Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


HOME SELLERS... I'm Not Popeye, So Don't You Be Wimpy!

 When I was a kid I used to watch the Popeye cartoon on TV. (To be honest I don't even know if it is on anymore or if the strip even runs in news papers.)

Anyway, one of the cartoon's secondary characters was named Wimpy. While Wimpy was a sweet harmless loveable oaf, he also had a problem... he had a "jones" for hamburgers.

Hamburgers! Hamburgers! Hamburgers!

Wimpy just could not get enough of them! He craved them and would do ANYTHING for one, even if he didn't have the money to buy one, he would often hit up other characters for cash. Wimpy became famous for the line, "I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Well in the 3+ years we have been home staging Chicago-land we sometimes get asked if we would accept payment for our staging services at time of closing. (Homesellers usually pay for our services, NOT Realtors, for the seller has the most to gain from using us.) I gotta admit EVERY time we are asked that I can't help but think of Wimpy.

So.. when should a home seller actually expect payment for staging services? Well, it might help if you look at it this way...

First, staging services are much like any other services provided by any other independent contractor. So would you ask or expect a painter who had painted a house, in order to get it ready for sale, to accept payment once the house is sold? Or would you ask a landscaper who trims back bushes, edges the lawn, and plants some flowers to accept payment for their services once the house is sold? No! So why would a stager be expected to be paid at closing?

Second and MORE importantly is the fact that while the whole purpose of staging is to prepare a property and IMPROVE its attraction...  staging does NOT guarantee the sale.

A stager's job is to ready a home for sale in the market... NOT SELL IT. A realtor's job is to sell the home. Once a stager has completed their work... the Realtor takes over to make the sale happen. Once we set a home and leave the premises, a Home Stager has NO control over things that can and WILL impact the home's saleability. Things like:

  • PRICE - A property that is priced too high will never sell, no matter how much staging you do.
  • MARKETING PLAN - A property can be staged all nice and pretty, but if a Realtor is not getting the word out on it, then staging will not help.
  • INSPECTION CONCERNS - A home might look great on the surface... but lurking below a pretty surface may be problems that ONLY a home inspector will find. Concerns that come up in an inspection can easily kill a sale.
  • SELLER MOTIVATION - If a seller has underlying "issues" that thwarts a sale... then a sale just might not happen.
  • REALTOR SALES SKILLS - Some deals are just harder to close than others and require more sales acumen. Again while the home might look great, if the Realtor is can not close deals, staging will not help.
  • BUYER'S FINANCING - Stagers have not control on a buyer's eligibility or ability to secure financing for a staged home they want to buy. (So did we NOT do the job?) 
  • MAINTENANCE - If a home seller reverts to their untidy cluttered ways, the staging work will be compromised. Also if a home is not kept clean... that also will undermine the positive impact a staged home can have.

So if your sellers feel compelled to ask that Wimpy question about payment... know that this Real Estaging Bluto will reply "NO...but we do take Master Card, Visa and American Express."

Spinach It Forward...



Comment balloon 60 commentsCraig Schiller • June 25 2007 05:55PM



While I agree with what you are saying from a seller satndpoint, I have to defend realtors on one front. We already take the blunt of the expense for all marketing, listing and admin fees. None of our fees are paid until closing and if the home doesn't sell we get nothing. You are basically in business because realtors decide to use you. While you have the right to say no, the realtor has the right to say yes, no or not even ask. So if you are really interested in helping the client and the realtor then maybe you could be just a little more flexible on a case by case basis. It might help your business. I hope you ahve a great day.

Just a thought


Posted by Doug McAnally, Working Hard to Make your Experience Easier (RCP Realty Group, LLC) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,

I have a client who moved out before a deal fell through an they now moved out of the country..I have been endoring staging but money constraints are a problem..but I definately think since the furniture is gone and the carpet need replcing they should stage.

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (Brokered by eXp Realty LLC) over 13 years ago
I would have to say it falls in the lines of the industry.  Realtors get paid at closing, warranty companies get paid at closing, other contractors have accepted payment at closing...I believe the expectations would be that you accept payment at closing.  I completely understand your point...there are no guarantees in real estate.  I guess it would have to be a business decision on your part.  There is a definite gamble, however, how many sellers would be willing to foot the bill later when they have tons of cash in hand.  You would need to word it for guarantee payment even if it doesn't sell or something, but I would think you could increase your business with the increased risk.  JMHO.
Posted by Bob Carney, Licensed MD/PA Real Estate Agent (Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales) over 13 years ago

Douglas & Bob...

I hear what you both are saying. Other than realtors... who waits for payment. Painters? Landscapers? Cleaning companies? Inspectors? Repairmen? NO WAY! And they call can be hired to help get a house ready.

But I right now what needs to be considered are the facts that staging is LABOR INTENSIVE taking more then just one person MOST of the time to do the work. AND DAMN THEM those people that do the work want to be paid.

Typically we add props to the homes we stage. With every property we stage we typcally need to buy props... for that specific property. To date I have over $100,000 invested in props. Those too need to be paid for.

Finally staging is still "small business" which means cash flow is critcal... in the future as we get bigger I can see defering payment. But not is puts HUGE STRAINS on the stager.


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

While I see your point, the first thing that jumped out at me was this: 

"First, staging services are much like any other services provided by any other independent contractor."

The sellers (if they are the ones hiring you) are already dealing with an independent contractor who accepts payment at closing - the real estate agent.  The real estate agent (if they are the ones hiring you) is an independent contractor who accepts payment at closing. 





Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) over 13 years ago
Hey Craig - For our younger friends who have no idea who Wimpy is.  Check out Wimpy the Moocher. Great blog. 
Posted by Maureen Maureen over 13 years ago

Getting paid at closing would never work out for Stagers. Sometimes the client chooses to change realtors, take the home off the market or for whatever other reason the home does not sell then the stager would be out the $.  

I understand that is how Realtors get paid, that is why you guys make the big bucks.  That risk is part of the job description.   Me, I'm an independent consultant, I get paid up front. 

Posted by Maureen Maureen over 13 years ago

GREAT analogy!  I have the craving for some hamburgers now - THANKS.  ;)

In all seriousness, you are correct - the businesses that accept payment AFTER an event out of their control are few and far between - I can't think of 1.


Posted by Adam Tarr, PC -GRI, ABR, CDPE, RSPS, ePro - Designated Broker (MavRealty) over 13 years ago

Craig, this is a great post. I agreed to be paid at close of escrow (at the Realtors request) for one of my first staging jobs. MISTAKE. The house looked great, but the Real Estate agent failed to successfully market the home. The homeowner told me he practically had to beg for an Open House to be hosted by the agent. The end result was the listing agreement expired; a new agent listed the property; I restaged the property (keep in mind it had been listed for more than 6 months) and the property selling in 3 weeks! I am not in Business because realtors decide to use me.  I'm in business because smart realtors realize what an incredibly effective marketing tool staging is, and they value and appreciate my services...and don't have a problem paying when services are rendered.  

Posted by Sherry Flanagan (Desert Chic Interiors) over 13 years ago
We are the in the process of selling a second vehicle, my husband has had some minor engine work done, the car has been detailed, and painted. My husband did these things knowing that he would get more money for the car if he invested in these minor repairs and aesthetic improvements. He asked the business owner if he could pay them AFTER he sold the car...Guess what, they said NO and expected him to pay BEFORE HE SOLD HIS CAR. What kind of world is this?
Posted by Anonymous over 13 years ago

Craig, great post. Realtors do put a lot into the homes up front, however they are also paid proportionately at the end by percentages. I might consent to payment at the end if I were paid by an agreeable percentage as well, especially as staged homes so often bring in a higher asking price. Stagers should be rewarded!!! So for me, it is either one way or the other, either as a paid service, upfront, OR as an invested member of the marketing of the project, with a paid percentage of an agreeable amount at the end! (Never had a realtor offer me the second option in it's entirety yet!)

Spinach it forward --- tee hee. :-)

Posted by Julianna Hind, REALTOR, 206-679-4768, Tacoma Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, WA (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago

Thanks for this blog Craig. It infuriates me that people consider our service offering a pay on sale system. Agents (by large) tend to think that as we are working with them to some degree that we operate on the same financial platform. While I enjoy being able to assist agents, I don't work for them, I work for the home owner who is try to sell their home and myself. I appreciate the referral that may come from an agent, but at the end of the day I am making their job easier by creating an atmosphere that home buyers will emotionally attach themselves too.

I will be sticking to the one month in advance with rentals and invoicing immediately upon completion of staging. Assists cash flow and makes clients appreciate the work that goes into completing the project.

Posted by Adam Luttrell, Shift Property Styling - Hobart, Tasmania (Shift Property Styling) over 13 years ago

If I had more control of the sale of the property and I could get 2-3% of the sales price, I would consider taking my fee out of escrow, but I do not, so I will not. 

That's the answer that I give realtors and sellers when they ask.  It's simple economics and although I am an independent contractor the situation is different for the Realtor.  I can just see us (stagers) adding another 10 pages of paper work to the mix in order to get paid with all of the contingencies, disclosurers etc. 

Thanks for the post Craig...a good discussion.



Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) over 13 years ago

Craig, I absolutely agree with you.

And Sherry, Julianna, Adam, Ginger and Maureen all make very valid points.

Realtors and consumers use my services on this VERY ACCEPTABLE term of being paid when the job is complete. And perhaps I am limiting my business by getting paid once the job is complete. For me, I feel the prospective concerns, hassle or problems is just not worth it.

Thanks for raising this issue, Craig.


Posted by Julia Fedak, IRIS, CSP (Platinum Home Designs ) over 13 years ago

I have to admit... I recently interviewed and employed a home stager for one of my sellers who quiet frankly is house rich and cash poor.   So I asked just that question.... can we pay at closing?   Well I got the same answer you offered and the credit card came out.   

I guess it was a silly question... but hey it was worth a try.    Thanks for sharing have a great night

Posted by Desiree Daniels (RE/MAX Tri County) over 13 years ago

My massage therapist doesn't wait for my back to feel better in order to get paid, my gardener doesn't wait for my weeds to grow just to weed and get paid.  We are a fee based service. We deliver the best that we can to help agents and homeowners prepare their home for sale.  Unless we are able to put a lien on the property or have a time limit contract, we need to be paid upfront for our services.  Just my 2 cents. 

I like the car analogy... that was a good one!

Posted by Lori Kim Polk, Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento ( Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services) over 13 years ago
Craig, I laughed when I read your title but soon discovered that the post is serious.  I agree with you and want to share one of my stories.  We staged a vacant and had previously explained to the realtor that we expected payment on completion of staging.  (Yes, I know most stagers are paid before they stage, but we haven't had a problem with our system yet.  We send the Invoice in advance.)  Anyway he thought we should charge 1% of the list price and wait until the house was sold for payment.  We, of course, turned him down for the very reasons that have been listed above.  I also whipped out my handy calculator and he discovered that 1% was almost three times what we actually charged.  We've staged other homes for him and he's never made that offer again.  Betty 
Posted by Betty Haney (Haney Consulting) over 13 years ago


So far I have been lucky and no one has asked me this question, but I know it is coming and I have been nervous about it.  I have been considering what the best response would be, and I now feel better prepared to answer after reading your blog and the comments that followed.  I certainly understand how waiting until close of escrow could benefit Realtors and home sellers (and possibly our business), but there are too many "what ifs" that could come back and bite us in the a..!  Cash flow is a definite problem for stagers and the risks outweigh the rewards for deferring the payment unless we got a percentage of the sale.  Thanks for the help!

Posted by Mandi Armitage (Stage It First) over 13 years ago

A possible solution for Realtors would be to offer a partial refund to seller for staging costs--at the close of escrow (as long as the home was still listed with that agent).

I am considering something like that. Staging certainly helps the seller, it makes our jobs as Realtors easier and offers real value to the transaction.

Posted by Roberta Murphy, Carlsbad Real Estate and Homes (San Diego Previews Real Estate) over 13 years ago

I just want to clear something up... I keep hearing "I am an Independent Contractor"... Realtors are too!!!  We are paid on a 1099. 

Like I said earlier too, it all depends on your business model... I think Roberta is on to something.  If you make this a team effort with a Realtor... you might be able to increase your business.  You have to create a way to guarantee your payment, but I still think that this is something you could offer to sellers.  I think with a proven track record of quicker higher sales you could have everyone buy in this.

As part of my listing agreement, I have the sellers sign off that if they terminate the listing agreement prior to the termination date, they agree to pay for advertising and marketing cost associated with marketing their property.  Sure I have some lost listings and lost marketing money because the listing did not sell before it expired, in our business that is part of the business.  That is something we all accept when we decide to be Realtors, I don't try to make that norm.  You could write something like that in your Bids...payment due at settlement or 60 days which ever comes first. 

You all have valid points in other parts of retail industries as business practices, but as you can see in this industry it's a little different.  I think you are missing this one.

Posted by Bob Carney, Licensed MD/PA Real Estate Agent (Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales) over 13 years ago
Craig,  I too have been approached about getting paid upon closing. I considered it as a possibility.  After much thought I decided that it is an option I won't be offering.  Too many unexpected issues. Except for realtors.  All other services get paid when the job is complete.
Posted by Isabel Gomes, Interior Decorator, Stager - London, Ont (Gomes Design) over 13 years ago


You have an amazing way to get your point across. I love reading your posts. This was fantastic!

Posted by Anthea Click, Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly! (Fresh Perspectives - over 13 years ago

I can see where Realtors are coming from when they talk about the risk they take in putting money out on advertising when they receive no money upfront.  However, I think one glaring point has not been made.  In general, we are not asking agents to pay for staging services.  That investment is made by the sellers.  It boosts their equity and they have the most to gain.

I do suggest that my partner agents offer a consultation as part of their marketing budget.  Why?  It makes all of their other marketing efforts more effective.  It is like adding a nitro boost to your drag car.  They may not make every change we suggest, but they are armed with every bit of information they need to make the house more marketable.  It is also a good buffer for the agent that is having difficulty marketing a house where changes have not been made. The seller didn't hold up their end of the deal.

Posted by Kimberly Wester over 13 years ago

Craig once again your perspective is spot on. Just a comment to add on the Realtor/Stager why not pay at closing front. 

A Realtor's job is completed once the house has SOLD and CLOSES - hence being paid at closing.

A Stager's job is completed the day staging services are rendered and complete.


Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago

Karen's perspective is right on.  Great post, Craig. 

Another point regarding other independent contractors that may be paid at closing is that their services are not rendered until the home is under contract.  I would be happy to accept payment at closing should they want to hire me to stage once the home is under contract.  (tee hee!) 


Posted by Karen Dembsky, Atlanta Home Staging (Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA) over 13 years ago

I get asked to postpone payment on almost every bid we send out.  We get 50% when the contract is signed and the balance on the morning of the first day of staging when we show up with the trucks. Nothing gets unloaded without that final payment. Whenever I deviate from that plan it becomes a huge hassle to collect payment, so that's now my line in the sand.

I used to walk home from elementary school for lunch everyday, and I always watched Popeye. Are we dating ourselves???

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 13 years ago

Well said, Craig and on behalf of Home Stagers everywhere, thank you for raising the collective consciousness!  I remember when this topic first came up here last summer at a time when many of us were still trying to market ourselves and get realtors (and sellers) 'on board' .  I can't believe that some people are still trying to make us 'prove' ourselves and our industry!


Posted by Val Allocco, HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island (Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island) over 13 years ago

I totally agree with you Craig.  I also agree with Douglas McAnally that I could "be a little more flexible based on a case by case basis."  If the Realtor is pricing and marketing the property correctly I may consider this payment option. 

Currently if I am asked to collect payment at closing I offer Brook Furniture Rental because they currently have a "Deferred Payment Option"  where the seller can defer monthly payments up to 90 days.  They then will accept payment directly from the sellers escrow office. 

The only draw back is that renting the furniture from Brooks is more expensive then renting from me because I own all my own inventory and can be very aggressive in pricing. It's always an alternative to seller's that can't afford to pay when staging services are completed.   

Stage it Forward!

Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) over 13 years ago
Craig--Loved the analogy! It is perfect...Why would someone not expect to pay now for your services? If the home doesn't sell, they might not pay. I totally understand your policy. Great way to present it to the public!
Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) over 13 years ago
I totally agree with your views. A job well done, deserves fair pay today. I just wish that sellers did not think that Realtors were such pawns. We can bust our butts to get what the seller wants but they can easily opt out and in the end, we can do a great job for the seller and not get paid a dime.
Posted by Doug Lindstrom (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago

I was on the fence until Karen said:

"A Realtor's job is completed once the house has SOLD and CLOSES - hence being paid at closing.

A Stager's job is completed the day staging services are rendered and complete."

Excellent post.

Posted by Craig W. Barrett, Hughesville MD Real Estate (RE/MAX 100) over 13 years ago


I don't see any issue with this one.  If a seller attempted to stage a home themselves by having renovations or landscaping done, or if they updated the decor with new furnishings and appointments to please prospective buyers, payment would be tendered long in advance of closing.  Staging, it seems to me, is strictly a retail service.  Immediate payment is the only option that make sense to me.

What am I missing? 

Posted by Ed Rybczynski, Your Source for Local Real Estate (Integrity Real Estate) over 13 years ago

Doug, your comment is interesting. It must be difficult to work your magic only to have your client walk out the door leaving you out of pocket.

I guess from a staging point of view, if a stager is working through an agent, there could potentially be two businesses caught in this non-paying situation if we relied on payment at sale and we were contracted by the agent who had the listing at the time. The risk suddenly doubles.

Posted by Adam Luttrell, Shift Property Styling - Hobart, Tasmania (Shift Property Styling) over 13 years ago

hmmm... interesting perspective.   This always makes me think we a sale a custom home for a builder and they always want to pay me at closing.  I guess I can understand that but it can take a while for a home to be built and alot of times they are using the buyers construction loan to build the house.  


Posted by Blue Ridge Ga Real Estate >> Real Property in Blue Ridge Georgia (United Country Landmasters) over 13 years ago

"NO...but we do take Master Card, Visa and American Express."

 I abosolutely love this line...

what an interesting post Craig

Posted by Nattalie de la Mothe, Selling Atlanta Homes like a Boss (Maximum One Greater Atlanta Realtors) over 13 years ago
Oh, would it be that we could ALL get paid BEFORE closing! I work with several home inspectors and contractors that agree to be paid out of closing. Sometimes, they charge an additional premium for such deferred billing. It's a risk. We all take risks, everyday. But I certainly understand investing big dollars for props. You can't carry that expense for long.
Posted by Rich Jacobson, Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker (Fathom Realty West Sound) over 13 years ago

I have no issue with this, Craig. Makes sense to me, given how the business works. Roberta's suggestion, IMO, is a good one as a solution that coudl work well for both the agent and the seller.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 13 years ago

I am with the pay at beginning/end of staging.  If I actually got 1% at closing I may reconsider.  Of course then any price increases, contract counter offers, etc would go through me as well, right?  I would have a say in them the way a realtor does?  They may not be able to actually decide what the changes are, but they do have a voice. 

Here is one more thing that most agents don't talk about but have knowledge of being an ex-office real estate office manager.  MOST real estate agencies have AR accounts (um... that being Accounts Receivable, not Active Rain.... hopefully they'll all have Active Rain accounts eventually).  When agents 'foot the bill' for newspaper ads, virtual tours, etc they very often have their companies footing that bill until closing for them. Those expenses then come out of their end of the commission check.  If their companies (Prudential, Keller Williams, Century 21, etc) were willing to put us on their AR lists the way they do the newspapers and virtual tour guys/gals I would be all for it!  Maybe that is what AGENTS need to work for... your companies to help by allowing stagers to be added to the AR bills!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago
I'm all for Realtors getting paid up front before closing!!! Who's with me on this?? What? We have to wait to get paid after we have blown all our money on advertising, gas and time...or maybe not at all? What kind of crazy world is this?
Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 13 years ago
I think you guys are no different than hiring an appraiser. With my toughest clients, I recommend that they get and pay for an appraisal if they don't like the value that I came up with. I then offer I will pay for it out of closing. I even have them sign a contract. If the listing expires and they don't re-list with me I am not out.. just my advertising and time. Staging can add value too! I think I will have offer them the same thing. You pay for it, but I will reimburse you should you close for X amount. I have to limit my fees too. I also won't pay for it if they choose a lesser service either. Has to be full commission! I would love to see Realtors accept Credit Cards. Then offer a discounted fee if they pay first. I can also see major problems with this for some of the under producing agents, but hey, we would like to get paid too! Great post!
Posted by Charlene Hammontree, Meeting the needs of Buyers and Sellers in MICH (616 Realty LLC) over 13 years ago

Mellissa... good info for sure. I did NOT know about "fronting" the cash.


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

Karen nailed it.

Michelle told us how to get it.

Melissa told you how to defer it.

Craig made it all happen.

Great post with some great responses to the much asked question!

Posted by Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging (2 Hounds Design + Home Staging) over 13 years ago
Craig the heat is on and your post just turned it up another notch for some people.  Facts are facts.  Nice post.
Posted by Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375, Real Estate Services You can Trust! (Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions") over 13 years ago

Great info! Thanks for posting

Sugar Land, Tx
Where Life is Sweet

Posted by Christopher & Bernadette Hurley (Go Hurley Group) over 13 years ago

Do stagers keep track of how many of their homes sell and how many don't?  If you have those numbers, you should be able adjust your pricing to accomodate the homes that are staged and don't sell.

If real estate agents charged their fees upfront, there would be many  more people going FSBO.  Many sellers just don't have the cash until their home sells.  I would imagine there is a lot of "SBO" (staging by owner) being done because sellers just don't have the cash up front. 

You can play it safe and demand payment up front and wonder why more people don't use your services or you can figure out how to make payment at closing work and turn it into a huge opportunity.  If the problem is that most stagers are small time operators who can't front the money, then I see a huge opportunity for a large company to be formed that can handle the inconsistant cash flow better.

Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) over 13 years ago

Craig.....   would you expect anything less from the average consumer. You can now buy cars on payment plans for a year or so... definitely buying tvs now and paying for them 18 months later. Can you blame the general public for even asking?

Now... you make valid points. I would expect to pay for these services now...just as you mentioned, landscaping, mechanics, plumbers, painters, etc etc.  It does sound like a silly request. But again, can you blame the public for even trying and sometimes acting naive. ????   Good post. I loved Popeye and even Wimpy with his typical saying.

                                                                                                          jeff belonger

Posted by Jeff Belonger, The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans ( Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc) over 13 years ago

You know what?  I definitely see the value in home staging.  Having an aesthetically-pleasing home inside and out is more likely to draw positive attention than a home that shows obvious lack of care.  On that front--I do intend to offer staging services to my clients... provided by yours truly.  There's classes out there now, ladies and gentlemen, that REALTORS can take to learn how to stage, and I consider it a wonderful side benefit to my clients that I will be able to do this for them.  So, there's no worry where I'm concerned about paying for a staging fee upfront... because it will be a part of the incredible service package that I extend to my clients.


Posted by Tiffany McAnally (Keller Williams) over 13 years ago

paid at closing? why not?

you should look into mechanic's liens. you might be able to get more sales. date them all for TUESDAY




Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) over 13 years ago

Craig, interesting post!!  Let me tell you what happened to me today.  I had a conversation with a current seller of mine who has a vacant home.  I brought in a stager (paid for it out of my pocket when it was being done).  I decided to bring a staging company in due to the fact that the home was overpriced (supposedly it was the best home in the subdivision) and my seller was not listening to anything that I was telling him, it is an older home and is need of some repair.  We had it under contract once, during the inspection phase, which he proceeded to tell me that the home inspector, the pool inspector, and the air conditioning inspector were all idiots!!  He was not willilng  to fix anything that the buyer asked of him and the buyer decided not to purchase the property. 

I love my stagers and agree that they should be paid for up front!!  They are doing a service to the homeowner and if the homeowner is wanting to sell the home for top dollar, a home stager is needed!!

Posted by Karen Radzinski over 13 years ago
Personally we like to see any and all services that the seller wants done paid up front -- this would be gardeners, home cleaners, painters, repair people, and yes, home stagers. Different agents do things different and some vendors are perfectly ok with waiting until the home is sold. But if asked we suggest that the services get up front payment, it just seems to simplify things.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 13 years ago

Great post! As for getting paid, ALWAYS get paid upfront.  I have had realtors ask me if I would be willing to get paid IF and WHEN they close the deal.  These are the same realtors who also asked about discounts, etc.  Once, I believe someone is trying to lowball me or take advantage, I smile at them and reiterate what my fees are and when I expect payment.  At that point, it would be up to them if they choose to call me or not.  I would rather work with people who respect me as a professional, than those who are just looking at me as someone they may be able to jerk around.

On another note, since joining AR, I have viewed many posts where stagers are unsure what to charge for their services.  Also, they talk about doing free work to impress realtors or offer realtor discounts, etc, etc.  In my opinion, that is a huge mistake.  Stagers are PROFESSIONALS!!  What other professionals do you know of that are offering freebies and discounts???  (not my doctor, not my kids teachers).  Also, once stagers start charging lowball prices to get work, or offering "discounts", they are devaluing themselves and will lose credibility.  Once you do a job at a "discounted" rate, why would the realtor ever pay you your "real" rate???  Once you agree to accept payment at closing one time, the realtor would expect that every time.  This is why you always want to be paid upfront and why it is so important to stick to your fees.

As for Popeye, hmm, he would be a great asset to stagers, with those muscles, he could be a great help moving furniture. (lol)!

Posted by Maureen Graziano (Third Eye Home Staging) over 13 years ago
You know, as I've been reading all the comments here and many stagers chiming in on what they suggest is the best way to charge for their services, it struck me that it might not be a good thing to be discussing these things with fellow stagers.  I'm no expert, but couldn't that fall under the anti trust laws and price fixing?  Just something to think about.
Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) over 13 years ago
Craig, such a great post with so many great comments.  Melissa's post inspired by yours could be a very workable solution that benefits everyone.
Posted by Gina Dougherty, Home Staging Redondo Beach, CA- (Fusion Design Consulting) over 13 years ago


HUH???!!! Wha? You got to be kidding... NO stager spoke of HOW MUCH they charge. ALL we are talking about is WHEN should we ask for and expect payment.

No fees or rates are mentioned ANYWHERE. How this can be construed (or misconstrued) as PRICE fixing when we have not spoke about price or bill rates?

Again WHEN to pay is NOT the same conversation as HOW MUCH to pay.


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago
Thanks Craig.  I too was scratching my head with that one???
Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) over 13 years ago

Like I said, I'm no expert, but terms of payments are a big part of pricing.  The price on a real estate contract is just part of the value that is given.  The date of closing is a huge part of the terms and price.  Having stagers talk amongst themselves about refusing to take payment  at closing could be considered conspiring to set the terms of pricing. 

Here's some verbiage from a Wikipedia article on the topic:  

Methods of price fixing can include selling at a common target price; setting a common "minimum" price; buying the product from a supplier at a specified "maximum" price; adhering to a price book or list price; engagement in cooperative price advertising; standardizing financial credit terms offered to purchasers; using uniform trade-in allowances; limiting discounts; discontinuing a free service or fixing the price of one component of an overall service; adhering uniformly to previously-announced prices and terms of sale....

I know Wikipedia is no authoritative source but it does give me cause for my question. 

I think terms of payment are a big part of pricing. Why else is it such a problem to wait for payment until closing?

Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) over 13 years ago

Tim: GREAT INFO for me to review. But again... WHEN to pay for services was not mentioned. The only thing close was credit terms... and that is really not about this.

THANKS for your concerns...


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

Craig - I agree and disagree (am I allowed to do both?) :-)

If the licensee is going to guarantee payment to the vendor - regardless of whether the property sells - either following close of escrow or following the expiration/cancellation of the listing - it can be a win-win for all concerned.

This response was much lengthier - so I posted about it on my blog instead of "hijacking" your post thread!  Let me know if it's OK to post a link.  Here's the promised link - will also add it to the group you requested.

BTW - Glad to see you enjoyed your trip to the UK - I used to live there so am familiar with both the entity and the designation you mentioned in another post.  :-)

Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty (Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area) over 13 years ago


After reading all of this I honestly have nothing to add to this great discussion. Good thought food :)  


Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) over 13 years ago

The problem of waiting for payment untill closing is, WHAT IF THE DEAL DOESN"T CLOSE????  Who would pay for the staging in that situation???  Staging is very different from being a realtor.  A realtor will make more money than a stager.  Stagers should get paid once they have rendered their services.  Stagers do not guarantee a home sale.  They are just providing a tool to help a home sell faster and hopefully at a better price.  Howver, there are no guarantees.  Stagers do not work on commisions as do realtors.  Would you expect a painter or other contractor to get paid when the house is sold.  NO.  So why would a stager be expected to wait? 

As for talk of price fixing or collusion, hardly.  There is no association of stagers.  Every stager operates independently and they  most likely will charge, what their indivdual markets will bear.  Personally, I believe that those stagers who agree to wait for payment untill closing will end up losing a lot of money!!

Just my opinion.


Posted by Maureen Graziano (Third Eye Home Staging) over 13 years ago