Sellers May Be Asking for a Home Stager...But Not In So Many Words

Home Stager with RE:STYLE LLC

They May Be Talking In Code...

Say you have a seller and you think their house looks just fine. Well, you know the contemporary style is going to be a challenge in this area (southwestern Michigan, in this case), but it's very clean and basically uncluttered. And, yeah those grayish purple walls and dark purple carpet could put off some buyers. Oh, and the acrylic posts in the stairway won't be everyone's taste...but let's list it and see what happens. 

The seller asks,"Is there anything that needs to be done? Is there something else I should be doing?'  You say, "No, can't think of a thing."


Two Weeks Later

Now, the clients are unhappy because there hasn't been any showings. And while price is usually the culprit in such scenarios, there may be other issues. Take the photos, which are the real "first showing". Does the house show well?


The Seller Makes The Call

Sellers watch HGTV. They know about staging. What they don't understand is why you didn't suggest it, especially with no showings. Well, they take matters into their own hands, and find a professional in their neighborhood (through a referral from a friend whose house was staged and SOLD!)

The staging company (in this case, RE:STYLE) comes out and does a consultation. The seller has invited the agents out, too, as a courtesy to them. The stager meets and greets, then proceeds to give a 2-hr. walkthrough consultation with many suggestions and recommendations , including at least the paint color or the carpet must change; both should. Working with the home owners, they move furniture and suggest important purchases. The fireplace is virtually being ignored in the current configuration, and is actually absent from the online photos (though you see it in the video tour).

The Realtors stay seated throughout. No comments.


Missed Opportunity--The Realtor Could Be The Hero!

Many Realtors understand the basics of staging; some have the training and the "eye" to do it themselves. But any Realtor can suggest a staging consultation, especially in a difficult house. Or, more importantly if they hear:


Cracking the Code

"Do I need to do anything else?"

"Is there anything you see that I should do?"

"What can we do other than lower the price?"



Why Do So Few Realtors Suggest Staging To their Sellers, Even When They are Actually Asking For It?

I have my theories. I'd love to hear from you! Also, any suggestions as to how to make it even easier for Realtors to refer stagers. I look forward to your comments!


RE:STYLE is the leading home staging company in the Michigan counties of Livingston, Washtenaw, southern Genesee and western Oakland. RE:STYLE has staged over $35 million in SOLD! real estate. Call owner Kathi Presutti at 810-333-5240 for a home staging consultation, vacant house staging, or assistance with redesign or interior decorating.www,



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Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC


That's a great way to interact with your clients! And I'm glad to hear that you take them to see the competition--I always suggest this to my clients. Thanks for the comment!


Thanks for the observations and compliment! I believe that a professional in any career should educate himself/herself about the tools available to excel in his/her profession. That's what I did when I was in advertising, and what I continue to do in my new field. I believe that insecurity affects a lot of how agents react to staging; they are afraid of losing control with their client relationship. But, we stagers are here to help, as part of a team effort!

Accent Positives:

Thanks so much for the feature flag! And, I couldn't have said it better...

Dec 01, 2009 09:34 AM #7
Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC

Maureen and Nancy:

Wise words, indeed! I must say, I am doing what I can to educate. It's interesting how few agents take the time to attend my classes or presentations, though. At this rate, I'll be very old by the time it becomes second nature! ;>)


Thanks so much or the compliment and the comment! I do hope we hear from more Realtors!!!

Dec 01, 2009 09:40 AM #8
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

Great featured post Kathi! Congratulations!!

Dec 01, 2009 12:13 PM #9
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

They just don't "get it"...they are still afraid the seller will get mad, that you'll make them look bad, that it'll cost too much and the client will want them to pay for it and all the other, education, education.  Thanks for the nudge.

Dec 01, 2009 06:19 PM #10
Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC

Thanks, Cathy! I appreciate the feature!


Terrylynn, I wish all Realtors were as enlightened as you are! Thanks for comments--they are right on!

Dec 01, 2009 09:34 PM #11
Marianne Sweet
Home Sweet Home Staging - Rochester Hills, MI
Home Sweet Home Staging, LLC Rochester Hills, MI

Congrats on the gold star Kathi!!  It's certainly deserving, and your post is spot-on! 

Will they listen?

Dec 01, 2009 10:42 PM #12
Virginia Tatseos
Stage-Show-Sell - Bloomfield Township, MI

You really deserve the gold star.  I believe that many agents just don't get it. 

They will recommend a plumber, a title company and other service but they stop dead at a stager.  I don't get it.

Why can't they say "I'm an expert in selling homes.  Let me conect you with an expert in staging homes"

Dec 02, 2009 09:58 PM #13
Debra Landy

I had a Realtor tell me that he got a listing because the first RE agent that met with the seller proceeded to tell the seller everything that needed to be changed/updated and that was not what the owner wanted to hear.  When the owner contaced the second RE agents she said, "Are you going to tell me I have to change everything?"   His response was of course, "Why no, we can list is just as it is."    He got the listing and a big fear of discussion Staging suggestions in the future.

I think you're on to something here Kathi.  

Our Realtor presentations should include listening for these code words from clients AND script suggestions.

I've been in business 2 years, and only had one RE agent suggest Staging to a client. 

 I believe agents want to list quickly or  are afraid of not getting the listing!

Dec 03, 2009 01:36 AM #14
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

FEAR I believe is the primary reason why agents don't venture into even discussing staging.  Recently an agent that I have worked with in the past, was "relieved" when the seller told her that I let them down easy and was very careful with telling them the changes that were necessary.  In fact, the seller thought that there were things that I should have mentioned but did not.  We discussed them in a phone followup and we laughed about them and the realtors FEAR.   

I'M NOT A BULLY and I am not mean or aggressive like some of the stagers on TV.  I (we) tread lightly and soften the blows BUT still the agents remain afraid. 

As Terrylynn said...we still have A LOT of educating to do!!!

Dec 03, 2009 04:21 AM #15
Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC

Hi Marianne!

Thanks! Will they listen? Well, not sure how interested Realtors are. Please note the number of responses from Realtors...It's too bad, as we are a great asset to any listing!


Hi Virginia!

Thanks! And you make a very good point. We stagers should be as natural a referral as an inspector (after all, they deliver bad news, too)!



This is a perfect example of where a professional stager could have helped the agent. First, the agent secures the listing. Then, they send in the stager to be "the bad guy".  The agent would probably get at least some of the issues addressed and have a much more sellable listing. The seller will take out their frustration on the stager and not the Realtor! Agents are in it for the long term. Stagers are "in and out". 



Thanks for the visit and great comments! I was an Executive Creative Director for 14 years before starting my staging business. As such, I critiqued the concepts and designs of my creative group. There is no more sensitive person than a creative person! So, I learned that being direct and giving a reason for each suggested change was the best way to constructively criticize. And I use those skills today in my staging business. It does no good if we are too obtuse; it  also isn't very productive to be insulting. The stager who is able to walk that fine line is a professional...a stager who can't, is, ultimately, unsuccessful.

One more comment--I am willing to educate, if Realtors are willing to take the time to learn.


Dec 03, 2009 05:10 AM #16
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Kathi- Congrats on the gold star.  And, well written.  As everyone says, it is so important to continue to educate our Realtors not only about the benefits of Staging (because I think they're getting it), but also about what specifically we can do, and to show how the benefits far outweigh the cost. 

One Realtor told me that she felt some of the other Realtors were hesitant to discuss Staging because they didn't want the Seller to be frightened away by the thought of spending more money.  I don't know if this is true or not but money seems to be the biggest issue here in South Florida.

Dec 03, 2009 06:15 AM #17
Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC


Thanks so much! Well, with the highest unemployment in the country, money is definitely a concern in Michigan. We just need to come up with various ways of making it affordable for our clients.

Dec 03, 2009 06:43 AM #18
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

I recently did a blog about a seller that wanted staging, but the REALTOR told her she didn't need it.  Long story short, her REALTOR, said the staging was great and all the brokers (33) that came through had positive comments.  And wanted to know what I charged!  The owner is thrilled!

Dec 03, 2009 03:57 PM #19
Valerie Sagheddu
Apostle Art Home Staging & Design - Stroudsburg, PA
~Home Staging Professional, Poconos, PA

For us is a no brainer! We see the result time and time again. Our challenge is to help Agents recognize the benefits of staging as they are the ones who have the first interaction with the sellers. If the agent doesn't get it they are selling themselves, and their sellers short and missing a big piece of the pie! 

Dec 04, 2009 01:27 AM #20
Kim Dillon
Creative Eye Home Staging - West Chester, PA

I like the way you talk about speaking in code!  Owners are asking, the listener just may not be hearing!

Dec 04, 2009 04:45 AM #21
Anne Vigneri
CASA VERO Staging & Redesign - Albuquerque, CA
Serving the Mariposa California


Most of my recent jobs have come directly from the sellers who found my website .. NOT from Realtors.

Does this tell you anything? 



Dec 04, 2009 05:08 AM #22
Welcome Home Staging & Furniture Rental
Valesca Bogard - Roseville, CA

That E word, education. It's so rewarding when we can earn the trust of our realtors, generally through experience.  One of the values of working with a professional home stager is allowing the stager to "be the bad guy" in delivering the "to-do" list in a professional, positive fashion, all the while supporting the agent-client relationship.


Dec 05, 2009 02:27 AM #24
Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC


Too often that is the case. Thanks for your observations!


Well, this blog is part of my attempt to educate! Hopefully some REALTORS will visit, and not just stagers!


Thanks, and I agree! Thanks for the visit!


Dec 05, 2009 01:14 PM #25
Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC


So often this is the case. And, yes, it tells me a lot!!!



Dec 05, 2009 01:16 PM #26
Sandy Hare
Dr Design Home Therapy & Staging - Eugene, OR

As a former educator for 38 years, I certainly "get" the education piece, but I've refined my focus down to a goal of getting 5-7 realtors that want to partner with me and I give these realtors LOTS of education.  In addition, many of them are using a different strategy when working with their clients--they offer two listing prices; one without staging and a higher price with staging.  That really seems to convey to the client just how important this realtor thinks the home staging is to a quick and profitable sale.  The average time my listings are on the market is 17 days right now and our local real estate market average is 87!  I keep my realtors updated on this kind of info and thank them in lots of different ways for our mutual success!  Grooming 5-7 realtors to be your true allies has been much more successful for me than trying to get lots of realtors from lots of different agencies through education presentations or drip marketing.

Dec 07, 2009 02:52 PM #27
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