CAUGHT BETWEEN A SELLER AND AN AGENT...WHAT'S A HOME STAGER TO DO?

By
Home Stager with SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

The Cast:

Me, your successful, resourceful accomodating professional home stager.

A Realtor, quite young and new to me and the business, but from a great office I'd love to do more business with.

A seller, with a somewhat tough condo to sell.

The condo, a well renovated vacant unit in a totally great building in a sort of iffy block (between a body shop and an alley) in the up and coming Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC.

The Situation:

When the sellers bought the unit the front room was presented as a living room.  So, they wanted it staged as a living room. 

The REA listed the condo as a 2 bedroom/2 bath.  So, she wanted the front room staged as a bedroom.  It does have a connecting bath, but no closet.

The sellers hired and paid me, and the front room being the first room you see upon entering no way seemed appropriate to me as a bedroom.  But, the REA was the one who had contacted me, and did I mention she is from a really prestigious office that I drooled at working with again?  I really struggled with this one. What would you have done?

 

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Rainer
67,393
Renee Marrs Caperton
Realtor - Corsicana Texas Real Estate
Century 21 Marrs & Associates

I can't imagine walking into a bedroom as the first room you see when you enter a home. 

December 06, 2010 07:12 AM
Rainmaker
486,417
Kathy Nielsen
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager
http://atlantahomestaging.net

Oh me, Oh my.  Sounds to me that the room can't be labeled a bedroom given what you've described. That said, I would have a conversation with the agent to see his/her logic behind calling it one. 

Bottom line - it will be important to get everyone on the same page PRIOR to staging.

Kathy

December 06, 2010 07:45 AM
Rainmaker
138,082
Ana Hitzel
Home Stager Inland Empire & Palm Springs
AccentPositives Home Staging

Wow, does the room have a door and do you walk thru it to get to other parts of the condo? If so, agents plan not good. 

As a stager I always tell the client, tactfully of course, that I am the boss when it comes to the staging plan, I also do this with the realtor, again tactfully of course.  That's why they hired me to begin with right?

I have one or two times run into the client and me or client/realtor disagreeing on details.  If it involves me, we talk, if it is between the other two we all talk.  Bottom line, you are the expert and know what's best, that's why you were hired.  Stick to your plan, tactfully of cours LOL:)

December 06, 2010 10:03 AM
Rainer
38,794
Joan Inglis
ASPM, ASP, IAHSP, REALTOR
Carolina Spaces, LLC www.CarolinaSpaces.com

A room is classified as a bedroom if it has a window and a closet.  I agree with Kathy, get eveyone on the same page.  Make the best staging recommendation based on your professional knowledge and experience.  You are the staging expert here and you need to guide them and explain your plan.  Forget about drooling for more work.  Focus on this one project and what you need to do to get this property sold.  Best wishes!

Joan Inglis, Master Accredited Staging Professional  www.CarolinaSpaces.com

December 06, 2010 10:39 AM
Rainmaker
238,353
David Ames
San Francisco
Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco

I agree that playing "Switzerland" is a good idea.  Both the seller and the Agent need to be on the same page.  The tough part here is that your logic sounds correct...the front room would be better served as a living area (assuming there is no other section of the home that can be reasonably configured as such).  You also have to balance the fact that the listing agent is going to be your future source of business...not the seller.  Tough position to be in, no doubt.  Sounds like the agent is trying to justify a value that may not be there if marketed as a proper one bedroom (with the seller possibly having certain expectations on value...whether realistic or not).  That's something they need to work out.  Either way, this is a good opportunity to have a one-on-one...you with the listing agent.

December 06, 2010 04:03 PM
Rainmaker
57,920
Patricia Ebrahimi
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

Thanks all.

 

To clarify:  The homeowners paid me.  The homeowners wanted it staged as a living room.  The entrance to the condo is a hallway.  The first room (w a door, a bathroom, but no closet) is on the right. 

There is a very large room at the back of this deep, skinny condo that houses the kitchen and a corner f/p and  enough room for a loveseat.  The REA referred me to the homeowners.  The REA wanted it staged as a bedroom so she could justify the 2bd/2ba listing and price. She mentioned after the fact something about also wanting it to look masculine.  I thought maybe she had a propect on the line.  Anyway, we all agreed after much ado to stage it as a living room, give it a couple of months and then address things if it hadn'd sold.  

That was mid-August.  Here's the room as living room. 

 

 

It hasn't sold.  The homeowners took responsibility for the choice and paid me to change it to a bedroom.  In November I restaged it (and made it masculine in the process for the REA).

It is still on the market though.  Did I mention that the building is between a body shop and an alley right on Rhode Island Ave?  This one is ruining my otherwise excellent stats!  Very frustrating.  Also frustrating is that the REA hasn't reflected the new pictures on her listing...although I pointed this out to her gently.  Give me strength. 

I do want to thank everyone who stopped by for helping me see my decision process here.  I began to feel like I was missing something.  I love ActiveRain for the community.  I never feel alone with you around.

Thanks again.

December 06, 2010 04:58 PM
Rainmaker
238,353
David Ames
San Francisco
Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco

Nice work either way, Patricia.  No one can say you didn't accommodate.  The property is simply overpriced given the surrounding comps and the market (and I don't have to even know the area to tell you that).  Otherwise it would have sold by now.  The good news is that other agents in that office already realize that, and this particular situation shouldn't have any bearing on your ability to (normally) achieve better results.  You've got your past track record, and that's what counts.

December 06, 2010 05:34 PM
Rainer
253,132
Kathy Burke
S.F. East Bay Home Staging
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA

I 100% agree with David....it looks great both ways and you have done a GREAT job of being accommodating.  It sounds that it is not value priced and until they adjust the pricing....it's going to "sit".

Good Luck!!

December 06, 2010 08:03 PM
Rainmaker
57,920
Patricia Ebrahimi
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

David, Kathy:  Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I needed it.  And, the good news is it's all my inventory and accruing rent monthly.

December 06, 2010 08:18 PM
Rainer
66,311
Amy Bly
Styling Homes for Selling and Staying
Great Impressions Home Staging/Interiors

Patricia,

I had a very similar problem on my 2nd staging job last spring -- THE top agent in my area, who my clients hired AFTER I had met with them and begun the staging job, told them they should turn their dining room into a family room, because the existing family room off the kitchen was very small. Well, they asked me what to do, but stressed they didn't have money to spend on buying or renting furniture for it, UNLESS I thought it crucial. They made it clear they trusted ME over her (I was flattered, being so new!). I didn't see the necessity, and they had beautiful dark wood DR furniture that fit the space perfectly, so I said not to do it. (The DR furniture would NOT have fit at all into the small room off the kitchen being used as a FR.) WELL, the agent hit the roof with me two weeks later when I called her a week after I staged the property. She was furious with me for "overriding" her, a long-established, top agent. I was truly shocked that she was so angry about it. AFter listening to her tirade for 7-8 minutes (btw, saying i obviously knew NOTHING about that style of house, until I informed her I LIVED in one!), I got off the phone and wrote her a one-page letter politely explaining that I had been hired before she was, that I was trying to do the best thing for my clients within their budget, why I thought the existing FR off the kitchen might be a better arrangement anyway, especially since that room had a fireplace, etc. I also offered her a future free staging as a "peace" offering -- of course, I've never heard a word from her. It was a painful lesson that I probably should have gone along with her advice, just to keep in her office's good graces. HOWEVER, looking at your photos, I think it is ridiculous to have a bedroom as the first room you walk into, and I much prefer that room as a living room. I still believe that we a) work for who pays us; and b) most importantly, have to apply our knowledge of design and lay-out to effectively stage and ultimately sell the property. 

    One thing I might venture to suggest doing slightly differently, if you feel you must stick with the bedroom plan -- I'd dress up the bed more, with a white bolster or a pair of blue/brown or blue/white (pull the brown from the art) pillow shams, a luxurious white or brown throw (if you use shams with brown borders)or blanket at the foot, and I'd raise the picture a few inches to accommodate fluffed-up pillows. I know the agent said "masculine", but I think a bed can look really inviting and still masculine by sticking to the solid blue and white color scheme. Just a small "tweak". 

December 06, 2010 11:45 PM
Rainmaker
57,920
Patricia Ebrahimi
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

Amy:  Thanks so much for your story...and your suggestions.  Funny, but I took exactly what you suggested to restage and tried to add pillows, some panache, etc, but it just didn't feel right at all.  I thought about raising the picture but ended up not doing it I forget why now. Probably should have. Fortunately, the Realtor and the client are happy with what I did.  Now, we'll see if it sells.  I agree with David that it's overpriced though...and with the holidays...

December 07, 2010 09:35 AM
Rainmaker
309,421
Michelle Minch
Home Staging Los Angeles & Pasadena, CA
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA

Pat: Follow your heart and do what you think is the right thing. I think you handled this well and diplomatically.As many stated earlier in the comments, in many states (maybe all states, I don't know) a room must have a closet to be considered a legal bedroom.

Amy: It sounds like that agent had a chip on her shoulder, and would make your life miserable on future jobs. There are some, that no matter how hard you try, will never be satisfied. You're probably better off not working with her.

December 07, 2010 10:39 AM
Rainmaker
137,338
Beth Lester
Home Staging & Interior Decorating
Home Staging Designs of California

Your staging looks terrific, Patricia.  I wonder if the REA wanted it to look more masculine because she knew no woman would want to live in that location.  I sure wouldn't!

December 07, 2010 11:05 AM
Rainmaker
57,920
Patricia Ebrahimi
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

Michelle:  Thanks for your support.  I don't think the REA had a chip on her shoulder as much as a lack of experience and maybe knowledge.  I guess I assumed (always dangerous) that everyone knew a closet AND a window are necessary for bedroom status.

Beth:  Thanks!  And, yeah, maybe she did want it masculine for that reason.  I agree.  Living there wouldn't work for me either.

December 07, 2010 09:36 PM
Rainmaker
991,295
Sharon Tara
New Hampshire Home Stager
Sharon Tara Transformations

Sounds like you handled this situation well and the real problem is the location.  It looks great both ways.  I have had agents neglect the updating of the photos in MLS and it makes me crazy.  When you go thru the trouble of staging and the pictures are not updated it makes me wonder what the agent is thinking.

December 11, 2010 09:50 PM
Rainmaker
57,920
Patricia Ebrahimi
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

Sharon:  Exactly!  Especially when I gave them a rock bottom rate to redo the room, trying to be the good guy here.

December 12, 2010 07:19 AM
Rainmaker
365,710
Linda D. Pufford
ASPM, Marin/Sonoma Home Stager
Stage with Divine Style - Home Staging

Patricia,

This one has sure been a challenge for you.  You have been such a good sport through it all.  If nothing else you should get extra kudos for that.  I think both ways the room looks great... there is certainly other factors as to why it is not selling that have nothing to do with your great staging ability!  On the upside as you said you are collecting the furniture rental fee.  All the best to you for a wonderful holiday season!

December 15, 2010 01:50 AM
Rainmaker
57,920
Patricia Ebrahimi
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

Linda:  Thanks for your support.  Hope your holiday is super, too.

December 16, 2010 03:49 PM
Rainer
142,891
Wendy Tomm
CCSP, RESA-PRO, BBB - Wpg Realtors
Beyond the Walls

Well Patricia you have done an amazing job and like what David has expressed both times.  You have been very accomodating and done an amazing job! Congratulations and keep up the professionalism to the agent and the clients. Best of Luck!

August 24, 2011 04:53 PM
Rainmaker
57,920
Patricia Ebrahimi
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

Wendy: Thanks. 

As an update to this saga, they got a contract January 11, 2011, the month following my restage.  I guess the REA was onto to something.  Anyway, it all ended well, except I haven't heard a word from the REA since... Makes you wonder.

September 03, 2011 11:18 AM
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Rainmaker
57,920

Patricia Ebrahimi

Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
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