The Consultation

tran-mau-tri-tam-50886Buyers, real estate agents, and stagers all love a well-showcased property. Let’s face it, the color, texture, and layout all appeal to our aspiration for order, decor and just plain old appeal. Pretty decor is what most people think of when we talk about showcasing/staging, however it is just the icing on the cake, not the ingredients that make the cake! Proper staging involves a three-step process, and each step is an important ingredient.

Staging techniques focus on improving a property’s appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product. Step one of the three-part staging process is where the expertise of the stager can have the biggest return. Step one is the consultation; the importance of this cannot be overstated. This is when the stager identifies condition items which will break a sale, then prioritizes the work necessary for the seller in order to eliminate any opportunity for buyers to offer less than the seller wants.

The location and size of the property are two of five factors that sell property. Generally, those factors are beyond a seller’s control; however, condition is within seller control. In fact, 72% of the impact of the first impression inside a property is advantaged just by making sure that the work identified in the consultation is completed.

Leave it to the Stager
Getting properties ready to sell usually involves an investment of time and money. This is where we see the most resistance from agents who do not want to upset their sellers and sellers who can’t fathom putting money into a house they are leaving. Research shows that at least 78% of sellers are willing to invest money to get their property ready and 55% are willing to move, store or rent furniture – IF they knew the best way to maximized the impact of those dollars. This is where a stager comes in! When the stager provides guidance during the consultation, it provides a competitive edge for the property and yields the biggest return on investment.

Like a home inspection, a thorough market preparedness consultation will range from $250-700 depending on the size of the property. Sure, you can get them cheaper from people who are in the business to just secure the decorating part, but this is not recommended. When people offer cheap prices it is an indicator of what they believe they are worth. You get what you pay for, and this is not the time to penny-pinch and risk your equity. Once the work and showcasing is complete, you can expect to add upward of 10% to your list price (a professional real estate agent will do a current market assessment for a more specific number). Although there’s no guarantee of the final sales price, completing all these processes gives your property the best advantage possible.

Stagers are 100% focused on looking at property through buyers’ eyes; they know the market, the competition, what buyers want, and they know what will make or break a sale. Stagers use this knowledge to create a prioritized MUST DO list for the seller including referrals to trades, preferred rates, staging safe paint colors, helpful checklists and tips – all things that can increase the equity in a property and profit. Remember: wherever the eye rests, the sale begins! Working with a certified stager ensures the buyers’ eyes are being directed to what you are selling. Buyers are smart, they see when you’re coving up a to-do list with decor.

Get Started on the To-Do list
glenn-carstens-peters-19059Recommendations to sellers often include:

  • Upgrades that count (some might be expensive like kitchen appliances or inexpensive like faucets)
  • Paint (money in a can)
  • Pack and depersonalize
  • Thorough cleaning, including windows
  • Curb appeal
  • Edit furniture and repurpose rooms
  • Basic repairs

A stager’s goal is to eliminate any reason for a buyer to chip away at the asking price. How do these recommendations make such a difference to a buyer? Think about it…

  1. If sellers do not pack belongings away, buyers see an overstuffed closet and wonder if there’s enough storage in the house.
  2. If sellers do not deep clean, buyers might wonder how well they take care of the maintenance of the property.
  3. If sellers do not repurpose space, buyers may never realize the true worth or potential of a property.
  4. If the curb appeal is blah then buyers cross your house off the list because they now expect blah on the inside, too. 87% of agents say they have had sellers refuse to see the inside of a property because of how it looked outside!
  5. If sellers don’t do the necessary updates and repairs, buyers think of how much money and work is ahead of them. They will leverage every little bit of work not done as a reason to offer less.
  6. Buyers are savvy. They know what they want, they know what they’ll pay for, and they definitely know what they WON’T pay for! Research shows 8 out of 10 buyers are willing to pay MORE MONEY for a move-in ready property.

Being equipped with the prioritized plan from a qualified stager means the seller can address the issues before they affect the selling price.

Getting the Best Return on the (Seller’s) Investment
When it comes to updates and repairs, stagers know best. They know where the best return on investment will be; it’s not always where sellers and agents think it is, and it might not break the bank. Stagers have resources and vast networks of experienced trades who have access to many less expensive and neutral options.

Some of the best returns on investment include:

  1. Clean and declutter: 586% return.
  2. Lighten and brighten: 313% return.
  3. Enhance landscaping: 258j% return. (Think of curb appeal as the wrapping paper on a gift.)
  4. Update kitchen and bathrooms: 172% return. (THIS sells houses! If kitchen and baths exceed expectations, then buyers are willing to compromise on other wants!)
  5. Replace or shampoo carpets: 169% return. (This is also an important frequent request of buyers.)
  6. Paint interior: 109% return. (This is the number one interior feature most buyers want today.)

Selling is not about personal taste, but what will get buyers the best bang for the buck and the broadest appeal. A stager’s goal is to get the seller’s property ready so it appeals to the largest number of buyers – so it sells quickly and for the most money!

Putting the Icing on the Cake
Like real estate agents, stagers always strive to do the highest and best good for their clients. They hope the seller will do everything recommended, but sometimes compromises are made because time or the budget is in the way of doing a stellar job. In the end, whatever a seller decides is fine because the equity jeopardy is theirs. The tip for sellers is to start early – more than 40% of sellers actually contact stagers before agents! What that means to agents who aren’t working with a stager is, you are missing out on an untapped market! Stagers refer sellers to agents! Regardless, the stager’s best efforts go hand-in-hadn with the seller’s, and as the property is showcased, they know that between them they’ve made the property as competitive as it can be, with the budget and time frame they had.


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About Christine Rae

Christine Rae blends her passion for the staging and decorating industries, her desire for helping people develop their potential, the thrill of training to the presentation of the CSPâ„¢ workshop. She has honed her skills and built her knowledge through extensive training in a variety of disciplines. During the last five years Christine has trained over 1600 people and in 2004 was recipient of an International Staging Award. Christine believes a crucial part of success as a trainer is to keep your hand in the industry you speak and teach about. This is why she continues to work (outside of training sessions) at building her own staging business, and works with a select group of Realtors® . The best business anyone can have is from a referral - it is an honor and privilege to work with you and your sphere of influence. Wellness with Essential Oils: