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Monday, November 1, 2010

WHAT ARE YOU PAYING ME FOR? Part 2 of 4 by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP President

In today's market, many people can be confused about what they are actually paying for when hiring a professional Stager. In my last post, I talked about the business overhead and marketing expenses, and the costs to having an actual business - not just a hobby - and why it's important to hire someone that knows what they are doing.


In this post - we talk about The Staging Consultation or as it is sometimes referred to "The Staging Report, Staging Plan, etc." No matter how you name it - the goal is to share with a Seller and/or Realtor what is needed to get a house ready for sale when the owner plans on doing the work themselves.... On average - the investment to provide a Staging Consultation averages between $150-$375 around the country and the pricing depends on the market where you live and the square footage of your house.


As you read below, consider this:

1. Average Appraisal: $400-$600

2. Average Home Inspection: $400+

3. Average Pest Inspection: $80-$100 and usually leads to $$$$ for repairs

Staging is the only service done in preparation of a house that brings MEASURABLE value and we help a homeowner keep 5-20% of their equity. So for the "Staging Report" - investing $150-$375 to get clear direction on what to do to help you keep 5-20% of your house value - is WORTH it!

For a Staging Consultation: I arrive at the scheduled time and rarely charge for time and gas to get to your client's house (unlike other service industries that have a "trip fee"). I have my report materials with me that I paid for - and a packet that I will leave with your client that I have prepped ahead of time.

When I walk in the door - I am immediately engaging my psychology skills to understand the Seller and what motivates them. In a matter of seconds to minutes I have to size up that person and adapt myself and my communication style to reflect theirs so we "sync" up and they are receptive to what I share. And when there is a couple - I must do this with not one, but two people - that I am sometimes meeting for the first time. This is called "developing Rapport" - and is a SKILL that must be learned through experience and training. Without Rapport - well - good luck getting your client to take down the painting of the naked woman or dead animal head they have hanging in their dining room.

Next, I have to walk through the house - first time to see it - and come up with "the Staging PLAN" in my head and figure out solutions that meet the Seller's timeframe and budget. I have to be able to "see" their house in a different way in my head. This talent is present in less than 10% of the population and it's more than just decluttering surfaces.

While I am there I am building camaraderie and rapport with the client - this is so when I go through my recommendations with them there is a foundation of trust and likeability between us. I do this in many ways - subtlety and skillfully.

Next, I prepare a detailed consultation report - and some Stagers hand-write this professionally while others prefer to type theirs. Regardless, your client is given a detailed summary of what is needed, room by room throughout the whole interior, and the curb appeal (all parts of their yard, the house, etc.) issue is addressed in detail as well.

When I go through my recommendations with the Seller, I must be able to communicate my vision effectively to the Seller in way that does not offend or hurt their feelings.

While I work with your client, I boost you as the Realtor - I edify, I am there as your advocate - I have your back. The deadline is set - and it all ties back to the desired MLS date that you have set with your client.

As a professional Stager that is networked throughout the region, I also provide Value Added Services to your Client in the form of discounts on things they may need such as paint supplies, moving services, storage services and more.

Then I follow up with your client - I make sure they are on track based on the goals and listing dates. I encourage them. I hand-hold if needed. I am available to help finish the Staging if they get overwhelmed or are not able to get it done themselves.

After the Staging is done, I help market that property (now not all Stagers do this - but I do). I take photos that I will share with Realtors as needed. I put your listing up on a special website featuring only Staged properties and brings leads to you. I send you an interactive media show on the house that you can use to market the property. I will create customized flyers for your future listings, and if I get a call from the house I Staged, the leads are passed to you as my partner in success.

All this is done and included in the price of the Staging Consultation Report. And all this helps YOU as the Seller or YOU as the Realtor (or as the Investor, Builder, etc.) KEEP more equity in the house.

So in summary - when you hire me for a Staging Consultation - you are paying me for my creativity, vision, ideas, psychology skills, communication skills, and business acumen to help get your client on board with the Staging and keep them on track.

It is a worthwhile investment to pay a Professional Home Stager to do it right!