Telling the Difference Between Professional and Amateur Stylists

Telling the difference between professional and amateur stylists

When a property is on the market professional staging can make a world of difference. But sometimes the stylist gets it wrong – they use cheap furniture, or they don’t successfully match the furniture to the type of house. How can you spot the difference between a professional and an amateur stylist? Henry Wong discusses.

“Hi, I’m Henry Wong. We’re here to talk about staging. So when buyers generally look at a property, they’ll look at the photos. And the photos, if the furniture looks quite nice and it makes the house look very nice, it actually helps attract a lot of interest. And at times it also helps attract a very good price, or a much better price for the owners, the sellers.

So when you’re actually looking at staging, there are two things to consider, professional staging and amateurs. Be very, very, very aware of people that offers free staging. These are what I call amateurs. So, how do you distinguish between professionals and amateurs? Well, professionals, generally speaking, most of the professionals that are staging are doing this full time. They’re doing this for many other different agents, homeowners themselves, so lots of different people, not just for their own clients.

For example, a real estate agent, if they have their own staging company, they only do it for themselves. They don’t do for other people. That means that they actually don’t have that much experience. So generally when a person is a professional and they do it full time, they’ve done this for hundreds and sometimes thousands of cases, so they know exactly what suits a particular home. They know exactly what suits your personality, what suits the personality of the home. So that is the professional.

An amateur is generally part time. The ones that offer, I’m talking about in general terms, free staging, and those are what I call amateurs. They don’t do this full time. They don’t actually stage a house few hundred a year or 50 or 60 or whatever the figure may be. It is a very, very, very low figure and they generally see this as a hobby. So if you want to make your house look really nice, and you want to get an expert opinion, don’t go for the amateur. Don’t go for the ones that throws it in for free or sees it as a hobby.

Now with regards to staging as well, obviously, and I think something to consider about, is the price. With regards to staging, prices can range from… I guess for professionals you can range from anywhere, I’ve seen it from $3,000 even up to really fancy, fancy, ones. 20 K. Now that’s really, really, really high end stuff, and also an actual mansion, for that kind of money. So $3,000 to 20 K, anything in between. Just bear that in mind.

Amateurs, obviously with regards to amateurs, a lot of the times I’ve seen it for free. So be very, very aware of agents that offer free staging because most of their furniture is cheap furniture. You don’t want to have your property appealing to buyers that are bargain hunters, and this is what’s happening if you’re looking for a professional stager and you end up going down the path and the agent goes, “You know what? I’m also a staging company.” They might as well just say, “I’m the professional photographer too. I’ll also take photos for you.” I mean, really? So that’s something to think about.

Now also another thing is, with regards to professional amateurs, ask them, “Have they won any awards?” Obviously if you are paying this kind of money, you want to have an award-winning team or award-winning stager. So amateurs generally don’t have any awards. So there’s no awards.

You also need to have a look at the furniture. Have a look at their furniture. Do they have a broad range of furnitures? Now, generally with professionals, sometimes they have access to millions of dollars worth of furniture. An amateur obviously doesn’t. You know, they won’t have a few million dollars in their backyard. That just doesn’t happen. Professionals do. They have a very wide range of furniture, depending on what suits the home and what kind of quality you want. Amateurs have very limited furniture and they will use the same furniture for a townhouse, and a palatial palace, or a decent sized house. So they’re very, very limited in furniture. And you can see their furniture in a lot of different photos, and they’re all the same. They’ll make your house, the amateurs, look the same as every other home with the same furniture, and you don’t want that. If you want to make your home look quite expensive, go for the professionals so you can get more interest, more expert advice, but also more attention.

More attention generally means more buyers, more competition, better price. Don’t go for the ones with limited furniture. So always check out the furniture. Go to open homes. Ask, “Can I have a look at your furniture?” Now you obviously need to be happy with what you look at. If you can’t look at the furniture or it’s quite limited, you know, you need to question, is this person or this company right for me?

So far we’ve covered, are they full time or part time? The staging costs can range from a couple of grand all the way up to 20 K for professionals, generally. Amateurs, usually it’s free or it’s very, very minimal. So very minimal. Check out if they’ve got any awards. And obviously amateurs, there’s no awards over there. Physically have a look at some of the furniture, if you want to go down that path.

Also when you look, the last thing is reviews. Check out if they have many reviews, online reviews, Google, Facebook, any other housing platforms that have reviews for staging companies. Obviously amateurs, more than likely they won’t have any reviews. If they do, it’s very, very, very limited.

So here’s the scope on staging. When you want to stage your property, just make sure you make the right choices that suits you. And obviously, you want to make the right choice that obviously suits your budget, but also makes your house look more expensive to attract more buyers. A house, or a townhouse, or whatever property that you have, is one of your biggest investments. Don’t make it look cheap and sell for cheap. Try to make it look quite nice to get it more attention, so that you will take home more money. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me, and all the best.”