Staging Certification for Agents (ft. The Decorologist)

Ryan: Hey guys, welcome. One of the ways that you can add value to your customers is with stellar staging services. And I'm very excited because today we're going to hear a lot about this. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Realty Hack, where we look at the best practices that top agents and teams are employing to increase their production. Okay, my name is Ryan Rodenbeck and today we're going to be talking about the benefits of in house stagers and how you can get certified. 

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Okay, so we're going to bring in Kristie Barnett aka the decorologist, and we're going to be going to be talking about staging essentials that agents need to consider in the heated Austin market and today we're going to be going over how the value of a home increases tremendously with proper staging. The potential loss in a home if it isn't staged and how agents can get certified or find a stager to help them with their business. So Kristie, we have Kristie here and let me just give a little bit of a bio on you. Kristie is a design and color expert home stager, educator, author and speaker who has been blogging about design since 2009. Expert psychological stager, interior decorator and creator of interior exterior color palettes across the US. She has written over 1,100 design articles and authored the best selling book Psychological Staging: The Home Staging Secrets of the Decorologist.

Ryan: Welcome. We're so glad to have you here. 

Kristie: Thank you, Ryan. Thanks for having me. 

Ryan: So tell us a little bit how you got into this business and your past, you know?

Kristie: Well, my former career was as a school psychologist and I have two graduate degrees in psychology. So I was in that industry for 10 years. And then I took a break to have a couple of kids. And then I just decided that I wanted to go a whole different route and I got into home staging and got training and started doing that my husband was doing real estate on the side at that point, and so it really helped his listings and then I just decided to go all in and, and so that's where the decorologist came from. It's a little bit of the decorating design part and also the psychology because I really have a, my whole system of staging is based on psychology.

Ryan: And did you kind of create that course from blog?

Kristie: I did, I did. Yah.

Ryan: And certification right?

Kristie: After 15 years of staging, I realized that what I was doing had really become very different from what I saw other stagers doing. And I really had, you know, try’na developed a system a really systematic way of using it as the science and psychology of visual perceptions to change how people looked or perceived the size of rooms and, and you know, how it drew, you know, how to draw the art to the architecture instead of the decor and those kinds of things and also just emotionally dealing with sellers who are very stressed out about selling their home. And sometimes it's a little tricky to get into take your recommendation. So yeah, so we started the staging training company Expert Psychological Stager almost four and a half years ago. 

Ryan: Okay. Well, I want to kind of tell you how tell the audience here how we met each other. I mean, you and I actually haven't actually met each other but well, we've been following you for a long time. So you know, what's interesting is, you know, back in like 2009, 2010, I decided that I wanted to become a top producing listing agent, and I was just going to figure out, you know, any way possible that I was going to do it. My wife was a CPA. She was kind of burned out on that we wanted to work together. So at that time, back then, we drove to Frisco and she took a course there, like a one day course in Frisco. It was good stuff and got it started. Right. So you know, we were able to increase our listing production, we were able to add value.

You know, it was interesting kind of the evolution of our business. And then when I think the way this went was with Sunny, we came on board we wanted we were doing so much staging stuff that we wanted to get her certified. And Angél, my wife actually started following you on social media reading your stuff became a big fan. And so we decided to get Sunny in Nashville and my wife is like, well, I want to do this too, because I follow this lady. She's really great. So we sent both of them to Nashville. And they I think it was a two day course at the time. 

Kristie: Three days. Well, it's three days. Yeah, it's too crass intensive in class. And one day we were actually staging a home.

Ryan: Yeah. And so my wife follows your blog and you know, your social media like crazy. So and we refer to I think she's in the group refer to you for for advice, but let's get to the questions here. So what are the benefits of adding staging for an agent to the listing? And are there different types of staging services?

Kristie: Absolutely. Well, it's, you know, it definitely gives you a competitive edge among other realtors if you provide that service. It's it’s an added value obviously, if you have that as part of your of your listing service, it's kind of similar to realtors who provide professional photography. It's just kind of that extra thing. But for staging I mean staging makes you more money. And you know statistics tell us that stage some sell in a fourth of the time as unstage homes and they sell for more and so you know, naturally because we know that the sooner the house sells, the closer to listing price you're going to get that's a lot of it because they are more competitive compared to other houses similar. So they're going to sell quickly triggers.

So you know, if you think about it, like after the houses on the market for a month, your listing your, your price that you're going to get is is about five 5% less than listing right. So if you have a $500,000 house and you sit for a month, your going to lose $20,000. So, staging is going to keep that from happening. And then also, the average savings on carrying costs if your home is staged is like $27,000. So a lot of money.

Ryan: Yeah. And we can attest to that, too. I mean, in a lot of examples, and what's interesting is when we started this, we started doing staging, we started in a down market. And you know, our goal years ago is like, okay, we're going to offer this for free. But then one day, we're going to charge for it right. That never happened. And it never happened, because it's a first self serving reason. Like it's such a benefit. If someone said that they didn't want to pay for it. We still want to do it.

Kristie: Right. Good for you as well them. 


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Ryan: Yeah, and so now like two years ago, we started offering that service to our agents and they're seeing this benefit but even like last December, we had a duplex at 78704 before that was listed for like two months. The agent couldn't sell it. I think they had It's like 625, right? And then they dropped at the 600. And then they took it off the market. She contacted me. I said, let's let the three days on market reset. We staged a home Sunny staged the home, beautiful job. And then we got 624 when we listed it. So that's the proof. Is it buddy?

So how would an agent well, so do you have any examples besides me of any brokerages that offer any, you know, renovation services or have you heard of anyone doing that?

Kristie: Well, here in Nashville, I know of one that does and they're relatively new to doing that. But you know, that's not typical, that's for sure. If that's something that you're able to provide, I think that's a huge value added because, you know, in combination with having to list the home and get it ready to sell for a seller have to deal with contractors and handyman and, and all these things and if that's a great advantage if that's something that you can offer.

Ryan: Okay, and I'm I got a little bit off script here because I my wife wanted me to ask you this but like, what are the hot colors of this year?

Kristie: Oh boy, that's a loaded question. This is what I say there is no go to color. There's no one color that solves all problems. We are still you know, in the gray trend to some extent in terms of neutrals, but you know, certainly, you know, great which is gray beiges are also popular at what I'm seeing in the last year is that those neutrals are getting a little lighter than they were a few years ago. So, so we're lightening up those neutrals for sure. You know, obviously white is big, kind of that farmhouse look kind of depends on what part of the country you're in. But you don't want to go all wide all the time because that can look pretty dead. A lot of post tape.

Ryan: Yeah. And talk to me about psychological staging versus what we commonly refer to as staging because I mean, this is this is when, when, when on Angél and Sunny went to that, that your course, like there was a lot of I mean, it was really elevated compared to what we already knew, you know. So what you're talking about that?

Kristie: Well, I think there's just the misconception is that staging is decorating, and it's so not. It’s marketing strategy. And, you know, so I know there have been brokerages that I'm aware of where there's been maybe there's a team member of a listing agent who has a wife who likes to decorate and she comes in and stages, the houses and decorating is not staging and that's, it's not the same thing. So we want to depersonalize and make it appeal to a very wide audience. And, and so that's one thing when I go in and do a staging consultation, I try to explain to the seller, this is not about your decorating. decorating is beautiful, your home is beautiful. But we want to this is a marketing strategy. And so we're going to try to do things that meet specific goals. And some of my goals are to make every space every room appear larger than it does when we go into the space. And there's lots of ways that you can arrange furniture that an arranged art and use paint color to visually expand spaces and make people think the room is bigger than they thought it was then it truly is. So it's like we're manipulating the visual perception.

Ryan: Yeah, and especially when you walk in that room, and there's a wraparound couch that just takes up the entire room. You know, we have a storage room full of stuff that that we use, and you know, we have about seven couches. And it's just like one of those things that like that's the most common thing is like telling them look just put your stuff into the garage bay or in storage or whatever. And and you know this one thing, if nothing else will help it out as well. And do you typically when you're doing staging deep do you recommend paint color changes?

Kristie: Yeah, in my training a big part of my training is in paint color. And that's something that, that it was not the case when I did training. And a lot of stagers really don't even know how to how to do paint color consultation. So, but I think that's really, really important. Because color accounts for 90% of, of consumer decision making with the right, it has so much more influence than we think. And even though a lot of people think, well, somebody can repeat this. Most people can't see past what's there. And so it's important for us to get it to a place and I mean in a reasonable way. I don't typically go in and tell people that change all of their paint colors, but maybe in main living areas and the main entry and living areas if it's a day to dark color is going to make the place of your smaller and, and less welcoming and we just need to ship it can update the entire space.

Ryan: Yeah. And these colors in you know, they change over time, right? What do you think the lifespan of a trending colorr is like six or seven years?

Kristie: Yeah, six or seven years, you know, on the high end at the 10 years, but you know, yeah, they changed after 10 years. 

Ryan: And we're about I think we're going to do a document a good example of this because we have we own six duplexes and one of them about to unload and the outside of this duplex, we did it with the trending colors of six or seven years ago, and it's almost like a, you know, a darker beige, I guess warm and just you can tell it's just not really in and we want to like, have that property really pop. Because the especially when it comes to duplexes that you know that you've got tenants in there. So you can't stage it very, you know, you can't ask them this stage and you got to keep it clean or whatever. And that you may not get that. So we want to have that pop talk about the outsides of homes is that that's the one thing you talked about. That's your first impression, right?

Kristie: Yeah, yeah. And first impression is like, you know, they used to say, your first impression is made in the first 15 seconds. It's really like a milliseconds. You know, it's visceral. Before you actually cognitively process it. And so, you know, it's so, so important. So the exterior shortly The first thing you see, when you walk in a house, you were talking about duplexes, and it just reminded me of a couple that I worked for years ago, who had a duplex and there were you know, I don't know how many homes were duplexes were in their complex, but there were three of them. There's that had been for sale for like six to nine months and here they come in and they've got a lot of competition and they really need to move and they need to move fast and I came in and gave them a fresh on trend color scheme and their’s sold immediately like within three days will in those other and it was just like the others. We updated the the paint colors it changed the entire look and made such a difference in the MLS pictures for sure. And in that first impression when buyers came in the door comparing it to those others.

Ryan: Yeah, and we sell a decent amount of duplexes and you know, you can tell the difference of our duplexes. I mean they look so much differently like, you know, even if it's just the outside, what we typically like to do with a duplex is have one side vacant so that a we can, you know, do a fresh paint color. We like to put corks and duplexes and you're not in there and we’ll stage that and then so not only that duplex, appealing for an investor, but it's also appealing for an owner occupant because they can afford more because they can use the rent towards your income. And then one more thing, you know, when when you talked about the I've heard that a lot like the buyer knows if they want the home in the first 15 seconds.

Here's my unqualified or partially qualified opinion on that, though. I think I would I would love to change that same to say a buyer knows that they don't want the house in 15 seconds. I've gone through the you know, going into the house. And if it's just staged awfully, I can tell I had this look in their face. Like, I don't want to go see the rest of the house. But we're already here. So let's do it.

Kristie: So Ryan, that's so interesting. You say that because what you're describing is something called Confirmation Bias. So when you go in to a home or you know if in any decision right, this is politics, this is in all kinds of things. We have our opinion, we make that that judgments and then we want to stick with it and we want to find things that reinforce what we believe. And so if I've already decided I don't like the house, I'm going to start getting super critical and going around and looking for all the flaws and all the things that aren't good. In the same way if a lady walks in the house and literally falls in love at first sight. Yeah, I did. I did when we moved into our home that I'm going to find every way to overlook some flaws. You know, okay, it doesn't have this but you know, it is. So yeah, it's very psychological.

Ryan: And that's why it's so important to have the tools in your arsenal, which leads us to believe our last question, so how can an agent highly recommend an agent find a good stager to refer to sellers?

Kristie: Okay, this is so important Ryan because they're all listening, how can I say this? There are good stagers and they're not so good stagers. The staging industry is not a regulated industry. So anyone can hang up a shingle and say they're a home stager. So you need to understand, first of all, are they a hobbyist? Are they you know, are they did they read a book about it and decide to do it? Did they go and get training? There's online training. There's live training. Ours is a three day intensive live training. And so you need to figure out, you know, how they learned how to stage you need to figure out what kind of services they offer, because they're different kinds of staging services. There's some people who only do staging consultations, and I highly recommend if you hire a stager to do a staging consultation, they need to do a thorough consultation with the client. And then they need to provide a written report for both the agent and the client. Because these checklists and these are you take notes while I tell you what to do and 13, that is that you do not get followed through you don't get buy in. So I think that's really important.

Some stagers only do what we call occupied staging. And that means you know the buyer lives in the home and they bring in props and rearrange their furniture and do that kind of thing. And then others specialize in vacant staging for empty houses where you do rental furniture, so you need to find out if that stager you know what services they provide. And then the other thing is really need to ask them to see their before and after portfolio see what they're capable of. That’s huge.

Ryan: Yeah. That's a funny with interesting with that is that's been a big part of our marketing for you know, my listings and for the agents listings is like for the past several years, when I go into a house, I'll go in, you know, you want your portfolio to look good, right. So I'll go in with this. Know this camera, right, which is admittedly not good. And this is the before version, right? And then the after version is with the, you know, professional photography and wide angle lenses and it just makes the world of difference and add so much clout and I thought that was less than good. One more question. How can an agent or an agent's assistant or someone of their team get certified the stage homes specifically, let's not talk about your online courses let's talk about with you. How can they do that?

Kristie: Well, I offer courses three times a year. I have one coming up next month in March March 14 through 16. It's still have a few slots left that they have, we have four seats still available. But it's here in Nashville, which is a great place to visit. If you like Austin, you'll like Nashville. But anyway, we offer that live training, you can go to my website at and go to the tab that says learn from me and you'll see a drop down and you can find out more about that course. But regardless whether you do something like have somebody come to my course or to another course you need to look at is the training program accredited by the Real Estate Staging Association. Because again, just like they're different kinds of stagers, there's all different kinds of training. And so you want to make sure that you have one that's accredited.

Ryan: Gotcha. Well, this has been great. We're huge fans of yours. My wife just like you know, follows you constantly reads everything you write everything you put out. So thank you so much for being on our broadcast today. We really appreciate it.

For those of you watching, Kelly is going to be putting links to her site in the comments section. If you're watching this on YouTube, it's going to be in the description below. And don't forget if you liked this video, you're watching this on Facebook. If you found this helpful, be sure and type the word comment agent below to be subscribed to future broadcasts. Once again, if you're watching this on YouTube, hit the like button the subscribe button if you have any suggestions, feedback, comments on anything we've covered a day or any questions for myself or Kristie, please engage with us and we'd be happy to, you know, enter the question for you, Kristie. That's a wrap for the day and this is one of my favorite episodes. Thank you so much.

Kristie: Thank you Ryan. Have a great day.

Ryan: You too. Bye bye


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