Issue 45 – Setting the Stage

Something very profound happens when you list your apartment for sale: what an owner considers a home immediately becomes a commodity.

Whether it’s a seller’s market or a buyer’s market (and this holds true for rentals, as well), you always want to command the highest price and staging is how it’s done. Savvy sellers have long figured out that it’s much easier and ultimately more lucrative to show a property in its best light at the outset rather than endure price adjustment after price adjustment hoping someone comes along who can see hidden potential. These days, all one has to do is turn on the television or read a magazine to see the proliferation of shows and articles devoted to the art of staging. It has grown to become an industry in its own right, and with good reason. Staging works.

While the prospect of reorganizing a living space may seem daunting, there are qualified professionals who can help. Because our homes are such personal reflections of who we are and how we live, having a trained, objective set of eyes evaluate the assets and issues buyers will likely consider proves highly worthwhile. Stagers have extensive access to furnishings of every style and aesthetic that saves owners the time, expense and aggravation of having to shop around for more neutral decor and accessories. Depending on the size of one’s apartment, not every room needs to look like a stark, de-personalized showplace. Experts recommend giving the most attention to the primary living areas–namely, the kitchen, living room, dining room and at least one bedroom. Considering the importance of closets, de-cluttering these storage spaces is of paramount importance since the emptier they are, the larger they look. Rather than having open house guests distracted by your family photos and personal effects, there is a greater focus on how they see themselves living in the apartment.

The process of de-cluttering is at the heart of any successful staging job, and the more sensible and realistic (and, yes, sometimes merciless) you are with items that haven’t been used, worn or seen in years will only serve this endeavor. When it comes time to move, you won’t have to pack these things up and be burdened with their relocation.

Painting is an equally inexpensive and relatively simple undertaking that can also be transformative, particularly when using neutral finishes instead of bold choices.

For darker apartments, removing heavy draperies and opting for simple blinds and sheers allows for the perfect mix of light and privacy. Because city apartments can sometimes be view-challenged, the more unobtrusive the window treatments are, the better.

Show off hardwood floors, try to minimize your pet’s accessories (you never know if someone is allergic to animals and will be immediately turned off).

Above all else, understand that first impressions set the tone and always count the most when setting the stage. The buyers coming to see your apartment have most likely been looking for a while, so it’s imperative to show your property to its greatest advantage. Remember, you are creating a blank canvas for the consumer to implement their own design into the home. You are seeking to sell the image.