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Professionalism, Agreements and Insurance… You know, all those silly business things!

I know you want to know what sofa I’m bringing (and no, you don’t get to choose - there’s a whole other blog about that) but when selecting a stager, are you asking all the other important questions?

Typically when an agent or seller reaches out about home staging services, they’re curious about inventory (what style furniture will I deliver), availability (yes, I can somehow squeeze you in - I always do) and lease terms (I’m known for giving all my repeat clients a 90-day lease regardless of the season). And, of course, this is all important… But when selecting a home stager, you need to go with someone who is insured.

Let me take a step back…

There are many home stagers who treat the business as a hobby. It sounds like this:

“I can stage it. I’ve always loved Home Goods and decorating.”

(I am cringing at the word “decorating” and so is every legitimate interior designer…)

“I can stage it. I have a degree in art history and I’ve always loved window dressing.”

(I also took art history in college and I assure you, it did not prepare me to stage properties… Also, any good stager will tell you to remove the window treatments to let in the natural light. Window treatments are too personal. Always go with a simple white sheer - it’s neutral, appeals to the masses and allows in as much natural light as possible. So… experience with window dressing is not relevant. Could be useful to an interior design career, though!)

“I can stage it. I’m the queen of decluttering and organizing… Check out my Pinterest board!”

(Great! But that’s just the FIRST step of home staging. And how do you know what to declutter?)

Today’s professional home stager follows industry trends for furniture styles, colors and understand the demographics of the buyer they are working to attract with their staging results. They carefully curate an overall cohesive look that will resonate with buyers online and in person. They also understand how the property will be photographed for marketing purposes and designs a space with those angles in mind.

Professional stagers also join associations like RESA® (the Real Estate Staging Association). They conduct their professional business in a manner that shows respect for clients, colleagues, fellow members, business vendors and the profession. They agree to uphold the Code of Ethics, bylaws, mission and vision of RESA®. They continue their training and education with other members and network regularly.

But professional home stagers are more than that… They’re entrepreneurs. They own and operate a legitimate business. Yes, there’s a big bad contract. There should be. You should be alarmed if you request a contract from a stager and they respond with, “Oh! I don’t have one. I’m old school. I operate with a good ol’ handshake.” Agreements are there to protect you just as much as the stager.

A stager who lacks an agreement probably also lacks insurance.

It took me a few minutes to get here, but the real top of this blog post is insurance.

Most agents and sellers don’t even ask their stager if they have insurance, and if so, how much they are insured for and what exactly that insurance covers. Any professional home stager should be able to produce a COI upon request.

Home Staging by Abigail is fully insured - including claims that matter to sellers, such as scratched floors and walls as well as damage to a client’s furniture. (However, Home Staging by Abigail is happy to report we’ve never had such a claim.)

Despite being fully insured, agents and sellers should understand that responsibility of all inventory falls on the client once it is delivered to the property and they are completely liable for all damages, including vandalism, fire, theft and flooding.

There are options to purchase third-party insurance: Staging Risk Management (SRM) works to provide solutions to risk issues in the real estate staging industry. With its partners, Staging Risk Management (SRM) identifies, analyzes and develops a potential solution to the problems of theft, vandalism, flooding and other losses that can occur when property is staged. In addition, Staging Risk Management (SRM) provides risk management sellers by covering property that a majority of homeowners insurance doesn't cover, including when the home is vacant or when the property is owned by someone else.

So, I conclude: Yes, ask your stager about their inventory, availability and lease terms. But also ask them about their business: Training, experience, agreements and insurance.

Ready to stage? Contact me today!

Cell: 617-519-9133 (Call or Text)

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