I Promise, You’re Not Wrong!

Home Stager with Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC

Over the last couple of weeks I have been blessed with several Occupied Home Staging appointments and I have noticed a common sentiment among my sellers. 

Many sellers, during the part of our appointment where we create/discuss the comprehensive Staging strategy (move this here, pack this, repaint this, etc) were saying. "Oh, I'm glad I wasn't wrong to put that there" or "I'm glad that paint choice wasn't wrong". 

After hearing this several times I was reminded that many sellers do not hire professional decorators and also many don't have a natural flair for interior design. Therefore, when a professional in the interior world comes to analyze their home (read: Professional Home Stager) they are automatically curious as to whether or not the "professional" will bless the choices they made when putting their personal stamp on their home. 

What I continually tell my sellers and would like now to remind agents is that when "living" in a home, there really is no wrong choice for decorating. When a family is "living" in a home they should make it their own with regard to paint or wallpaper choices, furniture arrangements, re-purposing rooms, etc. Reminding nervous sellers that their home in its current state isn't "wrong" may help reduce their defenses and increase the likelihood that they will have an open mind when working with the Stager. And although their choices were not wrong, there may be other choices that are "more right" when selling a home.

Many statements that I employ to re-assure sellers that my purpose is not to criticize their house but to help them make their home as marketable as possible include some of the following (these statements are also appropriate for agents to discuss with sellers when first suggesting Staging): 

- The way a family lives in their home is not often the best way to "market" their house

- Staging is MARKETING, not decorating. Even the best decorated houses benefit from Staging!

- Space and neutral are what help sell houses the fastest; you are selling the square footage of the house not the furnishings in it and sometimes its best to "edit" the furnishings on display so buyers can more readily notice the size of the house

- Think about how much time and money companies spend on packaging something as simple and low cost as a box of cereal; we should spend at least half that much effort to "package" your most important financial asset when up for sale. That's what Staging is about. 

Stagers, remember that many of your sellers may be nervous about letting you into their home and say what you can to make them feel comfortable; let them know you are not there to criticize their design choices but to help them achieve the most successful home sale possible. 

Agents, if you are the first contact with the seller, make sure that your sellers don't feel put off at the suggestion of a Stager. We will all reap the rewards if sellers feel like we are all on the same team. 

Sellers, I promise, whatever design choices you made were not "wrong"; but when selling your home, other choices may be better :-)

Posted by

Ross Designs Is Omaha's Full Service Home Staging Company, Dedicated To Supporting The Real Estate Industry!

 Omaha Area Board of Realtors (OABR) and Women's Council Of Realtors (WCR) Affiliate Member. 

Incorporated in 2004, Ross Designs stages 150-200 homes every year. Owner Occupied and Vacant Staging Programs, Color Consultations for Existing and New Construction, Holiday Decor Design and Implementation, and Odor Removal Services.

Call anytime at 402-490-3244

Comments (16)

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

Tori ~ Your post makes some excellent points.  I think it's natural for sellers to be a bit nervous when faced with the prospect of someone coming in to their home and recommending changes, when it's worked just fine for them up to this point.  Putting it the way you've stated, sellers can rest assured knowing their choices were fine for them, and can accept making some changes to appeal to their target buyer.  I visited a multi-million $ home on Friday for a consultation report and first thing in the door, I told the sellers and their agent, "My goal here today is to help your home sell as quickly as possible for the best price ... may I have your permission to be honest with you on things that I feel may help that happen?"   They smiled and answered with an enthusiastic "yes" and we had a great talk as we walked from room to room.  I think setting the tone right in the beginning is important.  Good post!

 Featured in the Real World Home Staging for Newbies group.

Jan 04, 2009 01:58 PM
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

Great post!

I love the way you handle these delicate issues.


Jan 04, 2009 05:40 PM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

Maureen - thanks for the feature!  I love the beginning comment your agent partner made at the Staging appointment. Great way to disarm a potentially defensive person and make sure everyone is on the same team.

David - I am totally with you on the internet strategy. Isn't that where basically every buyer begins their home search????

Michelle - thanks for reading!

Jan 05, 2009 12:57 AM
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

HI Tory Lynn, this just happened on my last consultation. The property was very full of furniture and personal belongings. The client explained that since her partner moved in two years ago, this is what the house looks like. The client showed me pictures of before the amalgamation of homes and lo and behold the furniture that I was suggesting be kept and the placement of it was exactly as she had it placed previous to the partner moving in. Imagine that! The client was very pleased to hear that her "design" ideas were "right". I explained as well that we all live in a home in a way that is condusive to our life. But when marketing the home for sale, that is where we make changes to show the home in the best light.  The client ordered the storage company to be there for later this week. Yeah!!!

Jan 05, 2009 03:08 AM
Peg Prather
Vancouver, WA
Vancouver, WA

When explaining to my staging clients the difference between decorating and staging, I tell them that MY house is decorated, but that if it were for sale, I would have to stage it. I think that helps take away the sting of being told to remove something to ready the house for sale, and makes me look less "critical" of their style or their furnishings. We aren't there to criticize, but to help! We know that, we just want them to know it, too!

Jan 05, 2009 07:33 AM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

Michelle and Peg - great real-life examples!  Thanks for your input and sharing your experiences.

Jan 05, 2009 07:50 AM
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

Hi Tori -- Wonderful post and so true.  Often our clients are so nervous when we arrive I would think that the tv crew was coming with us!  Helping them understand the psychology of staging sets them at ease and helps you achieve success!

Jan 05, 2009 02:21 PM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Love this analogy..."Think about how much time and money companies spend on packaging something as simple and low cost as a box of cereal; we should spend at least half that much effort to "package" your most important financial asset when up for sale. That's what Staging is about. "

Good post and nicely said. 

Jan 05, 2009 05:27 PM
Tessa Skeens
Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign - Grand Junction, CO
Staging For Realtors, Builders & Investors

Tori Lynn - great post and good points.

I think the most dificult part of our job with occupieds is giving the client all the information they need while making sure you don't offend them in any way! It can be challenging. I had one client who had lost her husband this year and it was obviously very emotional for her to change what they had created together.

Another older couple knew they needed help but I think it was overwhelming for them to think about all the work involved. I always tell them, I will recommend all the improvements I believe will help you sell your home, but its your home and your choice to do as many or as few as you feel comfortable with.

Peg - Liked your comment too - I'll have to remember that one!


Jan 06, 2009 10:50 AM
Wendy Timmons
Move Home Realty - Temecula, CA
Temecula Realtor

Wonderful post!! You said it all beautifully! I always love your posts :)

Jan 07, 2009 01:14 AM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

Wendy - thank you for the lovely compliment!

Tessa - I like the way you phrase to your clients that they can choose to implement as many or as few or your suggestions as they are comfortabel with; I usually say the same thing :-)

Terrylynn - thanks for reading and commenting!

Margaret - I did have a tv crew with me once for a Staging for a local news feature; I was more nervous than any seller could ever be!!!

Jan 07, 2009 09:08 AM
Debbie Wheeler
Real Estate Staging/Rooms Rearranged, LLC - Chandler, AZ
Chandler, AZ Rooms Rearranged RESA, IRIS

Terri - Very well said.  I think so many sellers have been watching too much HGTV and are afraid stagers are going to yell at them like the mother and daughter team.  Clients need to be reassured and validated that their home was perfect for them.  Now they need to allow someone else to imagine themselves living at the property. 

Jan 07, 2009 03:01 PM
Terry Miller
Miller Homes Group - Tyler, TX
Miller Homes Group and Tyler Apartment Locator

Great post. I will have my whole Real Estate division read it. It's wonderful. Have a great 2009.

Terry Miller

Jan 17, 2009 03:30 AM
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

Very well put, we have to encourage the sellers, and make them feel at comfortable.

Jan 17, 2009 12:28 PM
Kathy Riggle
Houston Home Staging

Hi Tori Lynn-

Good reminder for us to always choose our words carefully when communicating with sellers.  I think this is a big reservation that Realtors have about using Stagers.  They have to be assured that we will deal diplomatically with their clients!

Jan 25, 2009 04:51 AM