There you are: Pitching yourself as only you can...
and the potential clients are hitting you with a volley of questions. You are not just holding your own – you are darned near poetry in motion!
The answers to every question rolls off your tongue with complete confidence. You arefeeling the love – you know you will get this listing, you can practically taste their eagerness to work with you and you alone.
And then it comes. That one question that has been popping up with far to much frequency lately. The one that gives you a queasy feeling because you know your answer on this one thing seems to consistently fall short.
“So, do you think we should stage our house?”
What do you say to that?
First of all, it’s a trick question, without a doubt. Say NO, and you are in direct opposition to 95% of the real estate, staging and decorating programming on HGTV, the DIY Network, The Learning Channel, The Style Network, and The Discovery Channel that your clients are absolutely watching, whether they admit it or not.
Dismiss the notion of bringing in a stager at your own risk, because the message they are likely to internalize is that you don’t care about getting the most money possible for their property. And if you think this answer will stop them from pursuing a stager outside of your recommendation, you couldn’t be more wrong. They will Google stagers, they will see before and after pics in their town, and they will call them to inquire about pricing, and most of all, they will say “The agent we are thinking about working with doesn’t know I am calling….” The stager will ask who the agent is, and when it is all said and done, the stager may very well drop the name of an agent who is more proactive regarding equity preservation.
Saying YES is also fraught with peril. YES means they have issues that are clearly apparent to you. It means they have been weighed, measured, and found wanting. This message NOT what you want to be delivering, that you are not liking what you see, which is tantamount to saying there is something wrong with their lifestyle, taste, and them as people. This is a deal-kill without a doubt. You could very well be percieved as looking down upon them.
So what the heck are you supposed to do?
- You could ignore the question entirely, and change the subject.
- You could say that the house is beautiful as is. You could say you yourself are not only a Real Estate Agent but that you also stage your listings yourself, and start spewing out advice on the spot.
- You could hand them a flyer talking about de-cluttering and pre-packing, and call that your “Staging Checklist.”
- You could give them a DVD with some generalized staging tips and decide that is more than enough to keep them from noticing you don’t actually offer any services in this area.
- You could even say that staging is not a factor in your locale (which might be true if your listings are in Antarctica).
But none of these answers correspond with what they are hearing, seeing, and digesting from the available media they are devouring as sellers. They will doubt your commitment to market their listing aggressively and effectively, and doubt your ability to sell their house quickly and do everythingit takes to prevent the unnecessary loss of their hard earned equity.
So what is the best way to handle this question that will make you seem non-judgmental about their home, and therefore, them as people, and meet their media-induced expectations diplomatically and head on?
All you simply have to say is:
“We will send our professional stager to meet with you.”
That’s it. If they ask about draperies, furniture arrangement, carpet condition, etc., you just state that the stager who will be sent will answer all their questions about any improvements or changes that may be necessary.
You talk business, you sell yourself, you land the listing. All questions on condition or presentation get deferred to “your” professional stager.
It doesn’t get any easier. Professional, experienced stagers are highly skilled at being diplomatic, garnering cooperation, and getting things done on a tight budget. Their cost for consultation varies, and can be negotiable when an entire real estate office is concerned.
It isn’t about getting in there and charging a small fortune for “all new everything.” It’s about creating as an inviting space that possible under the circumstances, and stagers know circumstances vary. One 2-hour consultation is usually extremely reasonable in price and bears a bountiful harvest of changes that are all carefully justified and explained, and make a tremendous difference in the way the listing will show, both in marketing materials and when viewed in person. Your listing will shine brighter when you enlist the assistance of a professional stager.
Can’t find any stagers in your area? You are probably not looking very hard. Google stagers in the nearest large city and see if they will service your area for consults.
Had or heard about bad experiences with stagers? Betcha dollars to donuts they were not experienced professionals. The staging industry has standards and ethics, and a quick visit to the Real Estate Staging Association’s website will explain those standards and ethics and how they are enforced with members, and can help you find somene qualified, capable, and charismatic.
So call an experienced stager, secure a lunch date, and get to know one another. You might be surprised what you don’t know about these amazing resourceful business people who take their commitments seriously, want your repeat business, know their stuff, and know exactly how to motivate your sellers to make the right moves to make your job much, much easier.
Lead Virtual Designer, CurbAppealForDummies.com
President of Acadiana Chapter of the Real Estate Staging Association