Friday, January 25, 2013


At this point I am never buying or selling another house in the Bay Area again.

Did I tell y'all that after getting extremely worked out about another miscommunication with our stager, I looked at his reviews on Yelp. Turns out people love his store, but not his employees. And when it comes to his staging services? Realtors love him, sellers not so much. From a seller's perspective, he has multiple reviews citing him being less than communicative, not doing what he said he was going to do, and just generally being unpleasant to work with. Not surprisingly, we're having the same experiences. As you can imagine, those four and five star reviews come from Realtors.

We asked him to get the lump sum $5800 painting quote we received itemized. We knew we weren't going to do everything on the list, so it would help us choose what we would do to know how much things cost. For example, how much was it to paint our basement? To power wash the house? To just paint the walls? What he sent back was decidedly NOT an itemized list. I'm not even sure what it was.

After a couple of back & forth messages on email (Alan was involved by this point), we decided to have a call yesterday at 11 a.m. At 11 a.m. our phone did not ring. We waited five more minutes and our phone still didn't ring. Finally, Alan called him. Now, I don't know about you, but in MY job, if I routinely don't dial in to meetings on time, or if every time I communicate with someone I'm late and they have to track me down, that's something that gets brought up. Apparently, however, this guy doesn't think rules of civility and courtesy apply to him. Coming from a client services background, I've had it drilled into me what constitutes good customer service, and so far, he's getting an F.

So we get on the phone, and we explain why we want an itemized list (hell, what we mean by an itemized list) and right away he gets defensive. At this point, he's done nothing that we asked him for, and when we start pressing, he gets into a tizzy. Um, no. I don't think so. I kind of lost my shit. Not as bad as I wanted to, mind you, (for example, I didn't swear - not even once) but I basically told him we were NOT going to just pay $5800 for a quote that doesn't tell us what anything actually costs. He starts in about how this guy is the cheapest guy he works with, blah, blah, blah. That's fine. You're still not addressing the fact that you haven't told us how much anything costs. So then I try to explain to him why we're not willing to just spend money willy nilly and how this is not a house in Rockridge and that there is a ceiling to what someone will pay for a house this size in this neighborhood, and with this school district. He starts arguing with me, telling me how well he knows this neighborhood and how he's seen it happen. I can't remember what I said, but at this point I was angry. Heck, I was beyond angry. No house in this neighborhood has, in recent times, sold for over a certain price. It just isn't going to happen, regardless of how much anyone wants it to. (See my previous post about reality, and how he doesn't seem to inhabit it.) Alan says that I wasn't a bitch, per se, but that you could definitely tell that I was upset and felt like I wasn't being listened to. That's a shame. I really wanted to be a bitch. :-)

Alan jumped in and explained the economics behind our thought process and how we're making our decisions, and right away he somewhat changed his tune. It's almost like he assumed, straight away, that we're poor and that it wasn't worth working with us. The fact of the matter is, we have the cash to pay for anything and everything he'd recommend. But the reason we have the cash is because we don't make stupid decisions with how we spend our money. We have money because we're not irresponsible with our money, and his recommendations so far have seemed incredibly irresponsible given the market and what we can expect to get back on this house.

We closed the conversation, and I was pretty dejected about the whole process. Alan wrote to our Realtor (who Alan has known for twenty years), and he came over later in the afternoon. After talking with him, I felt much better, but still not entirely settled. At night we sat down and put together an email to the stager and sent if off. It was calm, cordial, and not at all filled with The Swears.

This morning he wrote back and told us that the painter has decided he doesn't want the job. He recommended another painter, who upon a bit of rather quick internet research, I found has an open OSHA complaint against him. It seems people fall off roofs when he's in charge. So yeah, not exactly giving me a ton of confidence. He told us that he's eliminating himself from this part of the process and asked the painter to call me directly. So far he hasn't.

Alan asked him to provide his color recommendations and he said he doesn't have them yet and that he won't until he knows what the painter is going to paint. Fishy. I know he's at least thought about them because he told the first painter what colors he was thinking about using. So yeah, now he's not even willing to share that information with us. Also, our agent thought he had already provided us with these. Turns out no, he provided a different client with a full color recommendation. I don't know what stage that client is at, but something just seems a bit off. It's like because we dared to question him he's now acting like a petulant child. I have to look at our contract and see what it says about refunds if he hasn't done any work, because if this behavior keeps up and we can get our money back, I will fire him.


  1. I'm not sure how much you've already paid him, but if you can't get your money back is it worth sticking with him? He's causing you WAY too much stress and aggravation - is what you paid worth what you've already experienced, and what you will most likely continue to experience if you stick with him?
    I would suggest that from this point forward to either communicate mostly through email, and if you talk to him in person or on the phone you follow it up with an email confirming what was discussed and agreed upon. It's always good to have a paper trail - especially if things are feeling slightly 'off'.

  2. Lolly9:12 PM

    Did your realtor recommend this stager? If so, I'd fire both of them. When you told the realtor you're having problems with the stager, he should have stepped in immediately. Last year, we sold our house in the South Bay. Our realtor handled everything (painting, bathroom updates, etc.), so we didn't have to deal with the subs. The realtor would meet with them at the house, get their bids, go over the bids with us, we'd select and approve, and then the work would happen. Selling a home is stressful enough. You don't need to deal with the crap the stager is giving you.

  3. Heh, I can take a pretty good guess at who your stager is, now... (If it's who I think it is, their finished houses do look nice, but I've heard the same things about working with them from others, including friends who had a horrible experience after asking about an invoice that they felt was over the top.) I'd move on.

  4. Hi Michelle,

    We paid $3000 upfront to get a discount of a couple of hundred dollars. If we were to cancel on him, we'd forfeit $1500 of that. We met with our Realtor yesterday and talked through a plan of attack to make this as good of an experience as possible at this point. I'm hoping it works, but from now on the majority of our communications are going to come through him as our mediator.

  5. Our Realtor has stepped in and has been helping us through this. He hasn't had any clients with the same experience we've had, so this is kind of a new one for him. We think we figured out the issue and we put together a plan of attack on how to make this all work.

  6. Yeah, I'm trying not to name names (yet!), but it's pretty obvious to anyone in the area that knows. :-)

    We talked with our Realtor yesterday and now all of our communications are going to come through him. If we have questions, we're going to have him clarify the information. For example, we received our countertop quote today and it was about $1500 higher than the ball parked figure we'd gotten at the beginning of this process. It also doesn't include any mention of what color granite this is for. And, despite us saying repeatedly that we want to keep our faucet, the quote includes faucet replacement. So yeah, now our Realtor is going to figure that all out.


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