Archive for Staging


Staged with Young Kids: Mission Impossible?

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We’re often asked how much needs to be done or how little can the owners get away with when staging an apartment for sale when they have young kids.  The answer is it depends.  You want your apartment to show at its best, yet you still have to live there.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Declutter – Take a hard look at the kids’ toys and determine what their absolute favorite toys are, then cut that number in half, and store the rest in a storage room or rented storage.  That way you can tidy up quickly, and give the appearance of having more space.  When the kids get bored with those toys, let them choose something to come out of storage, but something has to go in storage.
  • Re-paint the apartment – The walls take a beating with toys and little hand-prints.  Painting is the least expensive thing you can do before putting the apartment on the market.
  • Before showings begin – Take a good look at your entrance hall.  Large strollers and sports equipment should be stowed elsewhere – perhaps a neighbor or the super will allow you to store those bulky items for an hour or so at a time.  A buyer’s first impression is right inside your door.  Put your best foot forward.
  • Storage – Multi-purpose storage such as benches or ottomans with storage can help hide the toys out of sight but still accessible to the kids.  Pretty baskets and bins also work on bookshelves, and allow for the quick pick-up before a showing.
  • Keeping the floors clear is essential – enlist the kids’ help in picking up before showing.  If you make it fun, they might actually want to help with the clean-up.
  • Make sure the linens are crisp and clean before showing.

You don’t have to live like you’re in a museum while you’re trying to sell, but you do need to keep everything as tidy as possible.  Your home needs to be as ready as possible for a showing so you don’t need to rush around like crazy to get ready at the last moment.


Inspired by New York Times article by Tim McKeough

Categories : Properties, Selling, Staging
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Popular Kitchen Countertop Materials

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When picking kitchen countertops, the choices are many and varied. offers the following information about some of the more popular materials to help with the decision.

  • Soapstone Resistant to stains, chemicals and bacteria, Soapstone is a durable and natural choice for a kitchen.  At $80 to $100 per square foot installed, it’s pricy, but can be a good investment.
  • Granite A durable natural stone that has unique grain, many colors and customizable finishes, making it very popular right now.  Prices start at $50 per square foot installed, but prices climb quickly when you choose more exotic slabs or have a difficult installation.
  • Copper:  Less common than other natural countertops, it is easy to clean and maintain.  However if you’re a perfectionist, it may not be for you because it reacts to different substances.  If you love the look, be prepared to pay at least $100 per square foot installed.
  • Engineered Quartz:  Perfect for custom homes, it comes in every color under the rainbow.  Engineered from ground quartz, resin and pigments, it creates a tough, nonporous material.  The price is $95 to $105 per square foot installed.
  • Tile:  A durable choice, ceramic or stone tile is a great DIY countertop if you are so inclined.  Maintenance is a bit painstaking with the grout, but a durable, darker grout could ease these issues.  Budget about $30 per square foot installed.
  • Eco-friendly counters:  There are a number of materials that all into this category, with varied price ranges.  Look at salvaged wood, Bio-Glass and bamboo.
  • Zinc:  Fallen out of favor in modern kitchens, this metal has warmth that has made it popular for many years.  The tone darkens with time and zinc has antimicrobial properties.  Figure about $100 per square foot installed.
  • Recycled Paper-Based Counters:   Who would have thought of paper for a kitchen countertop, but it is remarkably durable.  It is blends recycle papers with resins and pigments, and has the look of soapstone for a fraction of the cost (about $40 to $80 per square foot installed)
  • Plastic Laminate:  Probably the most common of all countertops, Laminate countertops have customizable edges and finishes that can work with any design.  It is not the most durable, so if you’re a heavy-duty cook, you might want to choose something else.  Easily the most affordable at $8 to $20 per square foot installed.
  • Recycled Glass and Cement:  These countertops add character to a kitchen.  It is durable and customizable, but rather pricy at $100 to 160 per square foot installed.
  • Marble:  Always a classic look and forever in style, marble offers more variety than most other material.  It’s a softer stone than granite and scratches and stains easily.  Plan on $70 to $100 per square foot installed.
  • Concrete:  You can create many visual textures and colors with pigments, stains and dyes.  Concrete can be worth the cost if you use the right sealer.  Be prepared to shell out $100 to $150 per square foot installed.
  • Stainless Steel:  Professional kitchens use stainless steel because it doesn’t stain, is resistant to heat and easy to clean.  For home use, the fingerprints, scratches and smudges will be very noticeable.  At $80 to $90 per square foot installed, it’s more affordable than most stone countertops.
  • Solid-Surface Countertops:    an engineered product that can mimic the look of stone, wood or plastic, but is more durable and needs less maintenance.  Estimate $50 to $100 per square foot depending on the manufacturer installed.
  • Wood:  There are those who think wood doesn’t belong on the counter.  But the right wood and sealer can make a beautiful warm and long-lasting countertop.  Depending on the type of wood chosen, the price can range from $30 to $85 per square foot for materials, plus installation.


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Emotional Pitfalls to avoid when Selling

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It’s easy to become attached to your apartment.  You live there, it gives you shelter, you made memories there, it’s your home.  When it comes to selling, the stakes are too high and the emotional attachment must be broken. If you allow yourself to make decisions based on your attachment you may fall into these pitfalls:

  • Price reduction indecision.  If your apartment was priced based on your sentimental attachment to the property it could be priced too high.  When your broker recommends a price reduction, it is generally because the apartment is not getting enough traffic, or the right kind.  Delaying a decision about a reduction results in more days on the market, and often desperation as the number of days climbs to a level that is inconsistent with the comparable sales within the neighborhood and price range.  A reduction in price widens the pool of available buyers, and is not a decision to be taken lightly.  The best way to combat the indecision is to have a plan in place before the need arises.  Your broker will be able to guide you and provide you with information before the time comes.  He or she would not recommend a price reduction if they didn’t think it was warranted, and in your best interest.
  • Excessive attachment.  The buyers won’t figure into their price the fact that your baby grew up in that apartment or that it was your Grandma’s apartment way back when.  They are looking at plaster and floors, kitchens and baths.  While the stories may be compelling buyers will not pay extra for your memories.  Your decision to sell must be faced in a business-like manner.  If you are excessively attached to your home, you might be inclined to overprice it, disregard your broker’s staging advice; be irrational about negotiations about price or repairs; or fail to respond to market feedback.
  • Ignoring your target market needs.  Your broker will be able to help you with this part.  If your target market is pied-a-terre or young professionals because of size or location, make sure that audience is captured by integrating these points in your marketing; i.e. proximity to subway and other mass-transit, great neighborhood amenities, and built in storage.
  • Celebrating too soon.  It’s tempting to look at national market data and conclude that over asking price offers or multiple offers are the norm.  But it’s not sold until the deal actually closes.  Sellers who ‘celebrate too soon’ run the risk of losing out on a deal because they might fail to stage the apartment properly or fail to do the tasks recommended by their broker to ready the apartment for showings; overprice the apartment; not keep up the appearance of the apartment for showings; or spend the proceeds of their sale before the buyer’s financing and inspections are pending and before the deal closes.  Sometimes deals fall apart.  You need to work with your broker and follow their lead when it comes to the progress of the sale.
  • Price confusion.  Fair market value is defined as what someone is willing to pay for a given item at a given time.  A good way judge is to review comparable sales with your broker to determine a fair market price.  Set the listing price after you’ve been presented with the evidence.    Do not make the listing price decision based on what you think you need to ‘get out’ of the apartment or based on what is next in your life.  Pricing decisions are best made with the cold eye of a business person making a deal.

Inspired by Trulia article by Tara-Nicholle Nelson

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Spring Cleaning your Kitchen

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If you’re like most New Yorkers, your kitchen isn’t what you want it to be.  There’s hardly enough space for the usual appliances, and even less space for storage and work space.   Organization is the key to a functional space, but with busy day to day life happening all around you, the kitchen is usually the first casualty.  Realize that unless you never use your kitchen, it’s bound to get messy. 

 One expert advises taking an evening (or two) once a year to ‘cleanse’ your kitchen.  Here are a few tips:

  •  Downsize – Remember the space you have to work with and pare down the non-essentials to a minimum.  Look at your stuff with a critical eye.  Do you really need three corkscrews?  You can only use one at a time, so why not keep the one that works best, and let the rest go.  How about all those plastic containers for left-overs?  Do yourself a favor and sort through them and make sure to keep only the unstained containers with matching lids.  Ideally, you only need a few.  Recycle the rest.  Think about it: do you really need 50 coffee mugs when only one of you drinks coffee?
  • Drawers – if you have internet, you really don’t need takeout menus!  Recycle them as well.  Get rid of the extra chopsticks and little ketchup packets.  Clean out the inside of the drawers with soap and water.  Use your space wisely.  Get a jar or pretty flower pot to store your cooking utensils on the counter or shelf.  Keep eating and measuring utensils in the drawers, and find a new home for the rest of the stuff, like under the sink or hanging on the wall.  Seriously, do you really need a junk drawer if you only have 2 drawers in your whole kitchen?
  • Compartmentalize – Group and stack where possible, like things together; plates, bowls, mugs mixing bowls and cookware.   This goes for food storage too.  Go through your spices and get rid of the old containers.  Open the jar and take a sniff, if you can’t detect the scent, you should purge it.  Keep spices together in one location, and only keep the ones you use most often.  This saves time and money.  Go through your refrigerator and freezer.  Dispose of any science experiments (spoiled foods) and wipe the shelves with soap and water. 
  • Surface area – Counter space is at a premium in most Manhattan apartments.  Get rid of that bread maker (and other little-used appliances) – you don’t have space for it.  Store less-used cookware and serving pieces on top of the cabinets. 
  • Dead space – Install a shallow shelf above your stove to keep cooking oil and salt and pepper for cooking.  If you have extra wall space, buy a nice medicine cabinet or spice rack to hang your spices on the wall.  Find a shelf for your cookbooks

 Remember, this is a process, and even if you only do this once a year, for at least one day, your kitchen is neat and organized.  


Inspired by an article on by Elizabeth Wolff

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Staging more Prevalent in New York Real Estate

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Thanks to realty TV shows that have convinced us that aesthetics is paramount when selling a home, stagers have become visible part of the New York City real estate scene.  And they don’t come cheap.  Most charge a consultation fee of a few hundred dollars then hundreds to thousands to follow through with the vision they created. 

Stagers see their job as stripping apartments of anything that might distract a buyer; strong paint colors, distracting artwork, family photographs and personal items.  Then they add small touches to win over buyers.  Mostly the job is to show buyers how a space can be used; creating a vision of what life could be like in a particular apartment.

Usually brought in by brokers, stagers are  paid by owners, to hopefully sell apartments for more than they could have or more quickly than if they had not set the stage.  They have to be part best friend, part worst enemy, and tread carefully around sometimes fragile egos.  Who wants to hear their decorating taste isn’t up to the challenge?  Sometimes a stager’s advice is unwelcome, even completely disregarded, causing the loss of a listing because the seller is offended.  Occasionally, the seller falls back in love with their apartment after staging, and decides to stay, taking the apartment off the market.

In New York City, stagers have the added challenge of dealing with co-op rules, freight elevators and superintendents.  Their costs include overhead, storage units for the furniture, artwork and linens, labor, paint, and the little touches that most people can’t even imagine.

Sellers don’t need to go overboard with the staging.  In most cases buyers aren’t interested in buying what’s there.  They just need to see the space in a positive light.  Whether the seller runs with the advice from the initial consultation, or goes for the full package, staging can help the buyer see the possibility of their family in the space.

When prepping your home for buyers, some areas need special cleaning efforts.

Lose the clutter:  It distracts buyers. 

First Impressions:  The entry sets the first impression for any potential buyer.  Make sure it shines.   Lose the clutter, polish the furniture, vacuum the rug, and clean the floor.

Kitchen:  Make sure the dishes are done, and the counters are clear, clean and sparkling.  While on the market, try to avoid making or serving meals that give off strong odors that linger for hours.

Bathrooms:  Make sure the tile and grout are sparkling clean.  Mildew is a big turn-off.  Clear out the personal paraphernalia and make sure your medicines are locked up and out of sight.

Everywhere else:  Spotless is the way to go.  Clean the windowsills, picture frames, light fixtures, baseboards, cabinets and shelves (yes people will look in your medicine and kitchen cabinets!).  Wipe the doors around the doorknobs, the walls around the switch plates, and the front of appliances.   Make your bed with fresh linens.  If time is an issue, occasionally skip the upper shelves and tops of cabinets.


Inspired by New York Times article and New York Times article.

Categories : Manhattan, Selling, Staging
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Staging a home for a sale often includes clearing clutter, adjusting the placement of furniture and making the apartment appear as clean, fresh and desirable as possible.  Virtual staging will digitally alter photos of a home to show potential buyers what could be done in the space without actually making the changes.  Typically physical staging is expensive, starting at around $2,500.  A photo of a room can be digitally staged for about $65 to $75 per photo.

If given a choice, physical staging is most advantageous; when viewing the property, buyers can actually see rather than imagine the space in the perspective of size and scale.  An empty apartment leaves buyers wondering if their furniture will fit, but seeing digitally staged photos will allow buyers to better visualize how furniture works within a space.

Virtual staging has other benefits as well.  Is the space a perfect fit for a grand piano, but the cost is prohibitive to put one in the physical space?  Digitally add one with a few clicks of a mouse.  Furnishings look a little outdated?  Wipe the slate clean and digitally put in new furniture.

Staging experts recommend focusing on the living room and master bedroom, using just a few key pieces of furniture that will make the room appear open and inviting.  Furniture should never take over a space.


From NY Times Article by Tim McKeough


Survey Says: Sellers Getting Real about Real Estate

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A new survey of 600 Real Estate Professionals conducted by Coldwell Banker reveals that home sellers are more apt to price their home in line with market pressures.  It also noted other changes in buyer preferences.  The survey also showed what today’s buyers are looking for in a new home.

  • 51% of sellers are more willing to price their property competitively than this time last year
  • 45 % said sellers are more willing to change the appearance of their homes to entice buyers
  • 94% said sellers are clearing clutter and painting or making minor repairs
  • 78% said sellers are de-personalizing the home
  • 59% said sellers are willing to allow staging with new decorations or furniture

Buyers are going back to the basics valuing new or updated kitchens, bathrooms and open floor plans.  Motivating buyers are growing families and job relocation.

Source: “Survey Reveals Sellers More Willing to Price Competitively,” RISMedia

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Sellers in Manhattan are Renovating

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The decision to sell an old apartment can be liberating.  Old counter tops and kitchen appliances can start you dreaming of a fresh start in a new kitchen with shiny appliances and granite countertops.

But buyers are more discerning than ever, and squeaky or stained floors and cracked laminate countertops can sink a potential sale as fast as an outdated kitchen or bath.

Renovations before the open house can attract a buyer faster.  Buyers today want move-in ready, a far cry from the boom years when buyers would buy anything with walls and a floor, and often will pass up the older units in need of updating.

It might go against the grain to spend money on an apartment you’re leaving behind, but it can be money well spent, setting your apartment above the dozen or so apartments a buyer is considering.  You may not be able to add the cost of the renovation to your asking price, however in most cases, if you don’t renovate, you may need to reduce your asking price, causing people to wonder what is wrong with the place.

It may not make sense to spend a huge amount of money.  With a fresh coat of paint and skillful staging, you can present a buyer with an attractive property, even if you can’t swing the $50,000 kitchen renovation.  Of course every case is different and you should consult your broker when making a decision on whether a renovation is ‘worth it’ in order to sell. 

 Inspired by New York Times article by C. J.  Hughes published November 4, 2011.

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You have to live here too… Living in a Staged home

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Your apartment is on the market.  It’s been de-cluttered, polished and photographed.  Possibly you’ve spent good money on having your apartment professionally staged.  It looks like a spread in a glossy magazine. 

 But wait, you have to live there too.  “Do I have to keep it looking like this all the time?  How on earth can I do that while we live there?”  The short answer is you don’t have to.  Follow these tips to be able to show at a moment’s notice: 

  • Keep new purchases to a minimum
  • Don’t shove everything into a drawer, cabinet or closet.  Buyers are going to open every drawer and door to judge storage needs
  • Use a pretty basket or covered box to put mail, keys, calendars, etc. and place on a closet shelf or other out of the way place to keep things neat and protect your privacy.
  • Use baskets in the bath to keep cosmetics, toiletries and appliances looking neat.  Use a plastic basket for all your shower supplies that you can store in a cabinet or closet when not in use.
  • Keep your ‘company’ towels neatly folded on the towel bar and spares neatly folded or rolled up in the linen closet.  Your ‘everyday’ towels go in the washing machine or laundry bin prior to showing.
  • Make sure the kids’ toys are neatly stored in storage bins or chests.  Make sure the toys are picked up before bedtime or leaving for the day.
  • Pets are a touchy subject.  Not everyone is a pet lover.  Pets and their folderol should be removed if at all possible while your apartment is being shown.
  • Make the beds and fluff the pillows every day before leaving the house
  • Dishes should be washed or rinsed and stacked neatly in the dishwasher right after using them for last minute clean up of the kitchen.

Keeping your apartment in tip-top condition at all times might be a strain on the nerves, but the prospect of a quicker sale should help motivate you.  Make these practices part of your daily routine to reduce the stress. 

Read more about presenting your home in the best possible light from an insightful home stager I have worked with, Donna Dazzo.

Categories : Selling, Staging
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Open House Checklist

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In Manhattan, Open Houses are a way of life when trying to sell an apartment.  Think of an Open House as opening night for your favorite Broadway play.  You want the rave reviews that will bring in the offers!

You’ve done all the cleaning and maintenance recommended by your Broker or Stager.  Here are a few last minute things to do before your open house. 

  • Pick up and store loose toys
  • Pick up and put away anything that doesn’t belong in the space
  • Put away last minute clutter (mail, newspapers, keys, etc) in a safe place
  • Put away toiletries, cosmetics, appliances in bath and bedrooms and store in basket/caddy in linen closet or vanity
  • Secure small personal valuables (electronics, jewelry, etc)
  • Turn on all the lights in every room
  • Turn on interior cabinet lights
  • Open blinds and window coverings
  • Make sure your apartment is spotless:  wipe down cabinets and countertops, tables and mirrors.
  • Vacuum high traffic areas
  • Fluff pillows and straighten coffee table
  • Close closet doors
  • Make sure your pets are out of the apartment for their safety and the safety of visitors.  Also make sure their dishes, litter boxes, beds are removed.
  • Empty garbage cans, especially kitchen and bathroom
  • Set out ‘good’ towels in bathroom
  • Toilet seats and lids should be down
  • Make beds and straighten pillows in all bedrooms
  • Fresh flowers in strategic locations (but don’t overdo it!)

 Read more about presenting your home in the best possible light from an insightful home stager I have worked with, Donna Dazzo.

Categories : Selling, Staging
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