The fearless approach to the staging conversation with your clients

In my years of experience as a certified home staging professional, I’ve encountered many situations where a real estate agent has been reluctant to talk with their client about staging. Fearing offending their client, they have chosen not to make the recommendation that staging may be necessary to improve its marketability. Instead, the listing languishes on the market, decreasing its opportunity to sell quickly and for more money.
So what can an agent do to convince their sellers that an investment in staging is important, if not essential, to get the home sold?  Here are a few ideas that could help these staging-sensitive agents to reformulate their approach to encourage staging for any listing: 

Let them know that you work with a qualified, certified Staging Professional. These individuals are committed to high quality standards in the staging industry. If you do not have a partnership with a qualified stager, be sure to research local professionals through the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), Home Staging and Redesign Association (HSRA), or the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP). Each of these organizations are industry pace-setters and their websites will provide directories of staging professionals in your area who are committed to high standards of staging excellence and ongoing training. Your clients deserve to work with someone who is qualified, experienced and affiliated with one or more of these organizations. Some agents that I work with take me with them on their listing appointments as part of their team so that their sellers know right away that staging is going to be a part of the sales process.

Approach the conversation in a sincere way, letting them know that you want the best sales outcome, and that may include staging. It’s not hard for people to feel your sincerity. If you believe in what you are saying, it will come across to the listener in an honest way. And, if you have facts and knowledge about the power of staging, your sellers will be impressed. Studies by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), indicate that staging increases the opportunity for a faster sale at a higher price. In fact, the 2019 Profile of Home Staging by NAR, concludes that 83% of buyers’ agents say that staging makes it easier for buyers to ‘visualize’ the property as their future home. RESA’s studies conclude that homes that are staged spend an overwhelming 90% less time on market. These facts are critical to help buyers objectively consider how staging advice can boost their home’s marketability.

Help the sellers put on buyer’s glasses. Most of the time, sellers cannot see past their day-to-day, lived in view of their own home.  Whether they have occupied the home for 30 years or one year, living in a home takes away a perspective that is essential in putting the home in the best position for sale. A professional stager can provide an assessment of the home which is essentially “buyer’s glasses”. Almost all sellers have no idea what is absolutely essential in staging the home prior to our appointment. I find that after my recommendations are clearly communicated, those “buyer’s glasses” the become a laser-focused motivational impetus they need to get the home prepared for market. By confidently suggesting that your seller allow a staging professional to assist them, you are helping them to have the right perspective on selling their home and take actions such as eliminating clutter, rearranging or editing furniture, and making valuable updates that set them apart from other homes on the market.

Don’t wait. Choosing to wait for any type of staging assistance can be detrimental to the listing’s potential, as the first 30 days on the market are critical. Fresh listings are seen by the most number of buyers and therefore the opportunity for showings and a potential sale are maximized during that time frame. Too many agents wait until the home hasn’t sold for several months to call me. They may even be in danger of losing the listing. At that point, the list is stale and buyers have “passed over” the home on multiple occasions. We have much more to overcome at that point, because the home lost momentum in marketing in the critical early stages.

Let your staging professional deliver the news. At the risk of offending their clients, many agents choose not to say what needs to be said to their sellers. The good news is that you don’t have to deliver that news. Professional, certified and experienced stagers have techniques and talents in communicating the news in a respectful, yet honest way and you are off the hook. Your job is real estate. Our job is staging. But, our goal is mutual, to help the home to sell. When we are all on the same page about that end result, that bad news we deliver becomes valuable tool toward making a listing outshine the competition.
Whether you are a new agent or a seasoned one, understanding the importance of staging in this modern real estate world is critical to your success. Don’t be afraid to discuss staging with your sellers. Understand that without doing so, you may be doing a disservice to your client. Working with a staging professional will enhance your credibility, take the pressure off you, and increase the opportunity for a successful sale.
Laura Landesman, Owner of Showhomes of The Woodlands, is a certified staging professional in The Woodlands, Texas and a RESA-PRO member. She is passionate about the power of home staging and loves working with Realtors and homeowners in The Woodlands and Spring areas to help sell homes faster and for more money.

Thanks to Lorelie Brown with Showhomes of Charleston for contributing to this blog content.

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