Who Determines the Price for Staging?
Price. Cost. Money. Expense. Budget. Fee. Spend.
Lately something that troubles me is the perception that the Seller (and/or Realtor) gets to dictate the Staging budget and comes to the Stager telling us what they want it to be. The Stager has not even seen the house yet. This is not the right way to think about the Staging because the person stating the price has no idea what goes into Staging a house properly to get the desired results - a sale. Unless you run a successful Staging company, you do not know what it "should cost."
Staging is an INVESTMENT - and the person best equipped to determine the Staging price ...is the STAGER. Just as you Realtors reading this don't like it when your Sellers tell you at what price they think they house should be listed for sale, we don't like being told what our Staging costs "should be."
My favorite clients are the ones that let me see their house, allow me to price the Staging properly and agree to get it done realizing I am pricing my services to cover my process and what I do will help their house sell.
This is not I only want to spend $$ on the Staging but I want all of this done type service. This is a You want the results Staging will give you - so you need to pay for that service, time and talent. No champagne tastes on a beer budget. Beer budgets get you poor Staging or surface Staging ...neither of which actually helps the house sell.
Who knows the RE Market? The fact is in order to get the proper price to list and sell the house, Realtors have to do market comps, see what sold, and what is listed and come up with a range that works. When a Seller tries to tell a Realtor what their house is worth, they are basing it on information they might get online, but only a Realtor can get access to the details on MLS that gives them an educated and informed position on pricing the house. I know it is annoying to Realtors when a Seller tries to tell them what they want - especially when it is not based on valid information. Who knows the RE Market? The Realtor or the homeowner who has not sold a house in 10 years?
Same is true for Staging. A Seller might wish to spend a certain amount to prepare their house for sale, and yet they really don't know what all is involved in getting a house Staged because they are not running a Staging business. Realtors are not either. It is not wise for them to talk pricing with their client before they have spoken with their Stager because once that dollar amount is tossed out there it hangs in the air and the Stager is left to try to make it work. Very few Stagers I know operate on a cookie-cutter pricing system that allows any client to figure out what the pricing will be. We operate on a project-by-project basis and base our pricing on a number of factors.
As an example, in order for a Stager to give an accurate price to Stage a vacant house we have to look at the inventory that is needed and time it takes to get the Staging installation done. We consider the square footage of the house and the price-point to make sure the inventory reflects the type of house being sold. We look at who is part of the Staging process... does it take 1 person or 4 people? A 900 square foot condo will not be priced the same as a 2,500 square foot house.
There are real estate agents that will list a house at either an inflated price to get the listing (or as some would call it buying the listing) or lower their commission to get the listing. Realtors who don't believe in that strategy to get business will quickly dismiss that type of agent as one that does not do as good of a job or have as quality a marketing plan as a full-service Realtor.
Yet the same situation that a Realtor will say produces a low quality agent and lower results (low baller, discounter) is somehow expected in the Staging world. I am here to say - stop the hypocrisy.
There is VALUE in working with a quality Stager - because their work ultimately reflects on YOU and your ability to get that property sold - whether you are a Seller or Realtor.
It's true that each market is different - and prices for Staging vary around the nation. However, what is consistent is that the STAGER is the one that needs to determine the price for the Staging.
Here are some points I am asking Realtors to consider:
1. Please do not give a seller an idea of price - let your Stager quote any pricing.
2. Allow the Stager to properly price the Staging and share with the Seller directly so that if your seller has questions, the Stager is the one answering them.
3. Any negotiations on price should be between the legal owner of the house and the Stager.
4. Realize that at some point if the Staging cannot be done properly it should not be done at all. Throwing some decor and a few pieces of furniture in house is not Staging.
5. Understand that the Staging helps YOU get the results you want with selling the house. It is a team effort, so please do not undermine the Stager's pricing. And by the way, when the house sells at a better price, YOU make more commission!
6. When a Seller asks you about price, simply say, I will have my Stager get in touch with you to get you an accurate price for Staging your house.
When a seller limits the ability of the Stager to do the staging properly but coming up with some arbitrary dollar amount they hope to spend, they will not be happy with the results. When the house does not sell, the Seller rarely takes responsibility for not allocating the proper Staging budget and points fingers at the Stager and the Realtor.
As the market normalizes - this practice of dictating a budget to a Stager without even receiving a pricing proposal will hopefully stop. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" is true. I am not in the practice of making it work to the point where I barely net a profit on the Staging and cannot stand proudly behind my product. I am a business owner and here to make an income and profit on my time, talent and creativity. You want the Staging done right - you need to pay for that service. You would not be happy if you hired a schlocky mechanic to fix your car only to have it break down two weeks later. You will not be happy limiting the Staging by reducing the budget as the buyer experience will still not be enough to entice them to make an offer.
Remember this: If the investment in Staging is less than a price reduction and Staging can help your house or listing be priced BETTER than the competition from the get go - don't you think it's worth doing it properly? Staging saves or help the seller make 10-20X their Staging investment - and that is something they can take to the bank.