Nedra D Hines
What Stagers Wish Realtors Knew About Us
A colleague of mine was invited to speak in front of a group of new agents and they wanted to know how they can choose/prep for and make a stager’s job easier. She had a few things in mind that she wanted to address and asked the community of stagers “What is the biggest thing that you wish an agent would know before they work with you?” Some of us chimed in passionately and comically and I’ll share with you what our biggest desires are.
1) Trust that we know what we’re doing. Just as the Realtor knows how to do their job, we know how to do ours. We both have the same goal - to sell the property as quickly as possible for the most money. There’s no need to act as the on-site nanny and double-check everything we’re doing.
2) People work with those that they "know, like, and trust" - so it is always beneficial for us to meet the sellers - and vital if they are resistant to the idea of staging. We are much better at selling ourselves than anyone else.
3) It is very important for us to know WHY the sellers are selling - so we can tailor our "sales pitch" to their circumstances. Divorce? Death? Empty Nesters? Relocation? We don't need details, but the approach will be different if they are retiring vs. a death.
4) Have the home professionally cleaned before staging day. Oh my God, I can’t stress this one enough, especially as I just staged a house that wasn’t professionally cleaned and contained a strong cooking smell. The agent occurred to me as though she didn’t know this was important, which is sad because agents have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. I had to explain that “No one goes for a jog after showering and getting dressed up to the nines.” It’s unbelievable how some people don’t understand that staging on top of dust and dirt isn’t the ideal situation when you’re in the business of marketing a property to be sold on the market.
5) Asking for discounts and/or acting as though stagers have pledged allegiance to their budget specifications. Exactly as we don't advise sellers on how much commission they should pay their agent; we expect the agent to allow us to charge for the services we provide. Running a home staging business is very expensive and we must cover our overhead costs and the salaries of the people working for and with us.
6) Know the difference between home staging, designing, and decorating. We hear stagers complain about having to re-do, add to or modify their staging because the agent relates to them as an Interior Designer or Decorator. Education and expectation management is key. Side note: I can be honest about this one and say that I don’t believe stagers are doing our job when it comes to educating agents and their clients. I think a lot of us get too excited to land a job and we step over the opportunity to educate and set expectations. It’s an error on our part for sure.
7) A stager should be looked at as part of their team. The best agents we work with have presold us as a vital part of the process before we ever walk through the door. To achieve this, we invite new agents to come along on a consultation, so they understand what we bring to the table.
8) Give us more lead time. To be fair, I have to say that a lot of agents have no idea about the process we go through to stage a home and it’s up to stagers to articulate that to them. We can’t just up and stage by Friday of this week because we have other clients to attend to and each one has their own project in process. If you have a listing coming up, don’t wait to contact us until last minute. Give us at least a week’s notice.
9) It's disrespectful to blatantly compare a stagers prices to the "other competition". If someone has found cheaper talent that they want to do business with, then by all means, go do business with them. There's no need to "report" on the cheaper findings to a more expensive stager. Everyone is in business for their own individual reasons. We each have different circumstances, goals, educational levels, resources, finances etc. I for one, continue to get formally trained because I have a love for education and look to bring educational value to what I do. Guess what? Education costs money. I also pay more for movers because I want my inventory to be protected during transportation and while it's in storage. Other stagers are focused on whatever is important to them. It's baffling how often industry partners outright compare us to another, as though we have an agreement to be in alignment with one another.
The goal of this blog is to educate and inform and hopefully it accomplished just that. It does occur to me that at least some relationships between stagers and realtors (and investors too!) are inauthentic. I don’t believe both parties have agreed to it, and I think there are things both of us have taken for granted and possibly have resentment over. I’m at a point where I’m asking myself, “How can I help them help me?”
I can’t assume everyone knows what we go through and how much it costs us, especially if we’re not being upfront about it. I think it’s only fair to ask agents and investors the same question, what is the biggest thing that you wish a home stager should know before they work with you? If you have any comments, feel free to email them to email@example.com and I’ll be sure to share them with my online community of stagers. It’s only fair, right??