Question Details

Shawn Rosa, Real Estate Pro in Basking Ridge, NJ

Professional Stagers: To Use Or Not To Use?

Asked by Shawn Rosa, Basking Ridge, NJ Tue Dec 13, 2011

In certain parts of the country, it is becoming more common for sellers to hire a professional stager to advise them on how to make their home look and feel in advance of showings and open houses. Stagers can charge up to $200/hr. In my opinion, an experienced realtor can advise a seller on such matters with equal skill. Let's hear some thoughts on the matter.

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That's a good question! If an agent has training in home staging and receives positive feedback on homes that they have helped staged in the past...then by all means stage a home before you list. If an agent has no home staging training and/or does not feel confident enough to get the home owner on board with what needs to be done - then leave it to a professional stager to handle the situation.

I actually stage my own listings as a "value added" service. However, I give my sellers LOTS of homework (such as packing things away and cleaning). I also pass along my various contractors contact information to handle things such as wall paper removal, replacing faucets, etc ("make ready" tasks, so the house can then be staged). I try to check on the progress often along the way and in the end do the staging using as much of their items as I can. I keep a storage full of items (with my name hidden on the bottom of each piece) which I can lend out if needed. If you work WITH your homeowner to stage their home - they will typically feel "invested" enough to keep it that way. I do charge a $500 fee if my seller cancels the contract prior to the listing expiration. I learned this the hard way when 2 different clients love the "new look" so much that they decided to cancel their listing and stay in the house! Regardless either stage yourself or get the house professionally staged prior to listing. I think it's worth it because my staged listings sell SO much faster and for higher prices!

Jacqueline Schrock
RE/MAX Town & Country
Allen, TX
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 14, 2011
I agree. When listing a home, it's my obligation to the seller to advise what they should do, for the least amount of money, to get their home ready to be put on the market.

After being in so many homes, you develop a sense of what works and what doesn't.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 18, 2012
I think an upper end home should budget for a Professional stager! Professional in that field are worth the investment to be paid off when the closing price is higher. This will free up the agent to do their part.
I have personally invested prior to painting and re-decorating and it was so worth the investment!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 18, 2012
I would certainly agree that SOME realtors are helpful in this matter, but certainly not ALL. I make a habit of moving furniture around if I think it's in the wrong place, or asking sellers to remove pcs. if there is too much in one particular rm. (like I did yesterday @ a new listing's house). However, many realtors just take the listing and run! Maybe they aren't confident or qualified in this area, but they should be, and do something to get educated because they are costing their clients money. If a property sits, and doesn't sell, ....that costs time and money. Staging helps the buyer to envision what the house would look like in a best case scenario, and helps get the house under contract. I think experienced realtors SHOULD be doing this, but if they aren't, then hiring a stager might be the way for a seller to go.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
No matter how much experience a Realtor has it will never compare to the Wow! Factor that a true Interior Design Consultant or Home Stager can provide. These two professionals have the "eye," they can tweek your space & know all the tricks of the trade, the smoke & mirrors, which will get you place SOLD! Everyone has their expertise. Maybe that's why the Realtor's are having a tough time. A flexible Realtor can work the $$ out with either the Consultant and/or Seller. The Homeowner doesn't always necessarily have to take on all the burden. (We're all trying to make it in this economy.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 26, 2012
Hi Shawn,

I actually agree with you in terms of advice on spiffing up a home... but in terms of a vacant home or new construction a full service stager is needed to provide the furniture and accessories!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 26, 2011
Now, I must say, some realtors have become stagers because they DO have a talent for it. But that is not always the case. Unfortunately, Realtors do think it is their job to SELL the client on staging. We, as a staging company, ask that the Realtor list us as a part of their TEAM, with a recommendation that the client take the "free" hour of consultation (a deal we've worked out with the Realtor) to introduce them to the benefits of staging. This takes the pressure off the agent. They don't have to be the one to say anything negative about the house. The stager can be a little more honest with the client as to how staging can benefit them, shorten their time on the market and SAVE THEM MONEY. A big part of the problem is that the client is not always emotionally ready to sell. That's why there is resistance to any suggestions. (All of this advice is for "occupieds. Selling staging for a vacant is a little different. We'll save that for another blog.
Read the blog attached to help you understand more.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 26, 2011

Equal skill?

The idea is to find a stager who does a 'way better job than you can. As an Accredited Staging Professional, I defer to real experts, rather than do the job myself. It comes down to this - I'm a real estate broker who works 2000 hours a year at real estate brokerage, which is why my clients hire me. How the hail am I going to be as good a stager as a professional who works 2000 hours a year as a stager AND has furniture and movers and resources that I don't have?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
Staging is a good idea if it is cost effective. Some charge by the hour or the amount of items needed, some charge a percentage of the sales price. Professionals can a much better job than home owners in most cases simply because they have a wide assortment of funiture and such, but make sure it is worth it. People like to see furniture because it helps show room layouts and they can visualize themselves in the room. Staging can help sell a property but you want to have a good agent as well. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
Extremely tough question....I've seen what $1200 worth of staging buys you and IT WAS A JOKE!!!! Unless I had a vacant, very high end listing I would not hire a stager. With the seller's help (and funds), I do my own. If your taste is horrible and you have no "flair" for sprucing a house for market exposure and you still want to stage......hire - better for you and the seller to spend the money rather than make the house look worse.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
This is a great question! My answer is it depends and here is why. Every Seller's situation is unique in terms of personality, budget and availability. Assessing the potential for a well planned and well executed staging project on behalf of a seller takes a lot of skill. I have spoken with agents who will not risk sending a professional stager because they are afraid the stager will kill the listing. I have not had that experience so first and foremost I would say use a stager who comes highly recommended by an agent who has had multiple success stories with the stager.
I usually break this down and guide the seller to do what fits best for their particular scenario. If they don't have a lot of time and have the available resources, go with the professional! If you feel that the seller is overly sensitive to that information coming from you, it may actually be in the sellers best interest to receive that from a dedicated professional. If they have more time than money, are open to working through a game plan with me and have some decent basic furniture items to work with I will go through the home with them and tag with yellow post it notes the only items I want to remain in the home and tell them where to place it. Then once they are done removing everything else I will go back and make some tweaks for the camera's eye right before the photography work gets done. I definitely feel this is a value added service that I do well for my sellers. I keep my own stash of basic staging items that I have collected over the years to use in my listings. Even soft staging kitchens and bathrooms for vacant listings and out of town sellers can instantly add appeal and add value for you as a realtor. I do believe that the key is experience, not all realtors will have the talent. I agree with what has been written though that you should write in a reimbursement clause to cover you if the listing does not sell for other reasons, so far though I have not had to use the clause because my staged listings sell!
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 14, 2011
Another option that seems to be gaining popularity is "virtual staging" where the home is decorated in pictures or videos on the website. Another thought is to enlist the aid of a decorator. It really depends on the price of the home whether it is worth $200 an hour..
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 14, 2011
It is all a matter of training. Some Realtors are ASPs (Accredited Staging Professionals), have been trained in home staging, and offer the service to their clients at no extra charge for their time. You can find them and more information on ASP training at the following website:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 13, 2011
Stage! And stay staged! Or find a realtor with the staging designation who offers their service free of charge to their clients. I have a client who loves to 'decorate'. I finally convinced her to 'declutter'. She packed all her knick knacks away. But, within a very short time her home was cluttered again. When I said, "But I thought you packed it all away." She said, "I did, but then I went out and bought more!" LOL! I often wonder if she would have taken the advice more to heart if she had paid $200 per hour for it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 13, 2011
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