In real estate, while price is king it is a home’s overall presentation that has the power to either positively – or negatively affect how quickly a property sells and at what price point it sells at. A great presentation can, and often does, result in increased online interest, more booked viewings and significantly better offers. Professional staging has the power to change how buyers feel about awkward room layouts, a poor location or even the fact that there aren’t a lot of the buyer’s ‘must have’ items from their wish list. Simply put, professional staging is both a home owner’s and realtors best and most powerful marketing tool.
For this reason, solid partnerships between realtors and home stagers are vital. In strong partnerships, both parties support and rely on each other to handle the important aspects of preparing and selling homes. Realtors who understand the effectiveness of home staging, who offer consultations and/or pay for staging packages clearly understand that there is a direct correlation between the appearance of the home and at what price point it sells at. These kinds of partnerships benefit everyone involved: home owner, realtor & stager. We have seen these partnerships go wrong however and from our perspective, here are the top 10 home staging mistakes realtors make:
1. Selecting a Stager based on price only: Selecting a stager simply because they are the cheapest is one of the best ways we know of to sabotage your sale and cost home owners thousands of dollars in lost equity. Home sellers rely on their agents to give credible referrals to experienced staging professionals. If the only criteria the agent has is that the stager has to be cheap, well you get what you pay for. More important than cost is the experience, talent and resources a staging professional will have – and the results they achieve! When selecting your staging professional, base your final decision on their portfolio, professionalism and expertise. This way the sellers aren’t gambling with the sale of their biggest asset: their home!
2. Micromanaging the Consultation & Staging Process: Sharing pertinent property and client details with your stager is extremely important. Alerting them to your timeline is also essential however, a realtor can and should be prepared for the fact that staging is a process and it covers all aspects of a client’s home. It’s not always easy to hear what a home stager has to say but their job is about addressing ALL the potential buyer objections a home may have. Agents often tell their stagers to go easy on their clients or not to address certain things. This does a disservice to the home owners and can potentially cost them in poor buyer interest, price reductions and even the sale of their home.
A better plan is allow your staging professional to discuss everything they need to so that even if you or your clients decide not to implement the suggestions right away – if the house doesn’t sell then – there is a back up plan. Finally, trust your staging professional to handle sensitive topics in such a way that you or your clients will understand and appreciate. Your client may not want to hear certain real estate realities however they will appreciate the honesty if it helps them sell their home. Remember, their home is their single biggest investment and avoiding subjects or ignoring them altogether is only going to mean price reductions down the road. While this might mean only a small loss of commissions for you, this is potentially tens of thousands of dollars in lost equity for your clients. For us, this means putting the home owner first and giving them all the information so that they can then make informed decisions on how to prepare their Kitchener home for sale.
This also applies to any kind of staging package or plan that a professional has created to showcase the home. If your stager has been hired to stage the property, have the conversation about who the next buyers will be and what kind of market or demographics you want to attract to the property. We want to help you effectively market the property – that is our job. However after that point, let us take the reins and select all the furnishings & décor to effectively show off each space in the home. This is our job and we take it seriously – one of the reasons why you didn’t just go with the cheapest stager right?!
3. Selling your listings empty or naked: Statistically, vacant properties take 90% longer to sell than staged properties. That can mean sitting on the market up to 7 months longer and going through countless price reductions. If clients object to staging their empty home, it’s important to get them to understand that it’s a marketing investment – not decorating. The staging is going to help you – as the realtor – attract more interest online, showcase the property better during viewings and add significant value to the home. According to the 2015 NAR Report on Home Staging, professional staging typically adds between 10-20% to the value of a property. That is thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in equity that home owners would love to receive for the sale of their property.
Additionally, it’s important to realize that investing in home staging never costs as much as the first price reduction once a property is on the market. Not recommending your clients invest in staging can cost them on the final sale price and extra carrying costs, resulting in a long stint on the market.
As presentation is so important to a successful sale, contact our team to arrange for staging before professional pictures. This will ensure that your listing gets buyer attention online, where over 95% of them shop, and continue to WOW them when they visit the property. As we specialize in staging empty homes, learn more about staging vacant properties so you can reasonably tell your clients what to expect from the process.
4. Not using professional photography – Real estate is highly visual now that the majority of home buyers are searching for their next dream home on their mobile devices. Buyers are also inherently visual so professional pictures of bright, modern spaces will get their attention and get them in the door for a visit. If your realtor doesn’t offer professional photography, find one who does. It is simply not an option anymore not to use professional photography.
5. Poor Planning and Time Management – This is an important one! Many people fail to plan how much time it will reasonably take to prepare and stage their homes for sale.The sense of urgency prompts them to put the property on the market when it clearly isn’t market ready. Be reasonable and plan for taking anywhere between 1 – 3 weeks to get your home show-worthy. Stressing out your clients and your stager with unreasonable expectations will only result in listings which show poorly and clients who are upset because they were unprepared for how detailed and thorough the staging process is. Remember, staging isn’t just a matter of de-cluttering and packing a few things away. Staging is a multi-step process that includes both prep and showcasing to be effective. If your agent is only recommending de-cluttering then we recommend getting a second opinion. It’s a price war and a beauty pageant out there with only the homes with the best presentation getting the best offers. It’s worth it to take the time to present your home in the best possible light.
Calling in a home stager and then planning for pictures the next day is unrealistic and unreasonable – for both your clients and for your stager.
6. Staging the Home Yourself – Bypassing a professional stager altogether is also a mistake we see made often. Agents who think they understand the staging process but then either avoid discussing potential buyer objections or think its sufficient to just bring in a few decor pieces when the home clearly isn’t ready or it’s empty, is completely ineffective. It also wastes time. Valuable time on the market during the first few weeks when properties statistically get the most critical viewings. This is time you don’t get back which is why creating a positive impression from the start is critical. Your clients won’t thank you for this or for having to completely re-address the presentation of the property when it doesn’t sell.
A staging professional is not decorating the house – they are creating and implanting a marketing plan designed to enhance and showcase a home’s best features. They have been trained in how to set up rooms effectively, what colors/finishes/fixtures are on trend and are experienced in creating spaces that sell. Professional stagers also are insured and use contracts – for all parties protection – to ensure the process goes smoothly. Unless a realtor owns their own staging business and inventory (we know of a few successful ones North America), agents are best to partner with a staging professional who can handle all aspects of a home’s preparation while the realtor does what they do best: sell the home!
7. Disrupting the Staging – Once a home has been staged, it’s important that it be kept in the same condition throughout the time it is up for sale. Most stagers have clauses in their contracts which prevent items from being moved or relocated so it’s important to be aware that the home was staged in a certain way for a reason. Moving furniture around or relocating staging decor will make the staging less effective. Additionally, if someone sits on a bed or a sofa, fix the pillows and straighten the bedding – especially for the pictures!
8. Undermining Your Stager – When establishing a solid partnership with a stager, a Realtor is encouraged to join them on a few consultations so they can see how we work and understand the reasoning behind our recommendations. This builds trust and confidence in both parties so that they can, in turn, support each other. Nothing is worse however, than having the agent who hired you disagree or dismiss your suggestions in front of the clients. Not only does that create confusion but it also makes the stager you chose, look like they don’t know what they are talking about. And this reflects poorly on you – so do your homework!
If you are hiring a staging professional then you are doing so because they are an expert in their field. Trusting them to do their job and address sensitive topics comes with time but when you choose your staging pro, look at their portfolio, meet with them in person before any consultations and get a feel for how they handle things. This is a great start to a partnership. As a final note, and this is applicable to any kind of business relationship, if you have an issue with your staging professional then talk to them. Our best partnerships come from open communication and candid feedback – on both sides.
9. Only Giving Your Clients Generic Staging Lists – Instead of staging consultations, we know that Realtors often give their clients a generic home staging list to help them get the property ready for sale. We have discussed before why generic home staging lists simply aren’t effective but they really shouldn’t be considered an alternative to meeting with a professional stager. Your clients will get property specific recommendations and a step by step plan that they will appreciate – especially in such a stressful and chaotic time period.
10. Telling Your Clients they Don’t Need to Stage their Home – While this echos a bit of #6, this mistake deserves a mention. We often hear agents say that they don’t recommend home staging or that they have never had to use one in their ___ years in business. We also know of younger agents who just tell clients that all they need to do is declutter. If this is what your agent is telling you, you should know that they are either misinformed or they simply haven’t been educated enough to know how effective even simple staging can be for a property. In the past year, we have had more calls from home owners directly after they were told NOT to stage by their agents than ever before. Home owners are savvy and they know they have to invest more in their home’s presentation than ever before if they want to get the best possible return on investment. They are looking for the agent to guide them to the right professional and when that isn’t happening, they are seeking us out for themselves.
A home’s presentation and marketability are very important to today’s buyers who value quality over price and who have little time or interest in dated properties. The emerging buyer places considerable value on free time – they eat out more, travel and value time with friends and family over working in their home. They will pay MORE money for a home which is turn key and which reflects the lifestyle they aspire to have for themselves. If you aren’t staging your listings then we can tell you with confidence that you are helping to sell the staged homes in your area. Sellers are aware of these changes and are seeking out realtors who offer home staging as part of their listing services. They know they have to do more to impress this new generation of buyers. Offering staging to your clients will give you more marketable listings, better sales & more referrals plus it will give you an edge when you are competing against other agents!
Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. is Kitchener-Waterloo’s premier Home Staging resource. We specialize in staging vacant properties and Model Homes and can give your home the Marketing Advantage and Competitive Edge. Contact us today at (519) 804-STAGE for more information and to put our award winning service to work for you!