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Recently, at a networking event, I became engrossed in a conversation about home staging. As a Realtor® who is also a home stager, it seems I was "ripe for the picking". I was subjected to some "complaints" from a builder and a couple of Realtors® who had hired stagers (not me) for some of their properties. Their complaints? The cost to themselves and/or their clients (i.e., inflated charges and "overdone decorating") and the amount of time the properties were languishing on the market.
I was soon able to determine that they all had a very unrealistic perception of the benefits of staging. Why, you ask? Because they all had either been led to or chose to believe that staging was the end-all and be-all to selling their listings. I know...I'm still working this one out for myself! You, simply, can't get some Realtors® to even come close to acknowledging or even understanding the need for home staging and, yet I am now speaking with a builder and 2 Realtors® who put all their eggs in that basket??? Boggles the mind.
After some time of listening to what they had to share with me, I felt that I needed to share with them my thoughts. Believe me, at this point, I had begun to feel like the proverbial fox in the hen house and felt the most compelling need to identify myself as a "friendly".
Whether or not the stager(s) were "certified", "accredited", or "staging in the nude" ( http://activerain.com/groups/SIN ) was not an issue...as the stager(s) had not been confined to just one of these categories. So, I didn't have to get into THAT discussion.
I started off with... Home staging IS extremely beneficial to the buying and selling of real estate...period. But (and here's the "but"), as with anything, there are factors to be considered.
First, is Knowledge...everyone must have it - the client, the Realtor®, and the stager. Hopefully, with a knowledgeable Realtor® and stager involved, the client will be more informed, more knowledgeable.
Second, Communication - the client, the Realtor®, and the stager MUST communicate and work together. Far too often, this one slips through the cracks. I can't tell you how many times where I have come across a situation in which the Realtor® and stager haven't even spoken to one another.
And, last but certainly not least, Realism - understand the ultimate objective of the client! (Hey, it's usually to "sell their home") What is the objective? Net profit? Quick Sale? Be realistic in anticipating an outcome and execute a staging plan that makes sense.
With knowledge, communication, and realism, achieving the client's objective is greatly increased.
We, then, agreed that the 3 main ingredients to a successful transaction (selling the property) are price, location, and condition (not necessarily in that order)... Even in a "down" market, a property that meets all 3 are the most likely to sell.
So, what did this all mean? What kernels of wisdom did I have to share with them? (hffttt...well...ummm)
The builder and the Realtors all know whether their properties are priced appropriately (or they should), they are all aware of the condition of the properties, and they know whether or not the locations are desirable (and by whom)... Again, or they should.
Let's face it...some sellers "want what they want" and they are always going to find an agent who will take the listing. Some agents will take the risk of an OPL in hopes of getting the coveted price reduction. Sometimes works...sometimes doesn't. More often than not, the listing expires and the dissatisfied seller moves on to a new agent AND REDUCES THE PRICE. Personally, I don't waste time on OPLs (mine or the sellers). It's simply not part of my business and marketing plan.
With that said, agents and sellers need to be realistic in their objective of selling such properties. A listing that is over-priced by $20K is not going to fly off the market...not in this market! So, be realistic when it comes to preparing the property for sale. Staging is NOT a miracle pill for an OPL!
In the wake of this "conversation" and the current real estate market, I became curious about how my fellow stagers are doing out there. So, I headed over to the RAIN... I've read quite a few posts/blogs in which stagers have been lamenting the "down" market and staged houses that are not selling...even though they have been beautifully staged.
So, I decided to share some of my thoughts on the RAIN with my fellow stagers (my first blog here - thanks for your patience):
• The housing market has changed - This is not new...it has happened before, it will happen again. Know your market! Forget the hype! Stick to the facts.
• Make sure you are knowledgeable in your market. Understand ROI (return on investment) when it comes to improvements. Pay attention to price, location, AND condition. Most home buyers will begin their search with either price or location. It's the condition that will often "seal the deal". No, you may not be a Realtor® but, understanding these 3 things is the most important aspect of selling a property. If you are clued in to your market, you will have a good working knowledge of price, location, and condition, and exactly what type of listing you are dealing with...
• Check out the competition! Attend open houses (when possible). If you don't have access to MLS (most stagers don't), ask the realtor to share some of the comps for the listing so that you, too, know what your client's listing is up against.
• The OPL (Over-Priced Listing) - We all know...they're out there. How are YOU handling the dreaded OPL? Are you going in and "shooting the moon" for staging? Or are you being realistic in your recommendations to the client? Are you adjusting your presentations? An OPL with the "staging works" does NO ONE ANY GOOD - not your client and certainly not you (your business). Just because your client says, "I've got X amount of $$$ to work with", doesn't necessarily mean that YOU should spend the X.
• Know your client - Make sure that you understand how your client (and his/her budget) will play out in the sale of the property. If you know your market and you have a fair working knowledge of the ADOM (average days on market) then you will know how to make the budget stretch and give the biggest bang for your client's buck. YOU may not realize the biggest return (money) in the short term but, your client will and this is what you need to focus on. The long term means a happy client and hopefully, REFERRALS and more business. For example, if your client desperately needs to replace flooring but, doesn't have the budget for a house full of furniture to go with it? What recommendation are you making? A bigger paycheck NOW on a listing that is not selling? Good for business? Good for referrals? What do you think?
I know that this may seem like a lot but, it really isn't and I believe it will go far in helping you and your staging business. Remember, knowledge makes you VALUABLE.
Well...hmmm...it seems I've "blogged" what my Papa would have called "10 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound sack". Perhaps that's why this is my first blog on the RAIN? It seems that I always have MORE that I want to say. Hopefully, I will get better at condensing my blogs in the future or at the very least, learn to do sequels (Part I, Part II, etc).
Again, thanks for your patience and I hope this has proved to be a decent read (for those who chose to stick it out) and helpful to some.
I welcome responses from those of you who have been in the biz for some time, newcomers, and fellow Realtors®.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.