All the world’s a stage, including your New York City home – especially when it comes time to sell. The ability to imagine your home as their own is the impetus that prompts buyers to submit offers. When they can imagine their furnishings in your space: their art on your walls, their dishes on your counters, their curtains on your windows, only then can you consider the home sold. This is the effect achieved through home staging, and in the consistently competitive NYC market, it’s a simple, relatively inexpensive, and highly recommended way to get the sale price you want.

According to a recent study, homes that are staged before going on the market sell 87% more quickly than unstaged homes. Another study of 3,500 homes found that, on average, those that are staged sell for 10% more than comparable, unstaged homes in the same neighborhood. 

Think of staging as giving potential buyers the opportunity to take the home for a “test drive.” Most car buyers wouldn’t think of signing on the dotted line without taking the car for a spin and seeing how it feels. Staging a home offers the same sort of visceral experience. Rather than providing an empty or cluttered canvas which may require too much imagination to interest a buyer, staging your home metaphorically takes buyers “for a spin.”

Staging includes accentuating and showing off every positive element of your house, from the park views to the roomy kitchen to the possibilities of how to use a seemingly awkward nook or cranny. It also means minimizing or eliminating negative aspects, such as paint colors, light fixtures, or clutter that make rooms look smaller than they are.

Here are a few tips to help you put the best possible version of your home on the market, and reap the rewards of your investment:

95 Franklin Street, #2-A

Plan to professionally stage as soon as you plan to sell 

After living in your home for years, the space can become so familiar that it may be a challenge to recognize the possibilities for the space’s positive attributes – or to agree with your spouse about how to stage them yourselves. Working with a professional eliminates the guessing game, since professional stagers keep their finger on the pulse of the most stylish and sought-after interior design trends as well as the most classically elegant design solutions based on the architecture of your home.  They also have easy access to this furniture for short term use.  

60 East 13th Street, #3-E

Declutter. Then, declutter again. 

We’ve all made jokes about our hoarding tendencies, whether we keep scrapbooks from college or wine glasses from our tour of the Napa vineyards, most New Yorkers have way too much stuff. The beauty of decluttering is that it helps prepare for your eventual move, and will make packing a much less daunting process. Donating to a local charity (who will often pick up quality belongings) can make it easier to let go of the surplus of pillows on your bed or the beautiful coat you bought three seasons ago but have yet to wear. Particularly in New York, closets can be instrumental to making a sale. By removing the majority of content, closets will appear larger and more impressive.  

224 West 18th Street, #PH-B

Put away the moose head.

Your home is an expression of who you are. Your staged home is an expression of who your buyer wants to be. Any details that are not universally appealing should be removed. This includes family photos, religious items, and anything that could be deemed offensive such as hunting or political memorabilia. 

55 Mercer Street, #2

Give the home the VIP treatment before showing 

A new coat of spackle and paint, fixed leaky faucets, removal of unpleasant odors, repairs of issues big and small – all should be taken care of before the listing goes live. Unless the home is being sold in estate condition, all fixtures and appliances should work perfectly and the home should smell welcoming (e.g. warm cookies) or clean and fresh (e.g. linen candles) for all showings. Any indication that something does not work properly may make buyers second guess the value of the home, resulting in a low offer or no offer. Simple cosmetics go a long way in assuring buyers that the home buying experience will be easy.  

As a design buff and as someone who eliminates clutter in my own home as frequently as possible, I understand the impression that good design can have on prospective buyers. I will walk you through the process from start to finish while bringing in professional stagers whom I know you will be happy with – and that will help you achieve the price point that best reflects the high value of your home. Please let me know if you would like to discuss your staging questions or needs.

Written by Lance Nguyen