I have been writing here on Active Rain for nearly 2 years now and have seen the presence of home stagers explode here. Even though we share much of ourselves to this great community, in general it AMAZES me how ignored, snubbed and misunderstood our message has been by the overall Realtor community here on AR... and, to be honest, out there in markets we serve. So many Realtors seem to have shut down ANY possibility to understand ANY opportunity staging offers. There has to be a message that will finally alter the perception the general Realtor community has of who we are and what we do.
I know that if I write "staging CAN help every single home that is for sale that NEEDS it" is a bold and audacious statement. But before you write me off as a staging kool-aid drinking crack pot, bear with me. I think that what many Realtors think staging is, actually is NOT all that it is.
-- If a home seller goes on-line and gets a list of "10 Things You Can Do To Ready Your Home for Selling" and does as it advises... THAT IS home staging.
-- If their Realtor then comes to look at the home and advises 10 more things to attend to, that better readies their home for market, and they do those things... THAT IS home staging.
-- If a Stager is hired and they come up with 10 MORE things for the seller to attend to and the seller or the Stager does them... THAT IS home staging.
Just as SELLING a house does NOT always require a Realtor, staging a house does NOT always require a Stager. However, Realtors and home-sellers who have worked with a good and reputable Stager have learned that we do see more issues that work against the homes sale and offer more creative ideas and solutions to ready/package/market a home for selling in ways they never considered.
FIRST and MOST OFTEN what a Stager does is advise, council and direct the seller as to what they can do to BEST to prepare their property for selling. A Stager can also coach the seller on how to quickly, easily and inexpensively accomplish and address that which can be done to help make the home more appealing. These consulting services are typically VERY inexpensive... in some markets less then $100.
Staging MUST consider the sellers budget. How much CAN the seller invest and what will be the return on that investment must be considered. Also keep in mind, staging costs is NOT only about what is paid to the Stager. The monies spent for staging will also include what a seller invests to make a home more presentable that is not paid to a Stager. Paint, flowers, light bulbs, the kid up the street who is paid to mow the lawn on a vacant property etc. are all part of what it costs to stage a home.
Staging is NOT ALWAYS about bringing in props. Stagers start by addressing the basic condition of the home and offering ideas and solutions to improve it. The final thing we do, if and when needed and the budget allows, is add the "bling" of props... if it is an equitable option.
There are basically 5 Levels of Service that Stagers can offer... but NOT all Stagers DO offer all 5:
CONSULT: Focusing on the condition of a home, a Stager visits a Seller's property to instruct and direct Seller on what they must do to best ready and set their own property for market.
RE-ARRANGE: A Stager is hired to set a Seller's property and uses Seller's existing furniture, art, and accessories, to achieve the best sales impact possible.
ENHANCE: Stager is hired to set a Seller's property and uses the Seller's existing furniture, art, accessories, and brings in additional decorative props and/or furniture they own and loaned or rent to Seller.
VACANT: Total furnishing and setting a Seller's (personally owned) vacant property.
MODEL: Planning, designing, furnishing, and staging a builder / developer's vacant spec or model property.
Information is POWER... the more a Realtor knows of and understands what we do and when to use our services the better for them and their sellers.
The "ignorance the Realtor community has for home staging" is partially the Home Staging Industries fault. A common mantra a home Stager tells a seller is "what a buyer sees in a home is what they believe they will be buying". So if, when the buyer tours a home, they see a kitchen that is a skuzzy, fifthly mess this is what they believe they are buying... even if the seller has every intention of cleaning the kitchen prior to moving out. A buyer only knows what they see.
The Home Staging Industry also suffers from similar false perception. For the most part Realtors only know what they SEE of home staging. Much is what is VISUALLY shown here on AR, Stager's websites and portfolios are beautifully set rooms within homes that are for sale. The pictures and images that Home Stagers show of their work is most often the most extravagant staging they have done. We show the "BEST" of our work in the hopes that Realtors will somehow magically understand that we do and offer is many other types and levels of service.
What we SHOW is NOT ALL we do. But the other things we do are harder to show. How does a Stager show the fact that they are advising a seller to scrub the scum out of a shower stall, to hide away the kitty litter box from prominent display, to replace the 2 of 4 burnt out bulbs in a ceiling fan, knock down the spider webs gathered in corners, repair a window with a broken seal, clear out the fire trap of clutter that fills a furnace room, or remove art that might be considered controversial and distracting?
There is a litany of things unique to each home we address each time we are called in to stage. Unfortunately, all that can be done and is done does not hold the immediate visual impact the final dramatic images we display of rooms we set as Stagers. Thinking that showing the most dramatic transformations tells our story best is working against us... this is an area WE need to address as an industry.
Don't let the words "staging" or "Stager" trip you up. While these words are relatively new, what we advise has been given as advice in real estate sales for year. All that has really changed is that there is an INDUSTRY committed to understanding the intricacies of how a home can be best merchandised and marketed as a product so that it appeals to a buyer and entices them to buy.
More and more home sellers ARE getting what we do. They are beginning to call stagers in BEFORE they even have a Realtor. Stagers are going to be referral sources for you. So for this reason and ALL that I wrote here in this blog I encourage you to find a good stager in your area, and understand what they do and offer. I guarantee good Stagers hold more opportunity for you and your sellers then what many of you have first allowed yourselves to believe.