Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog

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Stagers... are we red headed step children that get no respect?

 Lately I have been getting a lot of email from stagers that are frustrated with the response they have been getting from the real estate community. Basically they are surprised that realtors are not flocking to them with open welcoming arms and lavishing them with clients. Compared to mortgage brokers or home inspectors we are "red headed step children that get no respect".

The best advice I can give you is to "persevere".

Staging is new and in many parts of the country untested. So it is up to us as a united industry to get the word out about staging and the benefits it provides. When you are marketing yourself to realtors keep in mind the following and remember ultimately you need to craft your message to them and their issues/needs/concerns/benifits.

1.) Staging has become a marketing tool for realtors that demonstrates they are savvy and leading edge.

2.) Staging fee is typically the seller’s expense, not the realtors! (Many realtors think the fee has to come out of their pocket.)

3.) Real estate staging is NOT just renting furniture… it is much more. It is up to you to explain the depth at which you go to prepare a house for market.

4.) The best time to stage is BEFORE a property is listed. Our work can move the listing price to the top end of the property’s possible price range thus covering our fees and making the seller MORE money.

5.) Let us discuss our services and fees directly with the home seller… this keeps the home seller from feeling as if additional fees are being tacked on by the realtor.

6.) INSTEAD of a price reduction… consider using us. Staging can be less costly and have more of an impact.

7.) Do not market yourself as a designer/ or decorator... rather market yourself as a "real estate/property merchandiser". Why? Because bringing in a "designer/decorator" may be construed as an insult to a seller's tastes. Hiring a property merchandiser is a wise marketing strategy.

In today's age, where it seems like it is all about hard core marketing, sometimes what is forgotten is that marketing ourselves and our services is ultimately about building authentic relationships. Finding ways to be of help to the realtor will surely end the "little orphan Rodney syndrome" we all experience in this new industry.

 

Comment balloon 40 commentsCraig Schiller • October 30 2006 05:38AM

Comments

The one issue you are overlooking is this:

Realtors, generally are CHEAP.  They won't spend a dime more than they have to in order to market a property.  Many still use the office 1 megapixel digital camera (storing photos on a floppy!) because they're too cheap to buy a new digital camera.  (of course, they're driving a new Mercedes!). Many are too lazy to get out of the car and take a photograph through the window of the car (and getting the mirror in the photo as well!).  They are the ones that buy a cheap canned website that is identical to 20,000 others, throw their photo on it and then complain that it doesn't 'bring in business'.  

Realtors, generally, are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.  The barrier to get into real estate is $300 to get a license... that's about it.  No education needed.  No common sense needed.  No business sense needed.  And there are thousands of realtors out there proving this on a daily basis. Just because it makes sense to most people doesn't mean it makes sense to an agent.  

Sellers feel they are getting raped by realtors, because most realtors DO charge a high commission and MANY do nearly nothing to earn that commission.  They throw the listing into the MLS and plug a sign in the front yard and sit back and 'hope' it sells.  Maybe they'll run off a one page flyer with a blurry black and white photo on it and call it a flyer.  So, if you say you want to 'add' a valuable service to the huge commission a seller is already paying to the realtor - it won't fly.

Of course, this does not apply to ALL realtors, but I absolutely believe it applies to 80% of people out there with a license.  It is my hope that many of them will be working at Sears or punching a register at the local grocery store soon now that that market has turned downward, as this actually is where they always SHOULD have been working all along.  

At that point, when you have mostly intelligent realtors in the business who understand marketing and general business concepts, you will have an opportunity to sell them on your staging business - and they will embrace it because they 'get it'.  Simple as that!
................................................................................................
MY (CRAIG's) PERSONAL COMMENTS ON THE ABOVE COMMENT: First while I do not  know what Ellen's reasons are or what her history has been with realtors for some reason she feels compelled to write the comment that she did. While I do not agree with Ellen I don't think removing it is right either... as I feel Ellen is entitled to her opinon. I DO BELIEVE there is no need to be rude or caustic by anyone to ANYONE.  EVER! PERIOD! 
Folks... dialogue is the WHOLE reason for AR. Look at the great comments and suggestions offered up Bryant and Jim.
Those 2 comments take what I said and either bottom line what I tried to say... or add MORE info for any stager to learn and grow from. CRAIG
Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago

Come on Ellen, don't hold back, tell us how you really feel. ;-)

Ellen is mostly right; my fellow Realtors are cheap in general and also in general there are lots of people running around with a real estate license that could be more productive in another career.

As to stagers getting no respect; respect is not automatically given, it usually has to be earned.

So another question could be: "what have stagers done lately to earn anyone's respect"???

Posted by Jim Lee, Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH (RE/MAX Shoreline) almost 14 years ago

Hi Craig, great post as usual. I too have noticed the Stagers on AR getting frustrated. One of the issues, that I see, is that a few of the Stagers have only been here a couple of weeks and they seem to be trying way to hard. Begging will never work. I like your comment about persevering, that is exactly what they need to do. I would stop worrying about getting business and concentrate more on informing and educating. Like you do.

And Ellen,  As Craig had mentioned, Realtors are not the ones that pay for staging, it's a seller's cost. So whether we are cheap or not really has nothing to do with it. As a Real Estate broker it is my job to sell my sellers house not to sell staging services. I do agree that your 80/20 assessment is probably about right. But you know that's true with any business, staging included.

My sellers definitely do not feel they are getting "raped" by me. And I'm not cheap nor are my fees.. But my fee is justified because of the quality or service I provide and the fact that I sell 95% of my listings in a short period of time and for top dollar. I'm an expert I what I do and my sellers know it.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago

I can see your point, Ellen.  And there are a lot of days out of the month when I feel the same way you do.

In our area (Washington DC/Northern Virginia) the concept of Staging is relatively new to both the Realtors and the homeowners.  I feel like I’m an educator 80% of the time and a Stager 10%.  Every office presentation, coffee meeting or Staging success story done by any Stager adds merit to all of us.  I’m very active in our local Staging association and it’s the repeat theme at every one of our meetings.  Why don’t Realtors want to talk to us?  Why don’t they understand the benefits?  Just as Craig mentioned, it’s perseverance.  Network, network, network – and Stage in your spare time.  It’s a long and frustrating process, but I’ve seen it pay off.  Realtors that I met a year ago are finally calling.

It’s all about the client and what we can do for them.  I’ve found that the additional marketing I bring to the table helps seal the deal.  Besides expert Staging I offer additional services to help make the selling process easier for all the clients.  I sincerely believe that adding a Professional Stager to the property listing team should increase the value of both the Realtor and the house.  I feel vested in each sale that does or does not happen for each home I enhance.  My clients see that it isn’t just a transaction, but a relationship.  And that is how I earn their respect.

 

I’m also a licensed Realtor (un-practicing).  And with those credentials come a bombardment of solicitations from every angle.  I would agree that some Realtors are “cheap” – but that goes for any profession out there.  Realtors receive tons of pressure from salespeople to buy their products or services.  Enough inquiries to make anyone crazy.  I loathe the telemarketers that call my home phone every night, or try to engage me in the malls.  How can I expect the Realtors I approach to feel any different?  The “soft sell” or passing exchange of information is the way to win them over.  They have to realize that they need you before you approach them.  Otherwise it can get pretty hostile – at least in my experience.

Posted by Heather Harrell (Harrell Home Staging, LLC) almost 14 years ago

One thing I realized at the end of my first year as a Realtor - and, frankly, it hasn't changed much. 

One of the things they don't tell you in real estate classes is that there will be an enormous number of people standing around you with their hands out - from the Real Estate Board to the MLS to your Broker to everyone who wants to sell you services that are, they say, intended to make you money and/or help you sell houses.  If I used every service that approached me for every house, I'd end up with a negative income.  So, yes, I do approach what I'm going to spend carefully - after all, I did hope to make a pittance in this career rather than paying for the pleasure of selling real estate! 

Ellen, I will tell you one thing, and this is not about stagers (I, frankly, think staging is a great idea!, it's about what you expressed.  If what you wrote above is truly your attitude about Realtors, then you should perhaps go after the FSBO market, because it is going to show in your interactions with Realtors, and what sane person is going to hire someone who feels that way about them, or encourage their clients to do so?  Why hire someone when you'll inevitably spend time and energy wondering if they're badmouthing you and your profession, especially to your own clients?

Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) almost 14 years ago

Tricia, Your "hands out" comment is so true. Here's a few examples:

1. Mortgage broker-let me put a sign in the yard, it will make your listing sell quicker.

2. Home inspector-lets do a prelisting inspection, it will make your listing sell quicker.

3. Termite inspector-lets check for termites now, it will make your listing sell quicker.

4. Sign company-buy these night glow signs, it will make your listing sell quicker.

5. Web site guy-put your listings on my web site, it will make your listing sell quicker. 

6. Handyman-let me paint the house first, it will make your listing sell quicker

7. Talking houses-buy these radio transmitters, it will make your listing sell quicker.

8. Home stager-let's stage the house, it will make your listing sell quicker.

And on and on and on and on and on.......................

Now I agree that most of these things WILL make my listing sell quicker, maybe. Depends on the property, the seller, the price, the time frame for selling, the location, the market, the time of year, the competition.

But, as a Realtor, I do know the one sure thing that will sell any property in any market, at any time. PRICE

 

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago

"The Lovely Wife Here"

1. Price

2. Price

3. Price

4. Price

5. Price

9 thru 10...Yup...Price...I think I have made a price point, speaking of price...

"Craig The Reala Stager"...

I am now way off topic, but, would you like to help us give The Lovelys a treat for Halloween instead of another trick?

Link here to see what in the world I am talking about.

TLW "The Lovely Wife"...Kum La Ka Lakka...ROAR!

Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago
The problem I see with our local "staging" market is that they have not proven themselves.  I have talked to you about this before Craig and your services are so complete, stagers here don't compare to what you offer.  They do not have inventory, they do not photograph their product, and they have not proven themselves to the industry.  As for Ellen, OUCH!!  I think you need a new Realtor to erase that horrible perception of our industry.
Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) almost 14 years ago

In regards to REALTORS BEING CHEAP, explain how staging can increase their commission. Sure, they are cheap, but they also love commissions increased, just as we love our staging fees, right?

In a lot of areas like Bryant recently wrote in my blog, where his area that staging is NOT common at all, it will be a hard sell. This is when you should unite your local stagers and maybe start promoting staging together. In SF bay area where MOST listings are staged, realtors being cheap or not does not usually come into consideration. It's about SELLERS being cheap then that you need to conquer when you speak with them.

My high school teacher once said to me that "A good leader has the ability to see each individual's motivation behind them and then use this to her advantage when leading them through a task." It's also very true when it comes to your customers.

 

And like Craig always says "persevere!"

Cheers,

Cindy

i stage & redeisgn to sell, live and work in san francisco bay area!
cindy@staged4more.com
www.staged4more.com
http://stagingtipsandmore.blog.com/

Posted by Cindy Lin, Host, The Home Staging Show podcast (Staged4more School of Home Staging) almost 14 years ago

I have not had the opportunity, or need (yet), to do much with staging, but I am absolutely a believer. I don't think of myself as cheap but rather as prudent in how I spend my money in my business. Therefore, I need to know, or feel, that something is worth what I will spend and that I will see a good ROI. Sellers need to understand, too, how staging will benefit them - they will likely not just accept that this should be done without some evidence. While REALTORS need to understand how staging works and why so they can encourage their clients, they do not foot the bill, unless they are offering that as part of their services on the listing. As in any profession, keep in mind that credibility is earned not a given.

Thanks for your post, Craig - some great points for everyone to keep in mind.

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

  Just a few quick comments from someone who is neither a realtor nor a stager. First, I found it amusing that "Ellen" felt the need to post her comment anonymously. Nothing wrong with posting conflicting points of view but why be afraid to do it under your own name if you believe in what you say?

 There is good and bad in every industry, most realtors I've dealt with personally and in my business, are sharp cookies and really decent human beings.

 "Ellen", rather than anonymously attacking realtors, why not re-read your comment when you've calmed down and it might become self evident why people don't want to work with you.

 Second... a word of advice to stagers. Actually, instead of hogging Craig's page, I've just posted a blog aboiut this topic... An open letter to stagers and "Ellen"

Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... (garaughty.com) almost 14 years ago

First of all, Ellen! OUCH! You must have some maverick realtors in your area.  We joke that in Boulder there are more real estate licenses than there are driver's licenses.

Great post Craig!  I think sometimes people are drawn to the staging industry because they think it will be any easy sell, and that there are virtually no start-up costs associated with it.  However, in truth, a stager has to be able to promote themselves well; otherwise an agent will not feel as if there is any value of hiring an independent stager over what ‘staging’ services they already incorporate themselves.  As you touched on in your last blog, it is much easier for a realtor to see the value of your services if you can offer an inventory of furnishings and accessories.  But this necessitates a much greater financial commitment.

I agree with Bryan; if a stager is working in an area where the process is unproven, education is the key.

I am working with my local realtors chapter to do presentations for the real estate brokers in the area.  They have internal meetings and are always looking for new people to make short presentations of real estate related topics.  Not that you need the backing of the association to do this, one can always just approach each agency directly and offer your expertise.  I compiled a power point presentation on the benefits of home staging and am already booked in at several offices.  If you make the effort to give something back to the community you will often find this to be one of the best ways to promote yourself.

Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) almost 14 years ago

I guess, just as our geographical locations are different so are the views, knowledge and use of home staging. Every area will grow in its own time and there is so much we have to learn form each other.

One comment to Ellen, I must say that the term "raped" is in rather poor context and it is an insult to all those people who have been a victim of this crime.

Posted by Lucie Quigley (HOLT modern Home Staging) almost 14 years ago

"Craig The Reala Stager"

I truly respect what you just did...You know the letters in red.

Excellent...WOW...Cool...A no need for that is always welcome!

TLW "The Lovely Wife"...Kum La Ka Lakka...ROAR!

Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

Craig, I am a mortgage lender, a builder, an investor and have stock in a real estate company. I have been shouting staging to my clients and myself since before I ever heard it called that. I just called it prepping but I like the word staging better. You gave great advice - keep it up! 

Actually I think Ellen falls into the category of

Anonymous Posters: If You Know You're Wrong, Hide Your Identity?

Posted by Ken Cook, Content Marketer/Creator (Content, coding, marketing, host.) almost 14 years ago

Can you recommend a stager in Colorado Springs? I have NEVER seen advertisements for one... and we are a large office.

Posted by Derek and Mariana Wagner, The Artisan Group - Colorado Springs REALTORS® (The Artisan Group- Keller Williams Premier Realty ) almost 14 years ago

Ok, I can't resist. I must make another comment to Ellen about Realtors being cheap. Every dime I spend on a listing comes out of my pocket, in advance, with the hope that I will be able to sell the property and recoup my costs. If I don't sell it, then the money I have spent is gone. Not counting my time, I spend about $30,000 to $40,000 a year on marketing. Remember I am a one man office. But because I am good at what I do, I have no problem dishing out $1,000 to $1,500 per listing in marketing costs. This does not include my man hours. So here's may challenge to Ellen.

If staging will increase the value of my listing and if it will ensure that it sells quicker, then why not stage the home and agree to be paid at closing. It it closes you get paid, if not you don't. By using this business model I am sure there will be no problem finding people willing to hire your services. If you are good at what you do then there will be no problem getting paid at the end.

Personally I think this would be an excellent idea. If I were a Stager and sure of my abilities, I think I would do this.

To all Stagers, no charge for this idea:)

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago

I love your idea Bryant.  We dish out the money out of pocket and risk not getting paid.  Rick and I spend anywhere between $2,500 to $5,000 per listing which is insane, but that's what our market requires and what sets us above our competition.  If a stager were willing to wait until the house was sold, I would hire them on the spot, no questions asked.

ines

Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) almost 14 years ago

I am sold on staging.  Seller's will not do it themselves. It takes the monkey off my back when it comes to telling them what they need to do. I had a listing a couple months back that was a "nice" house-neat and clean as a pin!  But kind of Blah,  A mid1980's Mcmansion cookie cutter House (just like all the rest) It gave me a kind of Cold sterile feeling. The house had no spark or oomph to it. The seller's had just painted the house and we're not willing to pay for staging. The paint color they used in the Beautiful Light filled Family room can only be described as Horrendous "Baby Room" Aqua green and they were not about to paint over it. They liked it. So I paid the Stager myself. The stager rearranged what they already had in the house, bought some plants a couple pictures and sheer drapes. It took her 1/2 a day with a helper. The transformation was incredible! You did not even notice the color of the walls in the family room after she was done! It was a miracle! The sellers were amazed and so was I!  The house sold in 6 days for $682,000 List price was $689,000.  Three houses have come on the market on the same street (same type house but none of them "staged") One has been withdrawn without selling (even after dropping their price) The other two houses are still on the market both have dropped their prices down to 650,000 and 649,000.  I am convinced that this house sold quickly and for more money because of the STAGING! Stagers, as an agent I need you, admire you and have the utmost respect for you!

Debbie Cook

PS The name I use to my sellers is "Professional Home Stager" not "Decorator" or I am going to bring in a professional to stage your house. That way they are not insulted.

 

 

Posted by Debbie Cook, Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc) almost 14 years ago

Thanks for writing such a well-timed piece, Craig!  You make very valid points which we stagers can all learn from.

I especially like the term that you came up with to market ourselves - "real estate/property merchandiser"....that, actually, is the perfect description for what we do! 

Posted by Val Allocco, HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island (Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island) almost 14 years ago

Craig, Ellen may be right, we are cheap lmao.  But I like to think it's not at the risk of being 'penny wise and pound foolish.'  : 0 )

I get the feeling that eventually, Rodney won't have to be wearing that red wig; like anything else that is a newer concept, no matter what the profession, change is hard. AR folk are IMO a bit more used to change or more embracing of it, because we jumped into blogging after all - but somehow I think the value of staging will become more and more second nature to us agents and your posts have gone a long way to helping me see why that is true.  You rock.  

K, I had to come back and add this: we used a real stager for new urban town homes just being built. The model needed pizazz, not just furniture. She did a fabulous job, and we have her brochures located at strategic places around the model. She did a fab job of picking furniture that enhanced the urban steel bannisters, for example.  Everyone who comes in to see the property comments on at least one or two pieces - it's an invaluable service. I've already recommended her to others, including someone buying one of the townhomes! 

Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago

Craig,

Thanks for the GREAT BLOG.....and Ellen who????  ;)

Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) almost 14 years ago

You know, I need to make another comment here - I posted mine after reading Craig's blog and before reading all of the comments.

Actually my comment is a question.....What makes some of you assume that "Ellen" is a Stager? 

Some of us "newer stagers" on this site (that is only 5 months old I might add), may be voicing our frustrations, but to anyone reading this comment, who might be a realtor, I would like to say this:

Please do not misconstrue what we are saying - we are not directing any animosity or anger toward realtors or the real estate profession, we are just, collectively, trying to figure out how to introduce a new 'product' and show how useful and profitable it is to both realtors and sellers!

For the most part we are dialoging amongst ourselves - sometimes we might ask realtors for their opinions because they have the experience and knowledge and can give invaluable advice.  It is always good to hear from another perspective. Just look at how beautifully that worked on the "Stagers Attending Realtor's Open Houses" blog post!

I am a little disappointed with some of the negative energy that I'm picking up here tonight.  We are here to network and the Webster Dictionary defines Network as "a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (as friends or professional colleagues)".

We can all learn from each other - even the "newest" of us have valuable insights to share.

Where is the 'love' guys?!  Let us not diminish some wonderful 'networking' advice from one of the best!

 

 

Posted by Val Allocco, HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island (Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island) almost 14 years ago

As a stager/merchandiser I like your advice ,Craig. to start building relationships with realtors.  Usually I'm just trying to sell my services, instead of educating them and letting them get to know me.

 They will be more likely to use me as a stager if they know me and trust me and see that I really do care about my business and theirs.

Thanks.

 

Posted by Laurie A. Mahoney (Designed, Staged and Sold, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

Craig, when are you doing your 'Return from the Road to Hong Kong' blog with pics????

Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago

Craig,  You say a lot of good here. Obviously, you wouldn't want to stage a house on the low end of the market.  I'll have to forward this to a couple of agents I know. It's amazing though how cheap some sellers can be. They can end up costing themselves a lot of money by not even doing the simple things like leaving the power on.

 

-Jeff

Posted by nobody - I asked for this to be deleted i (c) almost 14 years ago

WOW!!!

With all that went on in the comment section of this blog, I just had to write another blog on this blog.

Here is a blog filled with my thorny and flowery thoughts on the comments above.

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago
I second Val here.  I really don't think that "Ellen" is a stager.  And if, by some chance she is, she might want to consider brushing up on her PR skills.
Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) almost 14 years ago

I have not hear of staging until I joined AR.  I personally think it a great marketin tool.  If I ever sell my home, I plan on looking into it.  I believe it will help sell it quicker. First imperssions are priceless. 

I am not a REALTOR, I do not think you guys are "cheap".  I know that most of you put quite a bit of time, effort, and money into you job.  Ignorance is bliss...."Ellen" must live in bliss.

Posted by Ann Guy (NA) almost 14 years ago
Like all new things to the Real Estate Market, it takes time for the Industry to become accustomed to the change. Craig hit the nail on the head when he said "educate".  Education is the key to anything that is new or different. Real Estaging may not be the answer for every property, but it could be the missing link for some.  Brick walls can frustrate the best of the best, Perseverence is hard work.
Posted by Jennifer BeGole-Bunting (Argyle Title Agency) almost 14 years ago

Talk about being treated like a redheaded stepchild!!!  I know just how that feels.  You wait days for the King of AR Stagers to grace your blog with one of his much sought after comments....and he calls you by the wrong name!!! 

Great blog though....another keeper for my files!

Posted by Judy Kincaid almost 14 years ago

Val-

You are so on the money (as usual). We are part of the marketing arsenal for Realtors and they are our biggest client. We're all on the same team.

Bryant-

Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts. I sense that you are truly committed to quality and excellent client service. On that note, I have a few thoughts to share...

Having spent a few very tough years in resale real estate and a short while in new construction, I sympathize with your 'everybody's after the money I haven't even earned yet' sentiments. I had to start a mass mailing newsletter advertising other realtors' listings just to be able to afford to advertise my own (placed prominently in that mailing, of course:).

It had occurred to me, too, that it would be a great idea to take payment at closing. I mean, we do that with other contractors, right?! That plan is flawed, though, for a  couple of reasons, the most obvious being that we don't usually bringin those contractors until an agreement has been reached. You wouldn't need a stager at that time.

The second, less obvious reason is that, while most agents who stay around for very long have done so because they (as you mention above) have learned how to price appropriately or decline the listing, many have not -- successful agents know that an overpriced listing will suck the life out of a marketing budget and reflect very poorly on them later when a new agent takes over and, after a huge price reduction, sells the place inside of a week.

But I digress...the problem is that a great number of listings emerge on the market overpriced and, from your earlier posts it is clear that you know that, even with its gold-plated nails, and custom Zebra carpet with coordinating Monkey chandelier (I'm so derivative here; had to pay homage to Jessica's awesome blog), property will very rarely sell above the CMA range. More clearly put, even the best property, if priced incorrectly, will languish on the market. 

As I no longer hold an active real estate license, I am without access (at least in my area) to the complete information from the MLS to determine whether or not I believe the price is right. Of course I could look at the public tax records, but those sq ft prices are skewed by the fact that the tax office estimates square footage of the home based on a drive by in most areas; consequently it is very often in significant error.

I believe it was Craig who discussed that a stager's job is to merchandise the house so that it will bring the top end of its range of price. That said, not all stagers know how to assess the appropriatenes of the home's price even with full access to information. We must rely on the expertise of the Realtors we work with to price and accept listings as prudently as they govern their marketing budgets before our services can really pay off. Similarly, the Realtor must rely on our merchandising talent and focused approach to making the home appeal to the largest cross-section of the population possible.

So, to take payment at closing would require a leap of faith on the stager's part--faith that the Realtor priced, and will market the home appropriately and aggressively.

It's a circular and interdependent relationship that Realtors and stagers have. I would submit that we all owe it to ourselves to make every effort to educate and understand each others' industries for the common goals of supporting property values in our home areas and providing stellar client service with every sale.

-Brenna, (GRF stager)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Craig,

I have done as you suggested and turned this comment into a blog here: http://activerain.com/blogs/greatrooms .

Thanks for the great advice!

Claudia

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Posted by Claudia Grasso (GRF) almost 14 years ago

CLAUDIA, WELL SAID.... THAT shoud be a BLOG POST! NOT just a comment.

Craig

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago

Wow Claudia - you made some wonderful points here - and in such an honest and thoughtful way!

Thank YOU for adding yet another dimension to the reason that Stagers and Realtors need to work together - and in a spirit of reciprocal trust.  We really are on the same team after all!

Posted by Val Allocco, HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island (Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island) almost 14 years ago

I am so grateful to Audra Slinkey (our staging association is HSR) for introducing us to this community where we have the opportunity to read and share ideas for growth with such a welcoming and forthright group of folks.

Thanks for the supportive remarks. I will continue to strive to give back at least half as much as I have learned from the professionals in this network. 

Posted by Claudia Grasso almost 14 years ago
I went back to read this post - it touches many of the points I've already thought about, asked about, worked on etc.  It is truly a slow and steady wins the race game and I believe we're making headway. Thanks for linking this to your most current blog.
Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago

I agree with Ellen.  I dread having to hire a realtor when ready to sell my own property.  They are all warm and fuzzy at the signing, then I never hear from them again till a contract comes in.  In fact, I've never had a house sell because my realtor showed it.  As I've said in a previous comment, you'd think they would want to make the sale, do anything to make the sale, especially in today's market, but they don't check on their vacant listings, and if they do happen by, they dont bother to pick up accumulated trash in the yard, weeks of newspapers, pull weeds or just sweep.  I get the impression that anything physical is just way below them.  So why should we think they would consider a stager? My staging contract does not say I will do the yard work, but I feel its my reputation on the line when prospective buyers drive up to the house, so I do the work myself.  Here in my area we have several realtors who do their own staging.  I've seen their work.  Whateveeeeeeeeeer!

Terry Haugen - STAGE it RIGHT!

Posted by Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495 (Stage it Right!) over 13 years ago
Sometimes a bad apple(s) can spoil the whole bunch. There are plenty of people who care about their profession - real estate, staging, lending ... and do a great job at what they do. Im sorry that you feel this way about a profession that you are tightly knit to. I wish you better luck with more competent Reltors in the future, Terry.
Posted by Derek and Mariana Wagner, The Artisan Group - Colorado Springs REALTORS® (The Artisan Group- Keller Williams Premier Realty ) over 13 years ago

All,

At least in the Pacific NW, many realtors pay for staging costs - all or a large part - credited to sellers at closing.  I agree with many of the comments about how hard it is to entice realtors to consider staging.  I feel your pain!

I've been thinking (a lot) about realtor's barriers to stage.  Is it lack of education?  Not really.  I have yet to find one realtor who either didn't know about staging, at all, or did not appreciate its value.  The majority know, unequivecably, staging works and their payday comes faster.  I do meet plenty who have never used a stager, so that's an issue as is entrusting their client a/k/a profit to a stager whose work they have never experienced personally.  But...even when realtors have seen homes I've staged, in person, especially those that have toured them pre/post staging...and have raved, and have given me feedback about my reasonable rates..there is hesitation.

Even though most realtors here pay for a good portion of staging costs, sellers are the ones that pay me out of their pocket when I am done staging (too risky to wait until closing, plus I view staging in the same vein as a painter/other contractors who would not wait to get paid).  This means we have to overcome the cost barrier not only with realtors who fear losing their client over the suggestion of yet one more cost, but we have to convince sellers.  And of course, reaching sellers directly, whose homes are listed with an agent, is virtually impossible.

We all know that staging costs a fraction of many first price reductions, which means they are a fraction of the reduction in realtor's commissions.  The logic seems inescapable:  invest a few hundred now to gain thousands later.  Nevermind, avoid months of making double mortgage payments.  As near as I can tell, even though taking a $15K price reduction vis a vis staging costs seems illogical, it is the "idea" of putting out more money up front that is either untenable, or undoable in many cases.  Sweeping costs up into that invisible closing day is preferable as is avoiding the risk of losing a seller who might switch agents at the thought of more costs/work.  One option is to let sellers pay by credit card.  Another option is to make the business case - as with any endeavor where one wants to shift market behavior and it involves cost. 

Perhaps we stagers need to give realtors strong talking points they can give to sellers - a marketing flyer that hits this point head on, with two columns: one adding up the costs including price reductions and time on market and all that implies - double mortgage payments, reduced traffic because listing has cooled -  versus a speedy sale at a higher list price with a staged home.

That's as close as I've come to the staging hesitation.  Others?

 

 

 

Posted by kathleen cochrun over 13 years ago

Staging is a career still in it's infancy in many areas. It will take more time before it's embraced everywhere. I believe lots of sellers (and agents) look at it as an expense instead of an asset to get their homes sold faster for more money.

Posted by Jim Lee, Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH (RE/MAX Shoreline) over 12 years ago

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