Today was a learning experience in a lot of ways. For those who don’t know, after selling my Charleston home staging business last year I decided to become a Realtor in Jacksonville/St Augustine, FL. I just completed my first year of having my Florida license. I have been trying to build my business based on the two things that I really know – home staging and marketing. I provide home staging to all of my listing customers.
An unexpected reaction from my broker
This week I’ve had a great week, actually signing papers on three new listings. (Ok, technically it’s 2.5 – I’m co-listing one of these with another agent who hasn’t been able to sell it and wants my staging services to get it sold.) Today as I came into the real estate office at 5:30, my broker asked what was going on. I showed him that I had another listing to turn in. His reaction wasn’t exactly like I expected it to be. While he did eventually congratulate me, his first reaction was actually, “Tell me it’s not for the middle of August like the last one.”
Actually, it was. You see I’m going out of town August 1-5 to visit my favorite Indianapolis home staging couple. I am staging one of my new listings on July 30th, then the rest have to wait until I return. Besides, the other two remaining homes have a lot of work to get done before I can come in. They have closets to organize, personal belonging to pack away or donate, and updates to complete, like getting new carpeting.
Don’t put the property on MLS until it’s actually ready
I had to explain to my broker that I wasn’t going to have my customers put their home on MLS until it was actually ready. I’m surprised that he didn’t appreciate this point since this broker actually did use the services of a professional stager when he was an agent.
While the reaction from my broker was surprising, what hasn’t been surprising to me is that sellers, once they understand the importance of staging, are eager to get the home ready. They understand that their home will show better and they won’t have to have as many showings. So far, I haven’t had a listing appointment where 1) I didn’t get the listing 2) the seller wasn’t willing to do whatever we needed to do to stage it.
Of the three listings that I signed this week there were some interesting facts that agents should pay attention to.
- The first listing I signed this week had talked to other agents and actually had saved a post card from another agent in her kitchen drawer. She held onto it for months knowing that she would be selling. This is one of two condos the couple will be selling this year. They listed with me because I provide home staging services and the other agent never even brought the subject up.
- The second listing had actually been previously with the co-listing agent and had expired. The seller wasn’t interested in doing more than a month-to-month extension until she brought me in and we discussed staging. We now have a new contract with enough time to get the job done.
- The third listing met with another Realtor. Like the first listing this week, that agent didn’t offer staging services, which is interesting because I actually occasionally do consultations for that agent. I know that I don’t provide consultations for all of their listings, which I always find interesting. Clearly this time his pick and choose methodology didn’t work. Since they also want me to find them a new place to live, that’s a double loss for that agent.
Realtors have missed the boat. Sellers will stage if they understand the value.
I know that not all Realtors have missed the boat. In Charleston I had a staging business that had mid six figures in sales every year. That doesn’t happen without having loyal Realtors who believe in what you do. Here in Jacksonville/St Augustine, the agents only stage selectively, if ever. Sellers, on the flip side, seem to want this service. I’m sure it has something to do with what they see on HGTV and other design channels.
When Realtors make the decision that sellers don’t want to spend the time or money, they are not doing them a favor. For now, I’m content to get ahead of the curve and leave them in the dark.