Start a Real Estate Staging Business by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your Real Estate Staging Business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a Real Estate Staging Business?
This opportunity has relatively low initial expenses. You don't really need a storefront, specialized equipment, or a college degree. However, optional training costs around $200 to $1,800. You'll probably spend the most cash on home decor products. Some stagers shop at CB2, IKEA, or Cost Plus World Market, according to Apartment Therapy. Dollar stores provide an inexpensive source of basic glass and ceramic items.
What are the ongoing expenses for a Real Estate Staging Business?
There's always a risk that you could accidentally damage homeowners' belongings, so it's wise to carry general liability insurance. Other potential hazards range from car accidents to employee injuries. You may also benefit from commercial auto, workers' compensation, property, and/or professional liability coverage. Many stagers spend over $1,700 per year on insurance.
If you need a storage locker for furniture, you'll probably pay $70 to $180 per month (depending on the size). This type of business periodically needs to purchase new decor items, and high-quality small furnishings often fetch prices ranging from $20 to $150. Other costs include local advertising, travel, and office products.
Who is the target market?
Busy homeowners and real estate agents seek professional stagers when they try to find buyers for valuable or hard-to-sell properties. If they own high-end homes, real estate investors and landlords may also use this service.
How does a Real Estate Staging Business make money?
Different stagers charge flat prices, hourly rates, or subscription fees for their services. HomeAdvisor reports that the majority of these professionals bill clients for consultations in addition to monthly fees. Business tends to slow down in the winter when fewer people buy homes.
How much can you charge customers?
Pricing depends on the specific services you provide, the level of demand for local properties, and whether or not a home is vacant. Clients pay less if you only rearrange existing items without adding anything new. Rates vary based on the size and number of rooms as well. Consider offering a "bulk rate" for valuable long-term clients like landlords, agents, and investors.
You can find a wide range of prices and estimates. Stagers charge around $450 initially and $550 per month, according to Realtor.com. HomeAdvisor reports that customers spend about $500 to $2,000 total, and some pay an average hourly rate of $75. A few professionals earn up to $20,000 to stage vast homes worth millions of dollars, according to Forbes.
How much profit can a Real Estate Staging Business make?
High fees and comparatively low expenses frequently produce a high profit margin. Many staging experts attain margins of around 25%. Introductory consultations yield the greatest profits. Stagers don't need to supply any furnishings when they consult with new clients, so transportation is the only immediate cost.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Strive to maximize your tax deductions. Among other things, potentially deductible costs include internet access, insurance, decor products, postal stamps, and printer ink. Keep a log of all miles traveled by car. If you don't succeed in partnering with local realty agencies, you could focus on for-sale-by-owner properties and generate revenue by offering extra services like photography or online advertising. Stagers can use several other strategies to reduce costs and gain additional income:
- Buy picture frames in bulk, and put scenic photos in them.
- Make the most of retailers' loyalty programs and discounts.
- Use a credit or debit card that rewards you for spending.
- Offer to resell furnishings to clients who praise them.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your Real Estate Staging Business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a real estate staging business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market a Real Estate Staging Business
Rather than continually spending money on advertising, try to partner with realty agents who can send clients to you. Set up an attractive, modern website or social media page that reflects your ability to enhance interior decor. If you can get permission to take photos, use the internet to supply visual examples of what you've accomplished in previous clients' homes. You could also post pictures of your own house.
How to keep customers coming back
When you seek new clients, publicize all of the major benefits. This service saves time, lifts selling prices, and expedites sales. You can easily find statistics to back up these claims. Customers may become discouraged if their homes don't sell quickly. You could provide a discount after someone's house has been on the market for two or three months.
When a staged home sells, remember that the client might need your service again in the future. Consider offering an unexpected bonus, such as a restaurant gift card or the option to keep one of the supplied furnishings.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start A Real Estate Staging Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
A professional stager knows what today's buyers desire in a home. You might thrive in this business if you dislike clutter and enjoy exploring different dwellings. Stagers benefit from planning, communication, and shopping skills. It helps if you know how to find stylish furnishings at affordable prices. You should live in an area with a fairly prosperous real estate market as well.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a Real Estate Staging Business?
Home stagers need to focus on promotion and business networking when they're not busy serving clients. If someone calls, you can start by discussing how you would stage a specific residence. You'll travel to homes and rearrange the contents of their rooms. The process may entail adding new furnishings after you hide personal items like family photos. This occupation also involves buying decor products, such as rugs, wall art, clocks, mirrors, and lamps. You might purchase larger furnishings when serving clients with vacant homes.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Real Estate Staging Business?
You can begin learning by reading home decor catalogs and magazines. The process of selling your own house provides beneficial experiences. You could also gain useful knowledge while working as a real estate agent or interior decorator. Stagers normally don't face any special licensing requirements, but you might gain credibility by earning a certification or completing an educational course. While traditional classes remain available, most programs use remote learning. The Motley Fool provides a helpful overview.
What is the growth potential for a Real Estate Staging Business?
Expert staging has become increasingly popular. Most firms concentrate on serving the surrounding area, but it's certainly possible to expand beyond your local area. Meridith Baer Home stages thousands of opulent dwellings throughout the nation, according to Forbes. It employs more than 250 people and owns several warehouses full of furnishings. You could also create a franchise if you become highly successful. The most well-known franchisor in this sector is called Showhomes. It has been in business for over 30 years and works with franchisees across the United States.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a Real Estate Staging Business?
Develop a detailed agreement for clients to sign. It ought to clarify your expectations and responsibilities. Customers should know that they need to clean the home, remove pets, and address any safety hazards before you visit. They must also heat or cool the rooms where you work.
Use the slow winter months to improve your internet marketing, learn about the latest decor trends, and develop new partnerships. You could cooperate with reputable home service contractors, and everyone benefits when you refer customers to each other. Try talking to painters, maids, carpet installers, and repair professionals.
Retirees appreciate different decor styles than recent college graduates. Think about likely buyers when you stage a room. What impresses or appeals to this type of person? Always consider each home's size, price, design, and location as you envision future occupants.
How and when to build a team
You can work alone but may benefit from hiring an assistant after you start gaining customers. This employee could help you carry decor items, reposition furniture, and inspect rooms. You might feel safer in strangers' homes if someone accompanies you. General laborers earn $16 per hour on average, according to Salary.com. An alternative is to set lower prices and tell the client that you'll need help with certain tasks.