Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Home Sellers Beware! What your Agent Isn’t Telling You about Home Staging Can Cost You Tens of Thousands of Dollars and Even More!

As one of New York City’s top stagers and president of Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc., I have collaborated with sellers and agents on the staging and marketing of over $600 million in real estate. I believe passionately that every property, regardless of location, size or price point, benefits from some degree of staging. After all, 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.

It continues to amaze me that some agents still don’t fully understand the importance of 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 staging issues with home sellers. Agents need to stop thinking about staging as a “negative” topic. Of course if agents present staging in a negative way,sellers are going to react accordingly. Instead, we recommend that staging is introduced as an integral part of a winning marketing strategy. Agents can offer their clients a professional staging consultation with their Certified Staging Professional as a value added service. This is the best way for an agent to introduce staging to their clients. We are the experts and we understand that staging is not an expense but the best short-term investment a home seller can make.

We know that 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 truly expenses and represent significant losses in the tens of thousands of dollars. And this does not even include the ramifications of the emotional distress!

Next the seller signs with a new agent, who insists that the only way they can sell quickly and for top dollar is to “stage.” 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.

Here are just three examples of our recent success stories:

Upper West side $4 Million, owner-occupied 3-bedroom Condo. The property wasn’t getting a positive response from buyers in spite of great location and move-in condition, because the furnishings were “tired” and the furniture layout was not optimal. The Brown Harris agent advised the sellers to invest in staging to upgrade the furnishings and appeal of the apt. We recommended editing some of the current furnishings and staged with a combination of some rental furnishings and some additional new, contemporary higher-end purchases. When the apartment went back on the market, the first people who saw it, bought it!

Upper West side $1.340 Million, 2-bedroom, owner-occupied co-op had not sold. When Deanna Kory of Corcoran took over the listing, she advised the sellers to invest in staging. We worked with the family to purchase some new living room and dining room furnishings and showcased their apartment on a small budget. At the first open house, just four days after going to market, the co-op sold!

Sutton Place $1.1 Million, 2-bedroom, vacant co-op had lingered for 6 months without a sale. Mary Ann Fusco of Douglas Elliman took over the listing and brought us in to stage. We recommended painting, removal of some of the existing furnishings and a short-term investment in rental furnishings. The sellers agreed and we staged and showcased the freshly painted apartment, which sold in 2 weeks with multiple offers.

Staging works. 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 apartment 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!

For more information about my services, please visit www.ingenuitypizzazz.com or contact me at nairn@ingenuitypizzazz.com. If you are interested in becoming a professional home stager, I am a senior instructor for the Certified Staging Professionals 3-day program in the U.S, and Canada. I also share my 10 step signature system for “Mastering the Art of Difficult Conversations with Home Sellers” in monthly CSP webinars. For more information call 1-888-Staging or request a free INFO package.

Nairn Friemann, MBA
Certified Stagng Professional and Instructor
Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc.

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