Set the Stage for a Sale

by Chicago Agent

By Craig Schiller
Last summer a new trend with home sellers began that Realtors might find intriguing. When it came to selling their homes, more and more sellers took a proactive marketing initiative and hired a home stager prior to even having a listing agent.

Surprisingly, however, while the usage of home stagers began to rise, the general Realtor community was still reluctant to fully embrace staging as a legitimate marketing tool for their listings. Many Realtors still hold a myopic understanding of home staging, and consequently those Realtors and their sellers cannot benefit from the variety of services stagers offer.

One way to build confidence with Realtors is to begin with an understanding of what staging is not. Staging is not solely adding props to a vacant property. If a home seller goes on the Internet and gets a list of tips to ready a home for selling and follows it, that is home staging. If the seller’s listing agent makes suggestions that will ready the property for selling, and the seller does as advised, that is also home staging. So just as selling a house does not require a Realtor, prepping and setting a home for selling does not always require a stager.

Just as there are intrinsic benefits to using a Realtor, there are inherent benefits to working with a stager and thoroughly understanding the five different types of services they offer. These five types of services are listed below.

1. Consult Staging: This type taps solely into a stager’s knowledge. Primarily focusing on the condition of a home, a stager visits a seller’s property to meticulously instruct them on all that must be done to best prep and set their property for market.

2. Re-Arrange Staging: This type of service relies on both the stager’s knowledge and physical labor. Once a home’s conditional needs are met, a stager is hired to rearrange a property by physically setting it using only the seller’s existing furniture and decorative accessories.

3. Enhance Staging: Again, with all the home’s conditional issues addressed, this type of service has the stager set a seller’s property using the existing furniture and accessories. However, with this method the stager adds his/her own decorative accessories and/or furniture to enhance or complete the home’s visual appeal. These “props” are loaned or rented to the seller while the home is for sale.

4. Pre-Owned Vacant Staging: When a home is used and empty, its conditional needs are amplified and thus fixated on by buyers. So while it is important that conditional needs be addressed, a stager is hired to then maximize the home’s visual appeal by setting it with the appropriate furnishings and accessorizing.

5. Model Vacant Staging: Typically, condition is not an issue in new construction; however, life-styling might be. Models typically rely more on projecting a life-styled visual appeal than a pre-owned vacant home. A good stager understands and designs within a specific lifestyle marketing concept when furnishing, accessorizing and setting a vacant spec/model property.

Again, staging is not only about bringing in the “bling” of props. Realtors may be surprised to know that most often what a stager does is actually advise and direct the average seller on those conditional concerns buyers will have and what they need to do to visually prepare the property for selling.

Realtors and home sellers who have worked with reputable stagers know we see more issues that work against the home’s sale and offer creative solutions that will ready a home for selling in ways that previously hadn’t been considered. A stager can also coach the seller on how to quickly, easily and inexpensively address the myriad of small projects that need to be completed to make the home more appealing to the buyer’s eye.

Whatever solutions a stager proposes must take into account the seller’s staging budget. It is great to see that sellers are beginning to understand the need for this process and are willing to create a budget for staging. Sellers know that investing in their properties to make them more visually appealing and ultimately more marketable will pay off. If time is money, then reduced market time is a great return on investment for both the seller and the listing agent.

Realtors must realize that more and more home sellers are knowledgeable of what stagers do and the benefits that can be gained. Sellers are beginning to call in stagers before they even have a Realtor. Additionally, stagers are excellent referral sources for listing agents. Add this to all the other reasons a stager can help and you can see it’s time to consider staging as a viable option for your clients. I encourage you to find a good stager in your area and get the ball rolling.

Craig Schiller is the founder of the Real Estaging, a nationally-recognized home staging company. Schiller’s articles are regularly featured on ActiveRain.com and nearly 70 television stations and print media Web sites nationwide. In November 2006, Schiller founded stageitforward.com, a national social network of home stagers. For more information, visit realestaging.net, realestaging.blogspot.com or contact Schiller at 847.384.9369 or craig@realestaging.net.


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