Hi, Lori – I’ve been staging homes for several years and was recently asked by a Realtor to come in and give his client an estimate. When I got there, I was shocked and had no idea what to do or where to begin. It was a borderline hoarding situation! I told them I couldn’t help. Both the Realtor and homeowner seemed really unhappy with me. It made me feel bad, but I didn’t want to charge them when I knew it was not at all something I wanted to deal with. The entire appointment was uncomfortable and awkward. Has this ever happened to you? Any suggestions on how I should handle this situation if it ever presents itself again?
Stager in Buffalo
Dear Buffalo Stager – I have definitely run into this a few times myself. And I do give you credit for being honest with them. There’s no point in wasting their time and money if the job is beyond your scope of services and/or skills. Both the Realtor and homeowner were well aware of the situation. In fact, I’m sure that’s why the agent called you in! As long as you didn’t hurl insults at them on the way out the door, there is nothing to feel bad about, so please don’t beat yourself up.
What I typically do in this case is tell the homeowner I would be happy to come back and stage their property once it’s been cleared out. I then explain that it would really be in their best interest, both time-wise and financially, to hire an organizing pro to tackle the excess before staging it. I do have a few organizers I’ve worked with in the past and am happy to recommend them, then I tell the agent and/or homeowner to give me a call back when they are truly ready for staging.
No harm, no foul, and you actually did help by offering the best solution you could under the circumstances. I would start aligning myself with a professional organizer or two in your area who specialize in hoarding, then pass their name and contact info along if you ever run into this situation again. Sometimes, part of being a professional home stager is simply having the ability to point someone in the right direction.
Hope this helps and wishing you continued success!
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