So What Exactly Do You Say When Sellers Ask You THIS Question???

Reblogger Lenn Harley
Real Estate Agent with Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate 303829;0225082372

FACT:  The real estate industry has structured statistical databases to track the sales of homes by price, feature, location, etc. 

FACT:  The staging industry makes claims of value to the owner/seller and provides a good supply of "Smoke and Mirrors"

WHAT ABOUT THIS:    If stagers are want to take credit for staged properties that sell, are they willing to take the responsibility when one doesn't sell????  We've seen a lot of those. 

I'd answer the question with another question.  "How many staged homes in your market place sit and sit and sit on the market until the price gets down to market??????"   That question can be answered by taking the seller on a tour of staged homes that have been on the market so long the appliances are out of style. 

"95% of the real estate, staging and decorating programming on HGTV, the DIY Network, The Learning Channel, The Style Network, and The Discovery Channel" THESE ARE DECORATING SHOWS, NOT REAL ESTATE SHOWS, NONE OF WHICH SELL REAL ESTATE.

Where do the statistics about "sell faster and for more money" come from??  From stagers, of course.

Why is there no empirical evidence that staged homes sell better and for more money??  Because that claim is an advertising slogan of the staging industry, that's why.

If someone asked me the question, "So, do you think we should stage our house?"my answer would clearly be  - -

If you wish to pay someone to remove clutter, hire someone to deep clean, remove excess furniture, place remaining furniture at angles, arrange the dining room table ready for dinner, put some plastic flowers on the kitchen counter, create focal points that avert attention from negative structural features, hang new drapes, etc. then the answer is yes.

Then on the other hand, if you wish to put your home in the best position to sell, price it competitively, give easy access and let the real estate system work in your favor and to your advantage.

It's a free country and if the seller has money to burn and the real estate agent isn't strong enough or experienced enough to recommend the same things a stager will do, go for it. 

Staging is a respectible business model that has little to no relationship to real estate sales, except in the imagination of the stagers and agents and consumers who don't know the market. 

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

Original content by Michelle Molinari

There you are: Pitching yourself as only you can...

 

and the potential clients are hitting you with a volley of questions. You are not just holding your own - you are darned near poetry in motion!

The answers to every question rolls off your tongue with complete confidence. You are feeling the love - you know you will get this listing, you can practically taste their eagerness to work with you and you alone.

And then it comes. That one question that has been popping up with far to much frequency lately. The one that gives you a queasy feeling because you know your answer on this one thing seems to consistently fall short.

"So, do you think we should stage our house?"

 

 

What do you say to that?

 

 

First of all, it's a trick question, without a doubt. Say NO, and you are in direct opposition to 95% of the real estate, staging and decorating programming on HGTV, the DIY Network, The Learning Channel, The Style Network, and The Discovery Channel that your clients are absolutely watching, whether they admit it or not.

 

Dismiss the notion of bringing in a stager at your own risk, because the message they are likely to internalize is that you don't care about getting the most money possible for their property. And if you think this answer will stop them from pursuing a stager outside of your recommendation, you couldn't be more wrong. They will Google stagers, they will see before and after pics in their town, and they will call them to inquire about pricing, and most of all, they will say "The agent we are thinking about working with doesn't know I am calling...." The stager will ask who the agent is, and when it is all said and done, the stager may very well drop the name of an agent who is more proactive regarding equity preservation.

Saying YES is also fraught with peril. YES means they have issues that are clearly apparent to you. It means they have been weighed, measured, and found wanting. This message NOT what you want to be delivering, that you are not liking what you see, which is tantamount to saying there is something wrong with their lifestyle, taste, and them as people. This is a deal-kill without a doubt. You could very well be percieved as looking down upon them.

 

 

 

 

So what the heck are you supposed to do? 

 

 

 

  • You could ignore the question entirely, and change the subject.
  • You could say that the house is beautiful as is. You could say you yourself are not only a Real Estate Agent but that you also stage your listings yourself, and start spewing out advice on the spot.
  • You could hand them a flyer talking about  de-cluttering and pre-packing, and call that your "Staging Checklist."
  • You could give them a DVD with some generalized staging tips and decide that is more than enough to keep them from noticing you don't actually offer any services in this area.
  • You could even say that staging is not a factor in  your locale (which might be true if your listings are in Antarctica).

But none of these answers correspond with what they are hearing, seeing, and digesting from the available media they are devouring as sellers. They will doubt your commitment to market their listing aggressively and effectively, and doubt your ability to sell their house quickly and do everythingit takes to prevent the unnecessary loss of their hard earned equity.

So what is the best way to handle this question that will make you seem non-judgmental about their home, and therefore, them as people, and meet their media-induced expectations diplomatically and head on?

All you simply have to say is:

"We will send our professional stager to meet with you."

That's it. If they ask about draperies, furniture arrangement, carpet condition, etc., you just state that the stager who will be sent will answer all their questions about any improvements or changes that may be necessary.

You talk business, you sell yourself, you land the listing. All questions on condition or presentation get deferred to "your" professional stager.

It doesn't get any easier. Professional, experienced stagers are highly skilled at being diplomatic, garnering cooperation, and getting things done on a tight budget. Their cost for consultation varies, and can be negotiable when an entire real estate office is concerned.

It isn't about getting in there and charging a small fortune for "all new everything." It's about creating as an inviting space that possible under the circumstances, and stagers know circumstances vary. One 2-hour consultation is usually extremely reasonable in price and bears a bountiful harvest of changes that are all carefully justified and explained, and make a tremendous difference in the way the listing will show, both in marketing materials and when viewed in person. Your listing will shine brighter when you enlist the assistance of a professional stager.

Can't find any stagers in your area? You are probably not looking very hard. Google stagers  in the nearest large city and see if they will service your area for consults.

Had or heard about bad experiences with stagers? Betcha dollars to donuts they were not experienced professionals. The staging  industry has standards and ethics, and a quick visit to the Real Estate Staging Association's website will explain those standards and ethics and how they are enforced with members, and can help you find somene qualified, capable, and charismatic.

So call an experienced stager, secure a lunch date, and get to know one another. You might be surprised what you don't know about these amazing resourceful business people who take their commitments seriously, want your repeat business, know their stuff, and know exactly how to motivate your sellers to make the right moves to make your job much, much easier.

 

~Michelle Molinari

Certified Staging Professional, Feature This... Real Estate Staging,

CSP Elite Instructor, Certified Staging Professionals

Lead Virtual Designer, CurbAppealForDummies.com

President of Acadiana Chapter of the Real Estate Staging Association

 

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
589,438
Jim Hale
On the Move for You! - Eugene - Springfield Oregon Real Estate
ACTIONAGENTS.NET

Here are Lenn's two main thoughts (or so it seems to me):

1)  If you wish to pay someone to remove clutter, hire someone to deep clean, remove excess furniture, place remaining furniture at angles, arrange the dining room table ready for dinner, put some plastic flowers on the kitchen counter, create focal points that avert attention from negative structural features, hang new drapes, etc. then the answer is yes.

2)  Then on the other hand, if you wish to put your home in the best position to sell, price it competitively, give easy access and let the real estate system work in your favor and to your advantage.

 

Someone needs to do both 1 and 2.  If the seller is capable of doing number 1, wonderful.

If the agent is capable of number 2, more wonderful.

 

The buyer response:  What a wonderful house!

 

 

 

 

 

November 23, 2009 06:36 AM
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Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Jim.  You are smarter than the average bear. 

For the record, again, and before I get the ugly spams in my e-mail, I leave stagers alone until they spew that dribble "sell faster and for more money" nonsense.

Once the stager takes credit for what the agent has done, they have, IMO, crossed over the line from honest advertising to advertising dribble.

 

November 23, 2009 06:57 AM
Rainmaker
549,617
Susan Mangigian
Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches
RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A

I am a Realtor and not a stager, but having been in the real estate business for 25 years, I think I am qualified to tell a seller how to prepare the home for sale.  In the case of a vacant home, I'm in agreement that a stager coming in to place furniture to show the house to its best advantage will help.  But the seller could probably even do that with the help of a furniture rental company.  Stagers are helpful if the seller can afford them.  They are creative, more so than I, in decorating homes.  A nicely decorated home will sell more quickly, if priced right, than a crappily (if that's a word) decorated home for the same price.  In this way, if the seller has the funds, a stager can help.  If the seller doesn't have the extra funds, I think it's part of my job as a good Realtor to help them place furniture and remove offensive decorating to show th ehow to it's best advantage.

November 23, 2009 07:51 AM
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Jim Crawford
Jim Crawford Atlanta Realtor - Atlanta Real Estate
RE/MAX Paramount Properties

Great post.  I do believe that there are some points to staging.  I do all my own for years, and would never hire a stager.  However, it it price that sells.  If the home presents itself better, cleaner..and it is priced right...it will sell quicker!

I also agree that I have had homes sit and see staged homes sitting on the market for a long time.  I also see a lot of homes sit that are staged extremely well.  The reason?  They have dolled up a structurally impaired home that a trained and experienced agent can spot and advise their clients...do not waste your time.

November 23, 2009 09:29 AM
Rainer
132,548
Michelle Molinari
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor

Thanks for the re-blogs, Lenn, Gabe, and Kim!

~Michelle

November 23, 2009 11:21 AM
Rainer
99,811
Donna Ross
Home Decorating, House Staging, Sydney
Room Remedy Interiors, Sydney, Australia

Lenn, you said it - "Price rules everywhere.  Homes sell when priced right for location and condition."

However anecdotal it may be, there are large numbers of both stagers, and real estate agents who can, and do say (based on their own experiences) that proper presentation has helped many homes sell better, and faster, with sympathetic furnishings that help to market it to best advantage. This is especially true with model/display homes.

Home staging can't compensate for an overpriced property. Nor does it try to. What it can, and does do, is create a buffer that can come in the form of a quicker sale and/or a higher selling price.

Lenn, it's obvious you feel strongly about staging's lack of value and rely heavily on facts and figures to tell a story, so one can only assume that you have fully documented evidence (backed up by extensive and lengthy research), that no doubt substantiates this claim;

"FACT:  The staging industry makes claims of value to the owner/seller and provides a good supply of "Smoke and Mirrors"

I, for one would like to know what the phrase 'smoke and mirrors' means in this context. The term means very little to anyone without a specific point of referance in the context it's being used. It's important to be clear about not only what it is, but how you measured it. 

Could it be that this statement of "FACTis based only on your experiences and would therefor be commonly referred to by any reasonable person as being 'anecdotal' or an 'opinion'?

You know, I'd be willing to bet you could sell ice to the Eskimos based entirely on the price.

November 24, 2009 01:43 AM
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Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Donna.  I do love a thoughtful comment.  I greatly admire a person in business who is proud of their business and skills. 

For the record, as I've said again and again, I respect any legal business model when it does what it promotes to do.  My objection to most stagers' posts and advertising is when they seek to marginalize the role of the listing agent/broker by claiming that it is staging that is the proximate cause of homes "selling faster and for more money". 

FACT:  Selling ice to Eskimos is a good analogy for staging, i.e., promoting a product or service that is superfluous to the purchasers needs. 

I recall a priceless episode of All In The Family, where Archie Bunker ran into a super salesman and had imitation brick siding installed on a brick home. 

"Smoke and mirrors" represents the effect of home staging.  Staging is effective in steering the prospective buyer's attention to the decor and away from the property staged.  In fact, when I show a staged home, I note the amount of time and attention the buyer spends observing and commenting about the staging.  Of course, my job is to say to them, "ignore the cook books and plastic flowers on the kitchen counter and let's look under the sink for present or past leaks". 

Staging does not increase the value of the property.  Staging does not increase square feet, improve structural integrity, cure poor grading of the lot, improve the insulation in the attic, make the 20 year old frig. new, or anything else that affects value of the home. 

Therefore, when a stager makes the claim that staging will help the home sell faster for more money, I not only dispute that, I can find no statistical correlation between staging and a better result with the exception, of course, of the stager taking credit for the home that does sell. 

If staging facilitated faster home sale for more money to the seller, we'd see homes sold by owners without the assistance of the MLS, real estate agents and reliance solely on staging. 

I can see it now.  "Save the real estate commission and have your home staged and it will sell faster and for more money".

 

 

November 24, 2009 04:19 AM
Rainmaker
185,134
Tanya Nouwens
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager
RE/MAX Royal (Jordan)/Ready, Set...Sold! www.readysetsold.ca

Wow, Lenn.  I fail to understand why stagers cannot be seen as part of a team that helps to sell a property -- or, for that matter, staging skills (whether you're a stager or not) as being part of set of skills that helps to move a property.  I don't think we stagers as a lot are looking for all the glory -- but we can certainly help the team leader, i.e., the real estate agent.  I now do both, to the benefit of my clients.

Tanya in Montreal

November 24, 2009 07:48 AM
Rainer
191,863
Jeff Payne
Panama City Real Estate
The Payne Group at Keller Williams Success Realty

I am with you Lenn!  100%.  A clean home in good condition that is priced at market value will sell faster than a staged home that is priced higher because it is staged.  Price and condition dictate market value, not really nice furniture and a dining table with fake flowers.  In the end, does the appraiser care if the home is staged? Nope.

 

November 24, 2009 12:18 PM
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Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Tanya.  That would be an ideal, wouldn't it??  However, once the stagers started advertising "a staged home will sell faster and for more money", they infringed on the real estate agents purvue, i.e, pricing and marketing.  If stagers limit their claims to making homes more attractive to tour, demonstrate how the home looks furnished, etc., I wouldn't spend this energy defending the hard work of the listing agents.

Jeff.  Agreed.  You hit the target with that, the appraiser does NOT care. 

November 24, 2009 12:40 PM
Rainmaker
494,150
C. Lloyd McKenzie
MBA - Prudential Allstar Realtors -
Prudential Allstar Realtors

Lenn:  There you go again, I am quoting you: "if you wish to put your home in the best position to sell, price it competitively, give easy access and let the real estate system work in your favor and to your advantage."  Amen

Here is where the problem is, a buyer's agent who brings his client into a staged house and does not educate the client about what's going on.  Buying is quite an emotional event, so like an individual falling in love for the first time, so it is with the home buyer.  After the home is purchased, reality sets in, buyer's remorse, you name it. 

Staging creates the illusion does it not?  It's primary purpose is to take the buyers' attention from the negatives and point it to the positives.  My experience, they tend to just do too much.  I think I would rather have a staged home instead of a vacant home, but not the over the top stuff that I see around here.   

November 24, 2009 01:31 PM
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Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

C. Lloyd.

I love vacant homes.  We can stand in a room and I can ask the buyer how their furniture will fit.

Of course, we buy furniture to fit homes not homes to fit furniture.

In a vacant home we can take our time look at all of the nooks and crannies and behind and under. . . . . .

No distractions, no steering the attention to that cleverly placed seating arrangement.  We can see ALL of the carpet and flooring. 

Love vacant homes.

 

November 24, 2009 01:59 PM
Rainmaker
185,134
Tanya Nouwens
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager
RE/MAX Royal (Jordan)/Ready, Set...Sold! www.readysetsold.ca

Me again, Lenn.  You said: 'However, once the stagers started advertising "a staged home will sell faster and for more money", they infringed on the real estate agents purvue, i.e, pricing and marketing.'

When I'm staging, I'm merchandizing the product (the home). I'm not changing the product...and I'm not putting up smoke and mirrors.  (Well, I actually like mirrors in a home...but that's another story.) A well-merchandized product makes it easier to market, no?  I don't see this as being the exclusive purvue of real estate agents if we contribute to an agent's ability to effectively market their product.

My experience -- and yes, it's anecdotal -- has been that the homes I've staged have sold quickly and close to asking.  Both.  Quickly + close to asking.  (Some have even gone over asking.)  We all know that sometimes we get offers quickly but not close to asking...or we finally get an offer for what the client is looking for but it has taken months to get there.

I've always told my vendors (and the agents I've worked for) that all the staging in the world will not sell an over-priced home.  I advise them to resist upping the price because they think it should be worth more.  It's not.  But my experience shows that with staging, they can get an offer for the value of their home sooner.

And I never set any tables...

Tanya in Montreal

November 24, 2009 03:18 PM
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Robert (Vegas Bob) Swetz
Commercial & Residential Real Estate Agent
REALTY ONE GROUP - LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 702.443.7156

Lenn - I am sorry I missed the big debate and I will agree on staging homes for some homes but not all, how's that (Yes & No)!

VB ;o)

November 24, 2009 09:38 PM
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Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Tanya.  Anecdotes do not a statistic make.  IMO, stagers are attempting to elevate their services from one of a listing service option to one of a listing service requirement.  Many agents, because their brokers are always looking for things to enhance their listing presentation, are sucked into introducing the staging service to their agents.  These services, IMO, add no value and agents who promote staging services are using them as a crutch. 

So far, no amount of verbiage has convinced me that staging has any value to a seller. 

Robert.  I suppose that the question is, how do you present the staging expense to a prospective seller/client???? 

 

November 25, 2009 05:15 AM
Rainmaker
154,684
Connie Tebyani
Platinum Home Staging, Los Angeles and Ventura County
Platinum Home Staging, Inc. : RESA-Pro

One perception that seems to be missed here is that the original blog is not saying that you MUST hire a Home Stager.  It is simply asking, "How would you answer this question?" and giving each side of the scenario if you do or don't have a Home Stager in your portfolio.

I have OFTEN times told the Realtor or Seller up-front, "Staging won't help this house." and then proceed to inform the Seller as to WHY Staging won't help until they address other, more pertinent issues (such as backing up the LREA to the home being overpriced when the Seller refuses to lower it, or repairing the buckled carpeting, peeling paint, etc.) and that if they only have $1,000 to spend, spend it on THOSE things instead of the my fees for Staging the house.  (Perusing my blogs over the years will prove my point exactly)

This post also doesn't say you HAVE to hire a Home Stager, just have one in your portfolio to have on hand "just in case" your Seller asks; and eventually they WILL ask.  So yes, Google a few Home Stagers in your area, invite them to coffee and see which one (or two) you might be most comfortable with to refer to your clients.  Then leave it up to THEM (the Seller) as to whether or not they would like to hire that Stager. It's no time or money out of your pocket as the LREA, you're just responding to the request of your Client.

Lastly, you responded: "95% of the real estate, staging and decorating programming on HGTV, the DIY Network, The Learning Channel, The Style Network, and The Discovery Channel" THESE ARE DECORATING SHOWS, NOT REAL ESTATE SHOWS, NONE OF WHICH SELL REAL ESTATE.

Actually no, the shows that many Sellers are seeing and this is referring to actually ARE Real Estate Shows: Sell This House, Property Intervention, Designed to Sell, House HuntersProperty Virgins, etc ALL incorporate not only STAGING but correct PRICING as well - they are not "decorating" shows.

November 25, 2009 09:28 AM
Rainmaker
154,684
Connie Tebyani
Platinum Home Staging, Los Angeles and Ventura County
Platinum Home Staging, Inc. : RESA-Pro

One last thing, Jeff said, "A clean home in good condition that is priced at market value will sell faster." and he's right. 

However, In my experience I have Agents who have litterally BEGGED sellers to "de-clutter", remove excess furniture or make certain repairs such as painting REALLY dirty walls, or who explain that their house smells like dog and the Seller dismisses them or flat out refuses to consider their suggestions.  These Agents have brought me in to help back THEM up on the suggestions they have already made, and then the Seller usually acts.

November 25, 2009 10:12 AM
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Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Connie. In the last case, it would be hard for the stager to make that spurious claim that their home sold faster and for more money because it was staged.  It was simply cleaned up which any agent should be able to manage with any seller. 

 

November 25, 2009 12:00 PM
Rainer
99,811
Donna Ross
Home Decorating, House Staging, Sydney
Room Remedy Interiors, Sydney, Australia

This post has become like a religious debate. And is probably going to progress just as far.

Still, I just have a make a couple of points for my own sake. 

Firstly, to REA's; what is the difference between what Jeff and others have called "A clean home in good condition..." and a staged home? Is there one? From where I sit, many seem to think there is. I gotta admit - you've lost me now. I'm wondering if the planet has tilted and thrown me off. Did I miss something?!

I have to say Lenn, the words; "Staging is effective in steering the prospective buyer's attention to the decor and away from the property staged" is about as far away from the concept behind home staging as you can get.

I don't see how it's even possible for any buyer to separate a property's 'features' from it's overall 'condition and/or presentation'. You don't get one without the other. You don't get the walls without the paint on them, the floor without the floor coverings, or the 4 walls of a room without the space within it. These aspects are intertwined. A buyer either percieves the product as a whole is good value for their real estate dollar, or they don't. Staging addresses the product as a whole.

You know, in all this, I'm beginning to wonder if it's the term 'staging'that stirs up such negative connotations among some in the real estate community. Kind of like waiting to see a 'stage show'. 

A "Clean home in good condition" doesn't just happenby placing a few vases and coloured cushions in the right places.  Yes, I can do those little things, just the same as you can stick a for sale sign on the front lawn. There's more to it than that. To really get a property to be at it's saleable best, takes a lot of plain old hard work, not just a 'show'. And the truth is lots of home owners don't know where to start...or finish.

Secondly Lenn, with respect, it's just my observation, but it still seems that you are presenting your own case based only on (less) anecdotal evidence, and (mostly) opinion.

To prove without any doubt that what you're saying here is true, gathered, hard copy evidence is required, by way of genuine 'before and after staging' and/or 'with or without staging' sales statistics. Now many stagers do this as part of their individual business practices. And whilst that information is 'anecdotal evidence', it carries weight firstly, because it's been physically collected, and secondly because it's the same kind of data collected by a variety of unrelated stagers, agents and sellers in many different markets. It may not be absolute, but it's a very, very big coincidence.

To clearly establish your case as "FACT", we'd also need detailed surverys of not just your buyers, but those of other agents to establish their key reasons for purchasing, or not purchasing a particular property.

Put that together with surveys from a variety of professional stagers to determine exactly what tasks they either carry out themselves, or have carried out, as part of the staging process. This would address the 'it's all smoke and mirrors' claim made here.

Then, after the data is collected, it should be published (ideally in a respected journal), leaving it open to interpretation and/or rebuttal by others in the real estate community.

Simply presenting a vague term like "smoke and mirrors" in your rebuttal has no relevance or meaning. 

Otherwise, what you're claiming isn't even anecdotal, it's simply an opinion.  

Look, I'm not against REA's.Not in the slightest. I consider myself and the work I do, to be part of a team effort. I'm not an REA, I don't claim to be. But I do care about the success of your listings just as much as you do. I'd say by and large most stagers are the same.

None the less, I thank you for such an interesting post!

November 25, 2009 05:07 PM
Rainmaker
154,684
Connie Tebyani
Platinum Home Staging, Los Angeles and Ventura County
Platinum Home Staging, Inc. : RESA-Pro

I guess my question to you, Lenn would be this:

You have a seller who does NOT hang on your every word, they refuse to get rid of all their treasured junk (or at least begin to pack it or put into storage until the next home) paint is pealing, carpet smells of dog - you get the idea.  Do you then tell them, "You're house is worth $250,000 but since it looks like a pig stye I'll only list it for $225,000."?  You say price will sell "anything" so how low do you go when you have a seller who won't budge?  I'm just curious, really, this isn't a challenge.  Just wondering how YOU approach the "price will sell anything" side of the debate with sellers who are stuborn, emotionally attached to their home and how much they think it's worth, and think their home is perfect "as is"?

 

 

November 27, 2009 10:41 AM
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Lenn Harley

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