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December 16, 2018

Staging 2.0: Take Your Business to the Next Level

Do you want to enhance the service package offered to your customers?  Want to win more business and give yourself a competitive edge over other REALTORS® ?  Increasing numbers of real estate agents are providing free staging consultations to their customers as part of an overall marketing strategy, knowing that listings will sell for more money and in less time than they would otherwise.  

Time to Set the Stage

The U.S. Dept. of Urban Housing and Development (HUD) recently conducted a staging study that showed staged homes netted 17 percent more profit than un-staged homes. In many cases, money invested in preparing a home for sale will be paid back with a premium! 

Staging ALWAYS costs less than your first price reduction!

Furnished homes: Personal items in a home can distract potential buyers and make them feel as if they are invading someone else’s space.  Home staging strives to de-personalize a home to make it appealing to the widest range of buyers. Aim for a balance that does not feel too impersonal, yet allows prospective buyers to visualize themselves in the home. 
Additionally, staged homes sell 50 percent faster. In a slow market you are much less likely to have the inconvenience of having to show a home over months. For the REALTOR® it can be exhausting, for the homeowner invasive, to have traffic in and out of a home for months, while keeping it in showcase condition.  

Unfurnished Homes: The idea of a vacant home being the best way to showcase a property has proven unfounded.  With a vacant home, normal wear and tear is much more visible, and every small flaw becomes obvious as there is nothing else to look at.  Also, most potential buyers have a hard time visualizing the home with furnishings, and to them a vacant home will look cold and uninviting.  

A vacant listing rarely makes the necessary emotional connection with the buyer.  In fact, leaving a house vacant can put sellers at a distinct disadvantage. Many buyers will assume that because the homeowner has already moved they are anxious to sell, inviting low offers.

Curb Appeal:  Staging involves much more than just de-cluttering and moving furniture. It is a combined focus on showcasing the interior of a home, incorporating emotional connection points through staging techniques, identifying any minor home repairs needed, and improving the landscaping and exterior of the home.   

Improving curb appeal has one of the highest returns on investment of any improvement in preparing for sale.  According to Nancy C. Somerville, executive vice president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, “ If the landscape is poor, you could expect a sale price of 8 to 10 percent below comparable homes with good landscaping.”

Staging 2.0, The Next Level

Rental Furniture:  Whether for vacant or occupied homes, offering a furniture and accessories rental adds a new dimension to your business.  The most cost effective way, (though the highest initial outlay) is to have your own stock of furnishings. Offering rental accessories and even possibly furnishings to fill in the gaps of existing pieces in an occupied home is rarely done and doing so could put you on the leading edge.  This would require a good written agreement, since there is added liability in having your stock in an occupied home.

Home Organization:  Although this is not a strong point of mine, this is one way to take your staging business to the next level.  Many companies offer home organization services, so what better way to add value to yourself and expand your service menu than to offer this? 

Feng Shui:  If you have a genuine interest in the concept of Feng Shui and how energy moves,  look into this area to enhance your services and set you apart from other stagers. A Feng Shui staged home has improved energy (Ch'i) and natural flow.  Admittedly, this concept might work better in some areas of the country than others. ;)  A good place to start would be Feng Shui Your Life by Jayme Barrett.

Color: Take staging to the next level by offering color consultations to your clients if they have all white walls, tacky paint colors, or the ever dreaded wallpaper.  Find a quality painter in your area to form a relationship with.  It is a relatively simple and inexpensive change a home seller can make that can dramatically increase the appeal of a property. 

"After" Photos: REALTORS® can pay anywhere from $50 to over $200 for a professional photographer to take their listing photos.  Offering the "after" photos to clients for free is a great way to add incentive when bidding jobs.  For best results, invest in a digital SLR camera with flash and tripod and join the pros.  Once you have established yourself as a competent real estate photographer you can start to charge for this service. 

Visual Tour: Why not use those still shots you just took and compile a nice little visual tour for your agent/client?  I'm sure that agents would love to be able to offer this service as an added bonus to their clients. 

Redesign and Move-In Decorating: Last but not least, expand your business by focusing on the redesign aspect of staging.  As the concept of staging becomes more recognized in a community, the demand for redesign services for the average homeowner increases.  Offer as part of a serviced menu, quick one-day redesign transformations.  Also, just letting your homeowner clients know that you offer "move-in" staging services can automatically increase your business.  Most would never think of this until they knew it was a possibility!

Say, "Thank You":  I always give a small "signature" gift to each client for allowing me to work with them.  Take a tip from top producing agents wh credit much of their business from repeat customers and referrals.  So don't forget to say, "Thank You!" You WILL BUILD your repeat and referral business.

Remember,  the more you can expand your level of service, the more prepared you will be to "take it to the next level"!

Jessica Hughes is a professional stager in Boulder, CO

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