“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Should a Realtor Risk Insulting Their Client?


Hello, Lori,

I have a client with an apartment that is just not selling.  It feels small and cramped, it’s got some unappealing paint colors and an odd layout, and the owner doesn’t keep it very tidy for showings.  I don’t want to insult her by telling her she needs to declutter, paint, and keep the place cleaner than she has been.  She seems to get upset very easily, which has been getting worse the longer the listing sits on the market.  We’ve had a lot of showings, but the feedback has been mostly negative.  Looking forward to your suggestions.

Frustrated Realtor in DC

Dear Frustrated Realtor,

Homeowners don’t sell their house every day, so really, it is up to you as an agent to tell your client the truth.  She probably doesn’t even realize there are any issues!  But by keeping this information to yourself, you are not doing your client or yourself and your long-term reputation any favors.

There is a big difference between insulting your client and providing constructive feedback and assistance.  “You have too much stuff and no one can even see your hardwood floors!” vs. “You have beautiful hardwood floors!  Let’s show them off by removing as much of the excess as possible!”, is a great example.

It really is up to you to share this information with your client, come up with a game plan, and get that listing show-ready so she can sell it and you can both move on.  You already know what the issues are, and it seems you know how to fix them.  If you’re reluctant to talk to her about this yourself, however, my best advice is to hire a professional stager with a good reputation to come in and provide a consultation.

Professional stagers have experience in approaching homeowners and getting them to make the necessary changes to sell their home.  Ask around your office for quality recommendations, or search for a few stagers in your area online with before and after photos of their work and find out what they charge for a consult.  We also have a list of professional stagers at www.homestagingexpert.com under ‘Find a Local HSE’ listed by state which might be of service.

Whatever approach you take, you really do need to share this information with your client.  It is up to you to let her know what the issues are and how to fix them, whether you tell her yourself or bring in a third party to offer their advice.

Thanks so much for writing in, and please let me know how things turn out!  I am confident you can easily turn this situation around.

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.






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Quick Tips to Keep Your House Show-Ready

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Everyone loves to browse through the home catalogs which display a beautiful room with perfectly arranged details. Real life doesn’t work that way. Our homes have a pile of shoes by the front door, school books on the kitchen table and dog hair on the sofa. If you have your home listed for sale, buyers can show up at any time and it can seem overwhelming to try and maintain the perfect home that is show-ready. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to make the morning clean-up quick and easy so your buyers only see your lovely home when they walk through the door. 

•Plan in Advance – Before you even list your home, consider how you will adjust your lifestyle to accommodate buyers and their visits. Decide which items are essential to your living needs and remove everything else. Winter coats or summer sandals can be stored out of sight. 

•Container Living – A simple way to remove the daily toys, shoes, books and other items is to use portable storage containers. Baskets, plastic bins and shopping bags are great ways to quickly gather up the remains of the day. 

•Establish a Routine – Remember that your lifestyle does need to adjust when your home is on the market. Create a nightly/morning routine which includes making the beds, neatening living spaces and wiping countertops. 

•Hire a Professional – If there was ever a time to splurge on a housekeeping service, this is it. A once-a-week clean by a housekeeping team will make sure grime and dust does not accumulate and free up some of your time for other things. 

Unfortunately your life doesn’t stop simply because you’ve listed your home for sale. The key to a stress-free showing experience is taking the time to plan in advance. By following a few tips, you won’t be racing through the home trying to accommodate that 15 minute deadline.

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Not Happy About Staging

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Hi, Lori

Our house was on the market last year for 9 long months .  We had a lot of showings, but no offers.  We ended up signing with a new agent this year and he suggested we have our rooms painted and staged before putting it back on the market this spring.  The problem is, we absolutely hate what the stager has done!  Our home has lost all of its personality and just looks like a big old empty white box!  It feels so sterile and naked to us now.  Our Realtor recommended her, so we are not quite sure how to tell him that we are not at all happy with the changes she’s made.  He thinks our house looks great now and so do our neighbors, but it makes me want to cry!  What should we do?


Sad in Saginaw


Sorry to hear you are so unhappy.  I’m sure that was not the Realtor or stager’s intention.  However, I’m also assuming since the stager you chose was based on your Realtor’s suggestion, he has likely worked with her in the past to some degree of success, or is at the very least confidant in her abilities.

The objective of staging a home for market is to show off the house itself, not to showcase your design style or possessions and I’m sure that’s the approach your stager used when getting your home ready to sell.  I know the changes made might seem quite shocking and probably not at all how you envisioned your home to be.  But your house is now a product, and you want that product to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.

If you’re already getting positive feedback from both your agent and your neighbors, I would suggest you grin and bear it as likely the feedback will be equally as positive from potential buyers.  And the more potential buyers who think your listing looks great, the more chances you will have to garner an offer.

Think about those 9 months your house sat on the market last year.  Wasn’t that a drag?  Your new agent seems to be moving you in the right direction.  I think you have to look at the bigger picture here and consider the end-goal which is to finally get an offer, sell your house, and move on.

Hope this helps and wishing you all the best!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.




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The Downside of Offering a Buyer’s Credit – Why it’s better to do the upgrades yourself

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Most people have walked through beautiful model homes and wished their own home had all those modern features. Model homes showcase the latest in upgrades and decorating styles. When we get home all we can see is the tile in our bathrooms and yesterday’s details in our kitchens. These things can become overwhelming if we are considering a home sale in the near future.

“Can I even sell my house with granite countertops anymore?”

Upgrades vs Buyer’s Credit

Once you decide that your home does need a facelift as compared to other options in the marketplace, the next decision is whether to do it before listing or offering the buyer a credit which allows them to remodel to their own taste. While it might seem like a good idea to give the buyer the ability to choose their own design, the truth is that if you can afford to do the work, you should get it done before listing. Here are a few reasons why offering a buyer’s credit has a downside:

•Buyer Impression: A dated home will look dated. Unless you’re offering a true “fixer-upper,” then buyers will evaluate your home based on its current appeal. Some will envision the potential, but many will find that too much work.

• Lower Offers: Offering a credit could be seen as seller motivation or desperation, which can lead to lower offers.

• Credit vs Value: You might feel an $8000 credit is reasonable for new kitchen counter-tops but your buyer might not. This can lead to additional negotiations which might reduce your profit.

• Home Condition: Buyers are hoping for a low-maintenance, low-repair property. If your home shows its age, buyers naturally wonder what else might be lurking beneath the surface.

• Loan Approval: Getting a home loan approved with a “carpet allowance” is all but impossible. To avoid this concern, most credits are labeled as “closing cost credit” instead, but there are limits to that also. If your buyers already are hoping for a closing cost credit, then they might not be able to accept your offer.

A dated home will always look dated. While you might find a buyer who can truly vision the potential of your home, the truth is a home in need of updates will have a smaller buyer pool, and this reduces your chances of a good offer. If you can afford to make the updates before you list, you remove the opportunity for low-ball offers and put yourself in the best possible position to get a great offer.

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We have added a whopping 46 dates to our schedule for 2018!  Only 12 students per class for individual benefit.  Register and pay for any workshops before 12/31/17 and receive a huge discount!  Contact lori@homestagingexpert.com for details.

Simply the best hands-on Home Staging Course in the industry.  If you learn by doing and seeing the process in person…this workshop’s for you!



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4 Home Staging Horror Stories to Haunt You This Halloween from the National Association of Realtors

My SCARIEST Home Staging Stories featured on the National Association of Realtors blog, ‘Styled, Staged, Sold’.  We hope you don’t have nightmares!  Happy Halloween, everybody!

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