by Debra Rosser, a North Texas stager with Staging Matters
1. Staging is not decluttering and cleaning. Doing these two things does improve how a home looks of course but it isn't "the staging magic" that sells a house quickly and for top dollar. Think about builders' homes. They are staged. They are not plain, neutral and empty looking. Their homes have a feeling; a warmth, some charm, a style, some color and accessories. This is not on accident. They are creating environments that ask a buyer to stay; look around; imagine what it would be like to live in this home. They are creating spaces that buyers will "aspire" to live in. It works; that is why they continue to do it. Less is more (until it looks boring)...let stagers find the right balance in each home.
3. I am a homestager. I am a full time, serious stager. To borrow a thought from Donna Dazzo, a stager I admire, "I am not a real estate agent, a property manager, a staging trainer and a furniture rental company". I focus on two things, home staging and redesign. I do those two things well because they are my focus.
4. It not only takes vision and talent to stage a home but it takes time and energy. As an agent you may have the vision and talent but your time and energy are better spent getting listings and showing houses, this is where your profits lie. Use the time you would spend staging on getting another listing.
5. Ouch! This one is going to hurt a little but.... As I research who the "big dog Realtors" are in Flower Mound, Highland Village and beyond there is one thing they all do. Wait for it..... They stage every listing. They advertise that they stage every listing. They are committed to staging every listing. It makes them shiny. It is one of the secret weapons that helps win them listings and it is why their inventory is constantly changing. Staging is not their only secret but it is an obvious one to me. They pay for an initial staging consultation and for some actual hands-on staging. I'd estimate this costs them about three to four hundred dollars(for a 1/2 day of staging). This investment in marketing pays off; they are the big dogs. You may not be able to pay for that yet (or you may feel that the client should pay for the stager just like they pay for the inspector and appraiser...this is a valid point) but find a stager that you like and work through a plan that will still deliver real results for your clients; even if you don't pay for it. Taking the time to brainstorm solutions to your business needs with a stager is time well spent.
6. Spending $75 on each house to have a stager run through in under an hour and tell the homeowner a few things to do isn't going to have a big payoff. If that is what you have tried, paying a stager a small fee for a quick visit....you owe it to yourself to try a different approach or save your money. If it was that easy then we really could create a checklist and homeowners could do it themselves.
(To be fair, if you are paying a small fee for a stager to meet with your client, go over the project and propose actual staging time then your cost is justified as long as a lot of your clients do actually book more staging time/advice). For a homeowner to really get the most out of staging; they should spend some time actually working with the stager in their home getting some main living areas staged. Staging is an art and it is hard to really get great results from reading a report or simply clearing all the counters. Creating that "feeling" that buyers like takes skill...it is not something that happens in 1 hour.
7. Waiting until a house has been on the market for a long time and then calling in a stager...not the best choice. I'd bet my left arm that you knew it wasn't going to sell quickly but you were so excited to get that listing that you didn't want to make any waves. The waves are coming if you don't change the condition of the house so why not pay a stager to "make the waves" from the beginning so you will have some smooth sailing later. Be proactive and stage them first whenever you can. Staging pays very well and makes for happy clients. Why? Because they get to move on so much faster.
8. Isn't it time to develop some strong partnerships. We should be able to talk honestly about a listing, the challenges and goals. It takes 3 things to sell a house. Neither of us can affect the location but let me market and merchandise the inside of the house, you price it right and market it to the outside world and I bet the results will be remarkable.
If you haven't seen results with staging then it may be time to try a new stager and develop a new staging plan. You should feel like the stager you are working with is bright, dedicated and invested. She should be helping you market your home in some new ways.
I love what I do. I am good at it. I can feel when a Realtor thinks they don't need help with staging and I am frustrated if I look at their listings and know that they could be getting different results. What if I am as good at marketing the inside of the home as you are about marketing to the outside world of buyers? That could make for a fabulous team!!!! I'd love to brainstorm with you today....