Home Staging & Communication

We all know how important Communication is within Home Staging. In fact, according to the Creator of Home Staging, Barb Schwarz, Staging is, in itself, a communication tool.

The President of the IAHSP®EU, Sanja Radovanovic, alongside the Association’s VP, Paloma Harrington-Griffin, got together with Klaudia Leszczynska of Instastaging in Poland, to discuss what is Home Staging and how important communication is when it comes to securing projects (and to be successful at them!).

Below you will find a part of the webinar transcript. Check out how the conversation went:

Paloma Harrington-Griffin: Great. So shall we get started with the presentation, Sanja? I think I’ll share. If anyone by any chance is not seeing the presentation, please do let us know. Thank you everyone for being here today. We are going to skim through a few things, home staging and when we’re just discussing what we could talk about and how can we try to be very precise and focused and still give lots of important content. And what would be our priorities when it comes to teaching what we feel is important about home staging. And it’s so difficult to choose, isn’t it Sanja? Because we know a range of topics that would be very interesting to cover tonight. But we feel like we’re starting with the basics. Let’s begin at the beginning. So we thought of sharing with you guys what we take as the home staging fundamentals, and other things that we, I wouldn’t want to say preach, because we’re not preaching, but they’re pretty much the core of the IAHSP International Association of Home Staging Professionals. And it’s pretty much what guides us through our profession, through our service providing, through communicating with clients, and we couldn’t get started without talking specifically about what home staging is. But before we do that, I think it’s very important that we actually explain to you guys, what is the IAHSP And what is the IAHSP Europe, what we’re here for, what we do. Some of you may already know. Klaudia is one of our lovely members. She may have already shared a few things with you. But I’m pretty sure there might be people here that haven’t heard about us. So I think it’s important to give you guys a brief idea of who we are and what we do.

Sanja Radovanovic: We also have Elwira, sorry to interrupt, who is one of our members. She’s in the audience.
PHG: Oh, she’s here, isn’t she?

SR: Yeah, Elwira is here and of course and of course Klaudia, one of the first polish members. It is also important that the members itself give their own insight. Because we love what we do, and we love guiding this association and for us, it’s the best family and support that can be right now on the market in the European continent. Our best ambassadors are actually our members. So I hope that, so far, the polish ones who have joined us are happy and excited to continue their home staging journey with us.

PHG: Yes, and if you’re happy let us know. And if you’re not happy let us know too. Because that’s what we are here for. Just be nice. Sanja, do you want to introduce our lovely association?

SR: Sure. I know that Klaudia has offered you a wonderful opportunity to attend a webinar with, the one and only, Barb Schwarz. Who not only is the founder of the home staging concept and inventor of our industry. She has also in 1999 founded what has become the benchmark association for the home staging industry. So think about this. So think about this. It was 1999 when in the Old Continent probably nobody knew what the home staging is or was. More than 20 years ago she knew that there will be a need for an association that would have offered, even in the Old
Continent, while staging, was just taking off in the US and Canada and giving support to the future members. Nobody in any other industry is willing to share as the home stagers are. Look what Klaudia is doing in Poland. Look what IAHSP Europe is doing in the Old Continent. What Barb and IAHSP International have done so far. So, we do support, across Europe, all our members and those who are willing to join. What we are trying to do is to gain this so well deserved, recognition of our profession. And we’re looking to strengthen over the Old Continent.

PHG: Very well said. I couldn’t have said it better.

SR: So this cute little 5 faces. This is our board. People who are guiding and leading the other home staging industry. For many, just to say briefly, our association is a non-profit and all 5 board members do this on a daily basis. We invest our time and knowledge, and sometimes a little bit of patience. Guiding all the pro bono. We are volunteering in our own positions. And this is what home staging actually is. And this is what Barb preaches and teaches that home staging is love. So we do invest our time and all of this for the community and industry. As you can see Paloma is the Vice President, Verena Mumford is the Treasurer. Then we have Jennie Norris and John Norris, International Chairwoman and International Senior Executive Vice President, who are also serving the European board. Not only the International association. On the contrary, the 3 of us guiding the European board, we’re also on the international board as well. So we do have a continuous exchange of information. We exchange what has to be done and improve in order to serve our members, to serve the industry at its best.

PHG: Well done. Very well said. If anyone has any questions about the association itself. Or anything about joining or applying or what we do. Please do reach out to us or visit our website. I’ll put the website on the chat right now. But it’s https://www.iahspeurope.com/ . So feel free to have a look later on. But I’m sure that Klaudia will be sending the link after the webinar as well.

SR: And while you have sent the landing page, I just wanted to tell our participants. Basically you see, these are pictures of real stagings. So real listings, real stagings of our members. Because the association is basically made of people who have joined. And we do our best to feature their projects and to give them visibility. Not only for our website but in any sort of institutional, formal and informal presentation, that the association prepares and presents. As you see tonight for the webinar. Rather than when we meet during the real estate conferences. We used to travel at least one time per month until the pandemic happened. We were attending the real estate conferences on National, International and European level. And all of this to make sure that our profession is widely known. Because the difference between the European market and the American one, is that there was enough time for Barb, almost 20 years, to inform and educate the sellers. And most of all the real estate agents. So then there is an equal demand and supply of the offer for home staging projects. While unfortunately in Europe we have started from the back and doing exactly this. Home staging courses were popping up while there was not enough demand for our services. So the core business of the IAHSP International is to level that supply and demand. Actually the demand and supply. Making sure that more and more real estate agents, property managers and as well as sellers, developers, know what home staging is. How they can benefit from our services. And how to partner for success with professional home stagers within their region, within their country.

PHG: Exactly. It’s a long process and we chose the hard way of doing it. But we know we can do this. We are more than capable.

SR: It’s the hard one but it’s the right one.

PHG: Exactly. Nobody said it’s going to be easy. I want to ask something in the chat and we can kind of move on from there. What is home staging, guys? I want to hear what you think home staging is before we actually click on the next slide. Because I want to see what your thoughts are. We hear so many different definitions, don’t we Sanja? And I think that as an association we’ve met so many times and gather with the European leaders and American leaders. And decided we need to reach a common definition, and this is the one we’re going to stick to. Because that’s what we need to find, what we do, and it’s really important to really understand that as professionals. Because if we don’t’ have that really clear for ourselves, for our businesses how are we going to explain that to the potential client, to the agent, to the developer, to the homeowner. How are you going to actually sell your service if you don’t have that really clear in your mind. Isn’t that right, Sanja?

SR: It absolutely is. I am already reading Asia’s comments.

PHG: Giving people beautiful interiors. I see all the people are typing as well. Beautiful interiors with a small budget. Interesting. Interesting outlook.

SR: In less than 5 minutes you’ll be like “Oh my God”

PHG: No, I’m kidding. We want more people. I need at least two more. Otherwise, we can’t carry on. We need more. Come on you guys. Even Klaudia, Klaudia come on, jump in. I’m sure you know a thing or two you can share as well. Marta where are you? Why are you so quiet Marta? Come on. Give us an input. Why is Adrian quiet all of a sudden? Come on guys, come on. Share it with us.

Klaudia Leszczynska: Prepare real estate for sale or for rent. So guys you can type it.

PGH: Ok. We like the way that’s going. Preparing for real estate

KL: Wiktoria also, depersonalization. Adrian “For me the way of serving real estate to make clients like them more and more”. Asia “Making good renovation but small changes with good taste”.

PHG: I like what Wiktoria said, depersonalization as well. I think we’re ready to move on then. What is home staging? Before we say what home staging is, shall we debunk some home staging myths, Sanja? I think you’re great at this one. Go for it.

SR: Well guys, I would start with a very important sentence. “You can’t blame people for what they don’t know if nobody has told them the real thing or the real deal. So staging myths. Staging is not decorating. And it’s not interior designing. It could be redesigning space. And the reason why we start with what home staging is not, because many people think “Oh, it does belong to the interior design industry. It is all about decorating”. It is totally the opposite. And why? Because they are completely different markets. Staging cannot be decorating because we do not decorate. Decorating means, it is something that should bode to your own taste. But remember, when we serve the real estate industry, as Adrian has said earlier in the chat box, we need to make sure that every space that we prepare that it appeals to those potential buyers, which means the target buyer. And it is not only one person, but a broad range of buyers. So we do not design.

PHG: The highest amount of potential buyers that you can achieve that is the goal of home staging. So Olga is saying “It’s kind of interior make up”. It could be if your goal is to have an interior make up aimed at selling the property. If you’re just doing the make up for the sake of making things look pretty or endearing to the taste of the owner. Then that wouldn’t count. If you’re doing an interior make up thinking of their buyer profile, who is going to buy this property? Is it a single man? Is it a young family? How you’re going to dress this property to actually reach out to that profile of buyer. And how you’re going to do that maximizes the chances of selling. But not just any sale. You want to sell faster. And you want to sell for more money if possible. You want to add value to this, and you want to make sure that you’re helping the real estate agent or developer or the homeowner to achieve this goal.

SR: And the most important thing also is please remember what we are selling, it’s not a design concept or interior decorating concept. We’re selling the lifestyle through the home staging project that we have developed, but we’re selling the property, and it’s features.

PHG: Exactly. Basically guys, in a nutshell, home staging is a marketing tool. It’s a property marketing tool. So it is a part of the real estate industry. You may use some interior tricks. But the goal is actually real estate marketing focused. So, it’s a proven marketing tool that consists in using the client’s timeframe and budget to prepare a house for sale, so it sells in the fastest time possible and at the best price. And keep in mind, that the thing Barb must have mentioned this at the webinar that you guys had not long ago, that a stager can do as little or as much as they want to. I think someone said “it’s a small budget”. Not necessarily, you can do it with a small budget, but you can also go to town, and go crazy and spend lots of money if that’s what the client wants, right Sanja?

SR: Yes, it’s all about maximizing what the client is giving you, and there’s also, you will see this in the future slides, we will also cover the different types of markets, and there’s also different types of clients. So, the most important thing is if a client, regardless of the type of the market, gives us 4 hours to prepare property, ok? And just a tiny budget, there won’t be no make up in terms of repainting the walls. You will have to always know how to maximize your knowledge and your experience, in that specific time. Of course, if the budget is going to allow us, and you have enough time for e.g. 7-14 days, there can be achieved, a lot more, paint comprehensive. So when we use the timeframe that we have been given, this and the budget, this is going to determine the type of the project that you’re actually going to do. Because if I have 4 hours and €300, I don’t think a lot can be changed, but hold on, but this doesn’t mean a lot cannot be improved, because a professional home stagers know exactly what to do, even when the budget is tiny, and even if the timeframe is really short.

PHG: It all depends. It’s a cases by cases situation. But you can do it as much or as little as required or as possible budget and timewise. This is just to compare one to the other guys. Interior design and home staging. What are the key differences. Which you probably picked up from what we’ve been sharing with you until now. So, interior design you’re going to personalize the property according to the owner’s taste. So, maybe they love blue and the whole house will have a blue wall somewhere, blue cushions and blue accessories, and everything is blue. If they like it so be it. Staging on the other hand, will depersonalize. Why? Because not everyone likes blue. And you can’t do everything according to one person’s taste. So you need to make sure you broaden your chances of selling the property. So you’re going to normally stick to neutrals. You can always have an accent piece, or accent wall here and there to bring character. To make sure you understand that depersonalizing doesn’t mean making it boring and plain and with no character. You can still add character without being personal. So that’s the key here. You need to think, what will sell basically. So interior designing is… Yeah, go for it.

SR: I’m sorry. I just wanted to underline the fact that we are selling the space, we are selling the property, we are selling the architecture features. Of course, depersonalizing the space, if we talk about the type of properties, for example. Klaudia, how do you call in Poland the properties that are vacant. Do you have the distinction between vacant, furnished and occupied properties?

KL: Yeah, we have, but I think most cases it’s not vacant but occupied flats. But we have a lot of investors which prepare real estates for sale. Because they buy it cheaper, then they would like to make home staging and then sell. So I would say that’s like vacancy home staging in this case.

SR: Ok. So vacant home staging, but with the type of client who is an investor, right?

KL: Yeah, in most of the cases we also have typical vacant home staging, but I think it’s not a big amount like investors’ apartments. Guys also add something here on chat. That’s what I see here in Cracow for example or bigger towns.

SR: As long as we are all on the same page, that is completely not interior decorating or designing. You know in my 8 years of experience, I have staged some properties, that I didn’t like how they turned out. And you can say “Oh my God, how can you say you didn’t like it”. That particular property maybe, for that particular target buyer needed a specific type of staging, that it does not fulfil what I like. Or probably like the trend. But when we stage, we don’t stage according to what we really love to see, but we are staging according to, it has to be liked by many people who are looking to purchase that specific type of property. Within that location, within that price range, within that square meter, So it’s serving the industry at its best. So neutral colors, and of course less is more. So, Why I ask you Klaudia about types of properties. Less is always more in every case. Especially when it comes to vacant. And this comes down from what we, as an association, have observed over the 3-4 years that we’ve been on the market. There are cultural differences between Italy and Poland and the UK and Spain. So having in mind that less is always more, the home when it’s professionally prepared. It’s staged, it’s ready to hit the market. It has to look magazine ready. It has to give you that specific “I want to see more” “I want to discover more” like it is ready, and it’s waiting for you. Some countries tend to overdo, meaning to do a little more that it is supposed to and that is already going into “I am personally decorating according to my taste”. We say in Italy, that everything that is extra, that you add, it is actually taking it away from its originality.

PHG: True. And keeping in mind, because if you treat your staging project as a showroom, where you want to add all the beautiful accessories and decorate beautifully. I’m sure it will look very magazine and Insta worthy. But at the end of the day whoever goes there to view it might get distracted by the beautiful lamp or the beautiful centerpiece. Not even realizing if the space is actually suitable for what they’re looking for, if the views are good, if it’s bright enough. It might actually draw their attention away from the property itself. You don’t want to confuse them. You want to make sure they actually enhance the best features. But there’s a very fine line there. So, indeed less is more. You need to always stay focused that what matters is the property.

SR: It saves on your inventory. The less you put in a specific house the more you will have for future projects. So it has to be rightly balanced. There’s a percentage, you know how only 10% of potential buyers can envision themselves living in a vacant or empty space. There’s also another statistic in percentage which says that we as home stagers should hale the sellers for 90% to envision themselves living there, and we have to leave them the 10% for their imagination to be able to say “oh, I see myself in this beautiful spa-looking bathroom taking a bath”, or for example “I see myself sitting on this sofa reading a book” so prepare the properties with the percentage in mind and leave them the 10% for themselves to envision, and give their imagination a little bit of space to say “Aha!”. If we serve them a 100% ready home there is nothing for their own imagination to find themselves in the space.

PHG: That’s the really good or the really bad example Sanja, remember that? I think it’s been all over Facebook for a while. You must have seen it, the mannequin in the bathtub…

SR: I know. There was a mannequin…

PHG: Yeah, they were trying to fulfill the 100% of it saying “oh, no, but they need to see themselves taking a bath here”. Yeah, but don’t put a doll there, you don’t need to do that. Leave some for the imagination and that’s exactly what we’re talking about.

SR: I’ve shared within our closed group on Facebook, Marta has also seen it, I don’t know

PHG: Oh my God, I saw that!

SR: There was a dog in the bathtub with virtual staging and there were plenty of mannequins, and I was like “what are you guys doing??”

KL: I saw it.

SR: You saw it Klaudia?

PHG: I was like no, yeah, no no. Oh, Sanja you were talking about the types of properties on the market and I think that really sums it. We need to keep these things in mind whenever we are staging. We need to know that there are different types of properties such as, as we were discussing the vacant properties, the properties that we are going to style, to stage for short rentals such as Airbnb and holiday lets and such, occupied properties, new builds that were pretty much built by the developers and then just out in the market looking for someone to buy it as soon as possible, the ones that offering investors? So there’s a range of properties, and how can you come up with one rule for all of them there isn’t, you need to analyze them individually right Sanja? Anything you want to add to this one?

SR: Yeah, the type of property that we are used to stage it can also be for example is it an apartment or is it a single detached villa what is it? Is it a show flat and as Paloma stated before most important is the type of the market because this is where the best and the biggest potential for you to earn a lot more money sits. You can double and also triple the amount that you’re actually earning in the difference of type of the market that you’re actually staging. An example, Klaudia please help me understand, many home stagers in Poland or mostly everybody is doing vacant for sale or is the rental market also very well known.

Rental market has a really good potential because a lot of investors have flats for rent and I think it’s quite unique because everyone knows someone who has one or more flats for rent it’s like a very big need for home stagers and also for investors because of the pandemic because they have to upgrade their flats to stay in the business so now is a really good time for home stagers to prepare flats for sale and also earlier people also needed it, so I think it’s a good time in Poland. I hear that in other countries it’s not so popular, right?

SR: No, so it is, just to make sure it’s the long term rental not short?

KL: Long term also, yeah.

SR: Ok, yeah because basically the pandemic has completely deleted the short term rental this for me is one of the most important markets that we have to set it apart from the real estate industry which is the short term rental. There you have quite a lot of possibility to make more maneuvers in interior design and interior decorating. You’re allowed to do this because you’re basically serving a different type of industry so the ways of making the more money and more profit for yourself when you stage a vacant house for sale for example. You stage it, you get paid by your client, and your client can be the property owner it can be a developer or the real estate agent, you might want to include that all your inventory that you’re setting within the property can be sold and that’s a double earning for you. Now that I’m speaking about this I want to make my compliments to all the Polish home staging community – thank you for not using the cardboard furniture because many countries unfortunately still like cardboard more.

KL: It’s also popular here still, but I also don’t like that.

SR: No, no, no. If you guys can keep using the real furniture, this is a real game, it has to be supplied by the real furniture. The cardboard is just a shortcut. You know, run your business a different way. To us, it’s less professional but still applicable. Now everybody is in good opportunity and possibility to have their own warehouses. Getting back to the fact that you can earn double or triple your amounts like, the distinction between the long term and the short term rental you can still, as I said use a little bit of interior decorating and designing because whoever is going to rent the property for a one day, two days or a week it is going to enjoy it and is going to leave. For the long term rental all principles of home staging should be included, so all the neutrals, less is more, or the 90-10% giving the opportunity to the person who is going to rent the property to not only come in with their own suitcases and their own clothes but to be able to add a little bit of accessories and something that would make that home feel more of their own. Are there any questions or we can move forward?

KL: I think we can move forward. …


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