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How to handle client objections to staging

Research from the National Association of Realtors shows that 80 per cent of real estate agents believe in the value of professional home staging, but only 20 per cent incorporate it into their business. I believe a good part the reason for this huge gap is cost and who will pay for it (the client or the agent). But I think that the fear of offending the client also plays a part in this.

Let’s talk about some of the primary objections we hear about most often.

My client can’t afford home staging:

Money talks! Money is the international language that everyone understands.

Use the Staging Savings Calculator from the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) and take your client through the formula to determine how much money they will save by investing in staging versus the long-term cost of upkeeping a property. This formula is highly valuable for vacant properties.

You can also share local stats to show them the performance of a professionally staged property versus a few that were not staged and did not perform quite as well. Education is key. Help clients understand how much they stand to gain when the house is properly packaged to sell.

Your clients look to you for solutions. If cost is the primary concern, provide them with resources to sort through the financial objection. Your mortgage specialist partner will more than likely have a solution.

I don’t recommend that you take on the staging investment. However, I am seeing more agents doing it in different form, such as crediting the staging investment at closing or contributing to a portion of it. If this is your strategy, be sure that your commission structure is built so that you can take this on and still remain profitable.

My client does not understand the value in staging:

Explain to them that with the number of homes on the market there is an absolute need to differentiate your property from all the other listings in the neighbourhood. Yes, especially in a sellers’ market. The value lies with how the buyers perceive the home. An un-staged home won’t have the same perceived value as homes that are staged.

Use before and after examples to demonstrate the value of staging. Ask your clients which photo is more visually appealing. Better yet, take them to a few competitive properties and let them see it for themselves. Ask them how they feel when they walk into a house that shows well versus those that don’t show as well.

If you are dealing with an elderly client, sometimes it helps to engage their children in the discussion. There is definitely a generation gap when it comes to understanding the value of staging.

My client doesn’t think they need to stage:

This objection is very personal and emotional. This is a balancing act and most agents are fearful of offending the client. But remember that you are the professional and you know better.

Explain to the client that the home must be treated as a product and all products must be packaged, merchandised and marketed properly to appeal to potential buyers. Relate back to a recent purchase that they made and ask them why they chose one brand versus another.

With this objection, it may be helpful to lean on your professional staging partner to help you. A RESA study reports that 89 per cent of sellers were willing to address the repairs and recommendations provided by a professional home stager.

My client can’t live in a staged home:

With the pandemic, some of my agent partners have cleverly convinced their clients to move out of the house while it is listed. No doubt, it is safer for everyone involved and is definitely less taxing for the client to have to keep the house show-ready at all times.

However, beyond the pandemic, once the house has been well prepared, let your clients know it’s actually easier to live in a staged home for sale than not, because all of the hard work is done and the maintenance is quite easy to manage. Feel free to share my blog, How to live in a house while it’s on the market.

This objection is purely mindset and can generally be overcome with a little encouragement.