As with most things in NYC, professional staging services can be quite expensive. If you’re getting ready to sell your apartment, you or your broker may have looked at comps online and seen a mix of staged and empty apartments listed. Staging professionals will tell you that they can guarantee you’ll make the expense back, but that can often seem too good to be true.
So do you HAVE to stage a NYC apartment to sell it?
If you want to sell as quickly as you can for the best possible price, it’s best to stage a NYC apartment. While empty apartments do sell, they typically sit on the market longer than staged homes – and days on market is one of the most important factors in New York City real estate.
Keep reading to learn more about why staged apartments sell faster, our tips and tricks to stage a NYC apartment, and what your options are when it comes to staging services.
Everything You Need To Know To Stage A NYC Apartment
Why Staging Makes A Difference
The Gasdaska Conlon Team first became proponents of staging after the financial crisis of 2008. In the buyer’s market that developed afterwards, buyers were iffy about making big purchases unless it felt just right, so it was much more difficult to sell any apartment.
We learned to stage a NYC apartment in order to help our clients stand out from the rest. Curating and cultivating decor helps uplift any home, and making a space look its best goes a long way towards getting great offers in a shorter time frame.
Buyers are savvy, after all, and they have great instincts. Especially in New York City. They can walk into an apartment and immediately visualize themselves living in it…if it’s presented in the right light. If not, they can easily find reasons not to see themselves living there, and ultimately move on to another home.
Staging allows you to get right to the heart of that crucial first impression with potential buyers. It enables you to highlight the features of the apartment, whether that’s an amazing view of Central Park or stunning pre-war hardwood floors and moldings.
This practice can even create a sense of urgency in photos and showings. That urgency translates directly into offers (and depending on the market, sometimes bidding wars), because people don’t want to miss out on the apartment they fell in love with.
How To Stage A NYC Apartment
So, once you’re on board to stage a NYC apartment, what’s next? There are a few different ways you can go about it, with varying levels of investment and effort on your part.
Hire a Professional Staging Service
The first way is both the most expensive and effortless. Professional staging services come in and (usually) redesign every room in your apartment. They often have packages which allow you to rent their furniture month to month while you have the space photographed and hold showings.
The downside to these professional staging services is the cost. According to this New York Times article, having a staging company tackle your two or three bedroom apartment can cost between $20,000 and $30,000. And that’s just for the installation and initial rental period!
If you need to stage a NYC apartment for more than the initial rental period (typically 3-6 months), you could be facing an additional monthly charge for the rented items that are in your home. That’s on top of the 20 or 30 grand you already shelled out.
Professional staging services have their place, though. They can turn even the roughest lumps of coal into diamonds. The peace of mind you get from taking such a big task off your plate is worth it for some New Yorkers.
Also, at some of the higher price points, professional staging isn’t just a ‘boost’, it’s expected. If you’re thinking about selling your apartment and it’s at the top end of the market, reach out to an experienced, professional real estate broker or team to help you navigate the staging and selling process. The expense will be well worth it.
Pay A Virtual Staging Service To Enhance Listing Photos
If you browsed any of the NYC brokerage’s listing services in the past few years, you’ve likely seen virtually staged listings. Some virtually staged photos are fantastic and you wouldn’t notice at all except for the disclaimer on the corner of the images. Others are painfully obvious, and actually detract from rather than add to the home.
With virtual staging, as with most things, you get what you pay for. If you buy staging software and DIY stage a NYC apartment on your laptop… the results will look a little homemade. However, if you hire a professional to virtually stage your listing photos for you, it will look a lot better.
Great real estate brokers will have experience with virtually staged listings. They will be able to help you decide if virtual staging is right for you, and if so, which company to go with.
Virtual staging typically costs anywhere from $50-$150 per photo, according to HauseIt.com, depending on the skills and experience of the virtual stager. Which, wow, is that a deal compared to physical staging! However, there’s a pretty significant downside.
Virtual stagers do a fantastic job of showing what the apartment could be…but it’s limited to the listing photos. If and when any potential buyers go visit your apartment in person, there won’t be anything there. If their expectation doesn’t match up with reality, they’re going to be turned off in a flash.
Virtual staging is a great deal, and for some apartments and price points, it can be a great resource! But you have to be careful about how much you have the stager edit. If your apartment is recognizable behind all the edits then it could be a good solution, but know that virtual staging will never replace seeing real furniture inside the apartment when buyers go visit your listing in person.
Have Your Broker Help You Stage A NYC Apartment
Many brokers and agents in New York have begun offering staging among their services, so it’s easy to find a trusted advisor that can negotiate and redecorate for you. The brokers at GCT are among them.
Your broker can tour your apartment as is and use their unbiased point of view to see past the character and memories you cherish about your home. This allows them to see your space through a buyer’s eyes and address issues you may not see anymore.
The biggest advantage of broker staging is that you can keep it staged the way it was in the photos while showing the apartment, so the buyer’s expectation and the reality of your apartment are in sync.
How To Stage A NYC Apartment
We’ve talked about the necessity of staging before, on the Real Talk NYC Real Estate Podcast. In that episode we gave away a few free tips to help you get into the buyer’s headspace and stage your apartment! We’ll review them here too.
- Clean Your Windows, Inside and Out! Natural light and a good view are huge for NYC buyers. It’s best to make sure that your windows are spotless before you have the listing photos taken and begin showing your apartment.
- Adopt A Neutral Color Palette. Bold or dark wall colors do not photograph well and can often keep otherwise good buyers away from your listing. The natural light is absorbed by the paint on the walls instead of being reflected by it, so the rooms feel smaller and darker. We recommend a fresh coat of paint in each room anyway, so you might as well go over it with a bright clean white or very pale neutral color.
- Develop A Lighting Strategy. First things first, move any furniture that blocks a window and its natural light. Second, take down heavy drapes or blinds. Pay attention to where the natural light reaches in each room, and strategically place lamps or sconces in darker corners. Bright and airy homes are inviting and look amazing in photos.
- Make Needed Repairs. Reattach loose floorboards and trim, spackle holes and dings, deep clean your bathroom, or remove dingy carpet and get your floors cleaned. Your broker (and your buyers) are looking at this apartment much more closely than you have in ages. Fix anything that you would want fixed before you move into a place.
- Declutter & Depersonalize. If a potential buyer can tell you have kids or pets by the clutter or the smell, you’ve got some more staging work to do. In a literal sense, get organized. Even your closets, because you know people are going to open them. In an abstract sense, you don’t want your life and presence to dominate the apartment. The staged home should feel like an idealized, cozy blank slate waiting for new owners to put their own personal touches on.
Staging is a necessary and fundamental part of the process of selling a home in New York. Whether you go the virtual, broker, or professional route, we hope we’ve helped you understand how the time spent cultivating your home can directly translate into a larger check on closing day.
If you want to stage a NYC apartment and need guidance, please reach out to any of the brokers or agents on the Gasdaska Conlon Team. We would love to help you transform your home into an ideal blank slate for your buyers so you can get the best possible price.