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The Decorologist: Staging Tips for Agents

Ryan Rodenbeck

Ryan started in Austin real estate as an investor in 2001. He looked at all investment opportunities — Austin foreclosures, condos, homes for sale...

Ryan started in Austin real estate as an investor in 2001. He looked at all investment opportunities — Austin foreclosures, condos, homes for sale...

Feb 18 21 minutes read

Ryan: Hey guys, welcome. One of the ways 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 hat 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. As always, be sure to like this video if you're watching on Facebook, if you've found this helpful, type in the comment agent below to describe to a future broadcast. If you're watching this on youtube, like and subscribe to our channel. And as always, if you have tap topics that you would like for us to cover, then put it in the comment section below. Okay, so we're going to bring in a Kristie Barnett, aka the decorologist and we’re going to be talking about staging essentials that agents need to consider in the heated Austin market.

Ryan: And today we're going to be going over how the value of a home increases tremendously with proper staging, that potential loss in a home if it isn't stays and how agents from get certified or fine 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 the design and color expert, home staging educator, author and speaker who has been blogging about design since 2009. Experts, psychological stager, interior decorator and creator of interior and exterior color palettes across the US she has written over 1100 design articles and authored the best selling book, psychological staging, the home staging secrets of a decorologist. Welcome. And we're so glad to have you here.

Kristie: Okay, Ryan, thanks for having me.

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

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 a 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 my whole system of staging is based on psychology.

Ryan: And did you kind of create that course I did. I did certification

Kristie: 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, trying to develop the system. I really systematic way of using it as the science and psychology of visual perception to change how people looked or perceived the size of rooms and, and you know, how it dreams, you know, how to draw the eye 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 them to take your recommendation. So yeah, so when we started the staging training company experts, psychological stager, I'm almost, let's say four and a half years ago.

Ryan: Well, I want to kind of show you how to tell the audience here, how we met each other. I mean, you and I actually haven't actually met each other, but while we've been following you for a long time, so you know what's interesting is, you know, back in like 2000-2010, I decided that I wanted to become a top producing listing agent and I was just going to figure out any way possible, but I was going to do it. My wife was a CPA. She was kind of burned out on that. We wanted to work and gather. So yeah, at that time, back then we drove to Frisco and she took a course there, a like a one day course in Frisco and it was good stuff. It got us started. Right, right. So you, so you know, we were able to increase our listing production.

Ryan: 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 were doing so much staging stuff that we wanted to get her certified and Iso and my wife actually started following you on social media, reading your stuff. I became a big fan. And so we decided to get sunny in Nashville. And my wife was 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 courses.

Kristie: It's three days. Well, it's three days. Yeah. It's true that for class intensive in class and one day we were actually staging a home.

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

Kristie: Absolutely. What was it, 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 as 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 stating makes you more money and you know, its statistics tell us that saves some cell in a fourth of the time as un-staged times. And they sell for more. And so, you know, naturally, because we know that the center of 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. And so they're going to sell quickly quicker. So you know, if you think about it like after the house was on the market for a month you're listing your price that you're going to get is, is about five of 5% less than listening, right So you have a $500,000 house and you assist for a month, you're going to lose $25,000. So staging is going to keep that from happening. And then also the average savings on carrying costs if your home is stage 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, you started doing staging. We, 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 Yeah. 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. Right. Good for you as well Jim. Yeah. And so now like two years ago we started offering that service to our agents and they're seen has been a fit. But even like last December we had a duplex in 78704 that was listed for like two months. The agent couldn't sell it.

Ryan: I think they had it for like 625. Right. And then, they dropped it to 600 and then they took it off the market. She contacted me, I said, let's let three days on market reset. We stage the home Sunday. Good, beautiful job. And then we got 624 when we listed it. So that's just like the proof is that buddy. So do you have any examples besides me? Have any brokerages that offer any 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. Yeah.  If that 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 to have to deal with contractors and handymen and, and all these things, it, that's a great advantage if that's something that you can offer.

Ryan: Okay. And I'm going to go a little bit off script here because know 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, gray-ge, which is a gray beiges, are also a popular at what I'm seeing in the last year is that those neutrals are getting a little wider than they were a few years ago. So we're lightening up those neutrals for sure. You know, obviously why 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 white all the time because that can look pretty dead in a lot of homes too, depending on like with nature.

Ryan: Yeah. And talking about psychological staging versus what we commonly to staging. Cause, I mean this is it. He went to  your course you like there was a lot of, I mean it was really elevated compared to what we already knew, you know, so what Tom was 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 strategies and you know, so I know they're been brokerages that I'm aware of where there's been, maybe there's a team member, 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 so that's one thing. When I go in and do a staging consultation, I tried to explain to the seller, this is not about your decorating, your 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 for richer that  and arrange 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 rapper round 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 one of those things that like, that's the most common thing. It's like telling them, well, if we just put your stuff into garage bay or in storage or whatever, and, and you know, this one thing, if nothing else, what will help it out as well. And do you typically, when you're doing staging do you recommend a 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. A lot of stagers really don't even know how to do paint color consultations. So after, but I think that's really, really important because color accounts for 90% of this, of consumer decision making, which is crazy, right It has so much more influence than we think. And even though a lot of people say, well, somebody can repaint 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 the 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 less welcoming. And we just need to sit if it can update the entire space.

Ryan: Yeah. And these colors in it, you know, and did they change over time Right. What do you think the lifespan of a trending color 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 change five to 10 years. Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah. We’re about, I think we're going to do a document, a good example in the US because we haven't seen these duplexes in one of them about a and 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 you know, a darker beige I guess. And it just, you could tell it's just not really an, and, and we want to like have that property really cop because the, especially when it comes to duplex is that, 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, are you guys going to keep it clean or whatever Right, right. I mean, I can get that. So we want to have that pop talk about the outsides of chromes is that, that's the one thing you talked about this your first impression, right?

Kristie: Yeah, yeah. In first impression is like, you know, they used to say your first impression is made in the first 15 seconds. It's really like in milliseconds. It's any, you know, it's visceral, you feel it before you actually cognitively process it. And so, you know, it's so, so important. I'm so the exteriors start late. 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 four years ago who had a duplex and there were, you know, oh I don't know how many homes were duplexes were in their complex, but there were three others 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 there. There's sold immediately like within three days and those other, and it was just like the others, but we updated the, the paint colors. It changed the entire 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’ve seen a decent amount of duplexes and you know, you can tell the difference of our duplexes. I mean they look so much differently. Like, even if it's just the outside, well 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 courts and duplexes and your ass where it's not in there. And then we'll stage that. And then so not only is 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 reps worser 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 this change that same to same buyer knows that they don't want the house within 15 seconds. It's fine. I've gone through the, you know, going into the house and it's just staged awfully. You know, they're big. I can tell I have to have 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: That's so, that's so interesting that 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 anything, a decision, right, this is in politics, this is in all kinds of things. We have our opinion, we'd make that, that judgment 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, which I did when we moved into our home,  then I'm going to find every way to overlook some floss, you know Okay. It doesn't have this, but you know, it has this. So, yeah, it's, it's, it's very psychological.

Ryan: And that's why it's so important to have the, these tools in your arsenal, which leads us to I believe her last question. So how can an agent,  how do you recommend an agent find a good stager to refer to sellers.

Kristie: Okay. This is so important, Ryan, because they're all… How can I say this There are the 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 in, did they read a book about it and decided to do it? Did they go and get training? There's live training. Ours is a three day intensive live training. And so you need to figure out how they learned, how to stage you. We’ll figure out what kind of services they offer because there are 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, Oh, you take notes while I tell you what to do in 30 days, that is that you do not get followed through.

Kristie: You don't get buy-in. So I think that's where when for 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 other specialized in vacant staging for empty houses where you do rental furniture. So you need to find out at that stage or you know, what services they provide. And then the other thing is really need to ask them to see their before and after portfolios, see what they're capable of. That's, that's huge. Yeah. 

Ryan: Yeah. That's so funny. What's interesting with that is that's been a big part of our marketing for my listings and for, for the ages, listings scenes is like for the past several years when I go into a house, I'll go when you know, you want your portfolio to look good, right So I'll go in with, with this, you know, this camera right Admittedly not good and this is the before version, right And then the after version a is with that, you know, professional photography and wide angle lenses and it just makes a world of difference and it adds so much clout. And I thought that was the last week we have one more question. How can an agent or an agent's assistant or someone on 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, um, I offer courses three times a year. I have one coming up next month in March, March 14th or 16th, it's still have a few slots left, I think have, we have fourth seat 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 offered that lot trainings. You can go to my website, the deck and go to the tab that says learn from me and you'll see a dropdown 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 to look at is the training programs accredited by the real estate staging association. Because again, just like they're different kinds of stagers, there's all different kinds of trainings. And so you want to make sure that you, you have one that's accredited.

Ryan: Gotcha. Well, this has been great. We're huge fans of yours, my wife and just like, you know, ball is, you constantly read 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, the comment 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, if you're watching this on Facebook, if you found this helpful, be sure and type the word or the comment agent below to be subscribed as future broadcasts. Once again, if you're watching this on youtube, if the light button, the subscribe button, if you have any suggestions, feedback, comments on anything that we've covered today, or any questions for myself or Kristie, please engage with us and we'd be happy to, you know, answer the question for you. Christy, that's a wrap for the, and, this is one of my favorite episodes. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Have a great day. 

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