What Real Estate Agents Say about Home Staging: Out vs In

The key word for selling real estate in 2012 is CHALLENGING. No one, including the experts, can predict how the market will fare in the next 12 months. While the health of the economy and regional markets, and location and size of properties are outside the control of agents and sellers, three factors are discretionary and must be expertly managed to ensure a successful sale:


Increasingly, savvy real estate agents are realizing that having professional home stagers on their teams is the best way to increase their marketing effectiveness and success. When staged listings sell faster and for more than the comps that are not staged, agents and their real estate companies benefit from higher commissions, reduced marketing expenses, increased profitability, increased client satisfaction and increased referrals. Success breeds success.

In addition, collaborating with a home staging expert, who can handle a staging project from consultation through to completion, frees up an agent’s time to focus on what they do best – list and sell properties and find homes for their buyers. For the home seller, agent and real estate company, professional home staging is a win-win-win marketing strategy. Unfortunately, some real estate agents still do not appreciate the value and necessity of professional home staging. But in 2012, staging is no longer optional, according to real estate guru, Barbara Corcoran. Here’s what real estate agents say about staging –Out vs In.



“Staging costs too much”

“Staging is a short-term, high yield investment.”

“Staging wastes too much time.”

“Staging saves time by reducing days on the market.”

“Staging is fluffing.”

“Staging is savvy marketing.”

“My listings always sell… eventually.”

“My listings sell higher and faster than the competition.”

“Why would I pay for a consultation?”

“Investing in consultations helps me sell listings.”

“I won’t offend my seller by suggesting staging.”

“I win listings by having a pro stager on my team.”

“I do my own staging.”

“I focus on listing and selling.”

“Staging is just for vacants.”

“All properties benefit from some degree of staging.”

“What’s a stager?”

“My staging pro is an indispensable member of my team.”

As president
of Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc., I have collaborated with agents and sellers on the staging and sale of over $600 million in real estate. It is such a pleasure to work with savvy real estate agents, who embrace the “IN” attitude.

Small Is the New Big for Home Staging Professionals

I have just read an inspiring business book, Small Giants – Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlington. A finalist for the Financial Times/Goldman
Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, this book rejects the mantra of
growth for growth’s sake in favor of a passionate dedication to
becoming the absolute best and demonstrates that big does not equal
great and great does not equal big.

As home staging entrepreneurs, we are not corporate giants – but we
can be great! Common attributes of these small giants were: close
connections to their communities and demonstrated and meaningful social
responsibility; outstanding customer service, close ties to employees,
suppliers and clients; and leaders who were passionate and had deep
emotional commitments to their businesses.

What are you doing in your business that makes you great? As president of Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc.,
I have developed close relationships with my community of real estate
agents and vendors. I am committed to delivering excellent staging work
and incomparable customer service to every client – regardless of the
price of the job. I am absolutely passionate about the value of staging
and the work I do, including training new home stagers for Certified Staging Professionals.
I support Habitat for Humanity and local NYC non-profit organizations.
I am also dedicated to my professional communities and am always
supportive of my CSP alumni. Of course we all want to increase our
success and profitability, but it is critical to stay focused on being
the best we can be.

With this, small is the new big, thought on my mind, I made
another connection while reading the Sunday newspaper, Parade
Magazine (Oct. 11/09, p.6). “American Houses Are Getting Smaller”. In a reversal
of a decades long trend, houses are getting smaller and downsizing
continues. The McMansion era has come to an end.

“Demand has shifted from people looking to trade up to larger homes
to first-time buyers, who are typically younger, with less income,
looking for a place that is more modest. Smaller houses are also
attractive to empty-nesters looking for places that are more energy
efficient and less expensive to maintain.”

This presents several opportunities for home stagers:

STAGING SMALL SPACES: A few years ago, some agents
didn’t bother staging small spaces. Of course that was a mistake,
because all properties benefit from staging, and all sellers deserve to
achieve the maximum ROI on the sale of their homes. But now, agents are
paying attention to the marketing of these smaller properties because
they are in demand. And while more buyers are now interested in smaller
properties, they still desire the best value. Properties that are
staged to look bright, spacious and appealing to the targeted buyer
will have the competitive edge. I have recently staged two studios and
a one-bedroom apartment, that may not have been staged just a couple of
years ago.

DOWNSIZING SERVICES: Another opportunity for home
stagers is to help home sellers transition into smaller spaces with
space planning, color choices and downsizing strategies, as part of
their staging for living services.

: And with revved up interest in
energy efficiencies and cost savings, there will be increased interest
in Eco-Staging and Green businesses.

I suggest we embrace the “small is the new big” in our business practices. Enrich your staging skills and become a  Certified Staging Professional and pursue continuing-ed classes in staging for living and Green Build Science. Add these services to your business to capture niche opportunities. And as always, focus on being great.

Nairn Friemann, MBA, is a Certified Staging Professional & Trainer. As president of Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc., she has
collaborated with sellers and agents on the staging and marketing of
over $500 million in real estate. Her next CSP staging training class
will be held in NYC, October 17-19.

For more information visit IngenuityPizzazz.com and contact Nairn at 917-952-4669 or nairn@IngenuityPizzazz.com

Why Accepting the Lowest Bid for Home Staging Can Prove Extremely Costly for Sellers

As a very experienced stager and president of Ingenuity & Pizzazz, Inc.,
(I have collaborated with home sellers and real estate agents in the
staging and marketing of over $500 million in real estate in the
Tri-state area), I feel the need to comment on the issue of hiring a
home stager, based on the lowest bid. Some home staging companies are
now marketing themselves by their willingness to accept sellers’ lowest
budgets. It is well known that in any business, you cannot achieve all
three of the following at the same time: high quality, low price, and
fastest delivery. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for.

For most sellers, their home is their number one financial asset.
The return on the sale of this asset will be key to their future
financial well-being. Statistics prove that professionally staged homes
sell faster and for more money than comparables that are not staged.
Furthermore, with a surplus of inventory, the competition for any home
seller today is greater than it has been in years. With more than 90%
of buyers shopping first on the internet, the website marketing is the
key to attracting traffic to a listing. Viewing the property, buyers
need to fall in love within minutes – the first impression is that
powerful to buyer decision making. Professional home staging is not
decorating – it is marketing, pure and simple.

Would any business launch a product into a competitive market in an
unattractive package or damaged condition? Of course not. Because the
only way that type of product will sell is at a significant discount!
Staging is not an expense – it is an INVESTMENT- in fact, the best
short-term investment a home seller will ever make. Just compare the
financial return from a profitable and quicker sale (which also reduces
monthly carrying costs), with the interest the banks are offering for
6-month CDs.

The choice of a professional home stager, is a critical decision
that should only be made in consideration of many criteria – and
certainly not just on price! In many cases, the savvy real estate agent
already has a professional stager working on their marketing team. If
the agent can’t recommend a stager, then the home seller needs to base
their decision on the stager’s expertise, experience, track-record,
professionalism and portfolio. Of course everyone has budgets and
professional stagers will do their best to get the biggest impact for
the client’s investment. However, it is wise to listen to the
professional stager’s comprehensive consultation and recommendations
before making any final decisions on what should be invested in the
staging project. Home sellers today have too much at stake to be “penny
wise and pound foolish.”

Certified Staging Professionals
understand the importance of explaining to sellers what needs to be
done to get their homes market ready. As consultants, we accept that
it is our responsibility, not only to showcase the strengths of a
property, but also to address the weaknesses – even when some of these
issues might be sensitive in nature. The bottom line is that this is a
marketing collaboration between the seller, the home stager and the
agent to achieve the highest possible return on the sale of the
property in the shortest amount of time.

The Certified Staging Professionals training
does not only teach staging techniques and tips but also sets the
highest standards of ethics and professional responsibility. It is the
most comprehensive home staging training program available. Unlike the
on-line training companies, CSP provides trainees with hands-on staging
experience and incomparable after-training support. I am confident that
the CSP home staging training program is the best investment budding home stagers can make in themselves and their businesses. I am extremely proud of being a trainer for this exemplary organization and am pleased to share my diverse experience and expertise with all my trainees.

I am looking forward to my upcoming home staging training classes in New York City (Oct. 17-19) and Ottawa (Nov. 2-4).

For more information, please visit www.csptraining.com and IngenuityPizzazz.com or contact Nairn Friemann at nairn@IngenuityPizzazz.com.