I'm a home stager in the Santa Clara Valley and am surprised by the number of Realtors who don't use stagers

Asked by Karen Negrete, ASP, IAHSP,IRIS, The Santa Clara Valley Tue Jan 22, 2008

or more importantly, don't see the value of staging. Can some enlighten me?

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Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Tue Jan 22, 2008
Interesting TD...for honest answers... Karen asked...why agents don't promote stagers more.

For the record, we actually hire stagers and have paid them ourselves. We maintain an inventory of items that we use for what we call "light staging"...

Karen's question solicited feedback on why agents aren't using stagers more....I provided her insight into some of the reasons. I am not opposed to staging, and support it so strongly, that I have paid for complete staging out of my pocket and have several hundred dollars in items we use for "light staging." I didn't speak about that in my prior post, because Karen didn't ask for testimonials on staging, she asked why Realtors don't use stagers more.

I tried to provide Karen with an answer that would help her and other stagers broaden their business for a win-win-win situation for sellers, stagers and Realtors. I still stand on my original post because it addresses the obstacle that Karen and other stagers face and provides suggestions on how stagers could get more business.
4 votes
Tman, , 30642
Wed Jan 23, 2008
I'm sorry Deborah, but thats pretty weak.

I think Karen understood your position the first time:

"I will mention staging to a seller, but I don't push it ." -- " I would pass out info " -- " The stager needs to sell the job "

If it's important - then you better be "pushing it" and not "mentioning it" ....

And passing out fliers with new sellers is like passing out fliers at the Miami Boat show - huge cluttered bags of brochures with a return rate of less than 1% - same with your seller ..... if it's not important to you, how can it ever be important to your client - where is the sense of urgency..?

Why should the stager be the band leader.? .. it's "your" client and it's *hopefully* your sale (properly executed.).

Worse case scenario.? .. they say "no" and you have them sign off on it.

Buyers and sellers need honest and "aggressive' agents, not just order takers.

3 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Tue Jan 22, 2008
When an agent recommends that a property be staged, the property owner must incur an out of pocket expense in order to make that happen. Sellers often start out with high expectations. If they write checks to a stager, that level of expectations further increases with the Realtor. While the stager has been paid, the increased liability and responsiblity falls to the Realtor.

As Phil stated, what happens when the seller spent 5K and the house has not sold? While I would like to have crystal ball and tell a seller when they will sell and for how much.......the fact, is I oddn't have a crystal ball.

I will mention staging to a seller, but I don't push it. I would be more likely to include staging info for sellers provided to me by outside sources, than I am to "push" staging. Most marketing materials provided to me by a stager consist of a one page flier. I would pass out info to sellers from stagers with data on sales stats of staged homes, pictures of before and after, etc. I am not going to oversell the staging, but would easily include reference materials. The better marketing materials that a stager provides, the mroe likely that is to result in a seller making contact w/ the stager.

Bottom line......As a Realtor, I will make a suggestion but not sell the job for the stager. The stager needs to sell the job, and be accountable for the results. IIf I sell the job, I become responsibile for the stager's performance. Better marketing materials by stagers would open more doors and create a win-win-win for the seller, stager and Realtor.
3 votes
Tman, , 30642
Tue Jan 22, 2008
Excellent post Don,

You hit the nail right on the head:

.. " not all agents are willing to be honest with their clients about their homes "

I've just never understood that about agents ..... what's the point of the listing if you've got blue bathrooms, red carpets and it doesn't show well .?

We have a small warehouse that we've used for almost 20 years for just this . .. we go on to the new house with our knickknacks and pictures of golfers that most people would hate and in goes the basic staging furniture for the home we're putting on the market .... we sell in 20 or 40 days ..and the rest, well, I think they're still there.....

Houses are just like a boat you're selling, a clean boat will sell in short order - it's called pride of ownership ... show a boat with dirty seats, a cluttered cabin and a greasy instrument panel and you'll be owning that bad boy for a long time ..

2 votes
Linda, , Berwyn, PA
Tue Jan 22, 2008
Staging alone will not sell a house, but it is a key component of an effective marketing plan. As professional stagers, we still have alot of educating to do with both consumers and realtors. I am finding an increasing number of realtors offerring a staging consultation as part of their listing presentation. If the seller is willing (and motivated) to do a little work, the few hundred dollars spent can be well worth the investment for the realtor and the seller. I do hear predictions that someday staging will be as commonplace as home inspections.
1 vote
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Tue Jan 22, 2008
I'm an agent in Virginia (and a real estate investor), and my wife is a home stager. So here's a double perspective, at least from the East Coast.

A couple of years ago, agents didn't see the need for stagers because the houses would sell without staging. Sure, the argument was that they'd sell for more, or (except during the peak, when anything would sell instantly) that they'd sell more quickly. But someone who'd bought at, say, $250,000 didn't much care whether that home'd sell for $600,000 or $625,000, or that it'd sell in 15 days rather than 30 days. So, some agents who began their careers then don't have the perspective to understand the benefits of staging.

But today is different. And the agent's mantra is "Price is everything" and "If it's not selling, lower the price." Well, sure, nearly anything will sell at some price. But not all agents (and homeowners) understand that it may be far more economical to stage a home for, say $5,000 than to cut the price by $15,000. That's especially true if the house doesn't show particularly well. It doesn't have to be a dump...and that's what agents don't understand.

In addition, not all agents are willing to be honest with their clients about their homes. You have someone who has lived in a home for 25 years and it's their pride and joy. There are the pictures of their three children on the walls...many of the walls. Plus hubby's diplomas and certificates of achievement. There's the artwork they bought in Peru, and the Chinese wall hangings they acquired over there. They're religious, so there are plenty of framed prayers and pictures on the wall. The last of their kids is at college now, but the kids' rooms were the way they left them--little Sally liked pink, so everything in the one bedroom is pink. Billy was a bit of a rebel and liked black. He wasn't really a goth, but that's the style of his room. The whole house is full of memories. It takes a good agent to talk reality to the owners. Many of them don't have the courage to do so.

I don't disagree with Phil that many clients don't want to pay for the service. Partially, it's because they don't understand the benefits, and their agents haven't informed them of the benefits. ("Well...we could stage it. It'll cost you some money up front and there's no guarantee it'll sell your house. You can do it if you want, but most of my other clients haven't. And, really, price is what's going to sell your house. Now, let's talk about a price readjustment. I can get that into the MLS this evening."

The agents out here who've tried it seem to see the value in it. And I've seen some agents who've taken the courses themselves and actually do a pretty good job themselves. It's not "real" staging, but it does declutter, organize, and better present the house. And I know some investors (rehabbers) who really see the value in staging. They're willing to spend some money to sell a house quickly for top dollar.

Anyhow, that's my observation.

Good question.
1 vote
Phil Fowler, Agent, Brandon, FL
Tue Jan 22, 2008
Don't be surprised, most clients do not want to pay for the service. We have had properties staged, and still haven't sold.
Web Reference:  http://www.PhilFowler.com
1 vote
Paula Bean, , Orlando, FL
Tue Jan 22, 2008
Great answers from all. Yes, PRICE is king, but if you have to lower the price by more than the cost of staging, then you lose money.

I work mostly with sellers, and I am a real estate consultant, so when people want me to list their homes, I give them a laundry list of options on how to do it.

The 'best way' is to Price it for the market, taking into consideration how many DOM you want to pull your hair out and keep your house clean.

Next - I only deal with motivated sellers. People don't go through this for fun and I don't either, it is a business and I run it like one.

If you want too high of a price, don't want to stage, offer concessions, blah blah blah, then go waste someone elses time.

THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES, but why should the agent take the hit for all the upfront expenses, time and aggravation if the seller wants to only pay you IF you sell their over-priced, understanged home?

It is a two way street, If the seller has a stake in the money, and so do I, and they tell me honestly what they want to accomplish, and they are motivated, not just playing the market, then it will work.

Pricing great works because the more days on the market you spend, the more you pay mtg pmts which all of but maybe $10 bucks of that $2,000 pmt is going for interest. So.....if you are on the market for 6 months, you just lost almost $12K.

Staging and Pricing correctly for the market to sell in the LEAST amount of Days on the market WORKS, because people buy with emotions, and the transaction sticks due to logic. The longer you are on the market, the more money you lose. The more you have a vested interest in the outcome, the more motivated you are.

THOSE are the clients I work with, everyone else can deal with the ones who read the internet and believe everything they hear. I'm far happier helping 3 logical, motivated sellers per month, than trying to work with 10 and the other 7 think they know more than I do.

It's just that easy.

Hope this helps!
0 votes
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