Got a cold call from a stager....

weedyacresJuly 2, 2012

Well, the realtors aren't beating down my FSBO door, but a woman who said she was a professional stager called me this morning. She said she looked at our website (so she's seen the interior rooms) and offered to do staging for 1% of the sales price if it sells in 60 days, no charge if it doesn't sell in that time frame. She said she'd work with what we had, not make any additional purchases.

I asked her for some specifics on what she'd do, and when she responded with generalities (re-arrange furniture, move art), I pressed for some specifics, wanting to assess her abilities. She said she'd move the art in the master bedroom closer to the chair and floor lamp so it looked cozier. (Cynical me: yeah, and that will make more people come and look at my house??)

I'm feeling ambivalent: on the one hand, it's free if we don't sell in 60 days (it's a strong probability that we won't, just because the market in our price range is slow), so what have we got to lose? On the other hand, if she's not going to add any furniture or accessories, is that really going to change the look of the rooms that much? We're plenty decluttered to the point of sparse-ness, and I think we've optimized all the rooms' furniture arrangements with the help of GW. She might be surprised to turn up and realize there's not much in the "stuff you already own that we can put somewhere" category. :-)

And 5 grand? Really? For not adding anything? If I did bite, I'd definitely negotiate the price down.

What think you all?

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That's a pretty steep price. If you are interested, I'd offer her a one time fee for staging.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Ask for references. If she cannot provide any, walk. If she does, call each one and grill them: What exactly did she do for you? Did her suggestions make sense? What suggestion did you like the best? What suggestion didn't you like or understand? How did she help the sales process? What did any real estate agents who saw the house have to say about her staging? Did your house sell within 60 days? If so, do you consider her fee money well spent? How was she to work with? Was she professional - kept appointments, returned calls, etc? Would you use her again to sell another house? Would you recommend her to your best friend or a family member?

The problem with references is that only a total idiot would give you the name of someone who DIDN'T like her or her services... so you just need to keep asking questions and getting the reference to talk on and hopefully "let something slip".

And some further questions for the stager: What's your background? Do you have a degree or professional certificate in a related field? How did you get into this business? How many houses have you staged? How many sold within 60 days? Do you have any affiliations with interior decorating, staging, or other professional organizations? Define "sold" - what is the 60-day trigger that obligates me to pay you your 1% - offer accepted, house under contract, sale closed? Can I see a copy of the contract that you use?

Or, you can just follow your gut feeling and take a pass on this.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Weedy, I've seen your website and the house is beautiful. I don't see how a stager can really make that much of an improvement. I think in your case, it's just wasted money. I especially agree it should be a flat fee and not based on the house sale. If you really do feel like throwing some money away, you are more than welcome to throw it my way. Haha.

ilovepoco made some really good suggestions as far as checking her references.

Hopefully this person is on the level and not just casing your house. Remember the Tom Cruise movie, Risky Business?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 3:29PM
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Our daughter and SIL sold their 2 bedroom condo in the city of San Francisco in 2007. The use of a stager seemed necessary as they were so crowded in the condo with a new baby that it looked like a mess. When they moved out, a stager came in with pictures, accessories and furniture that was light weight and would make the rooms look more spacious that their furniture ever would. And the views were also played up. Their condo sold quickly for their asking price, and they felt the staging did it. But it looked like a model home with the work this stager did.

I don't see what this person is offering, frankly. At no cost to her, she will jigger your things around and then charge you a hefty fee if it sells. If it doesn't, no skin off her nose. She doesn't have anything in the game!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 3:35PM
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If she was bringing in a uhaul filled with the latest & trendiest furnishings then it might have been worth considering. As explained, I would keep the $5K towards negotiating with your future buyers

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 4:24PM
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If you are considering the staging route, why not call a different one, get pricing from someone else.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:27PM
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For 1% that is pretty good. But yeah... not adding any furniture? That seems odd. I guess it could not hurt given that if she sells it then that is great at 1%.

If you need that just ask us! I just staged and help my boyfriend sell his house before even listing it. I would more than happy to tell you what to do for free!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:32PM
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I wasn't considering the "hire a stager" route, because I posted pics here on GW before we listed and got plenty of help. I don't see how our house presents as a big gap. The ONLY reason I'd consider doing it is that it might be free, so kind of in the "it can't hurt" category. But I'm not convinced it'll help either.

Maybe she calls everyone who lists a house and offers her services, and gets lucky enough with a few quick sales that it makes her some money.

I googled her and she works at a local company in a role unrelated to real estate or design, so she must do this on the side.

aktillery: you must have missed my posts the first time around. I'd link it again, but I just did another email blast to realtors and want to be able to track traffic from that, separated out from GW clicks.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:13PM
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There has to be a catch. I know I am a suspscious person, but I just can't believe anyone would be willing to do this "for free".

The fact that this isn't even her chosen career sends up a red flag. I would not let an accountant fix my car just because he likes working on cars in his spare time. Now if he had stayed in a Holiday Inn the night before, then I might change my mind.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Maybe she calls everyone who lists a house and offers her services, and gets lucky enough with a few quick sales that it makes her some money.

Exactly! She spends a few hours, ZERO money and stands to gain a few thousands.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Or...she is a con artist looking for a way to gain access to homes to commit theft? By any chance, is your number on the Do Not Call list for telemarketers? If so, she violated that buyer beware.

Definitely vette her big time, before allowing access, if you should decide to give her a shot.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 1:42PM
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