I recently posted a home staging business dilemma from “Simone” a home stager who shared her story about an especially challenging real estate agent. He blew up and started yelling at her at an agent open house following something she said. Her story raised interesting issues around dealing with difficult people and raised the potential conflict of interest (or perceived conflict of interest), when approaching real estate agents as a home stager while your husband happens to be a Realtor®.
If you haven’t read it yet, check out Simone’s story here. You’ll also find some great comments from home stagers which you can add to before reading my opinions on the whole situation in this post.
The over-reaction to Simone’s “when is the listing up?” question indicates that she really hit a sore spot. She was the unfortunate recipient for whatever other problems he has. While the real estate agent had no right to yell “get the hell out of the house,” I can see where he might have been put off and misinterpreted her question. Imagine for a moment that he might be in any of these situations (which had nothing to do with Simone):
- His real estate commissions are way down because the market is slow (the average agent earns less than a teen managing the local McDonalds)
- Before this open house the agent was yelled at by his client because she thinks it’s his fault her house hasn’t sold
- He just lost a deal he’s been working on for months and his desk fees are due
- He’s been working every weekend for months doing open houses with no results and his wife is complaining that he doesn’t spend time with the family
- He already feels like a failure because many of his listings are about to expire and he’s afraid his clients will list with someone else
While Simone was trying to figure out how much time he had left on the listing to know whether recommending staging to him would make sense, perhaps that wasn’t the best approach. Really the time left on that particular listing was irrelevant. In my opinion, she should have been focused on:
- Educating him about how staging can help him make more money
- Building her relationship with that agent
- Demonstrating her own expertise as a home stager
In a future post I’ll share different ways to do that in a discussion with an agent at an open house, but for now, let’s deal with Simone’s problem at hand.
- What should she do about this agent and how things ended?
- How should she handle things so that future agents aren’t threatened by the fact that her husband is a Realtor®?
Readers had lots of great suggestions for the first question, ranging from “let it go/he was inappropriate” to “call him on it by booking a face-to-face meeting with him and his broker to discuss his lack of professionalism.”
I’m in more of the “let it go” camp. Perhaps a follow up email or call to apologize for upsetting him and wanting to clear up any misunderstanding. Explain the reasoning for the question so that he isn’t left with the fear that Simone was somehow planning to solicit his listing for her husband or another agent.
I wouldn’t waste too much time worrying that he might badmouth her to other real estate agents. While I understand the fear, there is nothing she can do to control what he does. Besides, I think it’s an unlikely scenario. He’s not likely dwelling on the whole thing. He blew up and it’s over and he clearly has more issues worrying him than Simone. It’s also possible that he’s just plain abusive, in which case anyone that knows him won’t give too much credence to anything he says. And as Lucia pointed out, “this is not business you want.”
As for the second issue of potential conflicts (or perceived conflicts) of interest, Simone can make it clear to agents she meets that her husband is a part-time commercial real estate agent and that her staging projects are strictly residential and that she understands the inappropriateness of soliciting another agent’s listing and would never do that on her husband’s or any other agent’s behalf.
However, I wouldn’t want to raise a concern where none exists so unless she feels it’s widely known that her husband is an agent, she doesn’t need to bring it up specifically at all. I liked Cheryl‘s suggestion about stating in conversations or marketing materials that she’s “an independant Home Stager and would welcome the opportunity to work with all real estate agents and their clients.”
If you have additional advice for Simone or want to comment on my opinions on this, please comment below! I welcome all your opinions because we all learn more collectively by sharing our advice and differing perspectives. By the way, “Simone” (who hasn’t posted here because I’ve been protecting her identity so that she would feel free to share her story), has already expressed how helpful your comments have been thus far!
By the way, if you have a story/business dilemma you’d like to share to get my input and that of my readers, please email me with “Ask Staging Diva Business Dilemma” in the subject line! If you want me to share who you are in your post, let me know. Otherwise I’ll keep it anonymous as I did for this story.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging
Debra Gould has personally staged hundreds of homes since launching her own home staging business Six Elements Inc. in 2002. After learning from much trial and error how to really make money as a home stager she developed the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program to teach others her blueprint for earning a living doing something they love. Debra is frequently profiled in the media for her home staging expertise and is the author of 5 guides for home stagers.