• Real estate agents need to better educate consumers.
  • Staging benefits everyone involved in the transaction.
  • If you don’t have the skill set for staging, leave it to the professionals.

Every once in a while, real estate professionals get a sneak peek into how consumers really feel about staging — and agents in general.

This happened to me a couple of days ago as I was perusing a former client’s Facebook feed.

This person clearly understood the importance of what her agent was telling her, but I can’t say the same for several of her friends.

The past client (who now lives out-of-state) was preparing to sell her house.

Like most sellers, she was amazed at how great her house looked after she had cleaned and staged it within an inch of its life and wondered what in the world had made her decide to sell.

She stated this in a post, and that’s when the friends starting weighing in.

As I read through the dozens of comments, the two that stood out the most were:

  • “Staging is purely for the benefit of the agent.”
  • “If an agent is good, they can sell any house.”

I had to force my hands away from the keyboard to keep from responding, but the comments did confirm for me that agents need to do a much better job of educating consumers about what they do, what they can’t do and why they make the recommendations that they do.

Perhaps we think that consumers are better educated because the process begins on the internet, or maybe we’re relying on reality television as a primary resource. Either way, let this be evidence to the contrary.

Getting back to basics

First, let’s define what “staging” means.

In my world, staging means getting the house ready to put on the market. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the agent or the seller has to employ a professional stager.

If you don’t have the staging skill set, leave it to the professionals. Having a card table with four folding chairs in a dining room and calling the property “staged” doesn’t make the industry look good.

The seller should do the following:

  • Remove large pieces of furniture so that the potential buyer can see the size of the space
  • Remove all clutter
  • Organize all closets and drawers
  • Paint in neutral colors (this is especially true when the seller has specific tastes)
  • Shampoo or replace carpet
  • Wash windows
  • Power-wash siding and decks
  • Landscape the yard

Although all of these items seem very basic, communicate to the seller that they need to be done. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Setting the record straight

The Facebook comment about staging being purely for the benefit of the agent is completely false.

Buyers are buying a lifestyle. Staging helps buyers see that lifestyle.

It can be difficult to communicate with sellers the importance of staging because they are often simply looking at the cost. But regardless of market conditions, a house needs to show at its best, and anything less is potentially harmful to the transaction.

When done correctly, staging accomplishes just that.

Staging also shows buyers how to place furniture in rooms that may appear too small or awkward when vacant.

The job of an agent is not to recommend and oversee needless tasks or busy work. The job is to get the highest price and the best terms and conditions possible for the seller.

Just like patients wouldn’t tell their doctor how to perform surgery because they watched a YouTube video, consumers should trust their agent to give them professional advice.

Like any profession, there are some not-so-stellar agents but, for the most part, the real estate agents I know and have had the pleasure to work with are professional, honest, have integrity and know how to get a house sold.

Candy Miles Crocker is the founder of Real Life Real Estate Training. She is a firm believer in managing expectations and her goal is to elevate the perception of real estate agents among the general public through education. Candy is also an active Realtor in Washington, D.C., and holds licenses in three jurisdictions. 

Email Candy Miles Crocker.

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