Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Home Staging: One of the Three “PRs” to a Successful Sale of Your Home

November 1, 2012

Home staging New York

When selling your home, there are three key strategies to a successful sale of your home.

What is a successful sale? A successful sale achieves these two objectives:

  1. Selling your home quickly
  2. Selling your home for your desired sales price

What are the three key strategies?

  1. PRicing your home correctly
  2. PRomoting it properly
  3. PResenting it at its best

And, you cannot implement just one or two of the strategies without the other(s) and expect to achieve to sell your home quickly and for your desired sale price.

home stagingPRicing Your Home Correctly

Everyone wants to get the highest possible price for their home, though some approach setting the list price unrealistically.  They list it at what they want to get, not what the market will bear.  A home is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.

The best thing you can do is to engage a real estate agent rather than trying to sell it on your own.  A professional real estate agent knows the local market and what similar properties have recently sold for.  They also know what properties in your condition have sold for.

What are the benefits of PRicing your home correctly?

  • It attracts more potential buyers, and attracts them early in the sales cycle
  • The more potential buyers, the greater the number of potential offers
  • The more offers, the more potential for a bidding war
  • Properties priced at their proper value make it easier for buyers to secure a mortgage
  • There is no need for price reductions (a.k.a. “chasing the market”), which make the seller appear desperate to sell and the buyer to question if it’s still overpriced since it wasn’t priced properly to begin with
  • It will sell more quickly than  if it was not properly priced from the beginning

Home Staging New York CityPRomoting It Properly

Over 90% of home buyers start their search on the Internet, so it’s important that your home be found, and once found, it is displayed attractively.

Again, using a professional real estate agent will increase the likelihood of both your home being found and that it is listed online in a way to attract buyers.  Be sure to ask them for their marketing plan, which should include more than how it is listed on the internet.

There are many, many things that an agent can do to promote your home, and this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Hiring a professional photographer who specializes in taking real estate listing photos
  • Preparing the listing information in a way to highlight the best aspects of your home and neighborhood
  • Holding open houses with fellow real estate agents and potential buyers, and knowing when to hold them
  • Using social media to promote your home
  • Mining their contacts to promote your home
  • Preparing property-specific sales materials, including brochures or one page handouts

PResenting It At Its Best

So, you’ve priced the home properly and your agent comes up with a great marketing plan.

But what is going to create that powerful emotional connection a buyer feels when they walk in the door and just have to have it?

What’s an emotional connection?

  • They picture themselves and their family living there.
  • They want to live the lifestyle you’ve portrayed in your home. Let’s face it, most buyers are trading up, not down.
  • This is where they want to live instead of just “this is a nice room”.

What’s an emotion you don’t want to evoke?

  • The “ick” factor because your home is cluttered, dirty, outdated, smelly and/or in disrepair

  • The feeling from the buyer that they are intruding on your personal space due to too many family photos, religious objects, trophies and collections

apartment staging

  • The knee-jerk reaction of offering a reduced sales price because the home needs repairs and updating
  • In a vacant home, NO emotional connection
  • In a vacant home, bewilderment as to where and if their furniture will fit

bedroom before home staging

  • In a vacant home, wondering what the room is used for

If your home doesn’t look good to begin with, the best photographer in the world is not going to be able to mask that.  And even if they can somehow enhance the appearance of your home with their photography, once a buyer steps in the door and sees it doesn’t look (or function) like what they saw in the photos, you will lose him or her.

A professional home stager knows how present your home in its best possible light by:

  • Eliminating the “ick” factor and your personal taste from the home (remember, your home is now a product to be marketed)

after staging

  • Knowing the target buyer market and appealing to that market through staging with the right furniture and decorative accessories

after home staging

  • Implementing inexpensive updates to enhance the home’s appeal without expensive renovations

Before Staging

Before Updates

After staging

After Painting and Replacing Light Fixtures

  • Properly using furniture and decorative accessories to define the rooms

After staging

  • Emphasizing the positive features of your home and downplaying the negative features

After staging

Furniture, decor and window sheers downplay the brick building out the window

Really, the sales process starts with home staging.  By staging your home (PResenting it at its best), your photos will look great online which will help get buyers in the door (PRomoting it properly).  Home staging can even increase the list price and ultimate sales price of the home (PRicing it properly).

© Copyright 2012 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.
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Taking Home Staging to the Next Level: Lifestyle Merchandising

April 3, 2011

Did you know that home staging is all about “lifestyle merchandising“? Yes, when you are selling your home, you are actually merchandising a lifestyle to potential buyers.

Recently I graduated from an advanced staging course given by Matthew Finlason, host of HGTV’s “The Stagers”. It was an intense, two-day course attended by only a handful of New York City area home stagers. 

What I learned will be put to good use and will differentiate me from most of the other stagers out there: 

  • Casting a “wide net” with staging in order to attract the broad range of buyers is a thing of the past.


  • Crafting a “perfect lure” to attract the right buyer with staging represents a paradigm shift.
  • While it’s fine to neutralize a home of its occupant’s personality, don’t sterilize it.
  • Home staging is now known as Target Staging.
  • Before you stage, it’s important to first learn the demographics of the potential buyer (age, income, marital status, etc.).
  • It’s also important to focus on the psychographics of the buyer (the industry they’re in, their leisure time activities and interests, the profile of retailers in the area which will be an indicator of  the profile of the residents).
  • Stage this buyer’s dream house with colors, shapes, textures, objects and artwork that will make them emotionally connect with the space.

  • Stage in order to “tell stories” based upon the buyer’s profile.

  • Staging is “lifestyle merchandising” and “dialing in the buyer”.
  • Stage to create a life that buyers can aspire to and relate to.
  • Stage so that your company aesthetic shines through and every staging doesn’t look like every other staging you do.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

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Home Staging New York: DIY Homeowner Gets Quick Sale

July 23, 2010

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on hiring a home stager.  If you are willing to do the work a home stager recommends yourself, then a few hundred dollars investment in a home staging consultation can result in thousands of dollars of return in selling your home and/or thousands of dollars in savings on mortgage, maintenance and taxes as the home could sell sooner than if it had not been improved prior to putting it on the market.

Recently, we received a call from Nancy E. Love, Associate Broker and team member of the Elaine Clayman Group at Brown Harris Stevens to do a home staging consultation at a studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  

She convinced the homeowner to stage his apartment before putting it on the market by giving him this choice:  

“You can stage the apartment and get a higher price or leave it as is and I can aggressively market it at a lower price.  However, when you saw the model apartment in the building in which you bought your new apartment, you fell in love.  That’s what we want buyers to do with your apartment.”

So, Designed to Appeal came in and spent two hours at an investment of only $300 and left the homeowner, Jack LaFata, with a list of things to do and to purchase.  Some homeowners ask us to do all or some of the work, but Jack wanted to do all of it himself.  

So he had the apartment painted, decluttered and put things in storage and went shopping for new bedding, throw pillows, a rug and other items.  He spent about $1,950 on this and $80 per month in storage, so his total investment in staging, including the consultation, was only 0.7% of the list price.  

And it paid off.  The results were dramatic as you will see in the pictures below and he should be proud of himself.  

Jack received a full price offer during the first week at a private showing, but this ended up not going to contact.  He then received an executed contract less than 40 days from the time the apartment went on the market, at 95% of asking price.   

Here is what the homeowner had to say about the home staging consultation:

“Donna’s insight and assistance were invaluable in getting my apartment ready to sell. The apartment feels light and airier now, more comfortable, better flow, more coordinated, inviting, and much less cluttered (I don’t even remember what I used all that clutter for to begin with) I wish I’d have thought of staging the apartment earlier for my own enjoyment.”
And here is what the real estate agent had to say about the results:
“We have an accepted offer at close to the asking price.  Thank you for your expert staging!  We wouldn’t be here without your professional help.  Much gratitude and praise (from a long time skeptic of professional staging).”

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved

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Home Staging New York: Home Sold in 8 Days!!

February 7, 2010
Home staging does work! A two-bedroom apartment in New York City needed to be sold, and sold quickly, because the owners were being relocated down south.  And it happened in 8 days!
But, let’s start at the  beginning of this amazing success story.
The furniture in all of the rooms was not showing off each room to its fullest potential (see the before and after pictures below):
  • The  dining room had a sofa in it
  • The living room had two dining room chairs and not much else
  • The master bedroom suite had a bunk bed for the children
  • The children’s room had a full bed and a desk set up as a home office

In my home staging consultation I recommended that the sofa be moved to the living room in front of the bookcase and that a dining room set be rented from a furniture rental company.

I also recommended that the furniture in the two bedrooms be switched.  A master bedroom with ensuite bathroom should be shown to its fullest potential.

Rather than repositioning their existing furniture, they decided to move themselves and their furniture out to temporary quarters in their new location, and rent furniture so that the home could be shown to its fullest advantage.
After viewing slide show, hit your browser’s back button to return.


The transformation was so dramatic and enticing that…

  • The real estate agent had 35 appointments in one week!
  • The homeowners received 3 offers at the first open house!
  • They ultimately sold it 8 days after the first showing!

The homeowner said:

“We had a very tight open house deadline with no room for error, but Donna still pulled off the staging beautifully – and it was completed with the given monetary budget. The apartment was not priced low, yet we received 3 offers and it sold 8 days from the first showing.”

The real estate agent said:

“….[this was] an amazing staging job…for my two-bedroom exclusive.  I know [the] staging helped my sales process tremendously.”

Home Staging Works!

Copyright  © 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Home Staging New York: What NOT To Do When Selling Your Home

January 31, 2010

I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Here was an apartment featured in the Sunday New York Times’ “On the Market in New York City” column.  As I viewed the pictures of this and the other two properties online with my home staging eyes, I cringed at the thought that  someone thought it was okay to photograph and sell these properties in their current condition.

While they are not horror stories, the three featured properties could all benefit from some free home staging advice.

So here it is:

1.  Upper West Side Condo – the personal photographs and wine bottle collection need to be removed.  Buyers shouldn’t be distracted by these and, more importantly, buyers need to envision themselves living in your space.  They can’t do that with your photos of your family, friends, vacations, etc. staring at them.

Also, while the seller and/or real estate agent think the pulley system for suspending the bicyle from the ceiling is an added feature of the apartment, it is VERY distracting.  The buyers’ eyes will immediately go towards that rather than the beautifully renovated kitchen with its unique oval window.

And couldn’t the bed have been made better before shooting the photo?  It looks like at the last minute the comforter and toss pillow were just thrown on the bed.

2.  Upper East Side Co-op – home staging is all about making the house or apartment appealing to the broad range of buyers.  While the homeowner might love the orange walls in the living room, MOST buyers won’t.  It’s okay to keep the orange toss pillows as an accent color, but it’s time to break out the paint and change the color of the walls to something more neutral (not white, but a soft beige).

3.  Clinton Hill Co-op – OMG!!! Is that a dog and a kitty litter box in the photo??  Again, when your home is for sale, it must appeal to the broad range of buyers.  You might love your dog and your cat, but not everyone is an animal lover.  And worse, some potential buyers may be allergic to animals, so they wouldn’t even consider looking at this apartment for their new home. 

This apartment could also benefit by removing the highly taste-specific wallpaper and thinning out the book collection in its wall-sized bookshelves.

Copyright  © 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Home Staging New York: Are Home Sellers Smarter than Real Estate Agents When It Comes to Staging?

November 9, 2009

We have all either seen or heard of that TV show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” where adults try to answer questions that a fifth grader could answer.  You assume the adults would know the answers because…well they’re adults and have had more years of life and learning under their belt.  Well, often that’s not the case…the fifth graders usually win.

I found myself this past week wondering if home sellers were smarter than real estate agents. I was contacted by two homeowners who were interested in staging their vacant investment properties.  Both of the properties were in New York City, however one was for sale and the other was a very high-end rental.

Both homeowners realized that they needed to furnish and accessorize their properties in order to stand out from the other properties on the market for rent and for sale.  In fact, one of the homeowners believed in staging so much, she had staged by herself another of her investment properties, which is for sale.  But after realizing it was a lot of work and very tiring (welcome to my world!), she decided to hire a professional for her rental property.

This homeowner told me that her real estate agent didn’t think it was necessary to furnish either apartment.  The agent felt they would sell and rent without staging.

I did a quick check of the rental unit on, and it showed competitive rentals in the same price range, location and type of building.  One of the units had one bedroom more than the subject unit, AND there were pictures of furnished rooms for prospective renters to imagine themselves living in!

More than 80% of buyers and renters start their search online, so don’t you think photos of furnished and decorated rooms would be more appealing than those that are not?

What if you were looking online and saw these photos?

Bedroom Before


What if you were online and saw THESE photos?

Bedroom AfterLiving Room - cropped left

In the other case where I was contacted by the homeowner whose property was for sale, I spoke to the real estate agent myself, not knowing in advance her position on home staging.  When I told her who I was and that I had been to the property in order to prepare a home staging proposal, she vehemently stated “No furniture!”.  She went on to state that she had sold other units in the townhouse complex and she was able to sell the units without them being furnished.  She also told me what she was listing the property at and that she was going to probably accept offers that were 5% less.

So I told her that…

The cost of staging is almost ALWAYS less than the first price reduction and in this case it was (2%).

Then I told her WHY the units should be furnished, and after every one of my statements, she said “I disagree!”

  • Empty rooms appear smaller than they really are
  • No emotional connection can be felt when buyers walk into an empty house
  • Most buyers can’t picture where there furniture will go and if it will fit
  • Most buyers can’t imagine themselves living there if there is nothing there
  • Small defects stand out because there’s nothing else to look at

I could have given her other reasons, but I got tired of hearing “I disagree!”.

What do you think?  Are home sellers smarter than real estate agents when it comes to home staging and selling homes?

Copyright  © 2009 Designed to Appeal, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Home Staging Works! Offer Rec’d In One Week at Over Asking Price

September 21, 2009

After - chestThe week before last, I staged a vacant but charming 400 square foot studio in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.  I had been contacted by the owner who resides out of town that his tenant was moving out and he was putting it on the market. 

He was smart enough to realize that an empty apartment, particularly a studio, doesn’t show well.


  • Rooms that are empty actually appear smaller than they really are – not a great thing for a studio apartment
  • Buyers can’t envision where their furniture will go – will this studio have room enough for a table to eat?  A bed and a couch?  A dresser for my clothes?
  • Buyers feel no emotional connection when they walk into an empty room
  • Buyers focus on small defects like cracks in the wall or scuffed hardwood floors because there’s nothing else to look at

In addition to giving him a quote for staging the apartment, I also did a consultation where I advised him to do several things:

  • He wanted to paint, but didn’t know what color.  So I chose neutral colors for him for the main room, kitchen and bathroom that would warm up the space and go with my planned color scheme.
  • I advised him to remove the old broken window blinds, the rod and curtains (which I would replace) and to clean the windows to let in more natural light.
  • I advised him to replace the ceiling fixture in the entry way, the countertop in the kitchen, and the faucet in the bathroom.  He only chose to replace the ceiling fixture.
  • I also advised him to remove the vinyl flooring in the kitchen and use inexpensive stick-on vinyl “tiles” but he chose to have the floor cleaned rather than replaced.

So, after his updates and repairs (which also included re-tiling the bathtub area), I brought in contemporary-looking rental furniture and my own decorative accessories in a black, cream and red color scheme in order to appeal to a young, single buyer as this would be his most likely candidate. 

Two days after the staging was completed, he received an offer.

Four days after the staging, he received another offer.

Then, one week to the day of staging, he received an offer OVER his asking price!

Yes, his asking price was reasonable and this is very important (see my Blog “Home Staging: One Leg of a Three Legged Stool”).  However, the combination of a reasonable asking price, the staging and a real estate agent who began to promptly show the finished apartment (the three legs), all led to a successful and pleasing outcome.

Click the picture for the Before and After photos showing the transformation:

Copyright  © 2009 Designed to Appeal, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Home Staging: One Leg of a Three-Legged Stool

August 28, 2009

Earlier this month I met with the owner of an empty apartment with 180 degree views of Central Park, upper Manhattan and the Hudson River,  to give her an estimate on staging it with furniture and decorative accessories.  She had temporarily taken it off the market.

The other day I sent a follow-up email and received a response back telling me that, since the time she had met with me, she had decided to change real estate agents.  She said she had been unhappy with the progress made by the original agent in selling her home and…

         … “that [emphasis added] was the reason [she] had considered staging at all.” 

I responded by saying…

        … “reading between the lines, it sounds like you may have decided  not to proceed with the staging”. 

She wrote back…

            … “getting a new agent will probably make all [emphasis added] the difference.”

So I responded by telling her that successfully selling a home is like a three-legged stool:

  1.   It must be priced right

 2.   It must have outstanding “outside” marketing by you and/or your agent


 3.    It must have outstanding “inside” marketing and positioning of the home, a.k.a. staging or showcasing

All three are the keys to selling a home.  The new agent will not make all the difference. 

  • If the owner insists on a price that’s unrealistically high, all of the marketing and promotion in the world by the agent won’t help. 
  • If the price is realistic and the agent is promoting the property, it still may not sell because prospective buyers can’t see beyond the empty rooms and envision their furniture being there and themselves living there.
  • If the apartment is staged and looks wonderful, but the price is too high and the agent isn’t doing his or her job marketing the property, it won’t sell.

You get the point.  Don’t let the stool collapse when selling your home.

Copyright  © 2009 Designed to Appeal, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Home Staging New York: Secrets of Using Decorative Accessories

July 16, 2009

When using decorative objects…

  DO group them:

  • in odd numbers such as 3s and 5s
  • in varying heights
  • in like types and colors 

Gormin detail


  • Place objects in a straight line
  • Place objects in the corner of the table
  • Place objects so that they block the view of a seated guest
  • Crowd the surface with too many objects

levin detail

My favorite places to shop for great-looking but inexpensive decorative accessories:

  • Target for lamps, bedding, bathroom items and throw pillows
  • Pier One for throw pillows, candles, placemats, napkins and stemware
  • Home Goods for decorative objects, lamps, bedding, throw pillows, bathroom items, kitchen items, glassware and artwork
  • West Elm and CB2 for urban modern decorative objects and accessories
  • Christmas Tree Shops (no, they just don’t sell Christmas items) for beach house accessories in summer
  • Bed Bath and Beyond for its great selection of bathroom accessories

 What are your favorite places to shop?

Copyright  © 2009 Designed to Appeal, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Home Staging New York: It’s a fact – vacant houses and apartments sit on the market longer than occupied homes

July 2, 2009

And, according to the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), a 2008 survey revealed that vacant homes that were staged spent 85% less time on the market than unstaged vacant homes.  

 Why Should a Vacant Property Be Professionally Staged?
  • Only 10% of buyers can see beyond emptiness and envision their possessions in a home or apartment
  • Empty rooms appear smaller than they really are 
  • Buyers can’t use their imagination to see the home’s potential  
  • Buyers are overwhelmed by a lack of vision
  • Buyers can’t imagine where their furniture will go 
  • Without a frame of reference, it’s incredibly difficult to tell the scale and size of the room

  •  Without furniture, a buyer may be confused as to the purpose of the room: “Is this a study or an extra bedroom?”
  • Buyers can’t imagine living there 
  • Buyers think the owner is desperate to sell because “they must be carrying two mortgages, utilities, maintenance, etc.” 
  • Vacant homes appear soulless and no emotional attachment can be felt 
  • Vacant homes can appear to be neglected 
  • Paint colors and wallpaper stand out if too drastic, and buyers look at it as work to do 
  • Dirt and small defects stand out more:  holes or cracks in walls, stains in carpet, grout in bathroom, scuff marks on walls and doors  
  • The emptiness will make the home appear as if there are too many windows, too many doors and too many expansive walls