I just finished reading Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. While I’ve been happy not to read economics books since finishing my MBA over 20 years ago, this is way different!
These authors are not your typical economists and what pulled me in was the provocative chapter title “How is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real Estate Agents?”
So how do they link the Ku Klux Klan and real estate agents?
Both groups get their strength through the control and power of information.
They argue that the “Ku Klux Klan was a group whose power— much like that of politicians or real estate agents or stockbrokers— was derived in large part from the fact that it hoarded information.
Once that information falls into the right hands, much of the group’s advantage disappears.
I won’t go into the authors’ fascinating story of the rise and fall of the KKK here, because my interest as a home stager is in what they had to say about real estate agents.
Their perspective goes a long way to explaining what I’ve always said in course 4 of the Staging Diva Training Program about why many real estate agents mistakenly believe they have a vested interest in NOT recommending a home stager to their clients.
The basic premise in Freakonomics is that economics is really the study of incentives— how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.
In the past, real estate agents (armed with information the rest of us couldn’t access), could exert a tremendous influence by converting that information into fear, say the authors.
Because of their commission structure, agents only get paid if you sell your house and how much you sell for doesn’t influence their commission all that much. So, it was always in their interest to get a homeowner to take an offer, by building fear that another better one wouldn’t materialize.
And it was in the agent’s interest to get home buyers to make a quick buying decision, perhaps even offering more than they would have, for fear that they’d lose their “dream” home.
Only real estate agents had the information on what comparable homes sold for and how long it took. Not to mention, they had the power to create an entirely different story depending on what “comparables” they chose to share.
I saw this in action when I sold my Victoria home in 2002. One of the prospective listing agents kept insisting I’d be lucky to get $300,000 based on her analysis of similar homes.
I actually sold in 3 days for over $30,000 more, using a different agent!
Clearly the power is shifting away from real estate agents and brokers, and back to home sellers because:
- MLS listings are now available to anyone with an Internet connection
- the profileration of sites and businesses catering to the FSBO (for sale by owner) crowd
- sites like HomeThinking and Zillow which actually rate and provide reviews of Realtor® performance
These trends and the power shift it creates bodes well for the future of home staging.
How else can you explain how I can find a home stager for a homeowner in Johannesburg, who contacted me from half way around the world because her expensive home had been sitting on the real estate market for months with no offers.
Clearly, the only solution her own agent was prepared to offer was a price reduction. The home seller took matters into her own hands and found me. Since I have a Johannesburg Staging Diva Graduate, I was able to put the two of them together!
Sherry Spencer says
I\’m interested in your course but have a few questions. What is the \”total\” cost of an all inclusive training with website and whatever else you sell (or suggest) for me to get started as effectively armed and ready to go as possible?
Also, I only have an American Express Business card to use for this business and noticed you only accept M/C and Visa. Is there a way around this and will you accept my AX through a source like Paypal?
The last question I\’d like to ask is just how likely that I will receive business solely from being listed on your website vs another staging website? If I knew the referral rate were high and I was given others to call to verify, I\’d feel a little more confident committing so much money to this training and website.
Thanks in advance for answers to my questions. I\’m sure they are the same questions others out there would like to know as well.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Debra Gould says
All good questions and I\’ll answer them here so others can benefit too.
The total cost of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program plus a full page listing in the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers (which includes me building your page and hosting it on the high traffic Staging Diva website for a full year) is $1590.
This is based on the five course package price of $895, plus a directory listing of $695. Considering I am giving you a way to build a whole new career, this is an incredibly modest investment, which you will likely make back with only one or two clients.
When you order, it will ask you whether you want to use your Visa, Master Card or go through Paypal. If you opt to pay through PayPal, you can use your Amex card to pay.
If you want to spread out your payments, you can order the Staging Diva courses one at a time at a cost of $199 each. Overall it will cost you $100 more this way, but that way you do not have to come up with $895 all at once. You can also take as long as you like to complete all five and you will be considered a Staging Diva Graduate when you order your final course.
Staging Diva Graduates who have decided to join the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers get home staging projects out of it, often within weeks. Yet their listing remains on the site promoting their business for a whole year 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That is the kind of coverage you can not get running an ad in a newspaper or sending out flyers.
In fact, Staging Diva Graduates that also have their own web sites (and track where their web traffic comes from), have reported that over half of the visitors to their own sites come from their links on their Staging Diva Directory page. In other words, even if you have your own site, a big challenge is driving traffic to it, and a listing in the Staging Diva Directory will help do that.
Perhaps equally important, Staging Diva Directory members get media interviews from it.
Two were contacted by The Wall Street Journal this fall and one is going to be included in the new FabJob Guide to Become a Home Stager, all as a direct result of their listings in the Directory. It is difficult to put a dollar figure on what such exposure is worth and the credibility it can give you as a new business.
If you check out the \”In the News\” link from the green menu bar at the top of this page, you will see that I get considerable media coverage. I accomplish this through my websites and that is why my graduates are beginning to benefit too from this. I am interviewed for stories and then reporters look for other sources and they find them in the Staging Diva Directory.
I also promote the Directory in my media interviews. For example, just last month it was featured in the largest home decor magazine in Canada. On Monday November 6 I will be mentioning it in my live radio interview in Los Angeles with Bob McCormick of Money 101 on CBS radio, and The Staging Diva Directory will also be part of an article going out to 4 million households in USAA magazine this spring.
These are just few examples of the fringe benefits of being part of the Staging Diva community.
Joining the Staging Diva Directory is only open to graduates of the program but you do not have to purchase your listing at the same time you order the courses.
Hope that helps answer your questions.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging