Home Selling in 08723>Question Details

Summerhouse,  in Brick, NJ

Why don't more Realtors consult with professional stagers? I am a Realtor as well as a stager, and I see so many listings on the MLS that could

Asked by Summerhouse, Brick, NJ Mon Jun 7, 2010

benefit from a stagers services. I charge a reasonable hourly rate to do the work, and take new shots. With all the homes on the market today, and the importance of a great photographic presentation, I wonder why my phone isn't ringing off the hook.

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There are several reasons…cost, inconvenience and lack of guarantee.

1) Cost - When I take a listing, I start the process of spending money. While posting to the internet is free, every hour I spend posting, editing photos, etc, is time. And, time is a form of currency. Additionally, I outsource and pay for much of these support activities, so it is truly out of pocket expense for me. I pay for premium positioning on multiple sites (some of which can be very expensive), our property marketing sheets are heat sealed binder brochures, we building single property sites for many listings, we still participate in limited print promotions, and we participate in a number of niche specific marketing activities. By the time the seller finishes saying, “go” - I have become very heavily invested in the marketing of their property. We also provide weekly update reports on web hits, and this, to as an outsourced activity is an expense.

For me, staging is yet another expense. One which I cannot front and hope to recapture. I am too heavily spent already. See ‘lack of guarantee.’

For Realtors who are not doing any investment to support their listing, staging is probably not one of the first things they will consider doing as part of a marketing campaign.

1a) Cost - Sellers are unwilling to bear the cost. See ‘lack of guarantee.’

2) Inconvenience - Minor staging can be done by Realtors. True staging is beyond the tolerance of many sellers. I have marketed homes that needed to have 1/3 or more of the belongings removed from the property. Sabrina Soto was the host and stager for HDTV’s ‘Get It Sold.’ Great show. Great entertainment. What Sabrina did in most of those shows required a substantial change in lifestyle for the residents. This is great for TV. Most sellers will not entertain that much disruption without a guarantee that they are selling and moving in a defined time frame.

Sellers go through inconvenience just trying to maintain their home show ready, vacating for appointments, and keeping up with the meetings and feedback from their Realtor about the marketing results and showing feedback. Most sellers find this to be a considerable change from their typical day-to-day lifestyle.

3) Lack of Guarantee. If the property does not sell, the homeowner has now altered the lifestyles of the residents, and bears the cost of storage, as well as replacement.

There are times when exhaustive marketing efforts are undertaken, web hits and showing appointments document that price is the obstacle, and a seller determines they wish to remain homeowners. They opt to stay instead of sell. Those marketing costs are absorbed by either the selling agent of broker. In one instance it is the broker who paid, in another instance it is the actual listing agent.

If I encourage a seller to engage in a major staging effort, and their home does not sell, it is I who will hear the angst of a homeowner who ultimately decided to stay instead of sell.

I think staging is a terrific vehicle. I think stagers need to do a better job of solving the risks and the challenges that Realtors and sellers undertake when proceeding on this path. Meanwhile, the stager has collected his/her fees and moved on. The solutions might be an exploration of stronger marketing, better education, or stager compensation tied to success. A stager does not control all dynamics of the sale, but neither does a Realtor.

If you can reduce the upfront expense, minimize inconvenience and costs for seller, and offer some type of delayed compensation, you would increase your staging business. If you could address these challenges, your staging business might actually take off like a rocket.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
Many, many of the pictures I see would just involve moving stuff out of the way for the picture and then put it back (curling iron, counter with stuff, etc.) I also saw pictures today that a realtor took of the master closet with it completely packed with stuff. Just leave that picture out. I have also seen listings with 3 pictures of the seller's floor. Seems to me that some of the "staging" involves basic common sense.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Are stagers willing to accept payment contingent to closing, like a realtor's commission?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
I agree with Deborah whole heartedly...besides many unwilling sellers, we already spend WAAAY too much money out of the gate, with no guarantee we will ever get paid. WIth most of my listings in the 300-500K range, my out of pocket costs, as well as time spend marketing in other ways, just doesn't justify yet another expense that may not be recouped.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Great Question Summer. The value proposition for a stager years ago was staging = higher selling price whereas now I would say staging = faster sale closer to the asking price, assuming the house is priced to sell to begin with.

I agree with Dan. A number of stagers want an upfront fee just for the consultation, which ranges from $150 and up. If a stager would mix and match how the cost of service is realized, they may get more staging opportunities.

The last time I checked, most agents get paid at closing. Why not the stager? But, that's just my take.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Just to add to what Alan and others have said (hi Alan, John & Dan!) - it's sometimes dificult to get the seller to remove something as simple as magnets and "stuff" from the front of the refrigerator! What I point out as "clutter" - some sellers see as "necessities of life being readily available" ! :)

People love where they live, and some don't have the ability to see it from a buyer's perspective, no matter how much you point it out. They may want to sell their home, but don't want to alter the way they have been living. They may not want to be bothered by painting or moving furniture around, even if you tell them the enhancement may bring in more money .

Like Alan, and I am sure many other agents, I also walk around and point out the obvious things that should be done.......sometimes the seller listens - sometimes they don't. Even if I paid for a stager to come in - I can't force the seller to follow the instructions they may have been given.

Also, it's not just the cost of the stager - it's the cost of implementing what the stager suggests. In this market, as many sellers don't have extra money to pay expenses associated with home improvements - ie: painting, wallpaper removal, clearing rooms out and putting things in storage, etc.

We'd all love picture-perfect listings, but sometimes you have to deal with what you have - and make sure to price it accordingly!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Cost. Not too many homeowners are in for the price tag of a "stager" - Most agents probably already can stage the house on their own. (No cost tot he homeowner) See Alan's post below.

The house will sell it iself.. no one is going to buy a property because a nice red couch is sitting 8 degrees to the sun and reflects the sunlight at noon, surrounded by gold curtains overlooking a table with place settings and fake fruit.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Whether or not an agent sees value in staging, they will communicate that to their client. Frankly, I'd rather not have the listing than have it poorly presented at an "imagine it looking great" price.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 12, 2011
Great response Deborah, thumbs up to you! Though the question was asked in June of last year, it is certainly a "timeless" topic.

Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 12, 2011
Staging is a wonderful benefit like on TV if people can afford it otherwise I think a good realtor advises a homeowner about the importance of cleaning up and keeping their homes showing as best as it can and not just for the sake of the pictures we take.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 12, 2011
Manu, I would be willing to take on a job within an hour and a half drive for me. Let's try to do the preliminary consultation via email, and phone. You can look over my website and use the contact form. Send me a link to a current listing, or a few photos, and I will be happy to discuss your project with you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 16, 2010
Do you take work in NY state ?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 13, 2010
OK!! Wow, I wish I had asked this question sooner, because I think I can address some of the concerns, and because I am considering making some changes in the way I handle some aspects of my business.

Usually, my initial contact is with a seller who calls me when their home is not selling. They do an internet search, and find my website. Realtors that have used me in the past will recommend me to their clients, but home sellers don't realize they need me until they try to sell without me.

During my initial consultation, which is complementary, I take a walk through the home, take some photos, and discuss how I work. I might make a few suggestions regarding the refriderator magnet collections, and family photos. I then get back to them as quickly as possible with an estimate. Every job is unique! I sometimes fill an entire home with rental furniture, if that is what the client wants, OR at the other extreme, I use only what is in front of me, and charge for a few hours of work.

We all know that price is the most important determining factor in the sale of real estate, BUT if there are several similiar homes on the market, and one presents well in the internet photos as well as the on site visits, I just have to beleive that staging can make a huge difference.

As for getting paid after the home has been sold- I would be willing to do that for situations that don't require a HUGE outlay of cash. I just don't have enought money in the bank to fill a house with thousands of dollars in rental furniture.

Regarding the education requirements for stagers, I totally agree. How do you know if you can trust someone who has only spent a few days being certified? I would look for a professional stager, who can provide you with real business references from a Realtor that has used their services.

I'm not sure if I have answered all your specific questions here yet, but please don't dismiss staging right out of the gate. If you make a few suggestions to a homeowner, and they won't listen, try calling a stager. He or she will probably make the very same suggestions, and your seller just might start listening, if they hear the same advice from TWO different professionals. I firmly beleive that staging sells homes more quickly, and for a higher price. I just staged a home in March, in Seaside Park NJ. It had been on the market for over a year, and sold six weeks after staging was completed. It was a 1. 6 million dollar home, and the total cost of staging was around $5,000!

Thanks to all for the great responses! Please let me know if their are any other points you would like me to address.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010

I agree with you about moving things to take pictures. We try to do that... Move the soap dispenser and dish rag away from the kitchen sink, the towel loosely tossed over the oven handle, and the laundry basked in the corner. Each of these minor things amplify in photos.

Staging, to the credit of Sumerhouse, is a much greater proactive move than that. I believe in staging to improve the presentation, and most Realtors are not strong stagers. We understand the basic declutter, and we should do a better job of photos. :-( My comments from my prior posts talked about the challenge of implementation.

Builders have not spent years creating models without just cause and metrics that support an ROI. It is not feasible to do the same for one property. The builder's investment is amortized through the development. On an individual property, it would not scale. Nor are we looking for that magnitude. One can make an analogy between builder's investment in model homes and staging costs in resale homes.

Staging is great. But, it is only one component......and one that can be offset with price. A property in severe disrepair can gain substantial traffic and multiple offers. In many instances, the cost of staging, moving, storing is more than the price reduction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ

I would not want to undertake a major staging. I think there is value into bringing in a 3rd party. Similarly to how one can get a real estate license in 2 weeks, a stager may become accredited easily. But, the true value of either a stager or Realtor comes from their eye, skill, experience and contacts.

As Debbie mentioned she did, I also try to get my clients to take some magnets off the fridge (particularly when it's another real estate company magnet and the house is being represented by us.) If a client was suitable and willing candidate for a complete staging to part or the entire house, I do recognize the value of experience and the contacts that a good stager can bring to the table.

I still stand on my position that stagers need to figure out a solution to the total cost (moving items to storage, storage fees) and the "what if" scenario if there is not a sale. That is an obstacle that exists and stagers need to come to the table with solutions so it benefits the seller without the risk or expense being too great.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
I couldn't have said it better than Deborah!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
How about just getting a training as stager? How long does it take? A year? :) I would rather take a training! Anyone knows of a good place? My Listings are typically multi units with renters....Its hard enough to set up an appt. with them!... can you imagine their reaccion when it comes to stagging it?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
in addition to al the earlier posts, the same question could be asked about why dont more agents have the homes gone over by a feng shui consultant, or an environmental consultant or "green" consultant? The list goes on but the bottom line is it depends upon the market you are servicing the product and the payback. I used to pay for professional photos, now I take my own because I can go back as many times as I like at different times of day (or season). In addition I ofetn use my clients favorite pictures which involves them more in the process.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
I think I saw it on here once... If a stager would agree to be paid on the back end (when or if a house sells) that more people would hire them. There is risk. No sale = no pay. There is a benefit. more staging jobs even if some do not pay.

The issue as Alan said below is cost. Many people do not want to pay a stager and then not sell the house.

Perhaps you could have 2 rates.
1 paid up front
2 paid at closing 125% of paid up front. That way if 1/4 of houses do not sell you get the same effective paycheck.

You have to look at a different way of marketing your services. Take chances. Get people to notice your service and feel they both need and can afford to use you. Perhaps more realtors would want your services if you chose the option of being paid at closing. You would have to have the contract with the owner in a way that says even if you change realtors I get paid.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
For me, it primarily comes down to cost. I can either pay for the stager's services myself, or expect that the seller will pay for those services.

In many cases, I simply act as a "mini-stager" because the seller won't pay (and I don't want to), and have the seller move and remove furniture, add lighting, move and remove household plants, open drapes... take down the 14 foot heritage wall of family photos that run down the hallway, and clear off the kitchen counter and refrigerator.

No cost to either of us.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 7, 2010
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
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