Just finished your home staging certification course? Well, as you probably already know, home staging can be an emotional minefield for homeowners getting ready to sell such a major investment.
Home stagers have to bring a certain brand of magic to decorating a space; removing a certain object can trigger an outpouring of emotions when tensions are already high. Curious to know what you’ll be walking into on your first staging job? We’ve put together a list of 5 different clients you’ll encounter at least once in your career as a home stager.
This client relationship may start off strong, but it quickly escalates into a home staging nightmare. After showering you with praise at the initial client consultation, this client cannot wait to dive into the home staging experience. The contract is quickly signed, and soon enough you are being shown pages from the latest Architectural Digest and screenshots from HGTV. With helpful guidance from your client you have the perfect amethyst loveseat picked out.
And then staging day finally comes. The cargo van carrying all of your home staging supplies is just backing up your client’s driveway. Looking agitated, your client emerges and leads you inside. As you move toward their old sofa, it all falls apart. Tearfully your client tells you they can’t go through with it. This is the house they moved into as newlyweds. Their college-age son took his first steps here. They can’t bear to say goodbye to the apple tree they first planted in the backyard.
Whatever their reasoning, this client is not ready to begin the selling process. Heartbroken, they go back to their realtor, and maybe even seesaw over the next few weeks over when to try for an open house again—leaving you in home staging limbo.
The clueless critic
Profiling this client is a little easier since the warning signs surface early on. You come across a message from a homeowner raving about your latest stage, which happens to have been for a friend, who used to be a neighbor, who just moved into the condo building where this potential client is currently looking to buy. A little confused but flattered, you agree to help them stage a resale.
You appreciate that they know exactly what they want. You joke that it seems like they have gone through the staging process before—when they let it drop that they have. They dismissively criticize the home stager they hired four months prior. They assure you they love your staging portfolio, though. Ignoring the blaring warning bells, you sign on the dotted line. Out of nowhere, your inbox is flooded with images of furniture options that seem better than what you have already agreed upon. Suddenly, everything is wrong: the proportions are wrong, the colors, the style scheme… it all has to go back!
When you try to explain the concept of a target market, they shut down. What seems to have been a straightforward staging job snowballs into a giant headache. And suddenly it hits you. You signed a contract with a client who is actually a cautionary tale to home staging professionals.
The happy homeowner
Ah, if only every home staging could be accompanied by such obliging homeowners. This dream client knows they need to market their home in order for it to sell, and they are willing to do whatever they can to make your job easier. Signing the contract is undramatic. They inform you the house will be vacant. You cautiously inquire about the kind of home staging services they would like. Happily you are given the ‘okay’ to do whatever is necessary to make the home more attractive to buyers.
Your first day recreating the floorplan is a delight. Without an intrusive shadow, you go about moving around furniture until it just looks right. You fluff pillows at record speed, and even the somewhat dingy bathroom is looking much more appealing thanks to a luxurious arrangement of spa candles. Looking around at a job well done, you note how much you love your job! After all, it’s not about a sky-high budget. It’s about using your presentation and business sense to stage a client’s home into exactly the kind of comfortable space another homeowner will fall in love with.
Of course, your clients are thrilled. The real estate agent is ready for a fabulous commission—leaving you to drive away, as you happily thank the Gods of Home Staging.
The dissatisfied client
Gulp, this is the kind of scenario you dread—not because you fear a negative reaction, but because you truly do want to make every client happy. After an optimistic consultation, you dive into selecting the appropriate decor. Luxurious throws, comfortable pillows, and a fantastic area rug, everything is within budget and it all falls into line with what your client indicated they would like to see. After checking in numerous times during the actual physical staging process, everything seems fine…
Until it isn’t. Walking your client through the ‘after,’ you aren’t met with the enthusiasm you’ve come to expect once your work is done. After awkward silence, they inform you the whole thing is just off. And not just a few tweaks here and there, your overall finished product looks nothing like what they envisioned. In an effort to restyle, you suggest switching out some furniture and other pieces, but it still just isn’t working. Somehow your styles are not in sync, and unfortunately, this homeowner didn’t share any signs of dissatisfaction before it was too late.
Fortunately, however, this is where an airtight home staging service contract will come in handy. Return to your original agreement and recoup your time and effort. Business is business, after all. And sometimes a client is just not the right one for you.
The ‘just send me the invoice’ seller
Whether you look forward to this type of seller or not, these client are certainly memorable—perhaps mostly for their lack of involvement! You may be lucky enough to meet your client in person or you may be dealing through a real estate agent. Sometimes your client will reach out through email, and your entire interaction will play out online. This client may have a number of different real estate investments. Others may just want as little to do with selling as possible. But while an owner of multiple properties may be less emotionally attached to their home, it doesn’t make home staging any less demanding!
Just like any other homeowner, this client wants to sell their home fast and for top dollar. While this usually gives you carte blanche to stage as you see fit, such creative freedom may be a mixed blessing. Your design pitch will be approved prior to the official staging, but you may miss the interaction you have with vocal clients! A sale is the end goal, but the home staging reveal is often a very emotionally gratifying time for homeowners.
Sometimes clients are interested in what you do, and some really don’t care to know about how the right mirror will translate into an offer. Keep calm and carry on, professional home stager!
Work with any memorable home staging clients? Share your story in the comments!