This post was inspired by a recent house that I viewed during open house weekend. The home was full of clutter, the rooms hadn't been properly picked-up and the house was just plain dirty. When I politely recommended to the listing agent that he might want to consider giving his sellers an education on preparing the home while it's being shown, he politely suggested that it doesn't matter because when the right buyers see it, they'll be able to see beyond the mess. Really??!! I don't understand why a listing agent would not take the time to educate the seller on the importance of their home's condition.
It's amazing to me that the house was being shown this way to potential buyers. Wasn't the agent at all embarrassed? Most people wouldn't let another person walk into an embarrassing situation without saying something to them first, would we? I mean, we'd let them know that they had toilet paper stuck to the bottom of their shoe or that they had a piece of lettuce stuck between their teeth. We'd tell them because we'd hate to see them be exposed in public that way.
Well, when I see a house on the market that's in real bad shape, I've come to realize that the poor seller didn't have anyone to stop them before they listed! The reality is that it's quite embarrassing to have a house for sale out there looking that way.
Even in today's market, there are plenty of examples out there, just look on the internet and you'll find them - homes that have clothes on the floor, clutter everywhere, unmade beds, dirty carpets and the worst offenders of all - dirty kitchens and bathrooms.
A potential buyer will not bother to stay long and will likely move on to the next house. It's and embarrassing situation and a big turn-off to buyers, no one wants to waste their time looking at a house like that.
If someone doesn't say something to the seller, then how is a seller to know that their house will likely be on the market a lot longer than the average time? And how are they to know that they'll probably have to reduce their price, several tens of thousands of dollars (or more) just to get people to look at it? Someone owes it to them to put the truth out there and educate them on some basic home preparation guidelines. After all, the seller is not the selling expert - it's likely that they really don't have a clue what they need to do.
As an experienced Stager at Simply Staging, I've heard lots of valid reasons from agents for not talking to the sellers about this touchy subject. Such as, "I know my seller isn't going to take the news lightly." Or "They won't do anything that I tell them to do, so why bother." For whatever reason, if the listing agent feels they can't do it, then how about a Stager?
If a seller is really serious about selling their home, then the truth is that they will appreciate hearing the cold hard facts. People want to know what it's going to take to sell their house.
As the seller's agent, if you've tried everything you possibly can to get the seller to clean-up their mess and it's not working, then why not recommend a stager? What have you got to lose? Stagers are used to having to break bad news - that's what we do, this is why we're here - to assist in getting a listing in tip-top selling condition, no matter what it takes.
Surprisingly, when sellers hear it coming from a professional stager, they really do usually take the news better than if it were coming from their Realtor. Granted, we've had sellers not be happy with what our stagers at Simply Staging have had to say to them about their home, even though we are as tactful and professional as we can be - we do at times end up being the bad guy. But the listing agent can continue to be the good guy. As long as we get the house looking great, it really doesn't matter to us who ends up being the good or bad guy because we've achieved our goal.
Home Stagers have a variety of offerings and are providing sellers and agents alike a valuable service. If the seller doesn't see the value now, they'll see the benefits soon enough. By the time we're done with a house, it normally sells faster than the average home and for usually pretty close to asking price. Only until then do we become the hero and only then do we get to shed that "bad guy" image. I see it as tough love, it's really for the sellers own good.
By partnering up with a stager, you can at least rest assured that you have done everything possible to get your listing looking great in public. Once we accept the fact that some people genuinely don't see anything wrong with their homes, it makes perfect sense that we have to educate them. If you've been honest with a client, and have given them all the information needed to compete in this market, then what they do with the information you've given them is up to them - that's all that we can do. Maybe next time you get a client with a messy house, ask them if they'd be bothered going out in public with a piece of lettuce stuck in between their teeth, if they say they wouldn't care, then that's probably a good indication that it's not worth trying to convince them to clean-up their house.
Simply Staging has been offering Home Staging Solutions for both the "Vacant" and the "Not So Vacant" homes in El Dorado County and the Greater Sacramento area for more than 4 years. For a free proposal, give us a call at (530) 417-1337 and see what it takes to get your home "Sell Ready".