Your ability to overcome the seller’s objections about staging not only influences how much the seller will net, but how hard you will have to work to sell the listing. If you’re struggling with the objection, “I don’t see any need to stage our property,” a little creativity can quickly put that objection to rest.
For the past several months, I have been teaching Texas Continuing Education courses that are being broadcast via two-way interactive video throughout Texas. The beauty of these classes is that they allow us to surface best practices from agents across the state.
During our most recent class, one agent asked how to handle sellers who refuse to stage their properties.
A standard approach is to explain that houses that are not staged might sell for up to ten percent less than staged properties. Another version of this approach is to say, “If you prefer not to stage your property, you will have to reduce the price accordingly.”
If you want something a little more creative, however, try these proven tactics from Texas Realtors.
Strategy 1: Not staging costs you three different times.
When a seller is being unrealistic about getting their property in top condition before the list, Steve Stovall of Steve Stovall Realtors in Abilene, Texas, had this recommendation: “When you decide you won’t make repairs or allow your house to be shown without putting it into the best possible condition, you pay for that decision at three different times. The first time is in terms of the marketing. Houses that are not in tip-top condition are shown less frequently and take more time to sell.
“The second time is at the negotiation table. When the house is not in the best possible condition, buyers typically offer less since they will have to make the repairs, paint and/or re-carpet.
“The third time is at the inspections. The buyers normally ask the sellers to take care of the repairs anyway.”
As another Realtor pointed out, “The buyers will use any excuse they can to beat you up on the price.”
Strategy 2: Your camera tells the real story.
Richard Kline, The Staging Guy from Austin, Texas, had this to say about how he handles sellers who are reluctant to take care of the basics such as painting and carpeting.
“When you first pull up to the home, take a picture from the street, preferably on your tablet, so it’s easy to see. The reason for doing this is that most sellers enter their house through a back door or a door in the garage. This means they seldom see how their house looks as someone parks in front and walks up to the front door. Taking a picture of the front allows the seller to view the house as a buyer would on a showing and how their exterior photos will look on the MLS.
“Next, take a second picture at the front door. Ideally, this picture shows how the front entrance looks. Be sure to get close-ups of any feature that would turn off a buyer such as a broken doorbell or a front door that is in poor repair. Agents and their buyers often note these conditions and assume that the rest of the house is in poor repair as well.
“Third, when the seller answers the door, ask permission to take more photographs as you first step inside. Taking the picture at the front door allows the sellers to immediately see how their home will first appear to the buyers as they walk into the property.
“The next step is to show the sellers the pictures that you have taken and say, ‘Here’s the first impression that buyers will have of your house. What do you see?’”
According to Kline, many sellers are shocked to see how dirty their carpets look in the photos or how cluttered their house appears. The photos are a powerful way to help the sellers understand how buyers will view their home in print, online or in person.
As one agent put it: “A $30 gallon of paint can turn into an additional $300 in purchase price by simply making a dingy wall appear fresh and on trend with today’s most popular colors.”
Klein further advises his clients: “When you list a home, it becomes a product. Your comfort should be secondary. Pack up the old recliner and stage the room around the fireplace, not the television. The sooner your house sells, the sooner you can enjoy your recliner in your new home.”
Strategy 3: Which bill do you want?
In case the sellers are still resistant, here’s a great tip. When Daniel Topolski of Better Homes and Gardens Bradfield Properties in Austin encounters a seller who doesn’t want to stage their home, here’s what he does: “I take out a crisp, new one-dollar bill plus one that is dirty and wrinkled. I place both bills on the table and ask the sellers to choose one. The sellers always choose the new bill. At this point, I explain, ‘People who buy houses are like you — they will choose the attractively staged property over one that is not staged.’”
So the next time you hear the objection, “I don’t think my home needs painting, cleaning or staging,” try one of these field-tested approaches to persuade that seller staging really is in their best interest.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Discover why leading Realtor associations and companies have chosen Bernice’s new and experienced real estate sales training for their agents at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.