Lessons Learned in 2013

1.  Different strokes for different folks.  One interesting aspect of this job is that you get to meet a lot of different people.  Often, I will get to know them on a personal level, especially when staging occupied homes.  I work side by side with them in many cases. And everybody is different, every home is different and often the way the homeowners approach selling their home is different.  I have had home owners who listened to every word I said and executed every recommendation.  Others don’t think it necessary to do half of the things I recommend.  Some folks are just bewildered about where to start, others are very motivated and dig right in.  Some clients understand the concept of neutralizing and still others do not get it no matter how I explain it.  But the best thing is, everybody is happy at the end and the people who didn’t ‘get it’, finally see it for themselves.

2. Vacant stagings are a lot of work.   In some ways I enjoy doing vacants more than occupieds because I usually have a blank slate to start with and can execute my vision as I like.  But having to bring in EVERYTHING to make that blank slate look like a beautiful model home makes for a lot of work…especially if it is a condo with secure entrances and elevators to deal with!

3.  There are a lot of  real estate professionals who still don’t get it.  I have several Realtors I work with on a regular basis and they get it…because they have seen the results. But I actually know of one Realtor who told his client not to bother with staging because sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  This house in particular was crying out for staging because of the unusual floor plan.  Needless to say, the house is still not sold.
4.  Home owners who call me directly are usually very motivated and great to work with. 
Generally speaking, they are the ones who ‘get it’ and call me before they put their house on the market, often before they have a Realtor.  Note to self:  more marketing to home owners in the New Year.
5.  A professional invoice system makes billing and payment much less complicated. 
The system I recently started using will send the invoice by email or snail mail.  And for the snail mail I don’t have to leave my computer!  I provide them with the address, buy stamps online and they send my client a professional invoice with a return envelope enclosed for payment, if they wish to pay that way.
6.  One of the main goals of staging is not just to make a pretty house, but to show the functionality.  So many houses have sold after I staged them just because the staging helped to define the function of each room.  This is especially important for homes with an unusual floorplan or homes with small rooms.
7.  Professional photography makes all the difference.  Most buyers’ first impression of any house is the online photos, either on MLS or other advertising platform.  And buyers actually eliminate houses by going through all the online photos.  If the photos are poor quality and buyers can’t get a good sense of the house, they will move on to the next listing.  I know…I’ve done it!!  And there is no point having professional photos taken if they only show clutter and dated decor.  That’s why stagers and professional photographers need to work hand in hand.
8.  Staging in messy weather is frustrating.  Having to deal with wind, snow, rain, sleet, ice for several months of the year, is annoying to say the least.  The furniture gets wet, the accessories blow away, the movers are tracking snow, mud all over the house.  No matter how many rugs or floor protectors I  use, there is always a mess to clean up.  Soooo much easier in the summertime…although the wind can still be a big issue.
9.  No matter how well you know your client, get a contract signed stating all the terms and conditions before you begin any work.  I have occasionally not gotten a contract at the beginning, for various reasons, usually because I know the client pretty well.  Big mistake I know and I intend to do better in 2014!
10.  Re-visit the pay scale for services every six months or so.  I have been charging the same for my consultations since I started my business three years ago.  It is time to re-evaluate and see if it is feaseable to increase my rates.
Have you learned anything from your business in 2013?  Feel free to comment

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