Last month I posted a home staging business dilemma asking what you would do if you found yourself being asked to stage an absolutely filthy property. A special thanks to everyone who left comments on that blog post!
I’ve been in situations like this more times than I would like— meeting with homeowners who belong on an Oprah episode about compulsive hoarders. And just like you, when this happens, my first instinct is to turn and run!
But instead of running, fight that impulse and remember one important thing about home staging – no two projects are the same and every home staging consultation will happen on a different level depending on the clients and the property.
Some houses are relatively clean and you can spend all of your time on the creative side of things, what we typically think of as “home staging”. Other homes just need a good thorough cleaning to make a huge difference— in those cases you’ll spend more time covering the basics.
You can still talk about decorating while you’re addressing the cleanliness issues. For example, you are going to have to address the fact that the kitchen is filthy and there can’t be dirty dishes in the sink when showings are happening but you can also say something like, “once this is all cleaned up, here’s what will need to be done in this kitchen.”
You should make it a non-negotiable fact that the house be thoroughly cleaned as a first step.
Generally the filthiest houses also have the most clutter. I don’t clean houses, nor do I sort through belongings so I have cleaners and home organizers that I recommend for these tasks. I make it clear to the client that these individuals are less expensive than I am and that’s why it’s best to use my time to focus on home staging and how to best decorate each room so that it shows to its best potential.
When I’m in a filthy house, I’ll use my initial consultation to give them very specific direction on what needs to be cleaned and to what degree, and also how much clutter has to be removed. For example, I’ll say these pieces of furniture will need to be removed, this closet has to be emptied by at least 50%, etc.
I’ll ask them point blank whether they’d like help taking care of this all the while making it very clear that not doing it can cost them thousands of dollars or make it impossible to sell their home in a timely fashion. Then I provide contact information for the cleaners and organizers and ask if they’d prefer if I have them call them directly to set something up.
Then it’s clear that’s the first step that must be taken— no getting around it.
By the way, in course 5 of the Staging Diva Training Program, called “Over 30 More Ways to Make Money in Home Staging,” I discuss how you’ll find and evaluate the right outside companies to work with, and how to make money from their services too.
Remember that every house you go into you’ll be faced with different challenges and different personalities. One of the things that makes home staging such a gratifying career is that you will never stage the same house twice— you’re doing something new every time you tackle a new home staging project because the layout is different, the contents are different and the personality and needs of your clients will change.
Sometimes you have a clean slate to work with and sometimes making the slate clean is your main goal! There is also a deep satisfaction that comes with helping someone get control of their environment, especially when you see how this starts to ripple out into the other areas of their lives.
Do you have any stories to share about how your ideas and input changed how your clients live?
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging
Through the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, Debra Gould has taught more than 4000 people around the world how to make money as home stagers.
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