Is Your Ignorance Bliss or a Missed Opportunity?

By
Industry Observer

 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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. VACANT: Total furnishing and setting a Seller's (personally owned) vacant property.
  5. 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.

Me

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Rainer
119,762
Sean Carroll
The Get Off Your A$$ Academy - Manhattan, NY
Real Estate Speaker and "Expert" Coach
great post. Good reminder that ultimately, the goal is to get the house looking GREAT before putting it up for sale.
Apr 08, 2008 07:16 AM #29
Rainer
434,914
Scott Daniels Florida Real Estate 2.0. Agents Earn 100% Commission.
Florida List For Less Realty, Inc. Broker/Owner. - Cooper City, FL

CS,

6 months ago we added a professional stager to our company.

It`s been a godsend ever since.

This person knows what to do and how to stag the home in a professional manner,thereby assisting our agents in the sale of the home.

 

Apr 08, 2008 07:32 AM #30
Rainer
51,417
Julie Davis, Amy Blank - Rediscovered Interiors, LLC
Rediscovered Interiors, LLC - Andover, MN

Craig--

I wish I read this this morning before I left for a RE presentation we were doing.  One agent asked, "I tell my clients what to remove, what to clean, things they can do to get their home ready.  So, what do you do that is over and above what I provide for my clients?"  UGH!!! 

 When you wrote in the paragraph Selling Doesn't Always Require a Realtor the part about how ..."we do see more issues that work against  the home's sale and offer more creative ideas and solutions to ready/package/market a home for selling in ways they never considered."   Wish I had that in my "arsenol" of answers!!  This is bookmarked for sure!!

Thanks for sharing your insight!!

Apr 08, 2008 09:50 AM #31
Rainer
290,629
Cindy Lin
Staged4more School of Home Staging - South San Francisco, CA
Host, The Home Staging Show podcast

took the words right out of my mouth, great blog as usual ;)

cheers,

cindy 

Apr 08, 2008 10:50 AM #32
Rainmaker
113,025
Joe Hayden Real Estate Team
RE/MAX Properties East - Louisville, KY
Your Louisville Real Estate Experts!
I'm sending this blog to some friends...Nice argument...
Apr 08, 2008 12:16 PM #33
Anonymous
Monica Stanciu @ Staged 2 Sell Solutions, ON

Craig, thanks for sharing this. I wish I had read this before I met an REA this evening, I would've been more prepared to handle his objections. Great post!

PS: I tried to subscribe to your blog but I was redirected to the AR homepage. 

Apr 08, 2008 01:57 PM #34
Rainmaker
639,725
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

Craig,

I'm asked all the time by sellers for recommendations for REA's, all over Houston and surrounding areas,  because the homeowners are calling me first.  And the REA's that I've worked with will get my referral, and are most appreciative, as there are many REA's for a home seller to choose from.

Apr 08, 2008 02:17 PM #35
Rainer
179,681
Erik Hitzelberger
RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes - Louisville, KY
Louisville - Middletown Real Estate

Craig - I had to write a blog to cover my comments.  Please check it out. 

Apr 08, 2008 02:22 PM #36
Rainmaker
210,308
Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD
Love my stager, thought I could do it myself, I am not terrible, but it is her business and know how.  Just like selling homes is my thing.  She is the best and wont live without her!
Apr 08, 2008 02:37 PM #37
Rainer
136,234
Bill Exeter
Exeter 1031 Exchange Services, LLC - San Diego, CA
1031 Tax-Deferred Exchange Expert

Hi Craig,

Great information.  In fact, we are going to cover the topic on one of our upcoming radio shows and your post gives us some great ideas.  Would you be interested in being on our show?

Apr 08, 2008 02:49 PM #38
Rainmaker
655,982
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
All good points for staging. Wish that more of the sellers would decide to stage. Unfortunately oftentimes in this market the homes that need it most are those whose owners are less likely to have the funds to even consider it .
Apr 08, 2008 02:54 PM #39
Rainmaker
273,670
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI
Staging is a relatively new profession and it's value will become known in time. I love the look of a well staged home.
Apr 08, 2008 04:21 PM #40
Rainmaker
798,000
Kimo Stowell
HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 - Honolulu, HI
REALTOR Associate® RS-76763 - Honolulu Hawai'i

Aloha Craig,

Well said. Many people believe that the National Endowment for the Arts is a waist of money, but then they probably never tried purchasing a Keith Herring, Andy Warhol, or a Georgia Okeefe. Once upon a time there were no Realtors, now there's the National Association of Realtor's handling billions of dollars in transactions annually. Staging will evolve because there is intrinsic value in it. Some day perhaps sooner than later we will have a NAS but until then, keep on blogging braddah.

PS I love the faux Lichtenstein.

Peace,

Apr 08, 2008 07:42 PM #41
Rainer
202,730
Alicia Barrington
THE ORIGINAL HOUSTON HOME STAGING - Katy, TX
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Bravo!  Thanks Craig!

I've just ended a negotiation with a local Realtor.   Realtor wanted to advertise my service in our print advertising.   So, that' nice.  Tells me she'll send me 'all of her business'.  That's nice too!

So before I even have a chance to meet the Realtor, she calls and demands that I pay for the joint advertising!!!!! Huh?

Then this Realtor demands a significant discount, off of my already discounted consulting fee!   Maybe this Realtor doesn't know, that I know, she adds a surcharge to her commissions.   So not only do you pay 6% you pay an additional $895 for the pleasure of her services.........and she wants me to discount my rates.....don't think so!

Realtors: it's attitudes like this that will kill the golden goose called Home Staging!

Thanks again Craig!

(Go Cubs!)

Apr 08, 2008 08:03 PM #42
Rainer
202,730
Alicia Barrington
THE ORIGINAL HOUSTON HOME STAGING - Katy, TX
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Bravo!  Thanks Craig!

I've just ended a negotiation with a local Realtor.   Realtor wanted to advertise my service in our print advertising.   So, that' nice.  Tells me she'll send me 'all of her business'.  That's nice too!

So before I even have a chance to meet the Realtor, she calls and demands that I pay for the joint advertising!!!!! Huh?

Then this Realtor demands a significant discount, off of my already discounted consulting fee!   Maybe this Realtor doesn't know, that I know, she adds a surcharge to her commissions.   So not only do you pay 6% you pay an additional $895 for the pleasure of her services.........and she wants me to discount my rates.....don't think so!

Realtors: it's attitudes like this that will kill the golden goose called Home Staging!

Thanks again Craig!

(Go Cubs!)

Apr 08, 2008 08:03 PM #43
Rainmaker
394,961
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Craig,  I used a great stager in Nashville for many of my listings. She was great. I've since relocated to Huntsville and will be looking for a new one! Great post.  Elizabeth  www.Huntsville-Realestate.com

 

Apr 09, 2008 01:50 AM #46
Rainmaker
235,927
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty
I really like what you say about a buyer only knows what they see and cannot really see past the filthy bathroom or kitchen.  Many sellers do not understand this.
Apr 09, 2008 02:39 AM #47
Rainmaker
54,576
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

As usual, you have nailed it.  Staging has come a long way in public perception, thanks in part to the TV shows and the growth in the numbers of stagers.  That perception will continue to change as time goes on.  We have to counter negatives. (See my bog, What's With the Attitude?) both with the public and Realtors. 

Just like home inspections were considered new and optional years ago, staging will eventually become standard for home sellers, whether it is coaching advice or hands on placement.

Apr 09, 2008 03:37 AM #48
Rainmaker
246,976
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699

Craig, great to see you and love the red noise whether you are flapping or not you always have good information to offer. It's hard to believe that Realtors still don't see the power in "staging." It seems so obvious but glad that you continue to get the word out there.

You should be commended for all of the hard work and notoriety that you have brought to staging. It has come a long way, baby in the past  years and it's been a pleasure to watch it bloom.

Apr 09, 2008 03:58 AM #49
Rainer
125,162
Ray Mikus
Green Light Real Estate - Montpelier, VT
Green Means Go!

Craig,

You're right in that not using a professional stager can be a missed opportunity.  I've been toying with the idea of including a stager's consultation in with some of my listing agreements.  Have you or anyone else had any experience with that approach?  It seems as if it would build the relationship with the seller, hasten the sale, and give business to the stager as well.  Win-Win-Win?

Oct 26, 2009 09:55 PM #50
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