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About Accreditation – What Does It Mean and WHO is Allowed to Provide It?

Let’s talk about Accreditation in the Home Staging Industry.  What does it mean and who is allowed to provide it to entities?

To answer that question, we need a little history lesson.

When the Home Staging industry began, it was birthed out of real estate as a way to make properties look and show better to prospective buyers.  Back when the industry began in 1972, there was no governing body established to regulate the industry.  Maybe it is because from 1972 to the early 2000’s, Staging was not really seen as a “viable” industry.  We were sort of considered the “ugly step-sister” of the Design Industry and as such were not seen as professional or necessary.  In the late 1990’s the first Home Staging Training Course was developed and launched by Barb Schwarz, The Creator of Home Staging®.  When you consider the registered trademark on that title, she was given the trademark by the Federal Government because she demonstrated that she in fact DID start the industry and helped build and guide it for over 4 decades. Barb developed the first course, the Accredited Staging Professional® (ASP®) Course taught by Stagedhomes.com – a real estate and home staging training company and school.
Barb was a huge proponent of accountability and professional associations and belonged to the National Association of REALTORS and the National Speakers Association.  In 1999 she founded the International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®) – the first – and to date – the largest – Home Staging Industry Association.  It was not until about the early-2000’s that Home Staging really was put on the map with talented business owners providing this service and sharing their talent and expertise with homeowners around the world.
Because of the way the industry began and grew, there is NO official governing entity telling Home Stagers how they have to set up a business. Unlike real estate where someone has to take a test and pass it in order to sell property, and have required education to keep their license active, Home Staging sort of slipped under the radar of any agency taking the service and controlling who could open up a business, who can call themselves a Home Stager, how they have to operate a business or mandating any sort of educational requirements.  Individuals can literally decide one day they are going to start a Staging business, and off they go.  We are required to have a business license and pay taxes on our income, but Home Stagers do not have the same requirements for education, association or performance standards  that other industries have.
If we were able to go back in time and adjust things, it would be great if there were an agency that had oversight on our industry to help establish educational ground rules for those entering the industry, and have a place where the public could go to resolve any disputes or ethics issues.  Since there is no regulatory or government agency that exists to do that for Home Staging, the industry has self-regulation practices – and it is the Home Staging Associations that have stepped up to fill the gap.

So let’s take a look at what “Accreditation Means” and who is eligible to provide Accreditations to individuals, Training Courses or Companies in the Home Staging Industry.

Accreditation:
noun
noun: accreditation; plural noun: accreditations
  1. 1.
    the action or process of officially recognizing someone as having a particular status or being qualified to perform a particular activity.
    “the accreditation of professionals”
    • official certification that a school or course has met standards set by external regulators.
  2. 2.
    an acknowledgment of a person’s responsibility for or achievement of something.

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

Q:  WHO is eligible to provide ACCREDITATIONS in the Home Staging Industry?
A:  In short – anyone who wants to do so, can.  Because there are no external regulators for the Home Staging Industry that are officially recognized by any legal institution or government, ANY entity can claim the ability to audit, evaluate, approve and recognize an individual, training course or company and provide an Accreditation.
Entities that claim otherwise, are sharing information that is false.  It may be their desire or opinion that our industry should function that way, but the reality is any group, association or company that claims they are the only ones able to accredit another entity, are not sharing accurate information.
There is NO agency in or outside the Home Staging Industry that has Accredited a Home Staging entity to Accredit other Home Staging entities to be Accredited! (say THAT 10 times fast!)
Home Staging Industry Associations are the closest thing we have to any sort of “regulatory agency” in the industry.  However, an association has no authority to prevent an individual from owning and operating a Staging business and has no authority in dictating what courses someone should or should not attend.  An Association CAN provide guidance to the industry and its members.  An association can provide guidelines for ethical standards, best business practices and resources to help members grow and thrive, and they can even remove a person from membership who is not representative of what that association stands for – but they cannot put anyone out of business.
Q:  WHY bother with getting Accredited?
A: Credibility.  Plain and simple.  The goal is that any course offered is evaluated based on its merit, content, complexity, and quality – it is evaluated based on a set of standards determined by the accrediting agency.  As we have already determined, anyone who wants to be an accrediting agency in the Home Staging industry CAN provide this stamp of approval.  Again there are no rules that an entity must follow in order to issue an accreditation, and the criteria is subjective.  One entity may opt to use a set of third party guides from some other industry, and another entity may opt to evaluate a course based on their expertise in the industry that qualifies them to know what courses deserve to be accredited or not.  The outcome is the course being evaluated is given a stamp of approval by the entity accrediting it.  That, in turn, lends credibility to that course and the course provider.
Q:  So WHO issues Accreditations?
A:  When you read the definition above, an Accreditation is issued by an external regulator and in the Home Staging industry, there is no governing body dictating who CAN or CANNOT issue an accreditation or who has determined who is an approved external regulator.
Q:  Can an Association who is issuing Accreditations to educational course providers in the Home Staging Industry ALSO provide their own courses that compete with the entities who have paid to be accredited by that Association?
A:  In short – YES.  But SHOULD THEY?  In our opinion, No.   In our opinion if an Association offers courses that compete with the entities who have PAID to be accredited and promoted on the association site, it represents a conflict of interest because the association is now taking potential business away from the companies that paid the association for the review and accreditation, and approval.  The association is making money off their own courses they have self-accredited instead of remaining a completely neutral entity in the Home Staging industry.

Here are some FACTS to CONSIDER:

FACT:  Any Home Staging Industry Association CAN issue an Accreditation to an entity serving the industry – whether a training provider, an individual, or a course.
FACT:  There are no guidelines an entity must follow in order to provide an Accreditation.  All that is required is “officially recognizing someone as having a particular status or being qualified to perform a particular activity,” and in the Staging industry, that can be done by an Association, a Company, a Course, an individual – there are no set guidelines that must be followed.
FACT:  The evaluation for the Accreditation should be without bias.  An entity reviewing and approving courses needs to be unbiased and not influenced by the entity they are evaluating.
FACT:  Being PAID to evaluate a course could constitute a bias.  If another course is unwilling or unable to pay the FEE for evaluation, and the provider is only approving those who paid, this means there are courses that are not being approved simply because they do not want to pay a high fee to an entity that is not THE official accrediting source for the Home Staging Industry.  This does NOT mean that course that is not listed is not as qualified, as good or valid.  It ONLY means the course provider opted NOT to pay a large fee to be evaluated. The ability to Accredit is a self-proclaimed status.
FACT:  Evaluations of courses do help provide the public with information on what courses to evaluate and recourse for investing in education in one of the approved courses.  If a course is Accredited by an Association and someone who attends that course is unhappy with their course or learning, that person has recourse to go to the Association and ask for resolution help.  However if a course is not listed on an association site, it does NOT mean that course is not reputable or qualified.  It only means that course provider has not asked to be evaluated or has opted not to pay a large sum for this stamp of approval.
FACT:  IAHSP® is an entity in the Industry that DOES provide Accreditations for Courses.  We have reviewed, approved and accredited courses in the US, Canada, Germany, Italy and Spain.  In IAHSP®, the evaluation is conducted by individuals who have nearly two decades of experience IN the industry as educators, business owners and leaders.  Because they work IN the industry, they are qualified to recognize aspects of courses that are necessary for students to learn in order for them to be successful.
FACT:  IAHSP® receives NO MONEY for evaluating and approving educational courses in the Home Staging industry.  The accreditation process provided by IAHSP is truly independent and without bias as no funds are being paid in order for an entity to receive an approved accreditation status.
FACT:  There are no rules prohibiting a cross-over in terms of being both in leadership in an Association and also a course developer or instructor.  Any entity or individual who states otherwise is offering up an OPINION – not a fact.
FACT:  Home Staging Courses can ACCREDIT the STUDENT.  The Accreditation recognizes the accomplishment and achievement of an individual who has attended a course.  Most courses in the industry offer a designation and a certification to graduates.  Those that offer an Accreditation as well are providing it to the graduate – giving them the highest level of credibility and status in the industry.
For more information on approved Industry Accreditations, go to www.iahsp.com.  There is a list of industry credentials approved for membership in IAHSP®, and a list of IAHSP® Accredited Courses found HERE. If you are a course provider and would like to be evaluated by IAHSP to see if your course is eligible for the IAHSP® Accreditation, please email [email protected]