2 Parts
11
QUESTIONS

Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Home Stagers

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A new RealEstateBees.com survey of over 2,000 active property staging companies found that despite the negative impact on their business caused by the COVID-19, more than 70% are seeing new opportunities opened by the pandemic.

The following segmented report provides results of a large scale survey—Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Real Estate Businesses—conducted by the Real Estate Bees research team, leading real estate platform for real estate professionals.

The following statistics reflect the situation among the US home stagers. We reached out to over 2,000 active property staging companies from all the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. to collect their insight on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry in general and their businesses in particular.

The report is divided into the following two parts.

1. Multiple choice questions where the professionals had to choose one of the suggested answers to each question:

1.1 Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on property stagers?
1.2 Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for property staging companies?
1.3 How are you adjusting your marketing budget?
1.4 Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.5 Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?
1.6 Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.7 Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

2. Open questions that allowed the experts to share their insights on various aspects of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. home stagers:

2.1 What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on property staging companies?
2.2 What unexpected opportunities have the pandemic opened for home staging companies?
2.3 If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?
2.4 What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Multiple Choice Questions
1
QUESTION

Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on property stagers?

2
QUESTION

Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for home staging companies?

3
QUESTION

How are you adjusting your marketing budget?

4
QUESTION

Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

5
QUESTION

Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?

6
QUESTION

Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

7
QUESTION

Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

Open Questions
8
QUESTION

What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on home stagers?

Key takeaways from the home stagers’ answers:

  • A lot of sellers took their properties off the market, which impacted the home staging business. In some states, business was down 50% in the months when stay-at-home orders were implemented. Some were either canceling or refunding projects due to the pandemic.
  • For homeowners who chose to list their homes, a reduction in home staging requests was seen, as sellers refused to let people in their properties for fear of contamination. Some sellers didn’t also like the idea of home-staging items being brought into their homes as these could be contaminated as well.
  • Home stagers who resorted to virtual staging have found it hard to pull this method off. Even with the use of digital software, home staging still requires physically being in a home to understand spatial arrangement, color, light, and texture.
  • As there weren’t a lot of staging opportunities available, home-staging companies had to lay off some employees due to low income or had resorted to applying for loans or grants. Some had filed for unemployment.
  • As homes weren’t selling fast, some staged homes have been sitting longer than usual, which meant fewer orders could be expected in the coming months.
  • Home staging companies have been seeing a short supply of rented resources as some manufacturers have been closing down.

 

Adele Lynas, Shimmering Home Staging & Design

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Adele Lynas Home Stager

Unfortunately due to the COVID 19 pandemic, several clients took their homes off the market. They were concerned regarding potential buyers coming into their home and possibly contracting the virus. Home staging was difficult.

Even with some homes that remained on the market, they did not want home staging due to several items that were brought to their home that they did not purchase, for fear that the items could be contaminated with the virus and also, it would mean that more people would be in their home.

We did resort to virtual staging, but it is not the same as going to the home, so that was a challenge. Potential buyers want to visit the homes. Home staging is a necessity.

 

Mary Scalli, Simple Elegance Professional Home Staging & Interior Design

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Mary Scalli Home Stager

We were blessed in one aspect as HAR.com went to battle for the real estate industry in Texas. Consequently, real estate was deemed essential during the pandemic. Other states were not so lucky. That said, our business was down 50% in the last few months.

We did have to let two people go as we did not have the business to keep the two employees/family on. However, in the midst of this we moved from 5000 sq feet of warehouse space to 7000 square feet of warehouse space.

We were able to take the quiet time and get set up for when the business comes back. We still have been serving those who have listed their houses using masks, gloves, and keeping a social distance.

 

Tenay Benes, Calm Castle Staging & Design

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Tenay Benes Home Stager

The number of inquiries we received dropped to zero as soon as the State of Maryland implemented restrictions on business operations. Any estimates that we were expecting to be accepted and get work started immediately withdrew their interest, stating they decided not to stage their homes during COVID.

Some realtors stated that they decided to hold off on listing the property until after COVID restrictions were lifted. Other realtors stated that staging could expose the homeowners or potential buyers to unnecessary medical risk, so they would rather just list without staging. Offering virtual consultations did not alleviate the negative impact of COVID shutdowns.

 

Grace Ann Simoni, Staging Redesign Group, Inc.

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Grace Ann Simoni Home Stager

Although entering homes is sometimes the issue, agents and sellers are not taking advantage of the virtual staging that many of us are using, where we coach the sellers via phone, photos, online meeting rooms, etc.

I specialize in occupied homes using what the seller has for the most part and adding enhancements. The virtual consultation starts with a buyer’s eye assessments, done by me and the seller via phone and photos, then we can follow that up with another meeting in several days to fine-tune placement and suggested enhancements.

 

Stephanie Engel, Spaces Reinvented, LLC

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Stephanie Engel Home Stager

Trade association professional home stagers (Real Estate Staging Association – RESA) were impacted by the shelter-in-place restrictions, as we were not allowed to enter into any property – vacant or owner-occupied – to perform our jobs. We were bound to adhere to the laws/regulations of our respective states/counties/provinces, which meant all of us were not allowed to perform physical work until restrictions were lifted.

For most of us, it meant several months without pay, applying for SBA loans/grants, and/or drawing unemployment.

 

Leslie VanDerven, Welcome Home Organizing, Staging & Feng Shui

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Leslie VanDerven Owner Home Stager

Many of us had to shut down operations for several weeks while learning how to navigate our new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the real estate market has not slowed down. Professional home staging has proven to be an essential part of selling a home.

Staging is not only about how a space looks for real estate listing photos, but how it FEELS to a potential buyer. While many of us have had success staging homes virtually or using digital software, it is difficult to truly understand spatial arrangement, color, light, and texture without physically being in the home.

 

Angeline Kelly, Apple Blossom Staging & Design

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Angeline Kelly Home Stager

Currently, I rent furniture for large jobs and the resources I rent furniture from now have slim floors due to the short supply. As the supply chain was impacted by 50%, some manufacturers closed down. What took two weeks before COVID-19 to get new furniture and accessories in is now taking six to eight weeks.

I have to be able to turn a staging job around in one to two weeks. I’ve had to turn down multiple large jobs, resulting in close to $10,000 in income in the last month.

 

Caroline McCroskey, Set to Sell

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Caroline McCroskey Home Stager

Several clients who were planning to move forward with staging ended up backing out of commitments. Additionally, many of our stages are sitting longer than usual because homes are not selling quite as fast. This is a good thing for us from an inventory perspective but it also means we are likely to have fewer stages take place in the coming months.

 

Marina Kortekaas, En Vue Staging, LLC

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Marina Kortekaas Home Stager

At the start, staging halted as photographers were not permitted to photograph listings under quarantine order. Business was down considerably during the normally busiest time of the year. Additionally, sellers put off listing their houses to maintain quarantine and avoiding showings where people are in the house touching knobs, countertops, etc.

 

Cathi Rios, Front Range Stage, LLC

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Cathi Rios Home Stager

Two and a half months of complete shutdown of hands-on staging and in-home staging consultations during the various stay-at-home orders. Current impact is a reduction in homes for sale and a reduced request for home staging. Business is 40% down from normal springtime activities.

 

Jessica Flavell, Flavell Home Staging, LLC

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Jessica Flavell Home Stager

Some sellers who had committed to staging in early spring decided to put the sale of their home on hold until the stay-at-home order was lifted. We had to cancel and refund several projects.

9
QUESTION

What unexpected opportunities has the pandemic opened for home stagers?

Key takeaways from the home stagers’ answers:

  • The pandemic has caused some homeowners to panic and decide to sell their homes, which provided a lot of job opportunities for home stagers.
  • Despite the pandemic, home staging has become more important particularly for stagers going virtual. This allows them to be more creative in the way they present a house that would capture the attention of buyers.
  • Home stagers who have chosen to stop operations have turned to other areas of the real estate business to tide them over, such as doing appraisals and offering inspection services.
  • As operations have been mostly online, stagers have been moving their business partially online, for example, doing online staging consultations. This allows them to retain existing clients and gain new ones, while staying relevant.
  • Switching to online staging has also allowed stagers to learn about new software for styling/decorating houses. This is particularly important for stagers who now offer e-design services.
  • Home stagers have also discovered new ways to present staged homes, such as through Zoom or FaceTime.
    The pandemic has also caused homeowners to rethink the design of their homes, which meant more job opportunities for stagers to help with design and renovation consultations.
  • Overall, going online for staging has given stagers the opportunity to reach more clients beyond their local target market and offer a non-traditional approach to staging.

 

Heather Good, Attractive Interiors

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Heather Good Home Stager

I believe an unexpected opportunity is the need to change one’s home because many have been home during the quarantine process. Many homeowners have decided to renovate, update their homes, or purchase new furniture to better fit the new current living situation.

In Phoenix, the housing market is still very strong and the need to be able to present homes with online tours and/or virtual showings due to COVID has increased the need for home staging to show the great features of each home on the market today.

Staging with actual furnishings helps buyers understand each space and allows them to better visualize every area whether viewing online or in person.

 

Aundrelyn Knott, Peterson and Plum Ltd.

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Aundrelyn Knott Home Stager

Because the selling of homes went through a stage where home buyers could only see properties online and not in person, agents needed to try a little harder to make sure their listings looked great on the MLS. This is where a stager can be most helpful. Stagers pay particular attention to what a home looks like for the photographs that are seen online.

FaceTime walkthroughs were extremely helpful for sellers to have a trained eye go through each room to see what buyers were seeing. Good agents were ordering as many photo services as they could to give their sellers every advantage of being seen by potential buyers in this “new normal” of how real estate could be viewed.

 

Mary Scalli, Simple Elegance Professional Home Staging & Interior Design

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Mary Scalli Home Stager

I’m not sure if this is an unexpected opportunity, but I can say that home staging is becoming even more important. One of the houses that we staged literally sold via online as the buyers were based in Canada and couldn’t come to Houston to look at houses.

Thus, the Internet was how they viewed the house. They fell in love with the style of the house that they saw online. Home staging really does differentiate houses on the market because buyers fall in love with how they are styled.

 

Helen Bartlett, Refined Interior Staging Solutions

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Helen Bartlett Home Stager

For our vacant homes, we’ve been as busy as ever. With interest rates so low, and a housing shortage, when homes come on the market, agents are wanting them staged so that they can get top dollar and the quickest sale possible.

Our vacant home-staging business is at an all-time high. We’ve also had the opportunity to do more online consultations, helping homeowners virtually do a walkthrough consultation online with different platforms such as FaceTime, Zoom, etc.

 

Richard Landivar, International Staging

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Richard Landivar Home Stager

Overall, the activity levels and inquiries into staging has been on the upswing. Clearly when there are fewer opportunities to physically view a home, property owners definitely want their property to show online as good as possible.

International Staging has also implemented a Matterport offering, where realtors can take advantage of our being in the property and simultaneously being able to take 360-degree virtual tour pictures. This has been very well received.

 

Tenay Benes, Calm Castle Staging & Design

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Tenay Benes Home Stager

It increased the demand for virtual staging for vacant properties. Unfortunately, my company does not offer this service and it takes a while to build such a technical capability.

It also could potentially increase the demand for video chat-based consultations to stage occupied properties instead of in-person visits. Although we offered this modification, we did not get any interest.

 

Neda Misaghi, White Pearl Home Staging

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Neda Misaghi Home Stager

Yes, home staging is a must these days — it’s not an option anymore. If the market is good, you need to stage your house in order to beat the competitors. And in a bad market, you also need to stage the house in order to stand out and to sell it fast. The pandemic caused some people to panic and try to sell their house, therefore the demand for home staging was high.

 

Christen Gorman, CG Statement Designs

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Christen Gorman Home Stager

The ability to now use virtual meetings and consultations has created an opportunity to expand the reach of a staging business outside of just the local area. It can also set you apart by offering a non-traditional approach for clients to still address their home needs during this pandemic.

 

Jennie Norris, Sensational Home Staging

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Jennie Norris Home Stager

We were able to provide appraisal and inspection services that allowed real estate transactions to close. Home staging was not listed as essential, and this was a great oversight because agents were not allowed to show properties in the traditional way.

 

Marina Kortekaas, En Vue Staging, LLC

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Marina Kortekaas Home Stager

We started doing online staging consultations and found they worked really well. We now offer contact-free stagings as well. We also took the opportunity to learn a new design software for providing e-design to clients.

 

Leslie VanDerven, Welcome Home Organizing, Staging & Feng Shui

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Leslie VanDerven Owner Home Stager

Virtual staging was not something I had even considered before the pandemic. The ability to do so has opened up my business far beyond my Front Range Colorado community.

10
QUESTION

If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?

Key takeaways from the home stagers’ answers:

  • With the popularity of virtual staging, some stagers felt marketing this option before the pandemic would have helped make their clients feel more comfortable with this technology as an alternative to in-person staging.
  • While virtual staging offers a good alternative and has helped mitigate losses, it has proven to be inadequate in raking in profits.
  • Apart from virtual staging, virtual consultations could have helped bring in new revenue streams.
  • Contact-free services could have been better utilized to prepare clients for the new normal in light of the pandemic.
  • Cutting down on non-essential spending and postponing the hiring of new employees may have helped keep businesses afloat. Increasing the budget for marketing efforts, on the other hand, could help gain more clients.
  • Home stagers believe that encouraging realtors to put properties on the market despite the pandemic should have been done more aggressively. They realize that homes will sell no matter what, and waiting should not be an option.

 

Helen Bartlett, Refined Interior Staging Solutions

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Helen Bartlett Home Stager

Ways I would have tried to mitigate loss would have been to prepare our company and clients with new options and opportunities to work together. This includes making known of alternative consultations which include virtual and e-design. These are areas we’ve never really promoted but now see how they can be an option for people limited with time and budgets.

If we knew of this situation ahead of time, simple business decisions like cutting back on non-essential spending, including purchasing of new inventory, warehouse improvements, etc., would be limited or non-existent for a limited amount of time. “Trimming the fat” on all unnecessary financial decisions would have been planned.

 

Heather Good, Attractive Interiors

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Heather Good Home Stager

If I knew the impact of this pandemic prior, I would have not have hired 1-2 employees. We were entering our busy season when the pandemic caused a stay-at-home order and had to postpone or cancel all our jobs.

Many of these jobs are time-sensitive as homeowners need to sell their homes, and having their home staged is a huge marketing tool to get their home sold more quickly. In fact staging their home prior to listing can help them sell their home up to 90% quicker than their competition, therefore timing is everything.

 

Richard Landivar, International Staging

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Richard Landivar Home Stager

I would have encouraged realtors to put properties on the market and be not afraid. Properties that are well positioned for the market and presented correctly are selling quickly. We had cases of clients who actually waited until June to put their properties on the market, while other similar type properties that we had staged in March had already sold.

The bottom line is, and I’m not saying this as a sales pitch, do not wait. Properties will sell.

 

Caroline McCroskey, Set to Sell

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Caroline McCroskey Home Stager

We would have vamped up our virtual offerings sooner so they would be more streamlined. We also just began offering Matterport 3D tours, which have been popular. We’re learning the software a little late in the pandemic game, though, and would have done this sooner if possible.

 

Adele Lynas, Shimmering Home Staging & Design

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Adele Lynas

It is difficult to mitigate your losses due to the fact that your business depends on meeting with the client, seeing the home, and obtaining a feel for the home to be able to give the best staging possible. Virtual staging has helped, but it is still difficult to make much of a profit.

 

Neda Misaghi, White Pearl Home Staging

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Neda Misaghi Home Stager

I would definitely buy less furniture/inventory to reduce the storage cost. Storing inventory is costly and you have to pay for it regardless of whether you get business or not, and that can be challenging sometimes.

 

Cathi Rios, Front Range Stage, LLC

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Cathi Rios Home Stager

I could have marketed virtual staging as an everyday option so that people would be more comfortable with this technology/option. Most people were not receptive to virtual staging.

 

Leslie VanDerven, Welcome Home Organizing, Staging & Feng Shui

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Leslie VanDerven Owner Home Stager

I would have learned more about virtual consulting and the technology to aid in my efforts.

 

Marina Kortekaas, En Vue Staging, LLC

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Marina Kortekaas Home Stager

I would have been better prepared to offer contact-free services.

11
QUESTION

What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Key takeaways from the home stagers’ answers:

  • Marketing via Google is a top option for stagers, as most people today use the popular search engine to look for what they need. It also helps that Google provides a platform for reviews, which help businesses establish a good reputation.
  • Social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are reliable and fool-proof tools for expanding customer base.
  • Utilizing Google Ads and Google My Business is a must to increase online presence. Video conferencing tools like Zoom help make conducting virtual staging classes easier.
  • Developing videos is a good idea to generate potential clients.
  • Sending newsletters is a smart move to gain new realtors to work with.
  • Traditional methods such as referrals and word of mouth are still effective marketing channels to gain repeat business.

 

Grace Ann Simoni, Staging Redesign Group, Inc.

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Grace Ann Simoni Home Stager

Marketing is difficult. Sending emails may work but considering the majority of businesses are communicating via email, I would think email accounts are exploding. I know for me I get about a hundred a day, mostly marketing attempts.

I am still involved in several networking meetings that have converted to virtual meetings like Zoom. One network that I participate in nationally is WESOS — Women Entrepreneurs Secrets of Success. It has numerous chapters in the Chicagoland area as well as nationally.

 

Helen Bartlett, Refined Interior Staging Solutions

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Helen Bartlett Home Stager

During the pandemic, and as always, we focus on social media. Most people are home in front of their computers now and we have a great opportunity to be visible to more people than before.

Part of our big marketing plan is in our actual work. Showcasing your best work has always been a great source of referral business for us. Now we can make sure that we take advantage of spending more time on social media and getting exposure for our business.

 

Heather Good, Attractive Interiors

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Heather Good Home Stager

I believe having an online presence is extremely important in today’s real estate market. We have so many homebuyers purchasing homes that currently live out of state. These clients are not always able to view properties in person, therefore any online channels will help sell a home.

We use our website, along with Instagram and Facebook, for our marketing efforts. Word of mouth is always our best referral source for our industry.

 

Leslie VanDerven, Welcome Home Organizing, Staging & Feng Shui

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Leslie VanDerven Owner Home Stager

I have found that the majority of my clients find me on Google or by word of mouth. My marketing efforts on social media, Home Advisor-type sites, printed materials, and expos have not resulted in any business! Everybody googles what they need and reads the reviews.

 

Angeline Kelly, Apple Blossom Staging & Design

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Angeline Kelly Home Stager

I use all social media marketing so far, as well as Houzz.com. I have not branched out into TV ads, billboards, or radio. Most of my business comes from referrals, Houzz.com, and Facebook ads.

 

Adele Lynas, Shimmering Home Staging & Design

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Adele Lynas

Marketing is difficult during the pandemic due to the fact that you cannot go to their home but we have learned to market through videos and send them to potential clients.

 

Mary Scalli, Simple Elegance Professional Home Staging & Interior Design

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Mary Scalli Home Stager

We have decreased our budget but are putting more money into Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, which are drawing more new people to us.

 

Jessica Flavell, Flavell Home Staging, LLC

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Jessica Flavell Home Stager

I prefer Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram for my marketing channels to engage my followers and keep my brand out there with staging information.

 

Neda Misaghi, White Pearl Home Staging

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Neda Misaghi Home Stager

I’m a big believer of referrals because if you do a good job, people will refer you to others and that’s how you can build your client list.

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