Although most real estate agents appreciate the value of a professionally staged apartment, a full stage is not always possible. In those cases, many agents find themselves moonlighting as interior decorators, working with what they already have.
With experience, and trial and error, agents begin knowing what looks move properties. Sometimes a little DIY fixes go a long way, so rather than shelling out big bucks upfront, we try a few quick tricks first.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to totally refresh your apartment listing before it hits the market.
How to give your space an instant facelift
The great thing about DIY makeovers is that they are inexpensive but yield high returns. Invest a little time and money into the following upgrades — you won’t be sorry you did.
- A coat of white paint goes a long way. It brightens up a room instantly.
- Take down the heavy drapes to let in the light.
- Declutter the apartment. Less is more, and it will feel more spacious.
- Remove the carpet and rugs. Show the gorgeous floor if you have one. Everyone always asks, “What’s under the rug?”
- Consider buying new throw blankets, pillows, towels and shower curtains. A fresh look can go a long way.
- Open the windows, and let in the fresh air.
What the pros say about refreshing
I asked some real estate professionals their thoughts on DIY staging and what it takes to make an apartment appealing to buyers. Here’s what they said.
Landis Hosterman | Compass
It’s almost magical how powerful of an effect small staging touches can have on the successful sale of a home!
I recently sold an apartment for $58,000 more than the same apartment one floor below sold for just three months earlier — even though it had an identical layout, the exact same finishes and virtually the same views.
The difference was my marketing. I helped the sellers declutter their apartment, added small pops of color (like bright pillows, tasteful art and stylish knickknacks) and directed expert professional photography to truly do the apartment and its furnishings justice.
When buyers saw it online, the space looked beautiful, and when they walked inside, it felt like a home.
We went into contract only four days after the first open house!
Linette Semino | Corcoran
When previewing a property for sale, I make sure that the central air conditioner system and all thermostats, window units or through-the-wall air conditioners work properly.
Even in the winter, potential buyers want to know if the air conditioners are in perfect working order, and a rattling or harsh humming noise from an air conditioning unit can kill a buyer’s enthusiasm.
At my two-bedroom condo, I had to replace the batteries on six thermostats and brought a professional to service one of the units.
I also test every single window in the home to make sure they open and close properly and that there is no condensation, cracks or filth on them. Cleaning the windows is vital in a successful sale because buyers’ eyes go straight to the views, and dirty windows are simply a turn off.
Holly S. Hunt | Halstead Property
I do a deep clean of the apartment, including cleaning the windows, reglazing the tub and often repainting with a professional painter. I also ask the owner to purge closets.
I have been known to bring in my own art, books, lamps, window treatments, rugs, throw pillows and bedding to freshen up a home. Counterintuitively, apartments look smaller when empty than furnished, so it is important to stage an empty apartment with furniture.
Below are some examples of how I’ve refreshed apartments in the past:
- For 130 E 94, 8C, we rented furniture and used my bedding, books and art. I had to dust the ceiling fan and use sponges for the kitchen and bathroom.
- For 9B in the same building, I also used my own art. I had photographs blown up near the kitchen to show two other kitchen renovations in the B line in the building where they made an open kitchen.
- For my listing at 54 Riverside Drive, 12C, an estate condition apartment, we used my rugs and the owner later claimed that this made the sale. I also went to Renovation Hardware to get the ceramic “cold” and “hot” pieces that had fallen off the shower valves and bought chains for the closet lights. We had the tiles repainted as well. The owner had lived there for more than 40 years and raised three children in this classic seven. We hired an organizer I often have my sellers use.
- For 60 E 96, 9B, we used my throw pillows and had my organizer — who also has an interior design degree and brings furniture for staging — come over to help spruce things up. My professional painter also helped and even painted over the floral kitchen wallpaper in white to freshen it up and make it look more neutral.
What do you currently do to refresh your listings? Follow these tips during your next apartment listing refresh, and let us know how things turn out.
Claire Groome is a licensed real estate agent with Warburg Realty. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Instagram.