What Do Buyers Look For in a Home?

home buying 101

Maybe you and your spouse have retired and decided to downsize.  Or maybe you’re ready to start a family and sell your small house in favor of a larger one with more bedrooms.  Either way, it may have been a while since you’ve put yourself in the shoes of a seller or a buyer, and you may not be totally confident in putting your home on the market when you don’t know what the market is looking for.

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that there are some things that attract every buyer: well-lit, spacious rooms are one example, as are high-end kitchens and baths, and hardwood floors.  However, you might not know that women and men differ in what features most appeal to them.  Women, who account for 85% of all consumer purchases, respond most passionately to a home’s aesthetics: flooring, interior design, appliances, layout and functionality.   They are attracted to features such as big closets, dedicated laundry rooms, two-plus car garages and a great place to socialize, whether in a comfortable den with a fireplace or around the kitchen island or counter.

Because female buyers like to envision places of entertainment and activity, it is important to make family spaces look welcoming and user-friendly.  Position sofas and chairs into conversational groups and float furniture away from walls to create a perception of spaciousness.  Items such as decorative pillows, towel sets, baskets, and vase/bowl fillers can also spruce up an otherwise nondescript living area.  

Men, by contrast, are more interested in a home’s space and dimensions.   Says Jessica Riffle Edwards, Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s consumer specialist, “The guy may be saying, ‘Oh, man, look at the size of this space,’ and the women would be saying, ‘Oh, gosh, look at the hardware on these cabinets.'”

Most important to both genders, however, is a neat and well-kept home.  Buyers prefer homes that are low maintenance.  If they see too much they will to change, or will need to fix, they will move on.


Success Stories: Why Home Staging is So Important

Did you know that 90% of homebuyers cannot visualize the potential in a future home?  This is the principal reason why home staging is so important—it shows buyers what the home could look like should they decide to make an offer.  The goal of staging is to create a stylish, neat, warm, inviting, move-in ready home that screams, “Buy me ASAP!”

Here at Stage to Move, our success speaks for itself.  Yashmin Lloyds, a sales associate at William Raveis in Greenwich who recently worked with Stage to Move owner Kara Woods to stage a home for sale, writes,  “Kara’s sophisticated and elegant design approach really showcased the positive features in the home and gave prospective buyers an idea of what it would be like to live in that space. I strongly believe that the chic and inspired staging played a large role in the successful sale of this home.”  Similarly, Jane Whitman of Darien, who received three offers—two over asking price—after working with Stage to Move, says, “Thanks to you, my Mother’s home, which could have been a tear down, now has new life and looks amazing. I cant thank you enough for breathing new life into our childhood home and helping us to sell it.”

If that hasn’t persuaded you, here are a few other reasons to invest in home staging:

–More showings: real estate agents are more willing to show move-in ready property to their clients than property that is not.

–Reduced negotiation: by identifying and fixing design flaws, stagers reduce the issues that buyers use for price negotiation.

–Competitive edge: a well staged, inviting home will stand out among competing properties of similar value.

–Wider appeal: a successfully staged property will appeal to a majority of potential buyers.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development reported a staged home sells for up to 17 percent more compared with a non-staged home.  Give us a call today, and see the difference that staging can make for you.






First Impressions of a Home on the Market: Do They Really Matter?

first impression


Why do first impressions matter so much?  In our everyday interactions, first impressions can make or break a relationship.  “We judge books by their covers, and we can’t help but do it,” said Nicholas Rule, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto.  So what does this mean for you, a home seller?  Buyers won’t assess your home by their first impressions, right? Don’t they wait until they have seen all the features and amenities a home offers before making their judgments?

Wrong.  Believe it or not, most buyers form an opinion about a home within the first 7-10 seconds of arriving.  This means that staging your home’s exterior is just as important as staging the interior.  Real estate agent David Herbon recommends starting by taking a picture of your whole home from the curb to help you see the home from the buyers’ point of view (and figure out where your curb appeal is lacking).   Check all aspects of your home’s exterior.  Is the paint chipping?  Is the roof in good condition?  Does the lawn need mowing?  Is the driveway clean?  These details can translate into thousands of dollars saved when buyers fall in love with your home as soon as they arrive.

Once they step inside, however, your work is not done.  The goal is to keep your home open, bright and spacious.  First and foremost, eliminate any lingering smells—pets, smoke, perfume, last night’s barbecue, etc.—and make sure your home is property lit, increasing the wattage of bulbs and accenting with table lamps and reading lamps if necessary.  Clean thoroughly and add a few fresh flowers to a neutral vase.  Most importantly, don’t skip rooms—it can make potential buyers lose momentum and kill a positive impression. 

On average, 13,397 homes are sold each and every day in the United States alone.  Make yours stand out by creating an unforgettable first impression for potential buyers.

End-of-summer Home Staging Tips


dog days summer

The “dog days of summer” are upon us.  Summer is slowly coming to an end, but the housing market continues to climb, meaning that those of you looking to sell your home (or in the process of selling it) need to step up your game if you want to remain competitive.  Here are a few last-minute tips to keep your home market-ready:

  1. Pay attention to your landscaping.  Is your grass brown?  Are your flowers dead, limp, or overgrown?  All of these things can detract from your home’s curb appeal.  Statistics show that buyers make up their minds within six seconds of walking in the door of a prospective home, so make sure you give them a positive impression right from the start.
  2.  Brighten things up.  Summer sunshine brings out the best in all of us, so make sure it also brings out the best in your home.  Remove window draping, open the shades, and let the light in—it will make your home feel more inviting.
  3. Stage your outdoor areas as well as your indoor ones.  If you have a beautiful porch or patio, now is the time to embrace it.  Designed to Sell designer Lisa Porta recommends a few DIY projects: Sand and stain an outdoor deck and furnish it for entertaining; freshen up an old patio by lightly painting them, spraying them with water, and then dabbing them dry to give them a rustic outdoor appeal.  Similarly, if you have a pool, show off the pool’s best features and downplay any signs of maintenance.  Get rid of excess toys, update your outdoor furniture, add some greenery and, most importantly, ensure that everything sparkles.
  4. Blast the AC—but not too much!  You don’t want prospective buyers to be turned off by a hot and sticky summer day.
  5. Keep things shining.  Summer is the busiest moving season, so make sure your home is spotless and show-ready at all times.


Become a Certified Home Stager in Six Days

Ever wanted to start your own business? Maybe you’ve always loved to decorate, but never thought you could make a career out of it. Or maybe you’re a creative individual who always wanted to go back to school but never found the time. Either way, it’s time to branch out into something new, especially a career that can propel you to success in a very short time—home staging.

Take Linda Kofoed, co-owner of Monarch Staging and Design, as an example. A year ago, she took The Academy of Home Staging’s industry-leading Advanced Home Stager Certification Training, offered by Stage to Move’s own Kara Woods, in New York City. After forty-plus hours of personalized instruction, classroom discussion, workshops, and three hands-on field exercises, Linda was prepared to embark on a new career path and start her home staging business right away. A year later, Linda Kofoed is excelling in a high-end luxury market. Here are a few pictures of a home she recently staged:





Moreover, there has never been a better time to enter the field of home staging and redesign. AOL career guru Marty Nemko listed home staging as “one of the best jobs for 2013 and beyond” in January of 2013, calling home stagers “a de rigueur part of preparing a home for sale.” Home values are on the rise; the NAR’s stats show that almost 20% more homes sold in 2013 than 2012, and the median price of a house in the United States is up 10%. Sellers and agents have caught on to the home-staging trend, thanks to social media sharing sites such as Pinterest and Houzz, and are relying on professional home stagers more than ever to give their clients an edge-up. According to an April 2014 Zillow survey of real estate agents, hiring a professional home stager was the second highest-listed top home improvement project for sellers.

If you are considering a new career and love to decorate, home staging could be your path to success, and there is no time like the present to enter this lucrative field. Kara offers a unique dual-designation course, culminating in certifications in both home staging and interior design, in New York City only. Her next six-day class runs from September 15-20, in New York City. Call 1-203-733-3037 today, as spaces are limited.

For more information, see our “Training page”:

Find out more about The Academy of Home Staging at:

Cost/Benefit Analysis: Is Home Staging Worth The Money?

It’s a well-known fact that quality home staging is not cheap. From the original consultations to basic home repairs to paint and light alterations to furniture rentals to minor accessory purchases, a seller who invests in home staging can run up pretty quickly. One expert estimates the average cost of a “full soup-to-nuts home staging for an occupied house” to be between three and five thousand dollars. However, staging is an investment, not an additional expense—one that can translate into thousands of dollars in savings. Take a look at a few of these statistics:

• The U.S. Housing and Urban Development reported a staged home sells for up to 17 percent more compared with a non-staged home.

• According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average staging investment is between 1 and 3% of the home’s asking price, which generates a return of 8 to 10%.

• Staged homes spent 83% less time on the market than non-staged homes. (

• In controlled tests selling identical homes, professionally staged vs. those not staged, the non-staged houses sold in 102 days, while the staged houses sold in 45 days. (Real Estate Staging Association)

• A 2009 Home Gain Survey of over 2,000 realtors showed that home staging typically provides a 586% return on investment.

• Professionally staged homes sell in an average of 35 days (compared to 175 days for non-staged homes), according to

Think of it this way: Your home is on the market, and your asking price is $500,000. Most homeowners reduce their price by ten percent after three months on the market—a $50,000 decrease in this example. However, if you invest one percent of your asking price, or $5,000, on a staging investment, and your home sells in the first three months, you save yourself $45,000. 95% of our staged homes sell in 32 days or less. Sounds like an easy decision to me!

Home Staging Tips: How Wall Color Impacts a Sale

A key aspect of selling a home is creating a positive atmosphere for buyers—one in which they feel comfortable and welcome. “Selling a home is like being on stage,” said Barb Schwarz, founder of International Association of Home Staging Professionals. “You have to set the scene for every different act, for every room.” Wall color is one of the first things a prospective buyer sees when he or she enters a room. Below are a few tips to help you, the seller, set a scene that invites your guests to make an offer.

1. Stay away from bold, too-personal wallpaper or wall colors. You might adore your deep purple floral wallpaper, but your prospective buyers won’t necessarily share your personal taste.
2. Pay attention to the psychology of colors:
a. White can seem too cold and uninviting; warm, neutral colors are best for living room/family room areas. Kitchen colors should be bright—everyone loves a bright kitchen.
b. Stay away from darker colors in small rooms such as bathrooms (they make walls jump out and make rooms look smaller).
c. Grey is the new beige—capitalize upon this trend if you are looking to sell to younger, more modern crowds.
3. Make small rooms seem bigger by painting them the same color as adjacent rooms. This creates an ongoing illusion of continuity, giving the impression of larger rooms.
4. Don’t forget curb appeal. Certain colors clash with their environment; the best colors take into account the home’s external surroundings and features (trees, bricks, stonework, neighboring home colors, architectural style) as well as its internal characteristics.

Most importantly, make sure that your prospective buyers can visualize themselves living in your home. For example, your master bedroom should appeal to both sexes—a pale pink bedspread might appeal to a twenty-something female but is more likely to be a turnoff to a middle-aged dad.







The “Success Strategy” for Selling Your Home

BP2 image
As we have seen, the housing market is strong, inventory is up, and most importantly, people want to buy. Even millennials—today’s twentysomething generation, often criticized for their perceived lack of interest in homeownership—are increasingly interested in buying. So, give them a reason to purchase your home.

The “success strategy,” your best formula for success, is a triangle: one corner is price, the second is marketing, and the third is appearance. The homeowner and realtor determine the price by reviewing comparable homes, and the realtor also does the marketing, using his or her connections to create interest and bring traffic to your home. Staging, however, is essential for the third aspect of the triangle—appearance. Taking a professional photograph in the right lighting enhances the results of staging. Only when all three are done right does a house have its best chance of selling. Buyers begin their search on-line with photos, so make sure you have an outstanding look. Draw them in. It’s the first step to a sale.

Moreover, for best results, stage your house before it enters the market. According to a recent study by the Real Estate Staging Association, sellers that stage their home before putting it on the market sell 87% faster than those who put their home on the market and then staged.

It’s a Buyer’s Market: How to Make Your Home Competitive Today

BP1 photo 1


Good news—the housing market is picking up.  If you were waiting for a safe time to put your home on the market, now is your chance.  But what does this really mean for you, the seller? It’s a buyer’s market, and if you want to get the most money for your home, staging is a great tool.  “In a market with a lot of unsold inventory, staging certainly perks up a property and separates it from a cold, vacant listing,” says realtor David Buck.  “Staging a home greatly improves its showability, therefore making it much more likely to sell.”

BP1 photo 2


As the housing market recovers, inventory levels are also on the rise.  It’s time to get competitive and make your house look its absolute best.  The longer a home sits on the market, the more its price is reduced.  When a home sits on the market for 3-6 months, the next step is typically to reduce the price by 5-10 percent, depending on the market.  At a high price point of, for example, $5 million, this can translate into a reduction of $500, 000.

Stakes are higher in the luxury market, where staging could be the difference between an offer at asking price and an offer that is reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars.  An investment in Stage to Move, which specializes in the luxury market, costs significantly less.

Where Buyers Find the Home They Purchase


Happy New Year and welcome to Stage To Move’s first blog! It’s 2014 and we figured its time hop on the social media train…..whether we need to or not!

Selling a home in todays market requires an internet strategy. 45% of the buyers found the home they purchased on the internet. If that’s true, your home better have a great picture and that picture needs to draw you in. It needs to be better than the one they clicked on before. and keep them from clicking onto the next. A buyer is one click away from their next purchase.

How can you get a great internet picture:

  • Use the correct lighting and have it a professional  photograph taken.
  • Stage it.-
    •  You can work with the items you own or for the best look rent neutral, transitional style furniture.
    •  Edit out as much of the furniture as possible.You want to have “3 hips” worth or space available to move about the room. Meaning room for 3 people, typically a man/woman and a realtor.
    • The pops of color should be in the accessories not the furniture. Accessories should be trendy and rich.
    • Wall colors should be a neutral, sophisticated color palette. Selling is not the time to personalize, you want a broad appeal.
    • Floors should be buffed or clean.
    • Remove personal photos.
  • Try to imagine what a high end hotel looks like when you enter it. For example, the bathroom doesn’t have any toothbrushes or dirty towels lying around. The toilet seat is down, the rug is rolled up off the floor and there isn’t a hair or smell to be found. Re-create that look for your buyers.