St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging


When should you just say NO?

Yesterday I went to view one of my best client's properties.  It is newly listed and in very bad shape.  I would call this a flip house.  I'm not going to show photos because it is currently on the market and I don't want anyone local to be able to connect any dots...   I was asked to put together a budget for staging and some inexpensive updates.  The budget would be low because they already needed new flooring (it is stripped down to the concrete at this moment).

When we were at the home, I actually called a friend of mine who flips homes and gave him the address recommending this home.  Before the client spends any more money, I think this is their best option for a buyer. 

Here is a list of some of my recommendations in the home:

  • scrape popcorn ceiling
  • Prime & paint all trimwork
  • replace countertops (they are laminate and cracked)
  • take down latticework that covers screens in screened porch
  • re-glaze tiles in both bathrooms
  • paint entire home
  • remove old wallpaper that has been painted over & is peeling from wall (about 3/4 of the home unfortunately) - it may be easier & cheaper in the long run to redrywall these areas...
  • replace countertops in both bathrooms
  • remove green & gold shag carpet in FROG
  • paint entire exterior home including bricks (which are very dated & unattractive), doors & shutters

These are only some of the minimal suggestions.  There are signs throughout the home that say, new carpet coming soon.  MLS offers a carpet allowance.  What I wonder though, is whether the home would be better off with a dramatically reduced price and being sold 'as is' .... the owners do not have the desire to do the needed work - which again is extensive.  The home is currently vacant. 

What do you think? Would you do some of the items above & replace the carpet or drop the price and sell 'as is'?


 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at, Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comment balloon 23 commentsMelissa Marro • December 20 2007 09:21AM


I think that if they don't want to do the work, they will probably get a better response selling the home as-is. Then maybe another investor will snatch it up and do the renovations.  With all that work that needs to be done, I don't think to many of your average home buyers will be interested.
Posted by Tanya Venable, SEO, Mobile SEO, and Internet Marketing Consultant almost 11 years ago
I think they need to market to investors or flippers, drop the price and make the terms attractive.  The work involved is so extensive and if they have no interest even if they do some of it I am willing to bet the work won't be the best.
Posted by Diana Corcoran, Rhinebeck Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Hudson Valley Properties) almost 11 years ago
I think it depends on how much they can get for the home, then calculate what the repairs would be in comparison to a reasonable and realistic price for the home.  After that calucuation, if the amounts do not show that the they would receive any of it back, it's probably good to sale "as is".  Especially if the owners have no desire to make the renovations.  My 2 cents.
Posted by Teresa J. Ramey (ReDecorating with Style) almost 11 years ago
If seller is not motivated in fixing these problem. Then I say lower the price and sell it as is!
Posted by Fernando Rosado, 561-906-0050 or 561-840-8950 almost 11 years ago

Hi Melissa,

"As is" sales do not cut it here in Reno, NV. Sellers have to compete with builders whose homes are competitively priced and staged.  We also have foreclosures that are attractively priced and some are in good condition. 

Our median price for a home is $320,000; therefore, home buyers would much rather have a turn key home as they have spent every last dime in purchasing the home.  Majority of investors have moved their investing strategies to different state.


Posted by Catherine Sinocruz, Broker-Salesperson, ABR, GRI, CRS (Coldwell Banker Select Real Estate ) almost 11 years ago

Hi Melisa,

Any house will sell if it is priced right, it depends upon how much breathing room the sellers have to lower the price. Maybe they are at their ceiling.

Any investor will buy if their is room for their repairs and for them to flip it.

Have your sellers estimate the costs to make those repairs in order to sell and compete with like homes in your market. Then cut the price for those repairs plus another 10 %. Usually flippers want a 10% back in their pocket. If you area is depreciating like our market is here, then you will have to factor the price into a declining market.

Hope that helps,

Kathy Dyer

Posted by Kathy Dyer Roseville Sacramento Staging Real Estate Home Stager Services (One Step Staging- Home Staging services Roseville/Sac areas) almost 11 years ago

Melissa this sounds like about 75% of the houses in my area.  It's a struggle and a dilemma, for sure.  Personally, I say reduce the price and market to the renovators, but I don't find that happening here.  Instead these houses are sitting on the market for years...what a drag!


Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) almost 11 years ago
 It really doesn't make sense to stage a flip.  The target demographic is looking for a project.  Half done repairs etc. will put many of them off.  You just gotta know your target audience.  You can put lipstick on a pig, but... 
Posted by Maureen Maureen almost 11 years ago

I agree.  My Flipper/Investors have a plan for each house that they buy. If this client is a Realtor, then you have a bit of a problem. If it is an Investor, then your suggestions should be part of your service to prepare the house for you to Stage it.

Otherwise.... no amount of Staging will help sell this house if it is below your Staging standards ;) Your choice my friend. 

Posted by Lori Kim Polk, Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento ( Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services) almost 11 years ago
Melissa, you can and should say NO anytime it is in the best interest of the Home Owner.  The job of a stager is to increase the marketability of their clients home.  If you cannot do that under the physical or financial constraints, then I believe you have to say no. 
Posted by Gary Barnett, Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis (Home Matters) almost 11 years ago

When I posted this I had actually already contacted the agent advising that it was not worth my time or their money to stage the home & that minor changes would not make a difference.  I had already contacted investor friends of mine to give them a heads up on a flip opportunity. 

I wanted to throw it out there for others to think about.... lipstick on a pig is a good analogy (and one we use a lot in the south).  When you are out there working, you need to be mindful of what is best for the client.  I know stagers who think more about getting every job than really thinking out what works best for the client... whether it be cutting corners to make more money, charging more than is reasonable or taking jobs that really should have been turned down.  I don't imagine they will be in business long, but in the meantime it is good to hear others say what I knew was right.

If the job can't be done right - done to the CLIENT'S best benefit then it should not be done at all... Thanks a bunch for all the comments!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

Good Call Melissa!  As an experienced Home Renovator, I will not even bother with a house unless I expect to make at least 30%+ on my purchase....right off the bat.  Often times, sellers think cheap fix-ups will do the trick to bring the home up to par with others in the area but that is really tricky.  If the house is in bad shape, outdated and in need of the money to upgrade many can be better to price it right and let it go!!  Financing has become tougher for the flippers/house you really have to weigh many factors....otherwise, the frustrated customer sits with a dilapidated home with no interested buyers.  Staging would be pointless and really not worth it.  (Lipstick on a pig....THAT is a description!) LOL...

Like you, I believe that as stagers, doing what is best for the customer is always the best policy.  Though we all dislike turning away a job, there are reasons which warrant doing so.  Nice story to share! Regards-Kathleen G

Posted by Kathleen Garvey, Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales (HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver) almost 11 years ago

I've got nothing to add here, so may I just take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy, healthy New Year.  You more than anyone in AR have enabled me to kick up my business a notch this year, and I am hugely grateful.  Your newsletters post.  It's made a major difference for me in scope, since I only market to realtors.  I worry for you with all of your inventory, but know that you are fundamentally a savvy old biddy and unlikely to mis-step.

My very best to you, Michelle, Mary, Madeleine, er, girlfriend!!


Posted by Juliet Johnson, Jacksonville Social Media Marketing (Vizzitopia) almost 11 years ago
PS - what's a FROG, in this instance?
Posted by Juliet Johnson, Jacksonville Social Media Marketing (Vizzitopia) almost 11 years ago
FROG=COLOR!!  Eww....a very ugly yellowy-brownish-greenish 1960s-1970s shade of carpet color!  Kinda funky olive! Totally awful!
Posted by Kathleen Garvey, Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales (HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver) almost 11 years ago

Juliet & Kathleen - FROG - term typically used in the east I believe.... Finished Room Over Garage... We don't have basements... we have FROGs.... though in this particular instance Kathleen's defination does actually work... lol....

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
Golly Juliet - I was laughing so hard about Kathleen's definition I forgot to say a BIG THANK YOU!  I wish you the same at this holiday time and the new year approaching... don't worry a thing about the inventory.  We have about 6 homes in stock as of next Friday and about 12 quotes outstanding for the new year.  We will have it all gone by mid January.... the beauty of which is it is pretty much already paid for!  What a great way to start a year!
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

Darn it....I was so sure about the FROG definition....hahaha....the description of that home sounded so like the ugly houses I pick up every so often to do a gut-job-rehab on and I usually describe things in such a manner...cookie-monster Blue shag with orange swirls....Brady-bunch paneling....Frog colored dank flooring....LOL!

Like Juliet...I often think of you and your massive inventory.  Your business acumen is one to admire for sure and though I wonder if I will ever have the guts to take on even half your amount of inventory (big furniture), you are a continual inspiration Melissa!!  Glad to know you are booked into mid-January!!  Things are still slow in catching on here in SW Florida (lots of second homes for people living elsewhere)...and with the local rental company raising prices 60% (!!) during our 'season' (Nov-May), sometimes I wish I had more inventory to use....ugly furniture choices at a premium  price makes me motivated to take the jump!  Keep on it Melissa!!  : )  Regards-Kathleen G

PS-I can't believe FROG.....though I am still chuckling about 'Lipstick on a pig'....that did it for me!! Hee-hee...

Posted by Kathleen Garvey, Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales (HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver) almost 11 years ago
Kathleen - I had a good laugh about your frog definition... I am honored to be an inspiration to both you and Juliet.  One of the shops we like to visit downtown actually has a sculpture of a pig, wearing earrings, a pink feather boa and of course, lipstick and eye makeup!  Now that is something funny to see!
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
Great blog, agree with many of the comments.  Sometimes what we turn down leaves room for those where we can really affect change. 
Posted by Terrylynn Fisher, HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc. (Dudum Real Estate Group - almost 11 years ago


I would leave the house as is. The house will attract a different buyer in each siutation. If they leave as is, they will attract the investor. If they try to fix it up, it will be a buyer who wants to live there and will ask for any repairs for issues found in a home inspection.

Posted by Anthea Click, Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly! (Fresh Perspectives - almost 11 years ago

Hi Melissa -

I am sitting in the exact situation you are on a house I was hired to do a consult on. Total 60's. I gave them the list, paint, wallpaper removal, light fixture upgrades, landscaping, etc. The homeowner was on board to do most of it but when the costs started coming in she hesitated. Now she is picking and choosing some items and leaving others, like a turquoise sink and pink countertop. My feeling is that either they do the renovations or they don't. It needs to be their decision. You can't do it half way or you won't be helping the overall feel. We'll see how it finally plays out. I think it is our job to give them the road map to getting it in  decent shape for the market and they need to make the decision as to which way to go.

Posted by Kelly Townsend, CDPE, Realtor (Coldwell Banker) almost 11 years ago

Kelly - I actually blogged about this home recently, see - Did my agent know something I didn't know about me?  While I definately would have liked to see more changes take place, and it sounds like your situation is a bit more dramatic, in the end I did what the agent asked and definately feel the home shows to a completely different buyer in MLS now. 

Of course the blue tiles in the bathroom still need to go, etc a buyer can at least imagine that they could make this a home.  My lesson learned...... I hope it can help inspire you!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

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