Are You a Real Estate Agent Missing This Referral Source?

Home Stager with Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

real estate referral sourceWhen you're 100% dependent on real estate commissions for your livelihood, quality referrals are key. Without new prospects coming into your pipeline, you can't build your real estate business.

Some of the typical ways real estate agents find new prospects include:

  • Attending networking events.
  • Distributing door to door flyers.
  • Buying leads.
  • Knocking on doors.
  • Hosting open houses on their own, or another agent's, listing.
  • Running expensive newspaper and billboard ads.
  • Websites, blogs and social media.
  • Networking with real estate agents in other markets.

The problem with most of these methods is you're marketing to people who may or may not be interested in selling or buying a home right away. They could be 2 to 5 years away from making such a decision, and you need income now.

A 2004 reasearch project commissioned by HouseValues, Inc. found that buyers began thinking that they should buy a home up to 4 years before actually doing so and that on average the home buying process takes 16.4 months. That's a long time to wait for your commission!

Here's a more immediate referral source you've probably avoided:

Many home stagers reach out to real estate agents only to find them ducking their calls or being outright hostile.

Realtors often assume the home stager only wants to sell them home staging services for their listings. And they wrongly assume this means they'll have to pay for the home staging services rather than their client.

Consider that many home sellers hire a home stager before ever contacting a real estate agent.

Savvy sellers know that the better their home shows, the more excited an agent will be about the potential listing, and the higher the asking (and selling) price.

A home stager learns a lot about a client in the process of staging their home. Let's face it, how many people let strangers open all their closets and go through their basement, attic and garage?

Because home stagers spend a fair amount of time with their home staging clients, they build rapport and trust. Those clients often ask a home stager to recommend a local real estate agent.

It's in the home stager's interest to recommend the best real estate agent they can because they want the staged home to sell quickly and for top dollar.

For a real estate agent, a referral from a home stager is pure gold.

You're getting a:

  1. Listing that the client has already paid to stage. No wasting your time trying to convince them to ditch the clutter, make repairs or repaint.
  2. Client who is committed to listing and selling right away (not 16.4 months from now) or they wouldn't have invested time and money in home staging.
  3. Listing that already photographs and shows well, making your marketing and selling of the property infinitely easier! Get on MLS now, not weeks from now.

So, the next time a home stager reaches out to you, take their call! Don't assume they just want to "waste" your time selling their services. They may be calling to introduce you to how their services can grow your business, or it might just be a call with one hot lead on a new listing in your area!

Real estate agents, do you use home stagers? Do you have other referral sources I haven't mentioned? What do you think about these ideas?

Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®

Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is President of Six Elements Home Staging and creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. Author of several guides, and featured on CNNMoney, Wall Street Journal and HGTV, Debra has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate and uses her expertise to train others worldwide. Buying, decorating and flipping her own homes and staging for others gives her the real estate buzz she craves, and means she only has to go to an open house when she wants to.


Comments (46)

Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

It's true that home stagers are often contacted by homeowners even before they have a Realtor selected.  And of course, when they ask me who I recommend I like to support the agents who support home staging :-)

Apr 06, 2014 01:33 PM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

I know of one Realtor who is also a home stager... guess this is like double dipping

Apr 06, 2014 11:59 PM
Brian Olsen
Portland, Lake Oswego, West Linn & Dunthorpe Neighborhoods, Waterfront, Luxury & Floating Homes - Lake Oswego, OR
Cooper Jacobs Real Estate Group | Keller Williams

Great BLOG Debra and thank you for the reminder on how we make our living. We appreciate you contibuting to ActiveRain and making our industry more complete.

Have a wonderful week.

Apr 07, 2014 08:04 AM
Cathy Wolters
Wolters Realty & Property Management Company - Cocoa, FL
Your Brevard County Property Management Expert

Great suggestion about the Home Stagers and very good points.  

Apr 07, 2014 08:44 AM
Javier Olmedo
Keller Williams Coral Gables - Miami, FL

Very good posting, it serves as a reminder of what we can be doing that we may not be. 

Apr 07, 2014 02:16 PM
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

Wow, I'm blown away by the response to this post! Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback and I'm thrilled that this has helped pave the way for a mutually beneficial working relationship between home stagers and real estate agents.

Apr 10, 2014 05:12 AM
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

Thanks so much @Patricia Kennedy for including this post in last week's favorites! Much appreciated!

Apr 10, 2014 05:13 AM
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

@Marti Garaughty, a "Featured Sharp Cookie"?! Thanks so much for the honor!

Apr 10, 2014 05:14 AM
Chandler Real Estate Liz Harris, MBA
Liz Harris Realty - Chandler, AZ

Anything you can do to enhance referalls is very important for any real estate agent.  Thanks for the post today !

Apr 10, 2014 07:22 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Debra, I was contacted my two people this week who are looking to buy 15 months from now. Internet buyers start the process early. I need referral sources that are looking at the next 30 to 60 days. Having a good relationship with a home stager, mortgage lender and home inspector is one good way to do that.

Apr 10, 2014 11:06 AM
Ana Hitzel
AccentPositives Home Staging - Corona, CA
Professional Home Stager Inland Empire

What a GREAT post Debra.  I gave a presentation this week to several agents and I brought this subject up as always, it's so funny to pick up on the facial expressions that this thought never occurred to them! It's sad that many agents do not view us as a valuable team member but rather as a "nuisance" or unneccessary expense out to take money away from them somehow. Home owners keep my business going and it is still surprising to hear how many agents will not even mention staging as part of an effective marketing strategy. Just like great home improvement professionals, I recommend Realtors who impress me to clients all the time.

Apr 17, 2014 01:00 PM
Steve Bucher
Mortgage Intelligence Mortgage Consulting - Kamloops, BC

interesting idea

Apr 17, 2014 01:34 PM
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

Thanks so much for your comments @Liz, @Tammie, @Ana and @Steve. I appreciate you continuing the dialog on this topic and how stagers and agents really ARE on the same side :)

Apr 21, 2014 10:42 AM
Thom Abbott |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living - Atlanta, GA
Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale

Sadly, I've never been able to get a Seller to pay for staging. I have a vacant listing right now that I know would sell, but when I told the Seller $1700 for staging, they went nuts. 

Heavy sigh!


Apr 21, 2014 01:34 PM
Debra Gould
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc. - Toronto, ON
The Staging Diva

@Thom, thanks for sharing your experience. I'm sure it's very frustrating for you to have to support a listing that won't sell quickly and being at the receiving end of your client's frustration over it.

Have you compared the $1700 investment in staging to the lost equity of a $5,000, $10,000 (or more) price adjustment when the house doesn't sell? I'm sure your client is also experiencing a carrying cost to hold onto this house month after month.

Perhaps it would be helpful to share this article with your client:

5 Reasons Empty Rooms Are a Bad Idea When Selling Your House


Apr 22, 2014 04:48 AM
Mary Ann Benoit
Northern Lights Home Staging and Design LLC - Seward, AK

Great and inspiring article Debra, as always! Thank you!

Feb 05, 2015 05:28 PM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Debra, Mary Ann Benoit just made a splash as a new blogger (home stager) on AR, thanks to you being her mentor! I just had to pop by and say how much we appreciate you doing that. 

Great article by the way! (And I have SOLD to some homestagers, out at Fishhawk Lake and have offered business to them, as well....hopefully we're not all bad...)

Feb 06, 2015 06:15 AM
Margaret Kapranos
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Novato, CA
San Francisco Bay Area REALTOR. 415-608-5070

You've raised some great points.  A well staged house is typically a sold listing!

Apr 28, 2015 12:28 PM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

You make a great argument for including Stagers in your referral partner circle, Debra Gould. It would make complete sense even for we Lenders ... great info, idea, and share!


Oct 29, 2015 06:57 AM
Noel Mayer
Upper Montclair Weichert Realtors - Montclair, NJ


Thank you for sharing this information I bookmarked your blog to reference later.

Feb 12, 2017 04:25 AM