Professional Kitchener-Waterloo Home Stager offers Candor and Diplomacy to Make Sellers See the Light!

By
Home Stager with Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design ~ www.homestagingdesign.ca

 

While its great that home owners are getting more savvy about my profession - home staging - its also made things more difficult. Sometimes, with the issues I have to address as part of my job, regardless of how I give the feedback, it’s not always well received.

What do I do?

I am a professional home stager in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario and contrary to the current trendy perception of my career, my job isn’t for the faint of heart. In any given week I can see between 5 – 20 homes and although the primary focus of my job is assessing the houses I visit, much of my job is talking to home owners and discussing subjects which can result in them being hurt or offended. I empathize with how they feel however that does not stop me from doing my job – it can’t – because if I don’t address the issues in a home, then the house won’t show to its fullest potential. Which means I’m not doing my job, the house won’t show well and my clients won’t be pleased. Let’s face it an ineffective stager isn’t going to get referrals or repeat business.

I’m bringing this up because over the years we have had instances where we did inadvertently and completely offend clients. It didn’t matter how gingerly we handled subjects such as a wall of swords (honed and dangerous) or eye blinding decor choices that a home owner was extremely proud of – these were areas of contention which had to be addressed because if they remained they would put off a lot of buyers. Most of the time we manage to diffuse the situation, but sometimes it doesn’t matter what we say, our clients just aren’t open to our recommendations in fact they are offended we even brought them up. This inevitably leads to complaints to our realtor partners which of course leads to us explaining why and how we discussed things – even though our realtors fully understand and back our recommendations. Bottom line is because we are on the front lines, we tend to take a lot of heat.

We have broad shoulders and we understand that selling a family home is a stressful and emotional time. No question about it. However, our goal is to help our clients and show them how they can maximize their biggest investment - their home – by making their property appeal to as many buyers as possible. Not only does this shorten their selling time, it also means that they won’t be waiting for ‘the right buyer’ or dealing with low ball offers. Buyers viewing their home are much more likely to see the value in the property and justify the asking price.

Our philosophy is simple. We believe every home owner is different and deserves to have his/her home treated with respect. This isn’t TV and we don’t make snide comments behind our client’s backs. We never make clients feel as if their furnishings are lacking, we always try to work with what they have but maybe put a new spin or finish on them. If that’s not possible then we move forward with rentals – with the client fully on board – so that we can do what they hired us to do – help them sell their home fast and for top dollar. It’s all about how we treat our clients. That’s what makes our clients open to suggestions and once we’ve done our job well, it paves the way to referrals and design business down the road!

However, as I’ve mentioned it doesn’t always go well. Clients aren’t always open to change. It’s our job to make sellers see the house from our point of view and that requires a combination of empathy, determination and finesse.

Clients and realtors have a job to play in this scenario too; it’s called trusting the professional you hired. We don’t take our job lightly and we endeavour to get the best possible results. This will mean addressing issues and situations which may prove uncomfortable for you and you clients. It’s a job we have been trained to do and in most cases, have years of experience doing. We know what works. We know what doesn’t work. We work hard to make sure the recommendations are delivered in such a way so that clients don’t get upset but it’s a fine line to walk. We can’t afford to not tell our clients the truth because then we’re gambling with their biggest asset: their home.

So, if you have hired a professional stager or you have chosen a stager to partner with as part of your real estate business, understand that as part of our job we’re going to have to address things that may make you or your clients uncomfortable. It’s not because we want to cause offence, it’s because we have been hired to help you or your clients see the property objectively. By helping you or your clients understand that in order for your house to sell fast and for its full value, we may have to take down those flowered borders, pack away the doll collections and pull up that pink carpet. All these things pave the way to making buyers fall in love with your home and want to buy it – which is the whole point. 

 

Posted by

Heather Cook  is Co-Owner and Principal Staging Designer of the award winning Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.


 

Contact us today so we can help you create the WOW Factor in your home.

     

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  1. Janice Ankrett 07/27/2010 01:50 PM
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Topic:
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Location:
Ontario Waterloo Region Kitchener Kitchener-waterloo
Groups:
Advice for Sellers
Canadian RE/Max Agents, Mortgage Brokers, Home Staggers Etc.
Kitchener Waterloo Real Estate
Real Estate In Hamilton and Surrounding Areas
Stage It Forward...
Tags:
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Comments 12 New Comment

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Ambassador
1,434,696
Kathy Streib
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224
Room Service Home Staging

Heather- Well written post.  What our sellers or Realtors are paying us for is our staging experience, eye and training in making a home marketable to a wide range of buyers... showing the home in its best light.  We never intend to hurt the feelings of our clients, nor do we try to be glib when commenting on the seller's furnishings or decor.  But, we're all human and sometimes what we say may hurt the feelings of our sellers.

July 26, 2010 10:37 PM
Rainmaker
232,448
Mike Martin
The TCR Group - Keller Williams Realty
(909) 476-9600 ~ www.WeLoveFontana.com

We have an obligation to be honest even when it may not be taken well... At least you know you did your best!

July 26, 2010 10:54 PM
Rainmaker
659,761
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR

So true, Heather!  It's really all about the bottom line, and getting our clients there faster.  With a smile and a gentle way of delivering the "sensitive news" to sellers, we can usually help them see the benefits of making the home less about their personal style and more like a product on the shelf, comparing it to all the other similar homes out there.  I always tell them too that if my home were going on the market, that I'd have to make a lot of changes in order for it to be "move in ready" for buyers.

Today this situation arose when I did a consult for a home with very style-specific window coverings ... big padded valances with swags, etc ... you know the kind, popular in the late 80's.  I complimented the lovely material and said they were the height of fashion when they were installed, but that today's younger buyers are looking for a simpler lifestyle so they should be removed.  The homeowner said "you'll be doing me a kindness to be absolutely honest with me."  I love that she was so open to making the necessary changes, but they're not always that easy to convince.  Ah -- the challenges of being a professional home stager!

July 27, 2010 12:49 AM
Rainmaker
213,632
Margaret Oscilia
Home Stager, Salem Oregon
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon

Heather - I think all of stagers can relate!  I had one consult that I knew the home seller took everything I recommended so personally and she was devestated that I didn't love her navy blue carpetings and baby blue painted interior trim (yes really).  I left feeling I hadn't succeeded . . . she wasn't gung ho on making any changes.  The next morning at 8:00 a.m. however I received a phone call and it was this client -- ready for me to make arrangements with the painter, carpet installer and she was totally on board.  She didn't love the changes we made to her home - but did when it sold within weeks when the average listing was selling in six months! 

July 27, 2010 07:19 AM
Rainer
106,684
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design ~ www.homestagingdesign.ca

Kathy - I agree - we do our best to be as gentle as possible when delivering our recommendations however we can't not deliver them. Our clients need to hear the truth so that when the house is on the market they aren't receiving negative feedback and not getting any offers. 

Mike - You're absolutely right - we have to be candid with our clients because if we aren't then the results aren't going to get the house sold. We always do our best; my post was to simply say that as the often bearers of bad news, we often run the risk of offending our clients. We don't want to, but its always a risk.

Maureen - You're right, its all in the way we handle giving the news to our clients that makes them receptive to change. I wrote this particular post after we inadvertantly offended one of our realtor partner's clients and instead of talking to us about the problem, this realtor chose instead to discontinue using our services. I'm glad your client was so open to your recommendations about the window treatments - removing them makes a dramatic difference!

Margaret - Yes, I do think all stagers can relate however its not something we often talk about because its a tough topic. In an ideal world where all clients listened and implemented every single change with a huge smile, it wouldn't be an issue. But we stagers deal with clients from every walk of life and we often balance a fine line when delivering recommendations which probably won't make the client happy. Bottom line though is we're not trying to please our clients with the changes - they don't have to like them - we are trying to make them happy with the results. A fast sale for top dollar!

July 27, 2010 09:32 AM
Anonymous #6
Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi Heather,

It can be hard to tell clients they need to clean up their act, but as REALTORS and stagers we aren't doing our jobs if we don't. And yes, it's not what you say but how you say it, but sometimes how you say it doesn't help either. The message is the same and some people don't want to hear it.

The real questions are: Do they want to sell or don't they? Do they trust you enough to help them sell? If the answer is a hard "yes" to both then carry on.

If the yes is followed by a "but" and you can't get that elephant out of the room, then it might be time to cut those clients loose. They just aren't ready to work with you yet.

July 27, 2010 09:35 AM
Rainmaker
248,946
Lori Kim Polk
Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento
Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services

I like your word "finesse" and I think that sums it up pretty well. We can be working with clients who we feel are on board... bob their heads in agreement, smile, and thank you for coming and then not do the most important things. Then there are clients like I had yesterday who tell me to be honest(I always am, I just chose different ways to say the same thing)but then ask me "why" they need to paint over the orange/yellow faux in the kitchen... because THEY think it looks good. You can obviously tell that they have not cut the umbilical cord yet... so then you go into "finesse' mode. ;))

Giving a consultation is not always a slam dunk. You need to have good communication skills, you need to listen to the client, you need to pick up on body language.. you need to have finesse ;) Great blog Heather!

July 27, 2010 11:31 AM
Rainmaker
548,448
Janice Ankrett
Burlington Ont. Accredited Staging Professional
Janice Ankrett Home Staging

Heather what a well written post! Timely for me because last night I had a very resistant client. Instead of listening the client spent the consult blaming it all on their spouse.

July 27, 2010 11:35 AM
Rainer
72,735
Judy Colburn
Los Angeles Glendora, San Dimas Covina, Home Staging
ProStaged Homes

How true Heather. You are so right. I feel really sad for the sellers who don't want to hear or listen and their homes sit on the market for months on end. I checked MLS yesterday to see if 2 certain homes where this was the case and they've both been taken off the market. They were gorgeous homes and with just a few changes would have sold quickly.

July 27, 2010 01:18 PM
Rainer
106,684
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design ~ www.homestagingdesign.ca

Pam - You hit the crux of the issue, absolutely. Sometimes it doesn't matter how we deliver the message, the client simply isn't ready to hear it. Until they are, there is very little that we can do. I have done consultations for clients who, in the end, opted to not implement any of the recommendations we gave them and put the house on the market 'as is'. Most of those homes either didn't sell (and the clients called us back) or they did but after 1 - 2 price reductions of tens of thousands of dollars. 

Lori Kim - I think finesse is absolutely the right term for what we have to do sometimes to get the clients to see that the recommendations we're making for their home are in their best interest to do. We need to be candid, open, empathetic and strong - all the while listening to our clients and reading their body language. 

Janice - I'm sorry to hear about your consult and hope that your client re-assesses things once she's had time to digest all the suggestions you gave her. Sometimes people just need a little space and time before they commit. Its happened that way to us a lot. I'm glad you liked my post - I've been struggling awhile with 'do I write it .. do I not?' Its been a topic on my mind for awhile ...

Judy - I feel sad too for the homes which never seem to sell and all you want is half an hour with the home owners to help them. There are a few that I have seen, and one I did a consultation for which wouldn't have taken a lot to get them to a point where they had broader appeal. 

July 27, 2010 05:07 PM
Rainmaker
391,817
Shar Sitter
Home Staging and Redesign Minneapolis/ St. Paul, M
Rooms With Style

I had a client that couldn't believe I wanted her to paint the bright green and hot pink bathroom that was done to look like tree bark. Yes.....tree bark in bright green and hot pink. She did it herself and was so proud of it. I guess the good news is she didn't pay someone to do that. But she did refuse to paint it and the bathroom was right inside the front door, ugh.

July 27, 2010 08:49 PM
Rainmaker
36,224
Leanne Zumbrunnen
Z' Touch Home Staging

Heather, I sure hope a lot of homeowners read this. 

I had a client who had wallpaper borders in every room.  I feel wallpaper borders have been out for several years.  When I found out she did all of them in the last five years, I was really surprised.  I covered it up by saying "Wow!  I can't believe you did all that work in only five years.  I guess if they keep selling wallpaper border than obviously people will think they are still in vogue.

July 29, 2010 11:24 AM
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Rainer
106,684

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