Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I believe passionately that every property, regardless of location, size or price point, benefits from some degree of home staging. After all, home staging, simply stated, is the process of preparing a property for sale. Depending on the condition of the property, this can include editing, cleaning and window washing, painting, removal of carpeting, floor work, repairs, staging and showcasing with the homeowners' furnishings and/or rental or newly purchased items.

Yet it continues to amaze me that some agents still don't fully understand the importance of home staging all their properties - surely it's their responsibility to their clients to represent their best financial interests. And yet many still don't even bring up the topic of staging because:
  • they are fearful of upsetting their clients;

  • they don't know how or when to introduce the topic of staging;

  • they truly don't understand the benefits of staging and the costs of not staging.
Sorry, but no more excuses! Fear or a lack of understanding is just not an acceptable reason for not addressing important home staging issues with sellers. Agents need to stop thinking about home staging as a "negative" topic. Of course if agents present home staging in a negative way, sellers are going to react accordingly. Instead, we recommend that home staging is introduced as an integral part of a winning marketing strategy. Agents can offer their clients a professional home staging consultation with their professional home stager as a value added service. This is the best way for an agent to introduce home staging to their clients. We are the experts and we understand that home staging is not an expense but the best short-term investment a home seller can make.

Professional home stagers know that home staging works, but the best indicators are proven when an unstaged listing has lingered for months without selling. The agent loses the listing for lack of success, which is unfortunate for the agent, of course. But what is even more unfortunate is the significant financial loss suffered by the home seller. Monthly carrying costs for mortgages, taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, etc. are a burden for most homeowners. When a property doesn't sell these are true expenses and represent significant losses in the tens of thousands of dollars. And this does not even include the ramifications of the emotional distress!
The quantifiable benefits of home staging are demonstrated when the seller signs with a new agent, who insists that the only way they can sell for top dollar is to "stage." Time and time again, these listings sell quickly once they have been professionally staged and re-listed with the new agent. Unfortunately, by then months and thousands of dollars have been lost.

Just think about the process in terms of Economic Theory 101. An entrepreneur is about to launch a new product into a highly competitive market, but the product is damaged and the packaging is dated and unattractive. What is the only way that product will sell (if at all)?....at a DISCOUNT of course. And for home owners selling their most valuable asset, this discount, compounded with increased carrying costs, represents significant financial loss that they will never be able to earn back. Savvy agents won't risk this because they know they should do what is best for all their clients. And this includes small and large properties,owner occupied and vacant, high-end and less expensive ones too, because every seller deserves the opportunity to sell for top dollar as quickly as possible.

Home staging is no longer an option. Never before have presentation and condition been as important to the sale of real estate as they are today. Every home seller deserves to get the best marketing advice for the sale of their most valuable asset and the marketing process needs to begin with a comprehensive and thorough home staging consultation. If your agent is not advising you to home stage your property to achieve a profitable and quick sale (and in some cases to sell at all) they are not saving you money. They are costing you tens of thousands of dollars, and maybe even more!

Nairn Friemann, MBA, is a Certified Staging Professional and Instructor. As president of Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc., one of New York City's leading home staging companies, she has collaborated with agents and home sellers on the staging and marketing of over $600 million in real estate. A nominee for the Real Estate Staging Association's 2010 Pro Stager of the Year Award, Nairn has received exceptional media attention including the CBS Early Show, CNN, Dow Jones Market Watch, Business Week, the New York Times, New York Living, the Staging Standard magazine and others. As an instructor for Certified Staging Professionals, Nairn draws on her extensive staging and award-winning teaching experience. Nairn teaches the 3-Day Certified Staging Professionals program in the U.S. and Canada and shares her signature, 10 step program for "Mastering the Art of Difficult Conversations with Home Sellers" in her popular webinar.


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