How Home Stagers Are Adapting to COVID-19
By Taylor Atkinson, Owner of Atwil Design
In Washington, home stagers have been deemed essential personnel during the COVID-19 stay home order. While our status has kept many home staging companies like ours up and running as we enter our busy summer season, it also means that we’ve had to make some drastic changes to our business practices to stay safe during the outbreak.
Whether you’re a homeowner who plans to sell in the coming months, a realtor who wants to understand what precautions stagers are taking, or a home stager looking for ideas to promote safety, this overview should provide useful information about how we are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laws for Home Stagers During COVID-19
Governor Inslee’s guidelines suggest that when staging or selling a home, only two people are allowed inside at one time. (Disclaimer: Governor's guidelines are subject to change and we recommend checking the Governor's Covid-19 resource website for updates).
Many staging companies rely on two or more people to stage a home. We at Atwil Design started staging homes in shifts. First, our movers put everything we need into the home and leave the premises. Then Then our designers--most often Josh (my husband and business partner) and I--arrive to stage the home. Once the home is sold, we assign a team of two to de-stage the home and move everything back to our warehouse.
As you can imagine, these extra steps have added time to each stage. We’ve had to get creative during the pandemic to satisfy the needs of our clients. While the market only continues to heat up, we will do our best to keep up with demand. If your property’s listing is time-sensitive, we might recommend our light stage package, or staging fewer rooms in the home. This will allow for us to keep on-schedule and deliver the high standards you expect.
Going Above and Beyond the Call to “Stay Safe”
In addition to following the law, our staging community has taken many additional measures to stay safe during the pandemic. Many of us are:
Conducting virtual consultations: Home consultations are a staple of any staging business. Before COVID-19, these consultations were usually held on-site at the home, where we’d tour the house with the owner or realtor, discuss the home’s potential, and lay out a general plan and estimate for the stage. However, virtual consultations can be just as informative without risking exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also ensure that all parties can get the information they need without exceeding the two person limit in the home. Home stagers can conduct virtual consultations using popular video chat apps such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype.
Wearing masks and gloves while staging: The CDC has cited physical contact and inhaling the virus as the primary ways that it spreads. By wearing masks and gloves while staging, we can significantly reduce our risk of contracting or spreading the disease.
Not staging occupied homes: Occupied homes pose a difficult situation since families can come into contact with surfaces immediately after home stagers leave. While we do everything in our power to keep surfaces clean and COVID-free, unoccupied homes provide a better guarantee that fewer people will be exposed due to human error. If you have an occupied property, we can certainly still help by way of a virtual consultation!
Our Suggestions for Taking Additional Precautions
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Atwil Design has implemented precautionary approaches to keeping stages clean and safe for everyone involved. These have proven particularly helpful during the pandemic, and we recommend you consider adding them to your home staging business permanently:
Homes must be vacant for 48 hours before the stage
All homes must be professionally cleaned before staging
Finding the Silver Lining
While the past few months have been some of the most difficult times for people all over the world, it’s important to see the brighter side of our new—and hopefully temporary—experience. For instance, we’ve been enjoying a creative retreat made possible by less traveling. Virtual consultations mean we don’t have to get to and from your home to make an estimate and home staging plan, so we have used that free-time to jumpstart new ideas in our field or even focus on our hobbies. And raise your hand if you’ve been savoring your new commute times! We can get anywhere in Seattle in twenty minutes, like it’s 2010 again. Whatever your experience, we hope that you stay safe and healthy as we get through this pandemic together.