Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog

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I Confess... I've used the UGLY "R" WORD on the streets of metro Chicago

I happen to know among clients, home selling professionals, developers and stagers that there is controversy swirling around this very hot topic.  It seems like everyone is chiming in on one side or the other, having a very strong and opinion on the subject. However, some of these negative opinions I feel are quite prejudiced. I feel all these people are misinformed and it is their ignorance that propels the myth and controversy that surrounds the "R" word.

Quite recently, we lost a client because we decided to start using the ugly "R" word. THIS got my blood boiling. NOW I am on a crusade to... Stamp out the ignorance! Stamp out the prejudice! And end, once and for all, what is been wrongfully labeled as "BORING" and "UGLY"... that is Rental Furniture!

To begin to put an end to the Rental furniture myth I am going to post a few photos from ACTUAL (NOT slick studio produced photos) stagings we did for home sellers all over metro Chicago where we used rental furniture and then added all the beautiful BLING from our own prop library.

Initially, having our own furniture in our prop library helped us get started and differentiated us. But, we began to look at what we had invested in the furniture alone and the return on the investment we were getting from THAT portion of our prop library... and we made a strategic decision. If we can't carry it (physically) we won't carry it (in our prop library)... we will rent it.

We have come to this conclusion for 2 reasons: 1.) It was getting WAY to expensive to first PURCHASE and then continuously transport, move in, move out, repair, clean, store and insure the hundreds and hundreds of furniture pieces we now are placing in homes. 2.) We found that Brook Furniture Rental, a Chicago based rental company with locations in CA, GA NV, TX, and DC, had MULTIPLE and diverse LINES of furnishings, and a willingness to work with us.

So, a few months back, we began our relationship with Brook Furniture Rental. I have to admit I have been delighted, for MANY reasons, but the first and foremost reason is we both share a common commitment to provide the best level of staging creativity and service to our clients.

So the next time we have a client that says anything bad about rental furniture... we know that we here at Real Estaging can hold our heads high with RENTAL PRIDE!

Stage It Forward...

Me

POST SCRIPT: This is the 4th and Final blog in a series were rental furniture was "secretly" used. The other 3 blogs featuring rental furniture can reached by clicking on the links below.

Comment balloon 33 commentsCraig Schiller • March 16 2007 07:07AM

Comments

Yep, I must admit my image of rental furniture was something I would never want to sit or sleep on.  You have given new meaning to the idea.  Thanks for sharing--enjoyed the photos too.
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 13 years ago
Craig, it only makes sense that some stuff should be rented.  You mean there's been controversy about this?  hmmm!  Those pictures show some great staging.  I like the BLING!
Posted by Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 888.883.8509 X101, GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay | (eXp Realty LLC) over 13 years ago
I too never heard of any controversy about rental property.  I'll have to delve into the staging community a little more to find out what riveting controversies I'm missing. :)
Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) over 13 years ago
I think rental furniture is great. We don't have a decent rental store around here like I had in CA, but even so, choosing neutral pieces works fine.  By the time all the accessories are brought in, it looks great.  And the expense, wear and tear, labor of transporting, etc. is why I've chosen not to carry the larger pieces.  Your beautiful pictures will prove your point every time!
Posted by Judy Heinrich (Judy Heinrich Home Staging) over 13 years ago
Geez. Craig, I suppose you're a big NASCAR fan too. :-)
Posted by Stefan Scholl, Northern Michigan Real Estate (Buyer's Broker of Northern Michigan, LLC) over 13 years ago

Craig, Glad you wrote this post.  I couldn't do my business without the use of rental furniture.  We do carry our own "prop library" as well to accent and complete the staging. Fine tune it.

We use Brook Furniture Rental here in Dallas as well. I thought I recognized pieces in your beautiful photos.   Cort is also getting on board with the idea of staging.  In fact our local chapter of stagers here (one of the benefits of the "schooling" of Stagedhomes.com is the "International Chapter" where we can join together and meet monthly) As the sponsorship chair/PR board member of the Dallas IAHSP, I was able to arrange with our Brook rep. our meeting this month to be held at the Brook Clearance center - they're even sponsoring the lunch.  It gives new stagers the opportunity to see how they work with us - it's a win win situation.  It's really not confusing and the cost is not as high as some might think.  Believe it or not - people will pay for it!  Call your local rental company and set up a meeting! Building a relationship with them is key.  It was a months before we actually had the need for rental furn. in our fledgling staging business, but I was in touch with my Brook rep. quite frequently. 

The investment in staging (including rental furniture) will almost certainly be less than the cost of your first price reduction!

Another post that continues to stage it forward.... thanks!

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago
Craig, My assumption had always been that stagers used rental furnture and owned props. It's the only way it would make financial sense. Plus the rental companies deliver and set up.
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) over 13 years ago

Bryant...

We will still carry SOME furniture... just for variety and depth. JUST as long as we can PHYSICALLY carry it.

YES the rental companies DO deliver... but REALLY what "setting up" is is finessing the space, and that is where stagers come in. Make sense?

ME

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

When I was hired for my first vacant home staging I knew I was going to have to use rental furniture.  I had always invisioned rental furniture to be tackey, but I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into CORT Furniture and found many pieces I would actually purchase on my own.  I selected the pieces that I needed and when it showed up at the listing I was staging I was pleased to see how nice it all looked.  It looked brand new, not used.  I added a few of my own pillows, throws, bedding, accessories, etc. and found it to be beautiful!  It looked so great that the property sold w/in 5 days after being on the market for almost a year!  I think that the "R" word is perceived in a negative or postive way depending on how you present it.  If you show them pictures like Craig has to show how beautiful rental furniture can be I'm sure that would change the clients mind or at least open it for further discussion.

Reece

Simplicity Home Design

Posted by Reece Mack, Owner (Simplicity Home Design, Thousand Oaks, CA) over 13 years ago
Craig- Thanks for sharing your "Secret" with us.  I think it takes some of the pressure off us little guys!  I wish we had a good rental company in NY.  The ones I have found are so expensive it is almost prohibitive. 
Posted by Maureen Maureen over 13 years ago

I absolutely love Brook Furniture Rental for a variety of reasons: 1) they're always on time (for deliveries and pick-ups) 2) I love their selection and 3) the Atlanta based office is full of some great people. 

My life as a stager would not be complete without them.

Kathy

Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager (http://atlantahomestaging.net) over 13 years ago
I too use rental furniture and I haven't (yet!) had any problems with clients or the furniture itself.  I use CORT, and have had great luck with them.
Posted by Penny Province, Province Staged Properties (Province Staged Properties) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,

I could not agree more. I certainly do not want to tote couches from job to job. I recently had a terrific experience with a furniture rental co., American Furniture Rental Co. on the East Coast. They did their job which allowed me to do my job. Which is to create inviting spaces that welcome potential buyers. They were terrific to work with, the selection is  great and they are working to build great relationships with stagers in the area.

Posted by Sue Shockley (Setting the Space) over 13 years ago
Craig- my eyes were moving at the speed of light to find out what the R stood for! Hopefully once home staging is more of a household name, our region will enjoy furniture rental companies in closer proximity.
Posted by Sue Argue, NH Home Stager (Staged First Impressions) over 13 years ago

I am new to staging, and it is realtivly new here in the S.W. corner of Canada.  I have yet to source anything close to what you show Craig.  I have been decorating homes for years, and even with beautiful top of the line furniture, without the accessories, or props as you refer to them, no place looks like home.  Keep up the good work!

Joelle Green

Posted by No Longer Available over 13 years ago

I LOVE your rule of only carrying things that you can carry!  I am in total agreement.  It is wayyyy too costly . . . and also a big pain in the rear to house the major pieces of furniture.  I'd much rather leave that to the rental companies and deal with the fun stuff.  I don't think we have Brooks Furniture Rental in Florida.  Does anyone know?

Jeannene 

Posted by Jeannene Edwards (Home Staging by Interiors Defined, Inc.) over 13 years ago

Craig.... let me just say you are incredibly fortunate.  The only rental company we have here in Charleston that is even remotely decent to use is furniture rentals inc.  I don't love their stuff.  We have created some pretty nice rooms but nothing that we could consider putting in upper end homes.  This has forced my company to purchase peices for anything over $500K.  In the long run I feel we will make more money because of it - thanks in great part to networking I do for fabulous deals with companies like Havertys.

Jeannene,  look for Cort... I've heard they are fabulous. 

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago

Craig

I have to agree with you all the way. The bling is what we should provide while the bigger pieces should be rental. First, it is less wear and tear on us! Today in an ice storm we were moving furniture, NUTS!! Secondly how much furniture can one person own?? My only problem is this:

Every time I get a call for a vacant home and give the Proposal including the cost of rental furniture, they NEVER want to go that route because of the expense. SO HERE I GO AGAIN, piecing stuff from everywhere, it is exhausting!!

How can we keep the costs of rental furniture down??? I heard that Brooke is excellent but we do not have one in our area. I am presently trying to get a yes for proposals I have submitted through AFR but clients still feel too high. Has that been your find on this also?

Phyllis Pafumi 

 

Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) over 13 years ago

Phyllis,

Boy did the light bulb over my head just go off.... yikes!  Did you say you charge LESS for your own furniture than rental?  Maybe this is why I don't mind using my own as much as some of you.  On average my clients pay $100-$200/mo more for my rental furniture than what I charge using someone else's rental furniture.  I feel mine is nicer and I have to do more work.... that costs more money.  I also make out better in the long run.  My last 2 rental jobs I owned everything free and clear and made a nice pile of $$ for only a few hours work. 

I don't keep anything in a warehouse or storage.  While I confess to having a set in my garage currently, 98% of the time I keep things in others people's homes.  The only reason I have the set in the garage is because the home it came out of went under contract in an hour and my next client for this specific furniture won't be ready for another week or so (new construction). 

A good lesson, IMHO, is that you should NEVER charge less for your additional work ........

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago
Rental furniture has changed! It may still have a negative feel to those that haven't looked lately, but you'd be hard pressed when walking into a home with rental furniture to guess it was true! Great photos - you do a good job with that. Any pointers you'd like to share?
Posted by Teri B. Clark (http://www.teribclark.com) over 13 years ago

LOL...You pulled me in with the R word and I was happy the R word wasn't REALTOR :)

I never thought about renting furniture before...

Posted by Monika McGillicuddy, NH Real Estate Broker (Prudential Verani Realty) over 13 years ago

Glad you brought rental furniture into the 21st century. They have come a long way in style and selection. I used to be very difficult to pull enough pieces together for a designer look and now it is easy. Their selections used to be black and brass, blue and floral, brown and oak. Bravo to Cort and Brooks.

Stage it forward! 

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) over 13 years ago
Wow Craig I am impressed! As you know we ONLY use rental furniture so I appreciate you sharing all your gorgeous work. kh
Posted by Kate Hart (Hart & Associates Staging and Design) over 13 years ago

Gee, I didn't even know this was an issue! I've always used rental furniture, either to furnish an empty home or to add to what a homeowner already has. If there's a concern about it looking boring, add unusual accessories or mix furniture in unexpected ways. When it's all "matchy/matchy" and looks like it arrived at the same time, it is boring. But the same is true of homes where the owners have gone out and purchased the furniture for every room in sets.

debra

Posted by Debra Gould, The Staging Diva (Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.) over 13 years ago
Your post has been included in the week in review.
Posted by Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 888.883.8509 X101, GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay | (eXp Realty LLC) over 13 years ago
The "R" word....hmmmmm, hadn't heard of that one before. Great job of putting your little spin on this very controversial topic. I enjoyed the post : )
Posted by Kelli Fronabarger, Realtor - Bend Oregon (Bend River Realty Inc.) over 13 years ago
Boy I wish we they had an office by us.  I am glad you mentioned the "R" word.  I need to spend a little time checking out those companies here.
Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago
Very intereting.  I think that rental furniture has come a long way!  It certainly is better than a bare room!  I think you have opened our eyes to a new possiblity.  Thanks
Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 13 years ago

Craig - I am from Naperville, IL - boy do I miss Brook's Furniture! <G>

No such beast here in rural Missouri. We're lucky if we can get seller's to keep the yard clean less alone the house!

A flower "bed" takes on a whole new meaning!

Posted by Debbie DiFonzo, Lebanon MO and Buffalo Missouri Real Estate (Debbie DiFonzo - United Country VIP Realty, SW Missouri) over 13 years ago
THanks for the staging ideas. I have't rented furniture yet for my vacant listings. It would help to own a truck as I am always needing one.
Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) over 13 years ago
Craig...If the "R" word is good enough for you, it is good enough for me!  Now if only someone could talk Brook Furniture Rental into opening a store in Tampa, FL.
Posted by Judy Kincaid over 13 years ago

Dear Craig et. al -

Are you guys familiar with the term "barrier to entry"? This term kept crashing and thundering through my mind as I read this article and the responses.

I'm so glad a sensible pro with a good reputation has addressed this subject, and that so many more of the same have commented on it. See, just as a totally hypothetical example that's completely hypothetical... when a (hypothetical!) person decides to look into staging and begins asking around in order to get a feel for the game, this hypothetical person is always asked, with a solemn frowny-face look of grave concern "But do you have all your own stuff? Because you know, ALL home stagers need HUGE warehouses FULL of furniture, and you JUST CAN'T use RENTAL."

At which point the hypothetical newbie is supposed to nod knowingly and go "Oh NOOO, of COURSE I would NEVER use rental - ugh - furniture." After which I guess she's supposed to figure out that she can't afford eighty-seven sectional sofas and an airplane hangar to store them in, so maybe she should become a dental assistant instead after all. Presto: Barrier to entry. I mean, you know, hypothetically.

Craig, what can I tell you? A posting like this isn't just about rental furniture. It's about a sure touch, mastery of composition and design, utter confidence in your own skills, and the assurance that allows you to talk about what you do not only engagingly, but honestly. A posting like this can only come from someone who knows he's good enough not to have to have a hidden agenda. No, you shouldn't rent crap, but yes, if you know what you're doing, you can rent. Takes a brave man to say it, and you just did.

I don't honestly know whether or not you can get decent results if you're using truly godawful furniture, but it seems obvious that if you don't know what you're doing, even Philippe Starck originals can't save you.

(BTW, the hypothetical staging newbie would of course build up a robust prop stash of lamps and dishes and things because, hypothetically of course, she is a total housewares addict.)

Forward indeed.

Posted by lurkerone about 13 years ago
Well Rent a center is all we have here and I use them is a pinch. they carry mostly ashly furniture and i hunt around in the back through boxes to see if they anything new. they are great and they have actually set up a brand new table and chairs straite out of the box for me durning stage day. I do carry my own furniture, but i like that the convince of them. i just keep checking back with them. maybe one day idaho will have cort, but iam not holding my breath so i just keep staging forward.
Posted by Maria Lechner, Home Stager Boise ID (The Added Touch Home Staging) about 13 years ago

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