There was a Reuters article, posted today on Yahoo, which spoke about the possibility of an economic recession and how it is partially fueled by the mortgage crisis. Of course other key factors would include rising oil prices, sluggish retail sales and falling prices on homes for sale.
As a Home Stager, I have noticed a decrease in business for the months of September and October; so far November hasn't produced all that much revenue from stagings either. Oh, don't misunderstand me, I still get the phone calls asking for information on ‘how it works and what it costs', however there are fewer ‘bookings' and more "I'll get back to you" promises.
I am painfully aware of the state of the Real Estate market, and am sympathetic to the plight of realtors in general. Most reports state that this trend will continue throughout 2008, and perhaps beyond, while the market ‘corrects itself'. I have been told by realtor friends that many of the newer realtors cannot work under these conditions and they are being forced out of this career and into a job that will actually produce a steady source of income. On the other hand, I am discovering that more than a few realtors are beginning to attend classes on Home Staging and using the resulting information to ‘stage' for their clients as part of their ‘service'.
Now, I know that in the past we have ‘discussed' how time-consuming and strenuous the actual act of ‘staging' is, and, as a group, we stagers have wondered how a realtor can possibly ‘do it all'? The realtors that I know are hard-working, conscientious, and detail-oriented and spend a great deal of time while researching data for every market analysis that they prepare for potential clients. When you factor in the work involved in getting photos taken, virtual tours compiled, visiting new MLS listings, and the time spent showing the house, as well as holding the numerous Open Houses that will ensue, one has to wonder where any professional realtor (‘worth their weight in salt') could possibly take on the many demands, expense and tribulations of Home Staging? In addition, does the realtor really want the responsibility of advising their client, the seller, of all of the ‘negatives' about the ‘property' that need to be addressed (and that might include ‘strange' odors)?
Another issue that has come to the forefront, is that with home sale prices falling, sellers feel that they are already making a huge concession in the selling price (as opposed to the prices that were realized in a better market) and are very reluctant to ‘invest' money into a house that is already ‘losing money'! Of course, nothing could be further from the truth! Houses that were sold in the years leading up to mid-2005 were very fortunate to bring in ‘over-the-top' prices, however the houses that are on today's market are, for the most part, still bringing in a healthy profit for sellers that have lived in their houses for a certain period of time.
If I can get only one point across to anyone who is selling their house and NOT considering Home Staging, it would be that EVERYTHING is different in today's Real Estate Market - not just pricing! Today's seller must do more than ‘de-clutter, clean and paint'! In order to compete with the many newly-constructed homes that are so prevalent in this market, occupied houses (and any ‘vacants' that are the result of an early ‘departure' or a ‘flip') must show EQUALLY as well. This translates to updated kitchens and baths, and rooms that ‘show' as ‘spacious. How many sellers can be objective enough to ascertain that their house is ‘up to par'? How many have the ‘skills' that it takes to turn ‘ho-hum' into ‘WOW'?!
Home Staging is a FIELD. Real Estate is a FIELD. We need to blend these fields, with a professional at each ‘helm' that combines the TWO into ONE equally successful story!