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Staging Your Home

The goal of the seller is to show their apartment in its best possible condition in order to achieve the best possible price.

But, as with any “project,” staging your home requires a lot of work — especially if anyone is living in the apartment while it is being listed for sale.

Once you list, it’s game on

Do not list the property until you are 100 percent ready to sell.

If cleaning, organizing and perhaps even staging the apartment are not priorities, then selling it will not be a success unless you are committed to devoting time and attention to the many details.

It is a new world out there, largely due to online listings. Take the normal amount of pressure and stress that comes with listing a property and add the real-time demands of having your home on display online and you might find the demands of public consumption might outstrip your enthusiasm for selling.

If you list your home without preparation, you could wind up losing time and potential profit because the apartment won’t show well and will ultimately sit on the market too long. This is a recipe for disaster since less exposure and more time on the market tends to lead to a more drawn-out sales process and, ultimately, less money.

Remember: The longer your listing sits on the market, the less likely it is that you will get your asking price.

Find off-site storage

The old adage “less is more” works very well when it comes to selling a home. And it’s especially true in New York where apartments are very small.

But, New Yorkers get used to creative living and furnishings and possessions tend to get cramped up all around them.

This is the moment you need to look at your place with a fresh set of eyes. Better yet, get your real estate agent or a trusted friend or family member to come over and “help stage” because your apartment needs to look like a showroom.

Everything must be pared back, put away and out of sight. No muss, no fuss, no pile of shoes or stacks of T-shirts spilling out the bureau. No walls full of personal photos or tchotchkes cluttering up space.  This is the time to strip down.

What buyers want to see first and foremost are space and light. By removing clutter and unnecessary items from your apartment, you can create the dream space buyers desire.

That means your first investment should be a storage locker. Rid your apartment and its closets of all the things you don’t plan to use for the next six months.

Goodbye camping gear, holiday decorations and off-season clothes! It’s time for the light and airy look that potential buyers want to see as opposed to your skis or beach chairs jammed into a closet.

Set up a half day to prepare

Don’t wait to purge — do it as soon as you have decided to sell. You will be amazed how clean and open your place will look — to the point where you might not want to move!

Get serious and set up at least a half a day to pack and move stuff out. This preparation is what will help you snag that full-price offer. After investing in some off-site storage for things you don’t need right now, the newly freed-up closet and cabinet space can now house the day-to-day necessities that buyers don’t need to see. Toiletries, a coffee maker, juicer, dog toys or cat litter box … these things can all be hidden away. This really is a big part of showing your home off!

Buyers want to feel like they’re walking into their potential home, not like they’re wandering among your personal effects. By making your space as “neutral” and open as possible, you allow buyers to imagine themselves in the space.

Remove or restage your furniture

In the suburbs, furniture can easily come in and out through the garage and front door.  Not so easy for New Yorkers living in a multi-unit building, where moving is a giant hassle, inconvenient and often filled with complications and fees, not to mention drama. All of this makes it overwhelming to bring in staging furniture to help set up your apartment like a model home.

Therefore, use your own furniture to create a buyer-friendly set up. Be prepared to send many pieces to the off-site storage you rented. Nightstands, coffee tables or armchairs removed from the apartment really opens things up. Once you start paring down, you will be amazed at how the space gets larger. Living areas with too much furniture don’t do anything but remind buyers how small your apartment is.

And if you don’t have the time or the confidence to take on this important step, there are professionals who can make it happen. Consider hiring a designer. Many times, for just a few hundred dollars, an interior designer can rearrange or re-purpose your furniture to make your place feel like (and potentially sell for) a million bucks. An even less expensive approach is to find a design student.  They may be willing to work for free, if they can use before and after photos for their look books. The important thing is to really take a hard look at the way things were and make room for the way things should be in order to please the eyes of your potential buyer!

Likewise, during this important marketing time, it’s good to stop thinking about trying to lead a normal social life. For instance, don’t plan a giant dinner party between now and the time you move. Don’t spend too much time and energy trying to keep things in the apartment. The idea is to start moving things out, which goes a long way towards making your place look fresh and new for potential buyers.


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