Seven Tips to Protect Your Commission When Recommending Home Staging Services

By Jennie Norris, ASPM®, IAHSP®, Chairwoman, International Association of Home Staging Professionals®, President & CEO of Stagedhomes.com, and Owner of Sensational Home Staging – We Stage Colorado


Real estate agents are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. Some Agents invest their own dollars to prepare and market properties, paying for services on behalf of their seller to ensure the house is ready for buyers to see prior to hitting the market. One of the key value-added services is home staging. Statistics provided by both The Profile of Home Staging (NAR®) and The 2020 Home Staging Industry Report (IAHSP®) both share staged houses sell for up to 20% more than the non-staged competition. Sellers need to make sure their house is show ready and throughout the years, the home staging industry members have seen a steady increase in the number of agents providing this as part of the marketing services to prepare and successfully sell a property. 

Realtors hire a professional home stager to provide a staging consultation for the sellers where they receive detailed information on what to do room by room to prepare their house for sale. A consultation costs about $250-$500 around the country and agents consider it part of their marketing strategy and pay for it on behalf of the seller. When compared to other services agents will often pay for to prepare and sell the house, such as carpet cleaning, window cleaning, professional house cleaning, landscape clean up, photography and virtual tours, staging is a the only service done in preparation of the house for sale that bring measurable value proven by the statistical surveys conducted by NAR® and IAHSP®. 

But what happens if the property needs more than a consultation? Many houses need the addition of furniture and décor brought into empty rooms in a house or added to supplement homeowner’s items to fill the gaps and provide a more updated look for buyers. Sellers may not have the available cash flow to pay for professional staging, so agents are offering to pay for the hands-on staging and inventory fees because they know the staging will help the house sell faster and at the best price. It is a win-win for the agent-seller team. 

The challenge is the market can be unpredictable. A Realtor is not in charge of the market and cannot guarantee a house will sell in a certain timeframe, although they approach every listing with the strategy of getting the house under contract quickly. There are external factors that impact the market including interest rates, the economy and other properties that are for sale. When a REALTOR® offers to pay for staging services, they need to make sure to protect their commission and offer creative solutions to their sellers. 

Here are seven tips to keep in mind when incorporating home staging into your listing process and protect your commission: 

1. Get an estimate for the staging BEFORE you establish your commission

The Staging should be an add-on service that is covered by the commission. If you don’t get a price first and then agree to lower your commission in order to secure a listing, you are now receiving less money for the sale. Most agents who incorporate this strategy of paying for staging use the staging as a way to validate being paid MORE than another agent who is not bringing staging to the table. Depending on what pricing you received from the stager, you would increase your commission percentage by 0.25 or 0.5% to pay for the initial Staging and could increase by 1% or more if the house is luxury property. In most markets, this small increase in commission earned will cover the initial Staging investment.  Contact your stager to get a price for staging the main rooms of the house and use that as a guideline when negotiating your commission. 

2. Do not pressure your stager for “the price” to stage when they have not seen the property yet. 

You want to know what the costs will be to determine how you will structure your commission but a stager usually needs to see the house to provide you with accurate pricing and this is ideally done in person but can also be done using photos. An experienced stager can give a price “range” – but even with that it could be inaccurate when they have not really seen the house. Some stagers provide pricing based on list price, square footage or number of rooms being staged, and with this type of pricing, you need to ensure you are getting the appropriate style, volume of furnishings, and quality that is appropriate for the type of property you are listing.  When an agent does not get an accurate estimate, they risk their commission because they do not own the staging business and do not know how a stager prices their services. When the Stager provides the estimate, the listing agent can be in a tough position because they agreed to pay for services that are more than planned. This means the Staging could be scaled back, or the agent has to pay more than planned. Getting the estimate UP FRONT before negotiating commission ensures agents do not end up getting less than they deserve for selling the house.

3. Make sure to cap the amount you are contributing toward the Staging. 

If furniture and décor are provided, there can be an ongoing fee paid for inventory supply or rental. The items ideally need to stay in place until the house is under contract and it is safe to remove. This could be in a month or it could be several months after the initial staging, and when an agent does not cap the amount they are contributing, the ongoing inventory use fee is added to the amount paid by the agent, which means you are making less and less commission. You are not able to re-negotiate your commission at this point, and so the ongoing fees are coming out of your earnings. This could add up to thousands of dollars, and when the seller is benefitting the most from the sale, they need to be the ones paying for the ongoing staging investment. 

4. Share what, if anything, you are willing to pay toward the staging and put it in writing. 

What we recommend is you share with the seller, “I will contribute up to $___ towards the Staging, and then any fees beyond that will be your responsibility.” If the seller is not able to pay up front, you can share, “I will cover the costs associated with the initial staging and will be reimbursed at the successful close.” There is a risk involved as the client could decide to cancel the listing. Make sure to protect your money in the agreement sharing, “If for any reason the house is removed from active listing or other changes occur (you) will be paid in full for the Staging investment paid on behalf of (client).” 

When you are willing to pay a portion of the staging, ideally have the seller pay up front and you reimburse them at the successful close for what you want to contribute. “I will pay $___ towards the staging cost and it will be paid to you at the successful close of the sale.” That is the ideal scenario as you are not having to come out of pocket for any of the staging service, and if anything happens to the client or sale, you are not risking leaving money behind. If you just want to provide a consultation, you would share, “I pay for the services of a professional staging consultation where you will receive detailed recommendations on what to do to prepare your house for sale. Any additional staging services would be paid by you.” Always make sure the terms are in writing in your contract and clearly understood by the homeowners. 

5. Do not quote pricing for the staging unless you received pricing from your stager. 

Your clients may ask what the staging will cost, and if you have not received proposals and pricing for staging, please do not guess at what you think it should be. You may end up setting false expectations for the sellers, and the pricing could be way off – either too low or too high. There are other factors to consider with the staging, and it is best to put the emphasis on the results they want versus putting the focus on the price. Lastly, let the Stager negotiate any price adjustments and be the one to explain the services and how they work. One key point to share is, “The investment in Staging is always less than a price reduction or a lower starting price.” And Staging is a tax write deduction (IRS Publication 523) and a price reduction or lower starting price is a loss of equity. 

6. Always quantify the value of any services you are paying for on behalf of the Seller so they understand upfront your commitment and contribution to help them sell their property. 

When a person gets things for free, it is human nature to not really assign any value to the service or item and a nonchalant attitude seems to prevail. Let them know you are investing in the sale of their house – give them the value – and reinforce your quality reputation and standards. This applies for staging and any other preparation services such as cleaning, carpet cleaning, window washing, landscape touch up, photography and virtual tours. When there is no value, there is no appreciation or understanding of the benefits you are providing versus other agents. 

7. Be creative with options for staging and needed home improvements and connect with companies that provide this service. 

There are companies, such as ZoomCasa,that will pay for any improvements needed for a property and require the house to be staged. They pay for all the services up front and get reimbursed with an added fee for loaning the funds. They evaluate the property, make sure there is enough equity or margin in the sale to cover all the closing costs, agent commissions, their fees, and provide all the financial resources for whatever work needs to be done prior to listing. Your professional stager will be vetted by them in advance and can share the names and contacts for the company. This option helps protect and preserve your and your sellers’ money as you are not having to put out any up front for the prep and staging of the property. If you decide to contribute a portion toward the staging, you can put that in your contract and have it paid at closing. One of the great aspects of this program is the companies providing the services to repair, remodel, improve and stage the house are paid when they do the work and do not have to wait for the house to close. You won’t have to ask anyone to wait to be paid, which can be a hardship for these affiliate companies. 

Use these 7 Tips to help you protect your income while being seen as a Realtor that does more for your sellers than the average agent.  Staging adds value to the sale and it should not break your bank.

Want to know the 2020 Statistics for Home Staging?

Go to www.HomeStagingStats.com and download our 34 page report with statistics on vacant, occupied, regular priced, and luxury priced properties, plus infographics on the process for consultations to help you better educate your clients.


About the author: Jennie Norris has been staging professionally since 2002, and to date she has Staged over 5,400 properties. She has yet to meet a house she could not help and she stages all properties from modest to multi-million dollar. Jennie runs the world’s largest home staging industry trade association, and the largest real estate home staging training company. She is passionate about the industry she serves and is committed to helping partner in education with real estate agents, sellers, builders and investors. Jennie resides in Littleton, CO with her family.

RIGHT and WRONG – Is Staging really that Black and White?

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By Jennie Norris, IAHSP Chairwoman

There are numerous groups on social media where idea sharing takes place to help provide guidance or tips to industry colleagues.  One of the more common questions or posts I see are from newer Stagers posting pics of properties they are going to Stage or have Staged, asking if what they did is “right.”  The answer to what all stagers need in order to stage a house in the best way is at the end of this article.  This leads me to the question, is there one “right” way to Stage® a room?  Are there a lot of rules that if you violate them, your staging is “wrong” and the house now will not sell? 

In short. No. 

Staging is subjective.  It always has been and always will be.  We need to be careful about boxing in our creativity and assigning one set of rules to every staging. Not only is that restrictive, it is unrealistic.  Things like budget, timeframe, and resources are all factors in how a property is Staged.  It is important we do not compare our staging to someone else’s or judge a staging that may not be as embellished as others because what is not being openly shared is how much of a budget the stager had to carry out the staging.  Of course, someone who has a large budget can provide more than one that has a tighter budget, and the question we SHOULD be asking is, “Did the house sell?” When that answer is, “Yes,” the staging worked, the stager did a great job, and the client got the results they wanted.  Of course, please never stage a house with too few things as it cheapens not only the buyer experience, the house, but our industry.  Better to walk away from a client with too small a budget than diminish your reputation and staging integrity.

If a house is occupied and being Staged using what the homeowner has that is very different than a vacant property where the Stager gets to select all the furnishing and décor to create a look that fits the property and the budget provided.  And when the homeowner is still living in the house, there is the added challenge of maintaining the look of the staging with an owner who is less-than-attentive to detail.

How often does PRICE factor into a Staging?  Every time.  It’s pretty rare that a Stager gets carte blanche for a Staging to charge whatever they want to for their services.  I never have. Eighteen years and 5,400 properties and counting and I have never had a client tell me to spend whatever I wanted to get their house ready for sale.  There is always a budget to consider, and more generous budgets allow for more items and more profit to the stager. The tighter the budget, the fewer options there are for Staging.  And there is a point where all Stagers need to walk-away from a Staging project when they will be losing money.  None of us got into this as a charity to pay our clients for the privilege of getting their house ready for sale.

The rules I see being shared have to do with things like area rug sizes, whether-or-not to karate chop a pillow, how to make a bed, how to dress a table, and how to position furniture.  These are all subjective opinions, and not a reason a house will or will not sell.  And I will share my thoughts and guidelines regarding each one.

Area Rugs: If you want to use a 5’x7’ rug because it fits in your inventory space better, or you don’t have access to 8’x10’ rugs from your inventory provider (most of the rental companies do not provide larger rugs), then use the 5’x7’.  Staging colleagues who share a smaller rug is “wrong” used to use those same sizes when they were newer. When a wood floor is the selling feature in a room, I would not cover up the majority of it with a rug.  This deviates from design principles where you want to have the furniture grouping on the rug and a larger size is preferred.

Logistically, the larger rugs are difficult to store, they weigh a lot, and one person cannot carry them because if they are good quality, they are like a bag of wet sand.  Aesthetically the larger rugs may be preferred by some, however, until I hear the words, “We did not purchase the house because the area rug was not an 8’x10’size, we will continue to use them in properties for Staging, along with our larger rugs for houses that do need a bigger size.  And a TIP from experienced Stagers is use two 5’x7’ rugs that are the same and put them side by side, to create a larger rug.

Pillows: The only rule for pillows would be use them on sofas, accent chairs and beds as way to add layers of texture and color. Ideally you want matching pillows in pairs however the eclectic look is acceptable. Karate chop the middle of pillows with feather inserts or don’t do it.  Either way is fine.  One benefit of karate chopping is if you go to the house and the pillows no longer have that look, you know someone used your pillows, moved them, or sat on the sofa. Buyers do not run screaming for the door when they see a karate chop pillow.

Beds: Some stagers like comforter sets with bed skirts and shams, some like coverlets draped over the bed to the floor.  Some like to layer up the bed and others are more streamlined and minimalist.  Do you use a throw or a blanket folded neatly across the end of the bed? Do you have to make the bed with sheets?  Do you put a tray on the bed?  The answer to the questions is yes or no.  It all depends on what you prefer.  For higher end houses, you do want to take the time to make the bed with sheets and layers.  These are the beds that would be rolled back tastefully to show off the layers.  In other houses, a bed could be made without sheets and layers.  One of the reasons we choose not to dress beds with sheets for all houses is we do not want people “in” the beds and when the mattress has plastic covering on it (for sanitary purposes) and not sheets there is less likely to be fooling around in the bed.  Yes, that does happen.  Stay in the industry long enough and you too will have the pleasure of discovering unmentionables in your beds.

Should you use real mattresses, box springs and frames?  Stagers who share only real beds should be used must have forgotten when they were new(er) and had to make beds out of air mattresses, platforms that were camping cots or boxes or bins. Yes, our industry has progressed, and we do not want to promote cheap-looking staging.  Much like the issue with the large area rugs, for stagers without a warehouse, carrying mattresses and box springs becomes a logistical impossibility.  Good news is third party rental companies provide mattresses and box springs that are reasonably priced. And a TIP from experienced stagers is use two sets of box springs instead of a mattress to save budget.  You can always put a topper on the box spring to create a softer layer before the comforter or coverlet is placed on top.

What about Headboards? They provide a nice, complete look to a bed and dress up a bedroom for a professional finish. There are headboards that fold up but most of them are going to be too large for even a large SUV.  Stagers have created headboards out of foam, fencing, and other creative methods that create the “look” of a headboard without the storage needs.  Sometimes a large piece of art is hung over the bed and shams bolstered up against the wall.  It is all about the budget for the Staging and type of property.

Placement: When arranging a room, a stager needs to consider focal points and function.  An architectural focal point would be a fireplace or a view window.  A living room could have two focal points while a bedroom may not have any and it has to be created with the furniture arrangement.  In general, you want to feature what the room is from the entry way of the room, so placing the main furniture piece across from the entry or in that zone is usually the best option.  Should you angle furniture? Angling furniture helps soften the corners of the room and provides an interesting alternative to having everything squared off.  This may not work for smaller rooms as angling the furniture does create a “dead zone” behind the item and cuts the square footage. It is a subjective choice and harkens back to the notion that there is not one “right” way to stage a room, however there may be a better way.  A Stager learns this with experience and/or moving things around to see various options. 

In my opinion, the word “rule” needs to be changed to “guidelines” and then to “preference,” and when asking for feedback on social media, at some point you need to learn the answer to the question posed at the beginning:  Gut Instinct and experience.  Those two elements will provide you the confidence you need to successfully stage any property and trust your choices.

Virtual Reality versus Actual Reality in Real Estate

by Jennie Norris, IAHSP Chairwoman, Owner of Sensational Home Staging – We Stage Colorado

Virtual Reality can be traced back to 1935 as a science fiction and movie tool that was not used in the real estate industry to any major effect until about 3 years ago when Matterport hit the scene. The idea of being able to tour a house “virtually” was appealing for buyers who wanted to be able to experience a house before seeing in person. Was virtual reality for real estate really meant to eliminate the need to see a property in person? Is that where we want the industry to head? Eliminate all personal experience and use robots and machines to sell and buy properties?

That would be a huge mistake.

Technology is great to make our lives easier to manage and but has also made our lives more complicated and demanding. The reality is we do live in a tech world however real estate needs to be REAL. Not fake. Not virtual. Some may disagree, however for most people, owning a property represents the largest asset they will own in their lifetime. To leave this decision up to virtual reality is a big mistake. A 3-D tour helps a buyer visualize a layout and features but statistically a very small number of properties are sold without a personal visit.

Furniture looks fake. Placement is wrong. Why would you BLOCK the selling feature of the built in and storage? A Professional Stager knows NOT to do this.
Proper placement of a REAL grouping. House sold to the FIRST BUYER who saw it after it was professional Staged!

The use of virtual technology has spilled over into Home Staging and the results are not good. Virtual staging is a cheap alternative to real, professional Staging, and it actually backfires on agents and sellers who are focused only on price. Sure, the photos may look halfway decent with a virtual photo shop addition of furniture and décor. That would be great
if home staging was only about a photograph. But it is not.

Home Staging is about the ENTIRE experience for a buyer.

From the time they preview a house online to the moment they step in the front door the Staging is pulling them in emotionally. The aesthetics with color, placement, and style of furniture and décor used are all strategically utilized to attract the target buyer and maximize the sales price for the owner.

Placement is WRONG. Furniture style is WRONG. The scale is WRONG. The virtual staging did NOT work to sell this property. It was a visual DETRACTION and a mistake
PROPER placement and furniture that shows actual SCALE AND SIZE of the room used and house SOLD to first buyer who saw it in person post Staging.

When a buyer sees a property online they expect to see the same look when they walk in the house in person. When they walk into an empty house, they feel duped by the virtual rendering online they are greatly disappointment. The buyer is going to translate that disappointment into criticism of the property. It is natural for anyone seeing a property
to start looking around and their eyes will notice flaws when there is nothing else to draw their attention. What is shown online should be the SAME as when a buyer walks in the door. It is all about expectations. NAR® has gone so far as to share virtual staging borders on deceptive marketing and has issued cautions to agents not to alter the interior of a property with virtual photo shop as it poses a risk to the seller and the listing agent for false advertising.

A listing agent or seller who believes a buyer can translate what they see in a photo into an actual real-life experience inside the house is mistaken. Statistically, less than 10% of the population is visual and a buyer is not able to picture how their furniture will fit, let alone get excited about a house that is empty and echoes with sadness.

Even though the virtual table and chairs are OK looking, when buyers went in person, the house felt cold and austere, and did not sell.
A REAL furniture grouping adds warmth and appeal, helps the house not to echo, and shows a buyer what will ACTUALLY FIT in the rooms. The sellers went under contract within 10 days of the REAL STAGING being done.

At its core, virtual staging is a deceptive marketing tool that cheapens the entire selling and buying process. Ask any experienced, professional stager, and he or she will tell you they have staged many properties that were virtually staged, did not sell, sat on the market, and then were professionally staged, and went under contract in a short time.

Jennie Norris – IAHSP Chairwoman
The furniture is NOT to scale and has been shrunk to fit the photo. This is DECEPTIVE. Furthermore where the photo shop jockey put the chairs BLOCKS visual and the access to the room. The FOCAL point is the FIREPLACE and they have completely missed that aspect that a pro-stager would make sure was featured.
Professional Staging included furniture that was the right scale and style, as well as placement that appropriately highlighted the selling features of this room.

This COSTS the seller far more than if they had professionally staged their property from the start because in the time they sat waiting for a buyer, they have had to continue paying the carrying costs of that property and possibly experienced a price reduction. A price reduction will be 5-20x the investment in real staging.

Furthermore, according to NAR®, REALTOR®s have a fiduciary responsibility to get the MOST in the sale of the house. Are those just words on paper or is this something they are actually held to as a standard?

Agents in stronger markets will share, “I have not had to stage my listings.” The fact is they DID have to stage every listing – they just didn’t because they were probably in a market where things were selling quickly. When a seller can net thousands more in the sale, and they are not being told how to accomplish that with home staging and are even being dissuaded from staging by their agent who just wants to get a house on the market as soon as possible, it is not serving the seller. Staging is not a secret. REALTOR®s know about it and need to educate their sellers about why it is important. If the seller then decides not to stage, the agent is protected because they did advise them about the service.

This room had too much hard surface, tile, and custom colors buyers did not like.
Staging helped create proper groupings of furniture, provided buyers with an idea of how to use the space and downplayed all the hard tile.

A final point is agents who include staging as a key part of their listing and marketing strategy to sell a house earn more than those who do not. When a property sells for more, the agent makes more commission, and statistically houses that are Staged sell on average for 1-17% more than the un-staged competition. This adds up to thousands more an agent will earn over the course of a year with added income as well as spending less marketing dollars on a property.

When REALTOR®s are fighting for their own viability in an industry that is trying to push towards I-Buying and I-Selling, backed by big money conglomerates who don’t care if they are harming the real estate industry, making sure a full-service REALTOR® is using every tool available to net the most for their sellers would be a no-brainer. Agents can’t have it both ways. They want to get rid of the trend towards eliminating the in person buying and selling experience, but then use virtual staging. Sellers can’t have it both ways either where their properties are not professionally staged, yet they expect to sell at the best price. Support and use REAL Reality. Real in person service. Not robots. Real Staging. Not photoshop.

Then the REALITY will be a successful sales experience that benefits everyone involved and supports the real estate industry being a reality-based service.

Important Information and Resources for Small Businesses impacted by the Covid19 Crisis

The Coronavirus or Covid19 has been sweeping the world with unprecedented economic hardship and health consequences. In some ways it has brought the world closer together as we experience the same situations and face this challenge together.

As a Small Business Owner who may have had to cease or reduce operations and have no or limited revenue stream until the crisis is over, what are your options for receiving HELP? This post will share some tips and resources for you to explore and further the path to getting back on your feet.


UPDATED INFO ON LOANS:

Received this from a business lender: As of the time of this writing, March 29, 2020, the SBA has not formalized the application process for the new “Paycheck Protection Program” or “PPP”, the program that got signed into law Friday as part of the $2 Trillion CARES Act. At the moment, we are all waiting for guidance. Once I get clarity on that, I will likely fill you in with another update. Businesses CAN apply right now for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan…it is an application you can file on line direct with the SBA and do not need another lender involved….go to https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance to apply.

Here is a link with a helpful run down on the SBA assistance loans that are currently available: https://files.constantcontact.com/27483c98001/ab3a54bd-48b0-423b-b845-cb3d2ed735e8.pdf  

And another link to help you understand what you qualify for:  https://files.constantcontact.com/27483c98001/5549b8bb-7ea1-4c06-9817-28d88045dfce.pdf

Keep in mind, that there is a HUGE demand for all of these products as most businesses are affected in some way over this virus. So there is going to be delays at SBA and especially with the banks and lenders who will be called on to administer the new PPP Loans. So be patient.

LOANS AND FINANCIAL AID

The SBA has loans available under the Disaster Relief Act from the Federal Government. https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

Your COUNTY needs to be listed on the Disaster Loan Application site for the SBA for Covid Declared Disasters. If your county is NOT listed, we encourage you to contact your Governor’s Office via phone and email and ask them to submit ALL counties for their state so people can get financial help. The Governor is the only one who can request for the counties to be added.

https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/Index

You will need to indicate ECONOMIC INJURY as the reason for filing.

Some states have funding and even municipalities so please check on your state and local government websites to see what they have for funding assistance. Some of the funding is for government entities only, some may be for brick and mortar stores/shops/restaurants forced to close.

BEWARE of predatory money lenders who are hard-money loan sharks looking to capitalize on “desperation.” These lenders usually charge very HIGH interest rates with possible daily payouts and should only be used as a last resort after other options have been exhausted.


BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE

You may be eligible for Business Interruption Insurance from your business insurance carrier. You need to review your policy or have your insurance agent help you with this to see if the Covid19 is covered. KMRD Partners shared via webinar what to do with insurance and questions to ask your carrier.

The video is here: https://www.facebook.com/178677998855566/posts/3140169152706421/

You need to keep good records of any economic hardship you are facing as a result of the Covid19 shutdown. Know the payouts will not be quick and as with any agency, they will probably try to dispute your claim to avoid paying out on the policy. KMRD has offered to assist those who may need help with their policies whether or not they are policies set up through KMRD. They are our ADVOCATE for insurance coverage.

KMRD Partners, Inc.
2600 Kelly Road, Suite 120
Warrington, PA 18976
866-957-5673
http://www.kmrdpartners.com


DEFERRED PAYMENT PLANS

We encourage you to reach out to any creditors you owe money to and ask for a reprieve for payments. MOST entities are being understanding and will defer payment for 1-2 months with a provision to contact them if more time is needed.

IF your bank, auto loan, credit card companies, lenders, property managers are NOT being cooperative, we suggest sending that information to the Governor of your State and also to your local news station. This is a time when EVERYONE need to be helped to the degree they are impacted and for entities to take a hard line on offering any support or assistance is not right. These companies need to be exposed. The pressure they receive might make them change their attitudes and approach to their customers.

  • Ask your creditors what they are offering
  • Negotiate terms that work for you
  • Keep track of what you have agreed to so you know when your payments will resume and at what amounts
  • Stay in touch with all of your creditors – they like communication and most are available via phone and email.

WHAT ABOUT MY CLIENTS AND PROPERTIES WHERE I HAVE MY STAGING FURNISHINGS INSTALLED?

If you are getting calls to waive payments for your furnishings, you have a right to not lose the income. You can agree to the terms providing the seller/client has enough equity in the home to pay the deferred amount at closing. We do NOT recommend going to a pay at close option for the duration – agree to only 2 weeks or 1 month and then re-assess.

The prediction is clients will resume their jobs and income once the Covid19 crisis is over – and current estimates are by mid-April we will be able to resume our business activity. Your other option is to pick up your items and return them to your warehouse for use in future projects. If the property gets put on temporary-withdraw status, this means the house will be put back to active showings once the crisis is over and real estate activity can resume to normal.

  • IF the house is still listed online, you should be paid for your items that are being used to showcase the house. You can decide if you will charge a reduced amount as a courtesy. You have a legal agreement in place with your client that needs to be honored however if you are able to adjust things to work with your client that will go a long way for future business opportunities.
  • IF the house is de-listed temporarily, this is where you can defer use fee for 2 weeks and then resume payments. We are not charities and as micro-businesses we are not in a position to lose income as we have bills to pay as well. Make sure to keep track of lost income.
  • IF the house is removed from active listing altogether – pick up your items. Make sure to keep on top of important dates such as when the REALTOR no longer has access or you no longer have access, etc.
  • Check with the listing agent on the strategy – the sellers may be moving back, they may decide to rent, or other options. You don’t want to let your things sit at risk when a contract has been terminated.

Houses are still being purchased and sold which means sellers are still able to get their house to close during this time.

  • You want to make SURE you submit your invoice to the TITLE company with clear instructions on how you are to be paid.
  • Ask the client who that entity is for the transaction or;
  • Ask the REALTOR who is handling the sale about the Title Company. Make sure the REALTOR knows what your plan is so they are in the loop.
  • Call the Title Company and explain what you need to do – and ask about any other payouts on the property to ensure there will be revenue left to pay you.
  • Stay on top of the CLOSING DATE and the day prior, call the Title Company to ensure you are on the LIST for payout/settlement.

If you do choose to waive payments and let items remain in a house, make sure to KEEP TRACK OF ALL LOST INCOME as that would be part of the Economic Injury Claim.


We hope the information shared is helpful to you and answers questions you may have regarding how to deal with our current, unprecedented situation. For more information or to contact us please email info@iahsp.com

Coronavirus-Covid19-Recommendations for all home staging industry professionals

The International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) is monitoring the current health pandemic with great concern for all our members around the world. We are hopeful none of our family is impacted personally with this virus and pray for all those who are to date as we continue to see the spread globally. As the home staging industry association leader, we wanted to share guidelines specific to how you can remain viable and earn income during this time while not risking your health and safety.


VIDEO-Consultations or E-ConsultationsThese are a great way to provide necessary information, guidance and support to homeowners who want to prepare their homes for sale now. The steps to accomplish this are fairly simple given today’s technology.

  1. Start with having them send you photos of each room in the house from the doorway, and from all corners (if possible). This will allow you to assess the room as a whole versus from just one vantage point. It allows you to see what is on the walls, in the corners, and see how the room and furniture is positioned relative to other parts of the house.
  2. You would analyze the photos and provide a typed summary for the clients to follow.
  3. Email the summary to the client and agent (if one is involved).
  4. Call the client or do a face-time chat on your phone, use Zoom or Skype or WhatsApp to do a video call. This is recommended so you can see their reaction to the guidelines you shared. If you are not able to see them or them see you the important part of “rapport” is lost and they may not agree to do all you recommend.

Note: We are doing our best NOT to use the word “VIRTUAL” as we are opposed to Virtual Staging as a cheap alternative to real Staging, and as such we do not want to be using that word in conjunction with our services. Alternatives are “E-Consult” or “Tele-Consult” or “Video-Consult” – which all indicate the type of services being provided.

E-PreviewsThese are a great way to provide a proposal for Staging a vacant property without you having to go in person.

  1. Follow the steps above with someone sending you photos of the property.
  2. You prepare the proposal for recommended areas and send to the client.
  3. Follow up on the phone or via a video call.
  4. The Staging can be scheduled and installed as long as your state/region allows you to be out OR you get things set when bans will be lifted.

Property Showings:

Tips for BUYERS: Buyers are still out looking for properties and have to purchase for work or lifestyle decisions. A property that is Staged shows great online and in person showings can be done taking these precautions:

No open houses are being done to protect the public and homeowners. Tips to share with buyers:

  1. Keep hand-sanitizer by the front door for all buyers to use.
  2. If you are an agent bringing buyers, make sure you all use the sanitizer before anyone enters the home.
  3. Do not touch door knobs, cabinets knobs and light switches. Do not use the restroom in the house. If there is an urgent need, please make sure the homeowner knows this was done so they can take disinfectant measures.
  4. If anyone in the buying group is not feeling well, do NOT go to a home to look in person. Stay home. Let someone else be your eyes.

Tips for SELLERS: Your house is for sale and Buyers need to see it in person to make an important decision to purchase. If you are in an area where showings are allowed, take these precautions to ensure your home is protected from potential exposure.

  1. Keep hand santizer in a basket outside the front door. Make it mandatory that any agents and buyers use the sanitizer before entering your home.
  2. You can provide disposable gloves for buyers and agents to wear as an added precaution. Keep a small trash can outside your front door (or in other discreet area out front) for buyers and agents to throw their used gloves away once they exit your home.
  3. Keep all doors open throughout the house. This will minimize the chances of other people touching your door knobs where germs can be present.
  4. Wipe down all switch plates for lights and turn on all the lights in the house so agents and buyers do not have to do this. Instruct agents NOT to turn off any of the lights.
  5. Fold your toilet paper end into a point in every bathroom. If you return home and the end is not folded anymore, you know someone used the bathroom and you will want to sanitize it.
  6. Keep plenty of lysol and disinfectant wipes on hand to wipe down doorknobs, cabinet knobs, and light switches.

SYMPTOMS and TIPS to help minimize the exposure and impact of this virus.


If you suspect you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor. Do not immediately go to the ER as the hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. To find a location for testing in your area, GOOGLE your city and state/province/country as there is not one site that has the information pulled together by state or country.


If you or someone you know is struggling due to this pandemic please let us know how we can support you through this challenging time. Email Jennie@iahsp.com

Why Seeing Your Path Clearly is the KEY to Business and Personal Success

By Jennie Norris, IAHSP® Chairwoman

Text Box:
Have you ever gotten in your car and just started driving along with no destination? Have you ever gone to the airport and taken a random flight to somewhere? 

For most people, the answers would be, “No,” unless they were on some random adventure quest.  We don’t want our businesses to be a random adventure quest.  We want our business success to be strategic and predictable based on our efforts.

VISION – SUCCESS – FOCUS – CLARITY – FUTURE

All of these words have a common thread – being able to see clearly and know where we are headed.  And these are the words for 2020 for IAHSP® – and the theme of our conferences in Lisbon, Portugal and Denver, Colorado. Our theme and these words were chosen in October 2019 as we started thinking about 2020 and what our goals were as an industry, an association, a business owner and person.  These are great words and we hope you take the time to think about what they mean to you.


VISION

VISION.  We are already into our second month of 2020 – do you have your vision for the year mapped out?  Vision is not only what drives your effort every day, it is also about having goals that support your overall vision and mission.  What is the vision for your company – what is the message you want prospective clients to know and understand about what you do? Why do you do what you do? Do you have your marketing strategic monthly plan to support your goals? Do you know what your revenue goals are for 2020? Do you need to increase sales or reduce costs and if so, how are you planning to accomplish that?

SUCCESS

SUCCESS.   What does Success mean to you?  The general definition is the achievement of a goal. 

What were those goals for you in 2019?  Was it to increase in the number of clients you serve regularly or to maintain your same level of business and revenue? Was it to focus on increasing the number of houses you Stage or types of properties you stage – vacant, occupied, consultations, etc.? Did you have unexpected success?  That is a great type of success – however if it was unexpected, why was it not planned as part of your strategy? This could be recognition or awards you received or something else that added to your revenue or client base.  We need to think about all aspects of our business and there is nothing wrong with planning for recognition or added revenue.

As the old adage says: Fail to Plan then Plan to Fail. We need to set goals for where we what we want to achieve, make sure they are measurable, assess our success quarterly and make any adjustments, and be open to adding to the plans where it makes sense.

If someone were to ask you the following questions, could you answer them?

  • What is your ratio of consultations to vacant staging?
  • How much revenue did you generate? 
  • How did that compare to 2018?
  • Did you have goals for growth, or did you want to maintain status-quo and refine your process? 
  • What was your net profit?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of costs to run your company?

In order to assess and quantify success – and measure it – you need to know the data from your business.  As a business owner you cannot use the excuse that you are not a details person.  You may have had measurable goals and did not hit all of them – and that is OK as long as you know why you did not achieve the goals and put measures in place to get back on track.

Our past can give us keys to our future.  So many people are afraid to look at their business and analyze the good and the bad as they are afraid of feeling like a failure.  Or they don’t really want to know what is going on and go through each day with business blinders on – not really seeing the impact of their actions or attitude and are on the proverbial hamster wheel of work.

Embrace the past as a learning experience or example of what you are capable of and be sure to not let it confine or restrict your potential.

FOCUS

FOCUS. When our Focus is blurred, our path it not clear. Have you ever tried on glasses that were dirty so you could not see through the lens or put on a pair of glasses that were the wrong prescription?  In both cases, you cannot focus or see through the blurry lens and if you do wear the wrong prescription, you can get a headache. Things that can blur our vision and focus are distractions in both action and attitude.  When we encounter something that begins to blur our focus, we may have to take time to handle the circumstance, and then get our focus back on track.

CLARITY

CLARITY.  Clarity is about having Clear purpose behind our actions and attitude.  Our WHY is the biggest motivator for getting us up every day to continue to work in our businesses.  What is your WHY?  Clarity is about removing anything that might cloud our vision or distract us from our goals.  When we have clarity about our intent, our focus, and our goals, our actions and attitude will be alignment.  Focus and Clarity go hand in hand.

It is not a coincidence that CLARIFY and CLARITY are spelled almost exactly alike – one leads to the other.

FUTURE

FUTURE.  We live in the present and plan for our futures. None of us are guaranteed a future but we do need to plan for it and put actions in place that have a positive impact for us and our businesses, for our families, friends, and colleagues.  Every action we take has a reach and impact on others.  Things we do today whether Staging a house, running a business, being part of industry leadership and planning for standards – the impacts are far reaching as what we do impacts others. Our goal is to be an Impact Player for the betterment of life experiences for all we have the pleasure and opportunity to have in our lives.


As opportunities present themselves, we need to assess whether they are in alignment with our overall vision for our lives, and our goals for our business.  We must remain open to adding things that support our vision and adjusting our path for success as needed and taking risks in order to experience the rewards.  It is important not to put blinders on as then we miss opportunities to add to our path for success.  Rewards are not monetary – they are intangibles.  The relationships we receive, the opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life, the ability to guide an industry for the future, these are responsibilities we need to take seriously.


To be part of the Vision for Success: Focus, Clarity, Future that IAHSP® is providing to the industry and our members, go to www.IAHSP.com.  IAHSP® is your Business Support Association® and Your HOME in the Home Staging Industry®.  We have FAST-LEAD Workshops being held live in major cities, our two conferences that bring you high level education and the largest Vendor EXPO for our industry, and the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world.

Announcing First Two IAHSP® Conference & EXPO Keynote Speakers PLUS NEW Industry Designation!

IAHSP® Conference & EXPO – the Home Staging Industry Event of the YEAR is bringing exciting, knowledgeable and quality KEYNOTE SPEAKERS to you! We have 3 we have lined up – we have announced TWO so far! The THIRD one will be announced soon!

Go to www.IAHSPConEXPO.com to register now before prices go up! Lock in PRIORITY ATTENDEE STATUS and be first in line for KEYNOTE Meet and Greets, Premier Seating, and Special Exclusive Speak Easy during our Awards Dinner Great Gatsby Gala!


JONNY FOWLER

JONNY FOWLER: Jonny is a marketing and social media guru. Jonny founded Hancock Mortgage and has helped grow a thriving business. One of his main passions is marketing and social media, as an Industry Leader Professional Speaker Social Media Specialist and Industry Innovator. Jonny shares in-depth, timely information that works to bring you business. He understand how platforms like Facebook and Instagram work and teaches how to work the system to outsmart algorithms that limit our exposure. You will learn not just what to do but HOW to do it. His two-hour keynote session will be one of the BEST you have heard to help your business grow and thrive.


RAVI HUTHEESING

RAVI HUTHEESING is an international keynote speaker and cultural
catalyst. He empowers businesses, educators, and millions of
people worldwide to pivot and transcend cultural and generational
divides, and his incomparable life story keeps audiences on the
edge of their seats.

The first American-born member of the family that created and
governed the world’s largest democracy for over 40 years, Ravi is
the grand-nephew of Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first prime
minister) and the cousin of prime ministers Indira Gandhi and
Rajiv Gandhi.

His worldwide visibility skyrocketed in 1997 when he became the guitarist for triple Grammy nominee, Hanson, whose massive millennial fan base catapulted them to the White House, Madison Square Garden, Tonight Show, Good Morning America, Saturday Night Live, and more.

in 2014, he was invited to serve as a cultural diplomat for the US Department of State and went to Russia to give presentations on arts, entrepreneurship, and youth leadership. In 2016, he went to Indonesia and created songwriting and cultural entrepreneurship programs that bridged
the most severe cultural and religious divides.
As a global citizen, Ravi continues to pivot and grow. He shares his experiences and revelations in an effort to increase cross-cultural understanding and create a pathway to world peace.


NEW INDUSTRY DESIGNATION FOR ALL ATTENDEES!

We have industry experts sharing on this topic. Ravi Hutheesing will be part of this designation education.

All attendees at the 2020 IAHSP® Conference & EXPO will earn their IAHSP®-CDE – Cultural Diversity Expert Designation.

We are in a people business and Staging is a global service. Our cities and communities are becoming more diverse with multi-cultural influences from people from all over the world.

Misunderstandings or misimpressions about differences can offend people by mistake and we need to understand cultural differences, nuances and traditions in order to better serve our clients.

The IAHSP® Cultural Diversity Expert Designation (IAHSP-CDE®) will teach you:

  1. About major cultural groups and what their expectations are in business
  2. Do’s and Don’ts in working with various cultures and ethnicities
  3. How to approach sensitive issues related to Staging
  4. Why Diversity and Inclusivity are linked together
    Our Speakers for this session will provide expert insights on the topic.

Go to www.IAHSPConEXPO.com to register now! Prices go up soon! Call 844-IAHSP99 for information!

Special GIFTS for YOU from IAHSP

‘Tis the Season for Giving and IAHSP has some SPECIAL GIFTS for you! Whether or not you are a member, you can take advantage of these gifts and Save $$! Click on this link to take advantage of your gifts! https://iahsp.com/holiday-promo

GIFT 1: Save $35 OFF the Luxury Home Specialist and/or $35 OFF the Buyer Trends Specialist Courses – Dec 16-17 only!

GIFT 2: DEC 18-19 ONLY! Save $50 OFF your Las Vegas Market Tour – Jan 27th, 2020! Learn how to shop with the pros as part of the IAHSP Wholesale Buying Program that saves the MOST $$ of any industry program!

GIFT 3: DEC 20-21 ONLY! Save 25% OFF VCON – Virtual IAHSP Conference 2019! You can watch ALL the Speakers at your leisure and learn! Don’t let your lack of attendance make you miss out on key education!

7 Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Should NOT Stage Their Listings

7 Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Should NOT Stage Their Listings – by Jennie Norris, IAHSP Chairwoman and Professional Home Stager

Did this title capture your attention?  In truth, we want all properties Staged before hitting the market.  However, if you are a Real Estate Agent, it is important that YOU PERSONALLY are not Staging properties for the following reasons:

  1. You need to use your time wisely.  

We all have 24 hours in the day. Taking any productive time away from making calls and connections to bring you a listing or a buyer, is unwise. Talk to any Business Coach and they will never say, “Suck up all your time doing all the work yourself and do not involve qualified pros in your business.” What IS being taught is, “Find qualified people to add to your overall team and process so your time is leveraged.”

  1. Your income comes from closing a sale, not Staging.  

As a real estate agent, you are paid at closing for selling a house not staging it.  You make FAR MORE when you sell a house and earn your commission than a stager ever will Staging a property.  Are you going to do the home inspection, fix the plumbing and landscaping too?  Understanding you are the Director in the process and bringing in qualified professionals to do the other work will maximize your earnings and your reputation.

  1. Your clients don’t want to hear you criticize their house.  

Why risk the relationship? Do you relish the role of telling a client their house is cluttered, dirty, dated, or smelly? Do you like telling them their pets are too hairy or their housekeeping skills need help?  Do you want to manage the angry teens or divorcing couple when it comes to getting the work done? When you are the one sharing with a homeowner all the things they need to do to get their house ready, they hear, “My house is WRONG,” and then think, “This agent does not even like my house – why do I want them to sell it?” Say goodbye to any referrals.

  1. Objective Recommendations are motivating to a Seller.  

A Stager is not tied to the sale of the property and is seen as truly objective. When agents recommend sellers spend money the seller may believe it is self-serving and the agent is just trying to get them to spend money so the agent can make more commission. When a Stager makes recommendations, they are perceived as necessary investments to help the seller.

  1. Staging is not just removing personal photos and cleaning up messes or adding décor.

Many agents become “Stagents” when dealing with sellers.  Staging involves far more than simply telling a seller to clean, remove photos and pick up the messes or bringing in some décor to highlight surfaces.  Room arrangements, flow, updating, adding elements that appeal to the target Buyer – those are all things a Stager provides. Stagers stay on top of trends for paint colors, materials, furnishings, etc. That is part of the value they provide to clients and sharing that information with sellers helps add value to your process as an agent.

  1. Your insurance does NOT protect you and you are at risk.  

Think about this – you move a piece of furniture in your client’s house and scratch the floor, you damage their furniture, or you bring an item in that damages their house.  Your E&O Insurance does not cover you for liability Staging a house. That activity is on you – and now you are coming out of pocket to pay for repairs and/or replacement of damaged property.  Professional Stagers have liability insurance and coverage of their own staging items. They protect the property owner, their business, and ultimately you from liability.

  1. If you cannot delegate your business will never grow beyond you.  

When you are not able to delegate or involve others that are skilled in an area, you are LIMITING your growth.  Having a 3rd party work with your clients does not mean you are not smart or capable.  It means you understand your value and where your time needs to be invested.  Trying to control everything and believing only you are qualitied to provide certain services, is limiting your growth. Bottom line, working with a professional Stager makes you:

  • Look Larger as a company
  • Appear and act more professional
  • Smarter in how you run your business
  • And allows your client to work with an objective entity

The bottom line for most agents is control.  Trusting someone else to handle your clients is an understandable concern.  You need to find the right people you can trust to put in front of your clients. 

Where do you find professional stagers? To find professional Stagers to partner with, go to www.stagedhomes.com and search the directory of stagers who have been trained and accredited in staging.  One of the foundations taught to the grads of these courses are to, “Honor the Client and Their Possessions,” which means honoring you as a client, honoring the homeowner, and being kind in how messages are shared.  Not all stagers have training and not all training courses teach stagers to be kind, honor the seller and their real estate agent clients. 

What should you expect from your Stager?  Once you have a trusted relationship in place, your stager will be loyal, should support your business events, and should provide referral opportunities for you as well so the relationship is not one-sided.  If a Stager does not understand where they fall in the hierarchy of the real estate process and industry where they serve you as their client, find one who does. 

WHY ATTEND A HOME STAGING CONFERENCE?

WHY ATTEND A HOME STAGING CONFERENCE?

Many of you are probably wondering “WHY would I want t attend a conference – I mean what am I going to learn that I don’t already know? I am successful, I have a good run rate and activity in my business, so these conferences are not really anything I need to attend, Right?”

KNOWLEDGE is POWER. Have you ever heard that saying? Do you believe ALL the info on our industry has already been learned? Do you have any struggles with your business or want to expand into other areas?

www.iahspconexpo.com

From one of our members who wrote to me earlier:

Jennie i have a very established staging company with an 8000sf warehouse, box trucks vendor relationships, team etc. I don’t currently belong to any staging organizations and have never had any specific training. I believe there is value in collaboration with other successful stagers but wonder what do you believe is the biggest value in attending the Nashville conference?

Her answer=
Where do I start? 😁 We have topics that are helpful for any biz owner and sometimes we get so focused on our daily grind we forget about feeding ourselves with things that keep us motivated and inspired. I love attending and seeing colleagues – it opens up my eyes and mind when I meet others and can have discussions.

Every stager has challenge areas and struggles and I sometimes feel that we don’t share those as readily as on the outside looking in it appears that, “wow this stager has it all dialed in!” And we feel we need to keep that impression but secretly we are struggling just like others whether it is how to manage growth or deal with clients or logistics…. some days I feel like I am barely hanging on and other days I feel like, “man! I got this! Life is good and everything is happening the way it needs to be!”

There are newer stagers who struggle with getting clients so they want to learn about marketing and/or pricing. There are stagers who want to advance their biz and learn how to get to that next level and that means biz planning and adding team members or other service and there are established stagers who also news to know what to do to manage their growth and biz processes… there are topics for all levels. It is about learning – sometimes a different perspective or something that validates what you are already doing…

We provide added credentials to help stagers position themselves to develop a market niche which is important for continued growth. In the room will be stagers with 20 and 30,000 sq ft warehouses and some just starting out. The vendor EXPO piece is so valuable- saving 40-60% off retail for furnishings is huge…

The 6+ figure workshop allows us to delve deeper into the areas of challenge an established stager deals with and is very beneficial.

So it all depends on what you need for your biz… if systems and organization or biz structure…. or creative topics…. or marketing and branding (that is a biggie for any biz owner)… u will learn all of that.

Plus it is Fun! It is one time a year we get to combine learning with a celebration of our industry and get away to learn, connect and enjoy our colleagues and refresh our WHY.

GREAT ANSWER! I am proud to be profitable but know there is always room to learn, grow and share!

I appreciated this person reaching out and I provided an honest answer. I have been in this 17 years and I do NOT claim to know everything about running a business. I do know a lot about Staging, marketing, and success – and each time I attend an event where I can hear from another person who may be proficient at something I need, I am open to learning and applying the info in my business.

Come join us! www.iahspconexpo.com

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