Sometimes it is ok to walk away.....

Home Stager with Staging by Patricia

Recently I have been faced with an issue that I have struggled with each and every time.

As a stager, I strive to do the very best job for each and every one of my clients. I live in Northern Virginia which is a huge melting pot (as I am sure it is in many areas) of different cultures, religious beliefs and practices.  With that said I tell my story.....

I had a Realtor contact me about staging a property.  I was a bit taken back by the pungent aroma that hit me as I walked in the home.  I figured they must have just finished cooking.  I was certainly not prepared for the large silver gated shrine the size of a storage freezer that was placed right smack as you walk into the kitchen.....WOW!

Next to the religious temple on the floor were burning incense on one side and rice in a separate dish on the other and a huge poster like image of a man (I am sure a religious leader of sorts) on top of all this.

I continued on my tour taking notes/ pictures you know the drill. I saw a lot of large religious dancing statues, small shrines set up along with pictures etc.

This strong aroma was evident throughout the entire house. I believe the culprit was curry.

The time of truth arrived.....GENTLY and I mean GENTLY I opened Pandora's box to discuss the possibility of putting some of these things away or in another room so it is not the FIRST thing you see?

The client was with complete disbelief "this is how I live and if someone has a problem with it they do not need to be buying our house". In the same breath they wanted it sold sooner than later to move into the new home being built.  They were not willing to budge on moving ANYTHING or painting anything BUT they wanted me to stage the home???? The pungent aroma was not even worth bringing up. Although when I got home I was quickly reminded of the experience by teenagers asking, "what is that smell" I had forgotten how charming teens can be.

I could not ethically take any money.  I thanked them for their time (after all everybody's time is important) It was a tough call but I could not realistically "stage" with my hands tied behind my back and COLLECT money for it.  I am not David Copperfield.

This was not the first time nor will it be the last I am sure. Staging can be maddening at times to say the least. 

Moral of the story: Sometimes it is ok to walk away......



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Joan Snodgrass
Midamerica Referral Network - Kimberling City, MO

Good Call Patricia. 

I know the smell you mean.  I have a daughter who had to share a maternity room with a gal whose family brought all her food in for her.  Felt sorry for my daugher.  The smell was overwhelming.



Feb 20, 2007 06:05 AM #12
Christopher Karalis
Orange County Capital Mortgage - Laguna Niguel, CA
You did right! i had a client once that made promises of buying a 5 million dollar property, 150,000 dollar check. this client dragged me around for a year and a half and i would put off other clients with the idea of the large check. Once i realized i could of made the same amount of money investing with other clients i walked away and upset my client. BUT!!! its 3 years later and that client is still looking!!!!
Feb 20, 2007 07:32 AM #13
FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:.
Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc - Arlington, VA

Christopher, great comment. I call that SUNK cost and Opportunity costs. I actually have a mathematical equation for it. If a $30,000 client only has a 10% chance of buying, I rank them like a $3,000 client and I spend a VERY limited amount of time on them until their % chance grows. Also if you give me a slam dunk in 3 days, paid in advance client for $5k, sure I'll give more attention then a $30k client.     

Patricia, life is too short to have a crappy job, and a job that is a roadmap to failure.         

Feb 20, 2007 07:57 AM #14
Lanette Branch
RE/MAX Components - Fallston, MD
Bel Air, MD Real Estate Agent

Hi Patricia,

Here's another pat on the back for making a such a good decision to cut your loses and run.  Fortunately, you hadn't invested too much time and effort into the whole affair. Your own peace of mind is such a valuable commodity; you can't really put a price on it. 

It's great to realize that we actually can cut our loses and run.  We really do have that option, don't we?

Feb 20, 2007 08:00 AM #15
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Great post, Patricia. I glad you said NO (BTW did you read my post on this subject). Perfect timing.

I remember, as a buyer, goigng to see a house that was gleefully described by us after the fact as the Curry House. I love curry myself, but unfortunately it, like other strong smells, can really impact buyers, even those not especially sensitive. It is tough when these sorts of things are so much a part of someone's life. How do you discuss that tactfully and not insult someone?


Feb 20, 2007 08:21 AM #16
Elena Thurston, Family Real Estate Specialist
Keller Williams Legacy One - Gilbert, AZ
Great decision and great post.  I hope some other buyers read your post. 
Feb 20, 2007 08:58 AM #17
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Patricia..... it's very and I am sure it happens with the realtors also. I myself, I am a loan officer and this was very tough for me for the first 6 yrs. I have been doing this for everything. The tough part on my end was when a client either didn't want to give me all of their info so I could determine the correct program..... or that they were getting such a great deal that I knew wasn't possible.  But that they were promised....  :o)  And promises can be broken. 

Anyhow....good story, good post, and will happen again.

Feb 20, 2007 09:44 AM #18
Sheron Cardin
California Moods Inc - Selma, CA
ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend!

Patricia - first of all, I hope there are enough curry lovers in the could end up being their dream house! You never know!!!

I have decorated quite a few homes of well-to-do Sikhs. they were all doctors from the same clan. They were very aware of everyone's experience with the pungent and lasting smell of curry and built what I called 'Curry kitchens' outside as per my recommendation. Not everyone can do that of course, but it was a great solution and not that expensive. It is kind of like a barbecue area but enclosed. Worked well.

You were smart to have let that one go. 

Feb 20, 2007 09:45 AM #19
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite - Edmond, OK
Realtor, Team Lead
Patricia, it sounds like you did the right thing. It's usually very hard to walk away from a potential client, being self-employed it's even harder. All I can say is "AMEN!" Great job!
Feb 20, 2007 10:18 AM #20
Home Design
Alpharetta, GA
Home Design and Real Estate
Patricia, that was a smart move!  We REALTORS go through the same thing with listings. 
Feb 20, 2007 10:57 AM #21
LLoyd Nichols
Premier Florida Realty of SWFL - Fort Myers, FL
Southwest Florida Homes By The Sea
You did the right thing. It sometimes difficult to walk away but after all it is a business.
Feb 20, 2007 11:22 AM #22
Tina Parker
Keller Williams Select Realty - Bedford, NS
CNE, REDM, SRES, CSP Home Staging REALTOR, Halifax

Patricia, with this decision, you reinforced your professionalism, not wanting to challenge your standards and I'm willing to bet that agent will surely be calling you again.  Good call.

Feb 20, 2007 12:45 PM #23
Debi Braulik - Maple Valley, WA
Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale
Patricia- Yes it is completely ok to walk away. Run even if need be.  That is the great part of our businesses. YOU decide who to take as a client.  And you know you did the right thing.
Feb 20, 2007 12:48 PM #24
Pete Elsner
Homes for Sale St. Louis - Kirkwood, MO
Maybe you should have sent them a couple bottles of Febreeze! LOL
Feb 20, 2007 01:02 PM #25
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
I think I am going to run into this problem myself. The home I just listed has a lot of personal decor that not everyone finds pleasing. I tried to tell them they may want to remove some of their stuff but they aren't going for it. I am going to try again. I am going to hold an agent open house, may be the repetitive comments will show them I am not alone in my feelings.
Feb 20, 2007 02:01 PM #26
Aziz Abdur-Raoof
RE/MAX Rewards - Columbia, MD
Howard Co. Real Estate Scoop
You were true to yourself --cool beans! 
Feb 20, 2007 02:37 PM #27
Luke Constantino
Brooklyn/Manhattan Real Estate - Brooklyn, NY
Residential/Commercial Real Estate Brooklyn NY

Wow... Did that house ever sell? And if so was it to other idian people? Did you see a statue of a guy with an elephant head?

I think I would have walked away also.

Oh, and curry has alot of health benefits! :-D

Feb 21, 2007 12:06 AM #28
Home Staging
Reston, VA
Patricia - smart move.  Even David Copperfied may have folded on that one!
Feb 21, 2007 12:44 PM #29
Bryce Mohan
Bryce Mohan Photography - Bellevue, WA

We had a similar experience recently with a client of my wif'es who has a large home that is crammed to the gills with furniture.

The client (while insisting the home be sold quickly) refused to move any of the furniture!

My wife explained that the feedback she was getting from prospective buyers was that the house 'felt small'. The owner still refused to move any furniture.

The owner went so far as to say; "If they can't see the size of the house due to the furniture than they are just stupid."

The best part? The owner isn't even occupying the house and wouldn't have to lift a finger to move the furniture (my wife would have done it of course)!


Feb 23, 2007 01:10 AM #30

The client (while insisting the home be sold quickly) refused to move any of the furniture!

Sep 14, 2009 11:02 PM #31
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Patricia Barta

Staging by Patricia, N. Virginia
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