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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I did not know that was in the Agreement - Protecting Your Business

One of the most important business forms a Professional Home Stager needs to have is a great Staging Agreement.  Operating a business without an agreement leaves you open for huge risk.  Crafting a professional and air-tight agreement will serve you well as you grow your business.  



Here are some Do's and Don'ts when it comes to Agreements:

DON'T Stage a property without an agreement in place.  I don't care how nice the people are, if they have not signed your agreement, they are not obligated to pay you, or even return the items you put in their property.  Do NOT show up and Stage believing they will sign the paperwork and pay for the services.  Please - do NOT do that!  With how easy it is to have clients sign docs now, there is no reason a person does not adhere to your policy - unless they are planning on taking advantage of you.

DON'T forget about the payment terms.  If you are a professional Home Stager and are not accepting credit cards for payments, you are operating at the mercy of your clients.  Invoicing for payments is a waste of your time and because you do not have a valid form of payment saved for the client, they may NEVER pay you!  ACH drafts is an option, but you are still at the mercy of when your client decides to pay you. You need to be in charge of processing payments.  

There are lots of options out there to allow you to process credit card payments where YOU are the one in control.  Merchant fees are write-offs and a cost of doing business.  For me, my time is worth so much more than generating invoices, calling to hound people for payment and keeping track of deposits and checks, or not getting paid at all. 

DO use an online signing program such as Docusign or E-Sign.  It will save you so much TIME and hassle to be able to send agreements to your clients electronically.  The forms are easy to complete on a smart phone, tablet or computer, and they DO hold up in court as official legal documents.

DO have an attorney or other trusted legal adviser review your agreements.  There are online resources to help you craft a fairly good agreement, but having a professional review it for any inconsistencies or information that you need to add is a good idea.  

DO continue to revise your Agreements over time.  Situations arise that you may not have thought of or planned for, and when that happens, you may opt to put a new term or condition in your Agreement.

Like the time I went to Stage a house and there was no electricity.  I was literally Staging by flashlight.  Next agreement that went out had, "Electricity must be functioning," in the terms.  I also went to Stage a property that had been winterized by the seller - so not only was it freezing cold IN the house, the toilets would not work.  We were not by any quick shops so THAT was a situation we did not enjoy!  Next agreement, "Plumbing and heat must be operational." We cannot change the past, we can only learn from it - so use your "experiences" to help you strengthen your agreements.

The agreements need to spell out:

  1. Your terms for doing business - what you are providing (services) 
  2. Pricing and payment terms
  3. Penalties for properties that are not Stage Ready upon your arrival
  4. Removal terms such a 7 business day notice to remove or else a rush fee applies
  5. Ongoing rental terms - when does the rental start, do you provide refunds for unused portions or for a client who neglects to tell you they don't want to renew and then asks for a refund.
  6. Payment timing - do you take full payment at time agreement is signed or a partial deposit?
  7. The deposit is non-refundable (I personally take 100% of the fee up front at time of agreement being signed and it is not refundable)
  8. All request for removal of Staging items must be in WRITING (text or email)
  9. What happens if a payment declines or is not made?  (retrieval of items immediately)
  10. Access to the property - you either have a lockbox code or you make a key so you can access the property to check on the Staging items.
  11. If the agent or seller changes the access and does not notify you prior to pick up day, you charge a penalty for your time, your crew's time, etc. for not being able to access the property.

Special Circumstances:

  • Electricity is on
  • Heat works
  • Plumbing is operational
  • A/C works (in summer for hot places)
  • No audience while Staging takes place
  • Information about the inventory - it is Staging inventory and not necessarily new
  • Difference between Staging and design - client does not get to select or control inventory selections
  • Staging selections are at your sole discretion
  • No substitutions or additions
  • If there are pets, they need to be secured
  • Photo use and release
  • Other

Get all requests in writing:
This advice was given to me by a credit card company after a client disputed charges.  I won the dispute, but enacted that rule so that there is never any question on when a client makes a request and how that date falls in line with the required time frame for giving notice and avoiding charges.  

When you have a solid Agreement in place, if a client does dispute payments that were applied from their credit cards, you will have a great paper trail and document to send to dispute any charge-back issues.  



Is Ignorance, Bliss?
One of the things I have learned over my 16 years in business to date is clients often do not bother to read what they are signing.  Does that mean they are off the hook when it comes time to enforce your terms?  No.  

I am AMAZED at how many clients do not bother to read what they are signing.  Our agreements are not like the Microsoft agreements that everyone just signs without bothering to read. Microsoft honestly could put in their agreements I would owe them a million dollars or my first born child, and I would have just selected, "AGREE TO TERMS AND CONDITIONS" because I don't want to take the time to plow through all the legalese.

Our haste in getting through the paperwork can put us at risk.  Clients who sign a Staging Agreement and initial certain clauses without reading what they are signing cannot use ignorance as a reason to have you make special arrangements for them or expect to have the rules bent. Being able to point back to the Agreement they signed (and perhaps even initialed special terms) protects your business and money.

This is a business.  Treat it like a business and protect your interests.

For sample Staging Agreements go to the www.iahsp.com site.  It is one of the resources we have provided to our members.  Not a member?  You can join and become part of the world's largest Home Staging Association!





One of our recent Staging projects - an investor flip, remodel in #Denver #Colorado.  Remodel turned out nicely and the Staging helped present the property in the best way for Buyers.






one of our recent Staging projects - in Denver, Colorado!  You can see more examples of our work at www.SensationalHome.com


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Top 10 Tips for Packaging Your House to Sell During the Holidays



Top 10 Tips for Packaging Your House to Sell During the Holidays

By Jennie Norris, ASPM®, IAHSP-Premier®, ASP-SRS®, ASP-REO®




Owner, Sensational Home Staging – 
Denver Region’s Premier Home Staging Resource



The holidays are just around the corner and many Realtors will tell you that the last quarter of the year is often their best for closing sales.  Homeowners might think that it’s best to wait until the start of next year to put their house on the market and yet the last couple of months of the year are a good time to sell because there is less inventory and more serious buyers, and tax benefits as well.



If you are contemplating Selling in December here are some key tips to keep in mind:

1.  Get a Staging Professional 3rd Party Opinion.


     A Stager is not tied to the sale of the house and many times what is shared is received as truly objective.  A professional Stager is going to be honest about any changes that need to be done in the house from simply packing up excess to painting, updating, and rearranging.  They will create a specific plan of action and are available to help the seller implement it if needed. If you are a Realtor® having a Stager interface with your Sellers will save you time and energy and allow you to focus on what you do best – getting more business. 
     

F   2. Fall warm décor is always a good visual. 

The warm tone colors of the gourds, cornucopias, and fall leaves are always a nice addition to a home.  Just remember “less is more” – so have one centerpiece on a table that is the highlight and keep all the smaller décor additions packed this year.  A nice seasonal wreath on the door is nice, and warm snuggly throws on a couple of pieces of furniture add a layer of texture and visual appeal.  Just because it’s cold outside does not mean it has to feel cold inside.




3.  Keep holiday décor to a minimum.

This cannot be the year you pull all your treasured décor and holiday collections out and display it throughout the house.  The items might be wonderful to you but to a potential buyer they are a distraction either because the buyer will be looking at all your holiday treasures and not your house, or they will be hiding some key selling feature like a fire place mantel or countertop.  Remember not to put out anything that identifies your family – children’s names should never be on display which means maybe this year you wait to hang your stockings until Christmas Eve.



4.  Not everyone celebrates your holidays.

We want the house to appeal to ALL buyers.  If you know 100% that the buyer for your house is your same faith and will celebrate the exact same way you do then by all means leave all your items out.  Fact is none of us know who the buyer is going to be until it happens.  Don’t give them any reason not to buy YOUR house.  There are many faiths out there so whatever yours is you need to eliminate it from the buying equation.  Otherwise it can be uncomfortable for a buyer who is viewing all your personal faith items, and they might have a bias against faiths not their own, so putting your things away for a short period of time will help your house sell.


5.  Christmas trees need to be in a good spot.

If you are determined to put a tree up for Christmas think location, location, location.  Maybe you usually place it in a prominent area of your house but now that you are selling that tree will be a visual and physical block for buyers.  Make sure that it is not blocking a real selling feature such as a view window or access to your backyard.  Remember not to put any ornaments out that are treasures to you – as anything that is out on display is at risk of damage or loss.


6.  Wreaths, Poinsettias and twinkly lights are good décor options.

A wreath on the door that is simple and elegant is a good idea.  Poinsettias by the front door or displayed on a table to add color are a nice touch.  Twinkly lights on outdoor trees and a few touches inside add that winter sparkle. Just remember less is more.  Have only one or two on display because there is a point where an item goes from adding a highlight of color to a buyer’s experience to becoming a visual distraction. 


7.  No presents under the tree early.

Presents should not be wrapped and put under the tree early as anything that is left out is at risk of damage or loss.  Wait until a couple of nights before Christmas to put those out.  They take up visual space for the floor which is the selling feature and the fact is you will have people you don’t know touring your house.  As careful as Realtors are to ensure the security of a seller’s things, stuff happens.  Be proactive and don’t become a victim.


8.  Keep your yard cheerful.


The weather is turning colder and in many parts of the country snow will soon cover the ground.  Trees are bare and there is a lack of curb appeal with color in most yards.  A seller needs to help this situation out by adding color with annuals that like the cold and other splashes of color.  Pansies, primroses, and kale are all cold hearty annuals.  Put a few pots of these outside by the front door, by the mailbox and at the corner of your walkway to add some color.  Certain berry bush varieties also do well in the cold and add a nice splash of red to the landscape.  And remember the twinkly white lights add a little sparkle too.  Any lights should be tasteful and not overdone to the point of distraction with either cords hanging in odd or dangerous spots, or are visually distracting. 


9.  Remove ice from walkways, decks, porches and steps.

If you live in an area where it gets icy you need to stay on top of your walkways and yard to eliminate slipping hazards.  The last thing you need is for some buyer to slip as they are viewing your house as that could lead to potential financial and legal issues.  There are easy solutions for staying on top of the icing issue from salting the ice to scraping it.  Remember it’s a temporary inconvenience to help your house sell.


10.  Keep your house at a comfy temperature.

Heating a house can be costly and yet you have to keep your house at a comfortable temperature so that buyers will linger and really look around.  Buyers don’t want to walk around long if the house feels like an igloo.  Keeping the house at 68 degrees is a good idea.  If the house is frigid and you don’t mind walking around in a knit hat and winter coat, keep in mind that cold houses are unappealing.  Remind yourself that the heating is for a short period of time in the grand scheme of things.  Even if you are not home during the day, keep the heater going so that any potential buyers are welcomed with warmth.



Come up with a plan of action for selling your house by working with your REALTOR® on a key strategy to get maximum exposure for your property.  Follow the tips above knowing the goal is to help YOU sell your house in the shortest time and at the best price before year’s end.



_______________________________________________________________________________

For help in the Denver region getting your house or listing Staged and ready to show, contact Jennie Norris at 888-WE-STAGE, 303-717-7918 or www.SensationalHome.com.  Licensed, Accredited & Insured.  Over 4,300 houses Staged since 2002.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Vacant Houses Are Like a Christmas Tree Stand with No Tree! Stage it BEFORE you List it!

Vacant Houses have no visual appeal - they are like a Christmas tree stand with no tree!!  This holiday season, make sure you have the BEST first impression - Stage it BEFORE you List it!
#home #staging #stager #Denver #Colorado #house #property #vacant

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Do what you LOVE - find your Passion and WORK is replaced by a PURPOSE!

Do what you Love . . . Don’t just Work as a Means to an End



I was listening to a radio show the other day and they were talking about jobs and how people should not whine about having to work – it’s a means to an ends. . . 

There was a caller that kept changing jobs because she was unhappy with her workmates, they annoyed her, they were not intelligent enough, she got bored, or whatever other reasons she tossed out there – she was not happy at her work.  I just kept thinking, “She is in the wrong industry.”  If someone is that unhappy in their job that they keep looking for “it” somewhere else – and job hops, and hates going to work – they need to do something else. 

I kept thinking to myself:  “They need to find their passion.”

However the advice from the radio people was, “Suck it up.”  They actually said for working, “We do what we have to in order to have the life we want.” 

In other words a job is just a paycheck and working is part of what we all HAVE to do in order to pay bills and have a life that we hopefully enjoy.  It does not really matter if you really like it or enjoy the people you work with . . . you do it because you have to in order to live the life you want.

WRONGAnyone else find something wrong with that advice?

Settling for a job just to pay bills – is a miserable existence.  I know many people do it and I also know for many in this economy having any job is a blessing . . . but I just feel sad for those people.

Finding a passion is the key to happiness in the work world.  I think high school counselors should be helping kids discover their passions – whatever it is – and steer that child into an industry they will enjoy – not just figure out what jobs pay the best and steer that kid into an industry they will hate.

Why did I have a physician in one of my recent ASP® Training classes?  She has a full-fledged career as a Doctor – M.D. – and yet wants to be a Home Stager.  This person was so full of life and creative energy – her field (oncology) was stifling that in her – and dealing with death and dying was just not fueling her passion.  She was good at it – but she wanted something more.

Realizing there is an industry that pays well and will fuel that creativity opened the door of opportunity for her . . . I expect her to be very successful and much happier as a professional Home Stager!

Follow your Passion!  Then work is not drudgery or just a means to an end . . . it is something you look forward to every day! 

You know how some people just get through the week and then live for the weekend?  I live for Staging!  I get so excited when I get to work with a client and help them get their house ready for sale!

But in order to follow your Passion, you have to know what your Passion is.  It might be working with kids, or gardening, or writing or health and fitness, or old cars, or any number of things. . . There are careers for all those fields – they may not pay the same as you are making now – or maybe they will pay more – but what I have found is that I would easily give up $$$ in order to be HAPPY in what I am doing daily and be motivated to be the best in that field that I can be!

I thought about all this and realized how lucky I am to have found Home Staging.  I had a passion for creative things – decorating, painting, remodeling houses, and found this industry.  It is my work – and yet it is not a means to an ends only.  It’s not just a way to provide income to my family so we can do what we love.  It is my passion!

My motto is, “I do what I love so I can live the life I love.”

I love Staging.  In fact all the Stagers I know love Staging.  We did it for free for much of our lives for crying out loud!  Finding there was an industry that would actually pay me for my creative energy and ideas is the icing on the cake.  Knowing I am helping other people (one of my passions), using my creativity and talent (another of my passions) and earning great income (a great benefit of the industry – and OK a passion as who does not want to be paid well?) is the proverbial trifecta of working for me!

So if you are reading this and are doing what you love, say a little prayer of thanks as you truly are blessed.  If you know someone that is unhappy in what they are doing – ask them, “What you are really passionate about?”

It’s never too late to re-invent yourself.


Age is just a number and I’d rather go out of this life doing what I love than suffer in silence or never discover and use my true passion.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Recent Staging Projects - Take a Look at our Portfolio online!

We have had a very productive year so far!  Check out some of our recent projects by clicking on the link below:

https://www.sensationalhome.com/portfolio


We Stage all types of properties from modest to multi-million dollar!  Our team covers the region from Monument to Loveland, Evergreen to Parker, and we do go to areas outside those cities as well.  


Just call and ask!  888-WE-STAGE or 303-717-7918
or email SensationalHomeStagingCO@gmail.com