Home Staging and Realtor's Opinions

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with James Frazier Personal Development Coach

I was reviewing some past blogs on Active Rain. They, are, admittedly, from the ancient past as blogging goes (Dec 7, 2006) when I read one of Sheron Cardin's fine postings titled Could Realtors who have heard of HOME STAGING please raise your hands!  and it started me thinking again....I know, I know that can be a problem but it is so cold here today (0'F) that I had to do something to warm up.

Anyway, what I would like is to hear from Realtors about their fears and objections concerning professional staging. I know there are many Realtors out there who have no objections to staging but it is the objections that I can learn from the most. Now perhaps many Realtors are too busy to share this, or do not want to get into debates with stagers, or, perhaps, have not examined their own feelings about it. I am asking for your honest objections- not to engage in a debate. I really want to hear from the Realtors side of the street. Sometimes I feel like we are preaching to the choir, so to speak, and so I would truly like to learn from Realtors what their thoughts, opinions, and objections are. This information would, no doubt, help our profession.

I doubt that there is a realtor in the country who, given a choice between showing a home that is average and one that is staged, would choose the former. I also doubt that many Realtors would object to the whole idea of proper home preparation. So, to many of us stagers, it would seem like a no brain deal. If their listing were improved by staging, we reason. "Why don't they all use a professional stager?" There must be reasons and if we could hear them perhaps we could improve what we are doing.

Sometimes it is, of course, not the Realtor who objects to the idea of staging but the seller. I just had a call with a Realtor who was initially excited about having me give an estimate for a listing she had. She just now  informed me that the seller did not want the estimate due to "having a bad experience with a home stager in the past." Now I suspect that this was not the actual reason that the seller declined the estimate due to the fact that staging is relatively new to this part of the world and unless she is selling a home that she bought less than 4 or 5  years ago it is unlikely she would have had a professional stager here but none the less it was the seller rather than the Realtor who objected to even a free estimate. Perhaps she had a fear of what we might tell her. Who knows?

Realtors we do want to hear those objections. It will help you examine you feelings about staging, help us to hear the resistance to our profession and perhaps stimulate ideas that will help us both overcome obstacles to what should be a win-win-win situation between Realtors, Home sellers, and Professional Stagers.
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Rainer
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Alex Thiel
DPR Realty - San Tan Valley, AZ

I am interested in opinions on staging as well.  I started a post called "Let's take it to the Stage" (I'm not sure how to link it for you) where I addressed this.  It seems that the biggest hurdle is the presenting the price to the client.  But, with proper education(of the client), I believe that it can be overcome.

 

Jan 17, 2007 11:31 AM #1
Rainer
68,327
James Frazier
James Frazier Personal Development Coach - Rockford, IL

 

Alex,

Thanks for the reply. First of all, which groups did you post this to other than your own blog? Which group did you see my post at Stage it Forward, Realtorsor other? And then finally, you could have linked your article by simply going back to that article and highlight and copy the Blue Title, then paste into your reply post to me which would have provided the link. Like this-  Take it to the Stage   I found this by clicking your name and then your blog button which takes me to your original blog although not to any groups where you might have posted it. So I have no way of knowing where all you might have placed this entry.

Now anyone can link back to your original post by simply clicking the link.

BTW did you get any answers to your original post?

Jan 17, 2007 01:56 PM #2
Rainer
12,180
Dawn Selman-Schwieger
Home Squad, LLC- Minnesota's Premier Home Staging Co. - Shakopee, MN
ASP, IAHSP, AARC, ids
Great post, I will be interested to see if any Realtors reply and what they have to say.  I think cost is a huge factor for them.
Jan 17, 2007 04:31 PM #3
Rainer
89,176
Val Allocco
Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island - Northport, NY
HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island

James,

I, too, am still waiting to hear from realtors (remember my recent blog that attracted only stagers' comments?).

Good luck with this...you addressed all of our concerns in a way that I hope will encourage some dialogue between Realtors and Stagers.

I'm bookmarking this (and checking the little box to be notified of new comments)!

Jan 17, 2007 06:34 PM #4
Ambassador
1,287,140
Loreena Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
RealtorĀ® | Frisco TX Community Ambassador

There are alot of realtors out there with difference business models. There are alot of price points (houses) where it is not cost-effective to incur a $2000 staging fee (for the homeowner and realtor).

As a realtor, this staging consultation may be provided as a value-added service. So, it comes out of the realtor's paycheck. Even though the consultation is not as high as $2000 (my guess), it still takes out profits. Cost is always a factor in all bottom line.

PS: I think I might be one of the few realtors who enjoy coming to this site. You guys are fun to hang out with.

Jan 17, 2007 10:29 PM #5
Anonymous
Anonymous
Dawn

Loreena,

I think you are right.  A lot of Realtors are worried about the cost.  Here in Minnesota most Stagers give free estimates, so it never hurts to find out exactly what it would cost.  There are no hard sells either, I usually go to the property, take photos and notes, then go back to the office and give them the bid later via email.  They will then decide on their own if they want to follow through.  It doesn't have to cost $2,000 it just depends on the house and what we would be bringing into it.  Also, around here Consultations (which are different from an estimate) start at $125 to $200 and that is great if the homeowner wants to do the work themselves.  We give them a detailed report of what they need to do to sell the house faster and for more money.  Unlike the TV shows we do not come in and say rude things about the house, even my own house would need a bit of staging before I were to sell it.  We have tricks that will transform a house and still stay within the sellers budget.  I always keep in mind the asking price of the house to be staged, furnishing a 200,000 house is different than doing a 900,000 house. 

 In Minnesota staged houses sell 40-50% faster and for an average of 6 1/2% more money.  Also, Staging a house typically costs less than a price reduction.  So, if the seller were to invest $2,000 on staging instead of reducing the price by $10,000 or $20,000 that is more profit for everyone.

I hope this helps.  Have a GREAT day!! :-)

Jan 18, 2007 08:26 AM #6
Rainmaker
133,756
Sheron Cardin
California Moods Inc - Selma, CA
how2homestage.com

Hello James - as usual another great post and thank you for the mention and link. Uh, I don't see any realtor remarks yet...It feels like we run in a parallel universe and occationally they cross paths in bleep moments. I am getting ready to respond to a post How do you view open houses part 2

Ryan Hukill has 21 comments so far and there is not one mention of a properly prepared property in the open house scenario. If I were a realtor staging an open house that is not staged I would be a nervous wreck.

There may also be a problem with sellers having furniture and accessories brought into their home that they are responsible for expecially if they have children. I think stagers should use what the client has and if they need more decor, the client should purchase the coordinated accessories or furniture pieces. That is my opinion. Vacant homes are different.

I also think that stagers charge too much. They are charging like they have been in the business for years and have a successful track record that makes their work a coveted commodity. Until the industry is established, I really think the price points need to adjust to what the market will bear.

SO AGAIN YOU ARE HEARING FROM THE STAGERS AND NOT THE REALTORS! ISN'T THAT SOMETHING? My comments here are probably going to get some flack but it is really what is on my mind. Home staging should not be high end...it is supposed to be budget decorating. I cannot post any more this week because I reached my limit but I will be back next week.

Jan 18, 2007 04:44 PM #7
Rainer
5,455
Alex Thiel
DPR Realty - San Tan Valley, AZ

James,

First off, thanks for the blogging tip.

I received a few replies.  There is one from Kimberly Wester that stands out.  The way she explained how the cost could be offset by thinking "big picture".  She wrote that staging costs are substantially lower than your first price reduction on the property.  And there are stats that show a staged home sells quicker and for more money.  I am still trying to figure out if this is going to be a strong enough selling point to clients who don't want to spend thousands of dollars up front. 

Sheron-  I have to agree with you.  I got sticker shock myself when I discovered how much staging could cost.

Jan 19, 2007 07:58 AM #8
Rainer
68,327
James Frazier
James Frazier Personal Development Coach - Rockford, IL

Alex,

Since it is impossible to know what numbers you have been looking at, it is difficult to gage what caused the sticker shock. It could be a number of things from over pricing to simply not being prepared for all that a stager may recommend to do to a given piece of property. Almost any outside work by any professional is bound to produce sticker shock. A Realtor's commission is an example of this. If you think that selling and marketing a home is a piece of cake then a standard commission might seem a bit of a shock. On the other hand, once you really analyse what Realtors and Brokers do, what expertise they need to have, how much money they spend on advertising and running an office , then that commission begins to make sense and it has value.

 Just like with staging one might be able to sell one's own home but do you really want to go down that road? How long will it take? How much will you lose because of lower offers, or how much off base will your price be since you would not have the advice of a professional expert in these matters. You see where I am going with this.

 So imagine that a stager comes in works a few hours and transforms the house. If you watch them work, you might be tempted to think, Well, I could have done that...it is not rocket science, as they say, and, yet, there is so much that is going on behind the scenes. Stagers, like Realtors, incur considerable expense in overhead, have the same problems of advertising that every other business has and have an investment in their education that gives them the needed expertise. This is a difficult thing to quantify because so much of what all professionals are paid for is their expertise. 

A Lawyer, doctor, or even a Realtor are paid not so much for what they do but what they know how to do. If a stager places the wall art so that it stands out and makes a beautiful grouping they are not just being paid for the 15 minutes of physical labor so much as the education it took to learn how to do that grouping.

I promised that was not going to be a debate but I could not resist adding these remarks. Staging can be, like any thing, overpriced. Hired a plumber recently? Or even a lawn guy?  Outside expertise is costly but when it come to home selling not hiring those experts can be even more costly. 

So Realtors please chime in about your fears and objections. I really want to hear them and I promise not to engage in a debate. So this post from Alex is so valuable because he is telling me what is on his mind when he thinking about staging. Which helps me see the problems and perceptions from the other side.  Thanks Alex........

Jan 19, 2007 08:57 AM #9
Rainer
5,455
Alex Thiel
DPR Realty - San Tan Valley, AZ

James,

I couldn't agree with you more about how the value of our services is not directly reflected by the amount of time we put into something.  Like you stated , I believe my shock came from lack of knowledge of staging overall. 

Thanks.

Alex 

Jan 19, 2007 09:05 AM #10
Rainer
1,442
Pamela Parker - San Antonio/Austin
Stage Right Home Staging and Redesign - San Antonio, TX

I think many realtors are confused about staging because the service is being performed in a number of different ways.  Here in So. Texas, the main goal of many stagers is to "bid for the staging job" at the initial consultation.  Unfortunately, this can actually hurt the industry in a number of ways.  I think  many Realtors would use stagers on a very regular basis if they knew they could get a comprehensive home assessment in a couple of hours for a couple of hundred dollars. Their clients would have a comprehensive plan of improvement they could either a) implement themselves, or b)consider hiring the stager to complete for them at a later date (via bid). 

On the converse, if stagers are offering free consultations, then obviously their key goal is to get the staging job (or else why would they be giving their services away for free), not necessarily to provide the seller with useful information they can implement themselves. 

If, as real estate professionals and home stagers our goal is for every home to be staged, then we have to consider that different audiences require different services.  Many home owners are do-it-yourselfers and are more than able to implement a good staging plan.  I don't know about other stagers, but I would certainly rather earn a few hundred dollars per consultation and have every realtor be sold on the value of staging, than give away free time, only to get a limited number of staging jobs. 

Pamela  

 

Jan 20, 2007 07:46 PM #11
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Pamela,

That is the difference between a Consultation and an Estimate.  They are different.  I offer Consultations for a fee and the seller gets a detailed report of what they can do themselves, I also add a bid of what it would cost if they should choose to have us do the work for them ( a few people do change their mind later).  An estimate is for those who do not want to do it themselves and just want to know what it will cost for us to do it for them. 

Here in Minnesota there is a lot of competition lately and we have to offer free estimates.  I am not sure who started it, but if you don't offer estimates free of charge you will not get any work.

It would be nice to hear from Realtors about this.  Is the difference between a consult and a bid confusing to them?  Most Realtors I talk to seem to know whether they want a consult or an estimate, but are others confused?

I think I did see a blog here on the rain discussing the difference between consults and bids.  Thanks for addressing this Pamela.

Jan 20, 2007 09:19 PM #12
Anonymous
Anonymous
Pamela Parker

Makes perfect sense. I think the realtors are confused by the verbage.   That's why I don't call my initial visits consultations anymore.  I call them "Home Assessments".  So basically, what I think I hear you saying is that if you are paid to do a consultation for a do-it-yourselfer you go ahead and "bid" for the job (in case they change their mind).  But, if they want you to come out to give them an estimate (for you to do the job), you are very careful not to give them any free information at all, but assess the property enough to provide a written estimate.  Does that take you very long.  Do you give yourself a time limit, knowing you are doing it for free?  Just curious.

Pam

Jan 26, 2007 12:54 AM #13
Rainer
1,857
susan cunningham
JPA - Suwanee, GA

Hello all!

First-timer here.  Just discovered this site yesterday and I have really enjoyed reading the threads!  I am both a real estate agent and home stager.  I got into the real estate industry to work my way into home staging.  I really wanted to understand how the RE industry works, including the mindset of the buyers/sellers.  

I am fairly new in both industries.  I haven't even gotten accredited for staging yet!  (That's another subject I need to look into, because I do want the formal education.)  

Anyway, back to the subject at hand - I just finished staging a home that another realtor hired me to do.  When she first contacted me, she said her client has a "whatever it takes" to sell the property attitude.  Well, my first mistake is not to have had this clearly defined.  The agent, who almost always has $1M+ clients, and few below that mark, then said, well if we need to spend a couple hundred $ for decor items, that shouldn't be a problem - yikes!  So, in her mind, "whatever it takes" meant just moving stuff around the best it could be done - and producing outstanding results.  When I noted some items (very bare minimum) that would serve us well to purchase, she insisted on going and purchasing them.  I really didn't have control over this job.  She estimated that the job could be done in a couple afternoons (8 hours).  The property was in dire need of staging - it looked so dated and tired.  I did what I could, and it did turn out 100 times better than the initial condition.

So my surprise was that from an agent who does these high price point homes - she was quite off the mark with appreciation or understanding about the process of home staging.

Where as for myself, I understood from the very beginning of my career in the RE business the tremendous value of home presentation - because of personal experience.  My first home I sold - I did without a realtor, but did the homework and research to find out how to best prepare a home for the market.  Took about 3 months to sell it.  The next home we sold, I was up against model homes in the community, so I showcased ours (without putting a great deal of $$ into staging it) - the house sold to the first people who walked in the first day it was on the market  (we did use a realtor - so were on target with pricing).  The third home - staged again to the max - sold to the second couple who saw it (within 2 weeks) - and we rang the bell on our asking price and sold for top dollar!

That's when I knew I had a knack in the staging area - the rest is history.

So that's a couple of viewpoints from realtors.  Don't know if it adds much to this thread, but there it is. : )

Susan 

Jan 26, 2007 07:26 AM #14
Rainer
12,180
Dawn Selman-Schwieger
Home Squad, LLC- Minnesota's Premier Home Staging Co. - Shakopee, MN
ASP, IAHSP, AARC, ids

Pam,

No, it doesn't take me a long time to do an estimate, it does take longer to do a consult.  It depends on the house size, but a typical bid takes about a half hour.  Unfortunately around here we have to do it free or you won't get any calls, not sure who started that.  I take a lot of pictures and notes, then give them the estimate within 24 hours.  Luckily I have only been getting estimate calls for vacants.  For an occupied stage they typically do want the consult, so that hasn't been a huge deal for me.

I like you wording better.  I might use it.  'Home assessment' sounds less confusing.  Do you charge for both services?

Susan,

I don't know if you do any vacant staging but you may want to check out my blog 'The price of vacant staging'.  I actually had a lot of Realtor comments on that one.

 Good luck with your business!

Have a great weekend!!

Jan 26, 2007 08:16 AM #15
Anonymous
Anonymous
Lena Glandon

Hi,

  I am a Realtor. And I totally recommend staging. I believe in it so much , that if a seller objects to spending the money ....I would go so far as to help them do it myself.

 We moved to Arkansas from Schaumburg ,IL a couple years ago. I staged my own condo before we sold it. It sold in 2 days to the first buyers that looked at it. And for full price. I know that this would not have happened if I had left our condo in it's "lived in condition." 

 

I do believe it is the money sellers object to , when staging is brought up. It is up to the Realtor to convince them how beneficial it is and how it would be the best money they could ever spend. 

If there are any stagers out in Hot Springs,AR. I want your contact info!

http:www.lenaglandon.crye-leikr.com

                                                 Thanks for the post. i hope more Realtors read it.
 

Feb 10, 2007 08:53 AM #16
Anonymous
Anonymous
Lena Glandon

oops that's

 http://lenaglandon.crye-leike.com/

 

 sorry! 

Feb 10, 2007 08:55 AM #17
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