Staging an Apartment
By TIM McKEOUGH
Q. Our old apartment is sitting empty, and not selling. Is it worth the money to hire someone to stage it?
A. Staging an apartment — adding furniture and accessories to make it look lived in — can be expensive. But you may be able to cover your costs, and then some, by creating a more appealing environment.
“I won’t let people come on the market empty if I can help it,” said Deanna Kory, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group, who has used staging to help sell apartments for more than a decade.
Ms. Kory, who has staged apartments on her own and worked with professional staging companies, said renting a hand-picked selection of furniture and arranging it with accessories will often speed up a sale and generate a higher selling price. Generally, she has found that sellers with empty apartments can increase their selling price by “at least 5 to 10 times the investment you’re going to make” in staging, she said.
For instance, if you put in $10,000, it should yield between $50,000 and $100,000 more in profit than an apartment sold empty, she said.
But, she added, “There are good stagers and not-so-great stagers.”
“You have to get recommendations,” Ms. Kory said. “If they have a good track record, they should be able to tell you stories and show you some photos.”
One stager she has worked with is Sid Pinkerton, who runs a company called From Drab to Fab. Mr. Pinkerton has been in business since 2003, and he estimates that he has staged over a thousand apartments in New York City during that time.
One of the primary reasons for staging, he said, is that potential buyers often have difficulty understanding the proportions of empty rooms.
“Most Americans are what I call ‘visually challenged,’ ” Mr. Pinkerton said. “When rooms have no furniture in them, you have no size spec. It raises the question, ‘Will my furniture fit in here?’ The whole point of staging is to answer those questions before they even arise.”
This is especially true, he noted, when it comes to bedrooms. “They might feel small when they’re empty, when in fact they will very easily hold a queen-size bed, nightstand and dresser.”
While every job is different, Mr. Pinkerton said his services for staging an empty apartment “can be as little as $5,000, but up to $15,000 and more,” depending on factors like size and layout. Those figures include furniture rental; if you add some of your own furniture to the mix, the fee would be lower.
The other option, if you’re confident in your design skills, is to do it yourself. Companies like CORT (888-360-2678 or cort.com) and Churchill Furniture Rental (800-941-7458 or furniturerent.com) carry a range of pieces catering to different tastes, available for short-term rental.
Just remember the goal. “You’re trying to appeal to the baseline needs of the general public,” Mr. Pinkerton said, not create a space that reflects your personal style. “Staging is the complete counterbalance to interior design.”
Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.