Today I met with a new potential client. In the beginning there were red flags that were jumping around waving in my head. I was reminded of a couple of jobs that have gone poorly in the past years of my home staging career. This one has all the right ear marks. Fortunately I think that I was pretty clear at the appointment and if I still get the job, the duties will all be understood.
No you can’t pick the pieces I’m using in this home staging job.
When customers initially have their own ideas of what the room should look like, including what color the sofa should be, what kind of dining table and chairs there should be, and the size of your silk trees, you know there is a problem brewing. The first time the agents mentioned a suggestion – that she wanted contemporary – I countered back with a question on buyer demographic.
Me: “Who is the buyer?”
Agent: “We don’t have a buyer. That’s why we are hiring you.”
Me: “Tell me about who you think the buyer will be. Will they be retired, young professionals, a family?”
Agent: “Young. Old. You know, it could be anyone.“
Ok. I can work in those parameters. It means that I’m going to have to (1) try to do a little research on my own, but this is a new construction community and this is a resale in it. That’s tough. (2) Make sure my plan appeals to most demographics.
So I started talking about some potential furniture choices, then there were more questions. Questions about colors, placement, and art. Should the table be round or rectangular?
At some point I simply had to take off my glasses and have a serious conversation. Where I think I may have been a bit docile before, I was taking over this appointment.
“I know that you haven’t ever worked with me before, and I’m not sure if you’ve worked with another stager. (She hasn’t, but she has seen work I’ve done for her company.) I have 10 years of experience. I’ve staged hundreds of homes. My contract clearly says that when you hire me, you understand that I’m the expert and that I have final say on all design choices, placement, and selections. I will ask questions to try to find out who you think the buyer is, but ultimately it’s my job to make the decisions. The things I hear you asking me about are all designer choices that begin to personalize a space to your taste. Are you buying it? (She smiled and answered no.) I only care about the potential buyer. That’s my job. It means that both you and the seller may not love it. My job is to make the buyer love it.”
I’m the home staging expert, so trust my judgement
As a Realtor I regularly experience other agents complaining about how customers don’t listen to their opinion on things like pricing their home. They even use the line, “Like they know better than we do. We only do this for a living.” Right. So why do this with me? I’m the expert. I know how to do this. I teach others how to do this.
Now I wonder if the down right earnestness is going to win over this agent, or turn her off. We’ll see when she comes back with a deal or no deal. For me, I’m over trying to please everyone. It’s the part that I loved about my job. It’s the part I hate as a Realtor.