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Stagers sign on the dotted line

Steve Clemons/ Leggett & Clemons

To sign or not to sign, that is the question. Should stagers use contracts? Will homeowners sign them? Are they worth the paper they’re written on? Dallas stagers got the answers to these questions and more at the July Real Estate Staging Association meeting. Steve Clemons, an attorney and partner with Leggett & Clemons gave Dallas stagers the legal lowdown on contracts, the law and protecting yourself and your business.

Is a staging contract necessary in Texas? “No, as long as you see eye to eye with your clients,” Clemons said. “But, if something goes wrong, people remember conversations differently so you need to have something to fall back on. If you don’t have a contract, something in writing, you will just argue back and forth. You could lose the client or not get paid. It will all be a case of “He said, She said’.

Then there’s the not so small aspect of legal proceedings. Scrape a wall, damage a floor, break a collectible and “You can be sued”, Clemons said. “Your house is safe, your 401K is safe, your IRA is safe, but your savings are not.”

A lot of stagers are worried about the aspect of getting a contract signed. Stagers work fast, they don’t want to waste time and everyone knows real estate is all about how quickly that house can be put on the market. Is a contract going to slow down the process? Is it going to intimidate the seller?

Think about it. Sellers are constantly dealing with contracts. They sign a contract to sell their home. They sign a contract with home inspectors, with rental and storage companies. It’s not like they aren’t used to the process. Overcome your own angst, the seller is not going to balk. If they do, you don’t need to be staging that home.

So what constitutes a good contract anyway? “A contract needs to be between you and the homeowners or whoever is on the title,” Clemons said. “If the realtor is paying for your services then the realtor should sign the contract. You have to get a signature from the responsible party. When in doubt have everyone sign it.” Make sure the contract has the basics of who is doing what and for how much and always keep the original!

Remember that 99 times out of 100 you won’t have a problem. It’s that 100th time that you’ll be glad you’ve got a signed contract!

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  • Christine Rae 4 years ago

    I agree and in the CSP class we teach stagers that contracts are essential. I have had stagers in my class who say after even after being in business for 6+yrs; they value what they learned. A contract which is well written, concise and clear helps a stagers' professionalism in the eyes of agent and seller.

  • Karen Otto 4 years ago

    This is a hot topic for sure Karen & RESA Dallas Chapter learned a lot we appreciated Steve's insight. For me it's a no brainer & as stated in your article and by Steve, you can be sued. If a client balks at your contract then I'd be hesitant to ever move forward - that right there would give me pause to think about their mindset. A contract protects BOTH you and the client. It's well worth the investment in having one. It gives everyone peace of mind.

  • Jennifer Bolen 4 years ago

    Well said Karen. Whether or it will be needed, a staging contract provides peace of mind - for both parties - that you have set the stage (pun intended) for how you and the omeowner will work together, what is expected, what will be delivered, terms, pricing, timing, etc. This eliminates confusion and prevents future misunderstandings, allowing you both to focus on what's most importnat, getting the home sold.

  • Donna Dazzo, Designed to Appeal 4 years ago

    I am a firm believer in having a contract between my company and my client. It not only protects you in a lawsuit, but also clearly outlines your services and fees so there is no doubt in the client's mind. It should contain other provisions too numerous to state here, but one that is also important in my contract is that I am not responsible for third parties such as furniture rental companies, painters etc. and that the client enters into agreements with them directly. I am only there to ASSIST the client in the management of these entities.

  • Holly Bellomy 4 years ago

    As a home stager I provide a contract or letter of agreement for all projects (big and small) so that the home seller knows exactly what to expect.

  • Neoma Twining 4 years ago

    Informational at best. I am new to the practice of actually "hiring" a stager. Didn't really know what one was until a friend of mine became a stager years ago. It is an interesting line of work. I liken it a "different set of eyeballs" to look over your home and recommend what works. Its not for the light-hearted or the overly emotional. You have to detach from the start and just roll with it.
    As for the contracts, I am married to an attorney. Of course I believe everything should be in writing. Way to go Karen. Nice article.

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