How To Ace The Consult Before The Consult

A potential listing that's been lived in for years often needs an extra phase of preparation: an assessment of the bones of the house and recommendations of any significant changes that need to be made. We call it the consult before the consult, or the pre-pre-staging consult. 

A professional stager's trained eye will detect critical issues that may not be obvious to others. The purpose, as always, is to make sure that we maximize the sales price of the listing.

Before I start the walk-through, I let the buyer and realtor know the questions I'll address:

  • What are the large and small changes—repairs, renovations, or upgrades—that need to be made?
  • What rooms should be painted, and in what colors?
  • What furniture should be kept for staging, and what should be removed?

Then, we're on to the walk-through, for specific recommendations on how to get the home into sales-ready shape. A professional stager will always:

1. Check for water damage and mold.

The first step is to identify any major issues that must be remediated: water damage or mold. Signs of potential problems include stains or cracks on ceilings or walls, bubbles in the paint or wallpaper, visible mold, and a musty smell. We'll identify any areas that need further investigation and I'll recommend what type of professional to call.

2. Recommend upgrades and updates.

It might be an overlooked downstairs bathroom with a flimsy door and cracked tile in a million-dollar home, a home that has been lived in for decades and maintained well—but never painted, or dated kitchen countertops and cabinets (sometimes, it can be as easy as painting the cabinets white). Here is where I share precise recommendations of what and how to paint ceilings, walls, and molding.

3. Point out areas to declutter.

A good consult goes beyond what to declutter and into tips on how to do this faster and easier. We may discuss better ways to contain and store items, such as in on-trend baskets or decorative boxes, point out what can be donated or disposed of, and provide the contact information of organizations that accept different types of donations.

4. Share tips on cleaning.

An experienced stager will find the scrapes, marks, and dirt that someone living in the home just doesn't notice anymore. Don't despair—there is a tip, trick, or workaround to fixing or cleaning anything we find. One of my personal favorites: just how to use a Magic Eraser to remove rust from railings.

The consult before the staging consult is the key to giving your buyers the information, tools, and time they need to get their home into sales-ready shape. If you'd like to talk about a potential listing or schedule a pre-pre-consult for potential buyers, let me know. I'd love to help with the legwork needed to get top dollar for your upcoming listing.