As much as you love your home and have put every effort into personalizing it to your style, when it’s time to sell you must ask yourself if buyers will feel the same way you do. Your real estate agent may suggest that you invest in home staging, a practice that has become an important sales tool in recent years, and for good reason. Cheryl Eisen, real estate agent turned designer and founder of Interior Marketing Group (IMG)—a full-service luxury interior design and marketing firm, has been staging homes since 2007. We asked Eisen to share her expertise on the value of home staging as a sales tool. Here are five top takeaways.
1. Home staging reduces time on market.
“Statistics show that un-staged homes spend an average of 184 days on market according to the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA). While homes, staged prior to being listed, sell in an average of 23 days, proving that it’s better to stage before going on the market,” Eisen says. “It’s always best to consider staging as early as possible, but that can’t always happen.”
For example, this striking penthouse at 10 Sullivan Street in Soho was on the market for months with another designer before IMG completely redesigned it. By adding drapes, low modular furniture and unique light fixtures to make the ceilings look taller and the space look larger, IMG added functionality and showed the potential for a grand entertaining space. “Our sleek redesign captured a buyer in less than two weeks and became the number one New York City sale of the week,” Eisen reveals.
2. Stage instead of reducing price.
“We always tell sellers and brokers that they have two choices: Either spend money on staging, or end up dropping the property’s list price. Staging typically costs 1-3% of list price and the average price reduction is 7%. On top of that, properties that reduce price once have a 75% chance of reducing again. The choice is pretty clear,” Eisen says. One such property that IMG staged that saw an increase in the sales price after staging was this townhouse at 14 East 11th Street.
After sitting on the market for more than a year, the sellers decided to stage the home. IMG took the multifunctional rooms and simplified them. For example, rather than combining living and dining into one space, IMG gave each room its own purpose, converting the room pictured to serve strictly as a living room.
3. Stage to appeal to a wide range of buyers.
A lot of stagers act more as interior designers and create spaces that are too taste specific. Staging needs to tell the story of various buyer demographics, but shouldn’t look like it belongs to any particular person or style. Staging is also supposed to highlight the selling features of a home rather than the furniture itself.
“We transformed this stunning model apartment at Madison Square Park Tower into a jaw-dropping dream home. In keeping with our principles, our design work highlights the view and helps buyers understand how the space can be used,” Eisen explains.
4. Staging highlights key selling features.
The moment a buyer first walks into a home is the most important, so you need to create that “WOW” immediately. “Creating a grand foyer is a great place to start, but we always design the living room, dining room and master bedroom. It’s really about helping your buyer see the functionality of spaces that are difficult to visualize,” Eisen says. A good candidate for staging is an empty space such as the one below at One57, unit 62A. You want to show buyers how the room can function for their lifestyle.
Here, Eisen’s design team used low, modular furniture to highlight the apartment’s stunning view, creating a clear line of sight to the windows. After the staged design was installed, this unit became a top five deal for the world-famous building.
5. Staging doesn’t have to be a large investment.
Though investing in home staging has a proven return, it won’t always be an option for you or your seller. Eisen’s tips for DIY staging include: decluttering; depersonalizing; painting the walls a neutral color such as ‘greige’ (avoid white—it’s too stark); create light and double visual square footage using mirrors; maximize space and increase function with modular furniture.
You’ll see these elements in practice in the living room of apartment 2D at 10 Madison Square West. The wall of mirrors doubles the visual square footage of this room and reflects light from the adjacent window. Floor-to-ceiling drapes create the appearance of higher ceilings and make the windows look massive. Eisen had a little fun with the rest of the design elements, but the palette is still neutral enough for broad appeal.