As many of you know, I have great respect for Stagers. I know many of them, and most provide great advice for when you are selling your house. I have learned a lot from Stagers, too. But every once in a while, you come across one who provides bad advice and can over spend a client's money.
Staging is very important. It can help you sell your house faster, and often it will lead to a higher price. But, you also need to look at the return on investment...because that's the whole idea behind investing in staging and taking action of the Stager's recommendation. It's often challenging to find the balance on where you will get the best return on investment, especially if your funds are limited.
And, while Stagers often do provide good advice, some really step out of their area of expertise and/or need to keep up with the times. And, some just need to really treat their client as if they are an actual client and treat their money as if it was their own.
I'm currently helping a customer with her painting, so she can sell her house (they are already in contract to buy their new house). We are starting the job today, and she is a super nice customer.
Time and time again, the customer kept telling me, "The Stager said this, the Stager said that." It's good that she listens to professionals, but sometimes some so called professionals don't really give the best advice. This Stager was recommended by her realtor and the realtor told her "Do everything the Stager tells you to do."
I also kept hearing my customer say, "The Stager says this, but it's not her money." (Now bear in mind my customer is spending money on many things and it's not like the customer is being cheap.) I'm guessing on all the stuff she needs to do/fix, she is probably spending at least $15,000 - $20,000.
Also bear in mind that my customer's house is not in bad condition nor does it have a dated look. It just needs some "clean up" including decluttering, painting, repairs. With the exception of the attic, all of her paint colors are tasteful and neutral (and non of them are white).
As I've worked with tons of sellers and tons of new home buyers, I know what people in my area are looking for when it comes to floors and paint (as they do both together). I see the before and afters on tons of houses. I see what new home buyers actually do, not just what some Stagers think they will do.
I found myself in a position where I was advising my customer to do less rather than more. I can't help it...I want to counsel my customer to make smart decisions. (And, yes, it would be in my financial better interest if she did more). It almost seemed that the Stager and I had switched roles.
So, let me tell you about the mistakes the mistakes this Stager made.
1. The Stager recommend that she paint the Dining room a different color...a "dining room" color (e.g. burgundy.) Why? To show that it's a dining room, rather than a playroom (which is how the room is being used...with kids' toys all over. Hmmm. There's something wrong here.
- First, the customer already has a neutral color - it's a light gray - which is the MOST POPULAR color for our area. It's neutral and light, and it matches the color of the living room and hallway.
- Second, this house is on the smaller side and the dining room is small, so a dark color will make the space look even smaller. If she kept the gray, she'd be more stylish and lighter and the consistency in color in the front of the house will make the area look larger. It also seems that a simpler solution would be to remove the toys, but I digress.
2. The stager has no regard, nor knowledge of paint pricing/painting process works and how it impacts the customer's bottom line.
- When you paint, if you change the color, you need to do 2 coats of paint; if you stay with the same color, you only need one. While there were a few areas that would be better if the color was changed and/or made more consistent with the colors in other rooms, the Stager was advising her to change the color in many places where it wasn't needed (because it had a neutral and consistent color). So, for example, the hallway on the 1st and 2nd floor was a neutral gray, the stager wanted to change the color and break up the area. The exterior which is white with black shutters (and looks clean and stylish for her area), the Stager recommended that she do an off-white or cream (which in my opinion would actually make the house look dirty). But, regardless, it was a completely unneeded expense.
- The Stager recommended that she not paint the exterior back of the house (which wasn't as bad as the other sides) and instead recommended that she just power wash it. Ummm...NO! I guess she is clueless on how things work. You always power wash before you paint the exterior. But, when you power wash (as most of you might imagine), some of the paint comes off...so then you need to paint the area. So, I advised her that power washing without painting is her WORST option. Either leave it or power wash + paint. (The customer chose the latter, both to make the house look consistent and it wasn't that much of a difference in price). As I said, the customer isn't cheap; rather, she is trying to spend wisely.
3. The Stager seems to have some dated taste and hasn't kept up with the times.
- First, she seems to be recommending some dated and even taste specific color choices (e.g. burgundy for dining room, colorful colors for the bonus room in the attic) and straying away from grays and other neutrals.
- Second, she recommended that she use a matte finish for the paint, rather than flat. Flat is by far the most popular, especially in our area, and especially for people selling their homes. Flat also hides imperfections in the walls more (and yes, this home is old (I think early 1900s) and has many character flaws and we are doing some repair work in a few places so those will show more.
So, we are helping this customer the best we can, despite the bad advice she's been getting from her Stager. The Stager might be better at her job if she did a bit more research, was a bit more hands on, and tried to open her mind. There I said it. I got it off my chest.
But, we all need to remember that our goal is to appeal to most buyers in our area, help the customer sell their house faster and help them invest wisely.
I hope that at least this will help all of you, regardless of your trade, with a few painting tips.