Staging on a Budget…5 Essential Rules and Tips

If you want potential buyers to choose your property over the competition, staging your home can make your house stand out from the crowd.

Staging is a new concept for most sellers, but a crucial step in getting your house sold. Presentation is everything!

As a marketing tool it helps to get people in the door. Today’s buyers look on the Internet before contacting a realtor to show them the house. If you don’t have beautiful pictures of your property they will not take the time to visit your home.  It also adds perceived value to your home which can translate into a higher sales price.

Home owners can make the changes themselves or hire a professional home stager. Professionals have an expertise that the home owner may lack to successfully stage their home.  They comes into the home with an unbiased eye. They are not emotionally attached to the home or the objects within it, allowing them to be objective, which is essential for a successful stage and ultimately a quicker and profitable sale.

Should you choose to do it yourself, here are some rules and tips to follow.

Rule # 1:     DE-PERSONALIZE

People want to envision themselves in the house – not you. Children and wedding photos may be important to you, but are a distraction to the buyer and prevents them from seeing their family in the home.

staging mantle - depersonalize

Rule # 2:     MAXIMIZE

Declutter and organize. This will maximize the space in your home. Children’s toys strewn about and rooms stuffed with that extra table or chair make the place seems small.   Closets packed tight with clothes gives the illusion of a lack of closet space. Consider temporary off site storage.

staging closet 2

staging kitchen

Rule # 3:     SANITIZE

The easiest and cheapest way to stage your home is to just clean it. Dirty dishes in the sink, pet and garbage smells and grim in the bathrooms are a turn off for any buyer. Nothing is better than walking into a house that smells and looks fresh. Take the extra time to wash down walls, floors and baseboards. Clean, sparkling windows brighten the space.

Rule # 4:     MODERNIZE

Unless you live in a new construction (2009-2014), or have done a recent renovation, every home can benefit from a little updating. Buyers will offer a lower price if they feel the house is dated. Simple changes such as replacing the kitchen and bathroom hardware from brass and gold to nickel or chrome creates a fresh, contemporary look. A new coat of paint, or stain, on those dated cabinets will dramatically transform the space. Organize cabinets inside as well as out.

staging kitchen cabinets

staging kitchen cabinets a

staging kitchen

Rule # 5:     NEUTRALIZE

Color can make or break a buyer’s interest in your home. Your daughter may love her shocking pink walls, but the buyer will only see $$ signs if the colors do not match their own style. A new coat of a gender neutral color is one of the most inexpensive ways to change a look and also to modernize. Consider removing or raising window treatments to allow the light in which makes a room feel spacious and inviting.  

staging living room

staging living room 2

staged living room


Here are a few related articles you might want to read prior to putting your house on the market.



Sales Down..Prices Inching Up..New Canaan CT 2014 Real Estate Market Report

The chart says it all… sales were down 6.7% from last year. The housing market, along with the job market, are still in recovery mode.  The good news for buyers was an increase in inventory, which at one point reached 364 homes on the market; however, homes listed between $1 and $2mm continue to be in high demand.

Yearly Tally of Monthly Sales in New Canaan

There was also a bit of good news for sellers as sales prices are beginning to rise from the dramatic decrease we experienced during the recession. The median sales price rose approximately 18.7%.

A big increase in the median price doesn’t necessarily mean prices are up. The real story is that high-end buyers were enticed by markdowns. So while there was more high-end activity, the prices were mostly disappointing for sellers.

Sellers need to be patient as it took longer to sell that house (199 days in 2014 vs 119 days in 2013) due to increased inventory and aggressive pricing. Pricing is key.

Single family Homes Sold by Price

The local housing market is still recuperating. We can’t call it transformed because there are people who want to sell but who can not because they owe more money on their homes than they can get for them.

Credit continues to be tight which is slowing the housing market when would be homebuyers have trouble getting financing. Hopefully this will ease up in 2015.




Connecticut Vs. New York Real Estate Closing Costs

While most homeowners are focused on the rising cost of home prices, they might not realize closing costs are rising as well. According to RIS Media, “Each year lender’s origination fees account for the lion’s share of the increase. Since 2010, origination fees, which include lender’s charges for services such as underwriting and processing have increased  27.1%.’s annual survey of closing costs found that most of the rising cost is tied to fees charged directly from lenders.”

Five states led the way in increased closing costs: Texas, Alaska, Hawaii, Wisconsin and New York.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ohio, Tennessee, Nevada, Missouri and Washington DC had the lowest closing costs.

Some lenders have not increased their fees. Buyers should compare good faith estimates from at least three different lenders to get the best deal.

Below is a comparison of closing cost for New York and Connecticut, prepared by Kim Weintraub from Atlantic Residential Mortgage. If you are considering buying a home in either state know your options and be aware of all fees.

***NY mortgage tax is standard on all loans and is based on the loan amount***
***Mansion tax is paid on any purchase price above $1MM***

Comparison of Closing Costs NY Vs. CT

Comparison of Closing Costs NY Vs. CT

281 Lambert Road, New Canaan, CT

SOLD 4/10/2017 $5,900,000

A lady never likes to reveal her age, but this charming granddame is elegantly celebrating her one-hundredth birthday.  “Woodley”, as she was called back then, was originally designed and built by renowned architect Cameron Clark for the VanSinderin family to enjoy as an equestrian country retreat.  The initial 15-acre property included the main house, a stone barn, staff and chauffeur quarters, a carriage barn, extensive stonewalls, perennial gardens, fountains as well as a secret sunken garden.  In 1925 she was renamed “Treetop” and has had a colorful history through the years including hosting a private zoo complete with a kangaroo, llamas, a Sicilian donkey, sheep, pigs and an assortment of feathered friends.

The current owners fell in love with the home’s architecture, ambience and history. They hired award-winning architect Dinyar Wadia who meticulously re-imagined portions of the interior space, careful to keep the integrity of the original design inspiration. Constructed using classic elements of axis ways and interior sight lines each beautifully appointed room embraces outdoor vistas.

Majestic trees still command the long driveway and extraordinary English style landscaping. Nestled amongst the gardens and stonewalls is the in ground heated pool and spa with a sight line down to the old meadow.  Memories of her past beckon within the stalls of the original stone barn and the sounds from the fountain in secret sunken garden.

Within in her walls she has been privy to countless bedtime stories, witnessed elegant soirees and weddings, resonated with dinnertime laughter, hosted Easter egg hunts and Christmas mornings and has been adorned with fine arts and music.

She is a gem, greatly loved through the years by the families that have enjoyed her warmth and grandeur. She remains one of the signature and historic homes that has been gracefully updated with elegance, sophistication and the finest amenities.



147 Field Crest Road, New Canaan, CT

HDRtist HDR Rendering -

SOLD $1,085,000

Beautiful Waveny Park, schools, the facilities at the YMCA and the convenience of town are all at your fingertips from this lovely center hall colonial. Large flat backyard with deck and patio is accessed from the kitchen for easy indoor/outdoor entertaining and recreation. Spacious recreational room in the finished lower level. Ideal location, ideal place to call home.

174 Butler Lane, New Canaan, CT

Butler Lane

SOLD  $1,735,000

Located behind the ”Y”, this spacious center hall colonial is situated on a lovely acre at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. With approx. 5,000+ square feet of  living space this home includes 9′ ceilings, large windows and French doors which allows for easy entertaining inside and out. 5 generous bedrooms with 4.5 baths, family room with stone fireplace, formal dining and living room and extra bonus room with Palladian windows on the second floor. The finished walkout lower level includes a bedroom, full bath, expansive playroom with built ins and an exercise room. With an easy walk to schools, Waveny Park and the village of New Canaan this is a perfect location.