When I ask many real estate agents today about the state of the market and its effect on their income, I often get an earful about tiny, intermittent commission checks and complaints of record breaking gas prices cutting into already bleak profits. Things aren't great for many in the front lines selling real estate right now.
However, if you're a home stager, chances are you are building your real estate staging business with the help of the market's downward spiral. In a buyer's real estate market, the people prepared to make offers are pickier than ever. Homeowners are desperate to sell. They're scrambling to find an edge that doesn't mean dropping their asking price, and that's great news for home stagers.
More homeowners than ever before are turning to home staging professionals for advice on how to best decorate their homes to stand out before they list with a real estate agent. If you're one of the lucky stagers enjoying an increase in inquiries because of the market's decline, you have to keep the fine line between ‘free estimate’ and ‘free advice’ good and clear. Otherwise, you could burn out and bankrupt your business faster than you think.
If you are a home stager, you know what you can expect when you walk into a house to meet with a home seller to provide a home staging estimate. Not long after being greeted at the door, you're peppered with questions like; ‘Do you think I should repaint the bathroom?', ‘What do you think of the rug in the living room?', ‘Should I leave the high chair in the dining room for showings?', ‘Do you think the kitty litter in the washroom will turn off buyers’ Of course these are legitimate questions for a home seller to consider. But when they're asked of a professional home stager, the real goal is to obtain free home staging advice.
Because you can increase the perceived value of a home from $10,000 to $70,000 by staging it properly, you deserve to be paid (and paid well) for your expertise and advice. Unfortunately, if you're new to the business of home staging, you might be tempted to visit sellers to provide a free estimate of what it will cost for you to stage their home. If you continue down this road, you should know it almost always leads to burnout and bankruptcy.
If you consider yourself a professional stager, I hope you're not out there wasting your time (not to mention gas) visiting potential clients to give away free advice. Any serious home seller seeking professional home staging advice will be happy to pay for your services - they know your work will result in a quick sale for top dollar.
It is rarely necessary to visit a home to provide a rough estimate of what it will cost to stage it, especially if it's already furnished. If you have any experience at all, you'll be able to tell from one telephone interview, approximately how long it will take and roughly what staging will cost the seller. However, you have to be confident enough to explain everything thoroughly to someone who has probably never hired a real estate stager before. They need to understand the services you provide and how it will benefit them.
So how do you stop walking right into the free estimate trap and start taking the reins right from the get-go? You arm yourself with the information you need to enable home sellers to understand your services and realize how much they need you. I've recently created a tool called the ‘Staging Diva® Sales Script: How to Avoid the Free Estimate Trap and Turn Homeowners Into Home Staging Customers in One Phone Conversation. ’ It's my script of what I say to a prospective customer to turn them into a buyer. I've been using it for five years to build my staging company Six Elements Inc. This resource teaches home stagers what to say when the caller asks, ‘I';m thinking of having my home staged, what does it cost?', so they no longer have to fall into that ‘free estimate trap'; in the hopes of winning business.
With the opportunities opening up for you as a home stager in today's slow real estate market, it's certainly not the time to give your services away for free. Educate yourself and enjoy the profits waiting for you as you help desperate homeowners sell faster and for more money. Their real estate agents will appreciate it to since you make their selling job so much easier!
Entrepreneur and Home Staging expert Debra Gould, The Staging Diva, knows how to make money as a home stager. Discover her secrets to business success in the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. Free quiz to see if a home staging business is right for you at http://www.stagingdiva.com