Talk About Overlooking the Obvious!

Home Stager with Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging

A little while ago, I received an alert about a seller question from one of the real estate advice sites that I monitor. The question was from a local home seller who hadn’t gotten much interest in their home. After a recent price reduction, she felt it was now priced competitively, and was considering hosting a brokers’ open to help drive traffic, and was asking if it was a good idea.

Several real estate agents, both local and far-flung, offered all kinds of advice. One suggested having a twilight wine & cheese reception, since the seller’s home has a view of a nearby lake. Another suggested sending flyers to all of the local real estate offices to get a good turnout. Someone also suggested lowering the list price even more. Someone else was more concerned about who would pay for the event—the realtor or the seller. But my favorite advice came from the realtor who suggested offering a home warranty, paying for closing costs, creating a kick-ass video, or giving away an iPad as an enticement to get more showings.

Not one realtor advised consulting with a home stager.


I have to admit, I was kind of shocked.  Advising the seller to make sure that her home looks its absolute best online, in print, and in person should have been a no-brainer. All of the suggestions the real estate agents made would have cost more than a one-hour consultation with a professional stager, and none of them addressed what may well be the root of the problem—the house does not look fresh, bright, uncluttered, and updated inside and out.  None of those other suggestions will work if the house doesn’t look move-in ready.

What this experience made painfully obvious is that the concept of professional staging has not yet penetrated the consciousness of the average real estate agent, and we stagers have a lot of educating to do before it becomes ingrained in agents’ minds as an integral part of preparing a home for sale. So keep doing your office presentations, webinars, demonstrations, and whatever you need to do to drive the message home; we’ve got a long way to go.

Copyright 2011 Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging

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  1. Amy Bly 06/01/2011 12:55 PM
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Mark R. Hardy
Short Sales, REO, New Builds, First Time Buyer - Mesa, AZ
Short Sale Specialist Realtor - Mesa AZ

Excellent post and you bring up some great points on why home-staging is so important. Thank you!

May 31, 2011 06:42 AM #1
Laura Sargent
Carolina One Real Estate - Mount Pleasant, SC

We have a great stager that does amazing work on our homes.  Our sellers all want to buy their homes after she works her magic.

May 31, 2011 07:41 AM #2
Linda K. Mayer
License # 01767321 - La Verne, CA

You do bring up some great points, Jill.  I actually just sold a home because the house was staged and the buyer could see how they would put their own furniture in this home.  However, the seller was not a person who would sweat paying for the staging.  And in this economy with people barely getting out by the skin of their teeth or short-saling, it's a tough sell to stage!

May 31, 2011 08:01 AM #3
Michele Rose
Rose-Colored Staging - Mount Holly Township, NJ
Burlington County Home Staging & Redesign

With consultations beginning at around $125, is it REALLY out of reach for the homeowner to pay?  Or even the agent at that price?  I've seen homeowners really take to heart what we tell them during the consultation and their home ends up looking great.  Granted-- not everyone can follow direction that easily and some homes need hands-on staging, but ANYTHING they do to improve the look of their home will help.  It should have at least been considered! 

May 31, 2011 10:20 AM #4
Jill Banks,
Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging - Mt Laurel, NJ
South Jersey Home Stager

Mark:  Thanks for the support!

Laura: That's terrific--it really does make a difference!

Linda: I'm glad staging worked for your recent sale! While full-service staging can be a hurdle for financially stressed sellers, there are a host of other effective staging options that are affordable. Like Michele says, a consult is usually less than $200, and if the seller follows the advice, it can make a significant difference.

Michele: Thanks for mentioning that staging doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. We stagers are flexible and willing to work with whatever budget we have!

May 31, 2011 11:06 AM #5
Pamela Smith
Ventura County Home Staging - Thousand Oaks, CA

Jill - Yep yep yep. It's pretty sad that a realtor would suggest the iPad giveaway before suggesting a staging consultation. I would say a staging consult would bring more return on the investment towards selling the house than an iPad! But I believe that we will someday - as you so aptly put it - penetrate the consciousness of the average agent. There are so many of us out there doing exactly what you suggest: webinars, office presentations, etc. Great post!!

May 31, 2011 12:29 PM #6
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Jill, welcome to my world, up here in Hicksville.  It does often feel like an uphill battle and SO-O obvious but that's clearly not the case.  We just have to keep putting it out there as I know you do. 

May 31, 2011 03:06 PM #7
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Jill--great post and it doesn't surprise me.  It's a conversation I still hear a lot and we still need to educate and inform.  One day I do hope staging will be mainstream and just a part of the normal process.  Until then we have a lot of work to do.

May 31, 2011 11:34 PM #8
Julia Maher
Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes - Fairfield, CT
Connecticut Home Stager

It is amazing how many REAs still have blinders on!  It doesn't have to cost a lot to Stage - and can certainly cost a lot less than a price reduction!  Julie

Jun 01, 2011 12:14 AM #9
Jill Banks,
Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging - Mt Laurel, NJ
South Jersey Home Stager

Pamela: Thanks!

Ginger: And I thought it was more of an issue here in southern NJ, where folks are more conservative!

Janet: Hopefully the recent coverage on shows like Today and CBS Sunday Morning will help; but based on the figures they quote, we need to educate them too!

Julie: I think a lot of RE agents still think staging is only for high-end properties and don't realize that it can actually make the most dramatic difference on your average owner-occupied property. One day . . .

Jun 01, 2011 03:03 AM #10
Reba Haas
Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Eastside - Bellevue, WA
Team Reba, CDPE

it is not reasonable to consider that the real estate agent pay for the consultation unless there is ample potential for them to reimbursed for that cost. With many more homes not selling in today's environment then sellers should be taking on more of that risk for themselves and showing their commitment to the sale.

Jun 01, 2011 09:57 AM #11
Amy Bly
Great Impressions Home Staging/Interiors - Montville, NJ
Styling Homes for Selling and Staying

Jill, that is pretty shocking, I agree! Reba, I have two agents who use me routinely for $150 consults, and I have to say it is a small investment for a) getting the house in shape to sell much more quickly; or b) a great way to get sellers to reduce their price rather than do all the work I sometimes end up having to suggest (like re-doing kitchens or baths)! Although I actually agree that since sellers primarily reap the benefits, they should be the ones to pay. 

Jun 01, 2011 12:46 PM #12
Jill Banks,
Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging - Mt Laurel, NJ
South Jersey Home Stager

Reba: Although most real estate agents who pay for the staging consultation do so as part of their overall marketing plan for the home, the sellers pay for any actual staging. However, many real estate agents don't even suggest staging to their clients, even though it can markedly improve a home's appeal to buyers and reduce time on the market.

Amy: Thanks for your input!

Jun 01, 2011 01:42 PM #13
Birgit Anich
Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors, 203.807.4040 - Norwalk, CT
Connecticut Home Stager - Fairfield County, Westchester

Jill, great blog - it goes along with a post that I posted today along the same lines. Real Estate Agents often do not realize that they actually hurt their business more by not recommending a staging consultation. I had several home sellers call me directly saying how frustrated they are with their agent that they had not even been made aware of staging as an additional marketing tool. They only came across this out of desperation and wathing HGTV. I had even a couple of my clients change the agent because of this. Ouch!! I bet they should have suggested a consultation to this one client of mine, who sold the house 2 weeks after staging at over $1 million - missed out on a comission of $30,000 versus a $150 consultation - hmmm, I am just wondering....

Jun 01, 2011 03:06 PM #14
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

We need to continually stageUcate, stageUcate, stageUcate! - A home staging consultation needs to be on the front end of a home sale that a home inspection is on the back end... Good post Jill!

Jun 02, 2011 01:40 AM #15
Jill Banks,
Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging - Mt Laurel, NJ
South Jersey Home Stager

Birgit: Great point about how the reluctance to recommend a staging consultant can actually work against real estate agents. I've spoken to many an agent at open houses where the homes weren't staged, and it wasn't even on their radar. Now that sellers are getting a bit more savvy about staging, I think they'll be asking their agents about it if they don't bring it up.

Karen: I couldn't agree more! Thanks for your comment!

Jun 05, 2011 05:41 AM #16
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