“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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