughly $960 per month. If you also do three “full-blown" staging projects each month which each take you five hours, you can make an additional $600. That's an unimpressive $1,560 per month or about $18,700 per year.
Depending on where you live, that amount would classify you as part of the “working poor, " and comes out to around what you'd make answering phones or asking “would you like fries with that?"
When you're self employed, you have lots to do that you don't get paid for. For example, talking to prospective customers, standing in line at the bank, doing your paperwork, etc. So when you are working on a client's behalf, you need to make sure you are well paid for it.
If you charge a rate of $300 per two-hour home staging consultation which is still at the lower end of the industry standard, those same three staging consultations a week will give you $900 per week or $3,600 per month. Those three “full-blown" staging projects per month will give you another $2,250 per month. That's a total of $5,850 per month or $70,200 per year.
That's $70,200 per year versus the $18,700 you would make earning $40 per hour.
If you want to grow a profitable home staging business rather than dabble in home staging as a hobby, you have to charge a fair rate for your services.
I can't fathom a home stager charging anything close to $30 or even $40 per hour unless they are working full time for another company who will be reselling their services at the more appropriate rate. Advertising a home staging hourly rate of $31.45 does nothing but de-value the service. As a home stager, you're operating a business. Can you possibly sustain (let alone grow) a successful business of any kind at such a low hourly rate? When you're operating a service-based business, time is your product and we are all only given so much of that each day!
Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is president of Six Elements and creator of The Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program with 900 Graduates worldwide. Debra is the author of two home staging guides and offers a Directory of Home Stagers to help homeowners and real estate agents locate home stagers who will decorate homes to sell for top dollar.