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Tips for Selling Your NYC Apartment or Condo

START WITH STAGING YOUR CONDO

Before you show your apartment to any realtor or potential buyer optimize its sales appeal by effective staging. Effective staging can add at least 6% to your sales price and perhaps much more, according to professionals.  

If you have a flair for decorating, you can stage stage your apartment yourself by following the advice below. Alternatively you can hire a professional to do part or all of the staging.

Trullia contributors indicates the average cost of a professional stager is 1 % of the sales price but this can be higher in NYC depending upon the services required.

Regardless of how you decide to divvy up the tasks it's important that you understand what must be done. This knowledge should help make the staging process more effective for you.

The following is advice that we have  gleaned from individuals who have been successful in selling their housing rapidly in good markets and bad.

STAGING 101

In summary you are going to:

  • De-clutter your apartment removing and storing accessories, magazines, books, most counter top items , extra clothes from your closets, excess artwork, personal items and older technology.
  • Arrange for a storage unit and advice.  You can call Sofia Storage Center at 212 873-3600 where for instance, a private oversized locker that will store 21 bankers boxes will run about $85/per month.
  • Once your apartment is rid of clutter, survey it for needed repair and upgrades.
  • Clean, repair, replace, repaint and remodel as necessary.
  • Invite decorating- conscious friends who will give frank opinions and then follow good advice.
  • Keep peace with your partner throughout this process.
  • Invite the top realtor in your area to view your apartment.

STAGGING - 4.01

1. De-clutter!!!  Getting rid of clutter is first on every stager's list. Your goal here is to make your apartment look like an expensive hotel suite. Start by removing all but a few accessories from the tops of furniture.

Buyers want to be able to picture the room with their own things in it. Leave 1, 3 or max 5 accessories per room preferably arranged in an odd-numbered group. Odd number groupings of accessories have been shown by studies to be most eye appealing.  In this process, remove anything personal including family pictures, pipe collections, most of your art collection,  most books and all magazines, toothbrushes, soaps and shampoos from the shower etc.

Clean & Clear Counter Tops. Counter tops in the kitchen and bathroom and dresser tops in the bedrooms should again either be completely empty  or have 3 decorative accessories arranged in a group. Pack up old pots and pans and leave only a few new looking ones in your kitchen cabinets along with only one set of good dishes and glassware. Clear out the refrigerator and pantry leaving only a few attractive looking food items. Remove magnets, notes and pictures from the refrigerator door.

Bath & Closets. Have only one or two colors of coordinating towels in the bathroom.  Remove as much as possible from your medicine cabinet - buyers do look! Closet space is at a premium in New York and has been the decision point  on more than one apartment . Your clothes closets should be no more than half full. Pack the remainder in wardrobe boxes available from Sofia Storage Centers or other box sales stores.

Pack-up Now. Pack everything else in clean moving boxes.  Eat, give away or throw away excess food items. The mistake many busy New Yorkers make is trying to sell their Manhattan apartment with a lived-in look ..... it can be done but it will negatively effect the sales price.

Inventory for Storage. Once you know how many boxes of packed accessories you have, take an inventory of your furniture. Unless your apartment is already sparsely furnished, you are trying to identify between 1/4 and 1/3 of the furniture that you are going to temporarily store. A properly staged condo appears to have much more space than a truly lived in apartment. 

If you have a dining room or dining area list all but two or four dining room chairs for removal. If you have a china closet or breakfront either list it for removal or if possible, have the top section removed and leave the bottom section as a server. If you have two dressers in a bedroom, consider putting one on the list along with the coffee table in the living room.

If any or all of your furniture is in disrepair, remove it even if you have to rent a replacement.

Storing Art Work

Art Work. If you haven't taken down excess art work, do it now and pack it in a storage center art carton designed for size of the particular  painting, print or work of art.

Technology. Its best to use this an opportunity to get rid of all old technology in your apartment including old TV's and stereo systems, especially ugly wiring. It's okay to display flat screen TV's, laptops and e-pads but try to take a minimalist approach.

2. Arrange for a Storage Unit. Check if there is one available on a short term (3 month) basis in the basement of your building. If not, visit a storage center in your neighborhood with a list of the number of boxes you have packed for storage along with your list of furniture you will be storing. At Sofia Storage Centers, our storage specialist will help you choose just the right sized boxes, storage locker or room for your temporarily stored items. Call Sofia Storage Center at 212 873-3600.

 

3. Survey the Apartment You are Selling. Now that you have removed the clutter, take a survey of your condo or co-op's bones. You should first do this yourself and then get at least a second opinion - from a frank friend with a good sense of decorating. Even if your sensitive, getting constructive criticism can be the most important step in this process. Advice from three or four friends or associates can be even better but bring one in at a time.

Start by clearing your mind and look at the space as if you were seeing it for the first time. Ask you friend to do the same. Try to do this in an organized way starting with the floors and slowly working your way to the ceiling and writing down everything that needs to be corrected: 

  • Does the wooden floor have worn spots or large scratches?
  • Are vinyl or composite floors shining clean
  • Are both the tiles and the grout spotless in the bathroom and kitchen ?
  • Are all rugs and carpets clean?
  • Are floor vents clean and new looking?  
  • Are baseboards newly painted ?
  • Are heating and cooling units and their covers freshly painted or new looking?
  • Do the walls have cracks or need to be patched
  • Are the walls dirty? 
  • Are the windows and blinds/shades/drapes clean?
  • Are the doors clean ?
  • What do the ceilings look like ?
  • Are both the kitchen and bathroom(s) updated?
  • Is there still too much clutter or too many personal items out or in cabinets or closets?

4. Clean, Repaint, Repair, Replace and Remodel to compete in the New York Condo/Co-op or Loft Market.  As we said earlier,  of the major tasks needed to be done to stage your apartment,  you can either do them yourself or hire a professional to do them for you.

  • Remodel,  if the kitchen and/or baths need to be updated, do this first as it has the potential to create a great deal of dirt and dust. Some kitchen & bath remodelers provide free design services which can save substantial sums or you may prefer to use a designer or staging professional to help you through this project.

 

  • One word of caution. It is best to replace outdated appliance, cabinets and bathroom fixtures with the level of quality that your condo or co-op commands. For most in Manhattan this means higher end replacements. If you cannot afford remodeling, it is better to clean up existing appliances rather than installing cheap replacements. In this case, and only if your kitchen and baths are outdated,  you may want to replace just the sink and toilet and upgrade bath accessories adding quality toilet paper holder, towel bars and wall or chandelier lighting. Even in New York you should be able to do all this for between $1,500 and $3,000 using quality fixtures. Pendant lighting can make a big statement when placed over the kitchen counter. Only if absolutely necessary, replace the refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher and faucet with new quality appliances.

 

  • Repair walls and ceilings as necessary, patching and painting. Nothing makes a difference like a fresh coat of paint. Consider painting the baseboards and ceiling moldings off-white and walls in neutral tones. Again you are looking to appeal to the broadest possible market and neutral colors will make a major contribution in that direction.  If you need to hide imperfections in walls and ceilings, flat paint is the best but is very difficult to clean. Generally  egg shell or semi-gloss are the best for living and bedrooms as they reflect more light, making the rooms appear larger, and can be washed.  Doors, baseboards and kitchens are areas that get dirty easily and are usually painted with high-gloss but if you are staging, you can also use egg shell or semi-gloss to cut down on the appearance of imperfections.  Selecting paint color can be tricky. The easiest way to stay safe is to pick a color card with 3 to 5 shades of a single neutral color, like beige, and then use the two or three lightest shades. 

 

  • Clean drapes and rugs if necessary. Even if they are clean, have a friend check for odors. Spray with an  upholstery "freshener" if there is the slightest hint of an odor.

 

  • Room odors. Since opening windows to air out New York City apartments is not an option, use a plug-in air freshener in each room. Do not cook smelly foods even if it means eating out or ordering take-out more often.

 

  • Clean Windows and blinds . New York City windows get filthy fast. Washing windows usually tops the most hated household task list. Give yourself permission to pay someone to clean your windows or if you are ambitious, do it yourself. Make sure your windows are cleaned at least once every three months that you have the apartment on the market. Hopefully you will only have to do this task once. At the same time clean blinds and shades and replace the latter if grungy.

 

  • Replace or repaint dirty, rusty heating and cooling vents and radiator covers.

 

  • Clean and repair floors. Hardwood floors are a desirable feature found in many older Manhattan condos and co-ops. If they show wear, they should be refinished. A 14'x22' living room should cost in the hundreds of dollars to be properly professionally refinished- sanded and stained with two coats of polyurethane .

 

  • Tile or natural stone floors can be cleaned with the proper commercial products as can grout. Vinyl or laminate flooring should be replaced if worn.  

 

  • Flowers are inexpensive in Manhattan but provide natural brightening to any room. As a     minimum, place a new floral arrangement in your living room once a week.

 

  • Have your decorating-savvy friend or friends give you a last critique and make final changes.

5. Realtor. Now find a great realtor to help you sell your apartment. Our sources have found that it pays to use a realtor who is a top seller in your neighborhood. Invite the realtor in to your staged apartment and ask them for any final staging advice.

6. Keeping Peace. If you have a spouse, partner, or a room mate, make sure you both understand and acknowledge that moving is ranked by psychologists as one of the most stress-inducing experiences in life. While you are both still relatively calm, stop and talk over the coming challenges - you'll get through them better if they are acknowledged rather than ignored until they hit you. When you do sell, do not engage in recrimination such as "We could have gotten more if you didn't leave your smelly socks around." Virtually everyone is affected to some degree by buyers and sellers remorse.  Beat this feeling by letting go and celebrating with that special somebody.

7. If you are so inclined, call Sofia Storage Centers at 212 873-3600 and tell us how your staging and sale went. For 103 years we have been accumulating anecdotes and information on storage related activities that we can share with our customers and neighbors.   

Testimonials

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A wonderful resource to have in the neighborhood. Courteous, safe, friendly - and most of all, a secure place to keep things one cannot part with.

- Stephen Pascal 7/02/14

I have had a storage locker at Sofia Storage on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan for more than sixteen years during which time I have not had a single problem or issue of concern regarding the staff or the facility. Indeed every one of the Sofia staff has been consistently professional, friendly and helpful.  The facility is safe and secure, clean, dry and well-maintained.  There has never been a flooding or fire incident or a pest infestation.
I recommend Sofia Storage without reservation.

-Chris Proctor 4/29/14

We have stored at Sofia Storage for four years. It seems unbelievable to say that going to your storage unit is a “pleasure” but it was! It is a place which is not only efficient and clean, but full of pride and accomplishment.  It is place where everybody from the bosses to everyone else employed there is not only courteous, but kind and pleasant to be with. I especially acknowledge the gracious, delightful, and helpful presence of Francis who took us up and down in the elevator so often!

-Gay & Charles Lord 3/20/14

Very professional group of people. They accommodated my requests for help and were always gracious and understanding of my situation (moving & shipping stuff). There were no issues when I signed up and no issues now that I am ending my storage needs. It's great to have Sofia Storage in the neighborhood!


-Sally Albarado 3/11/14

 I had the best storage experience with Sofia Storage. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. Francis the elevator operator is a very special man, always helpful and a joy to be around. He became a neighborhood friend who I always enjoyed seeing and talking to, even if I wasn’t using the facility and was just passing by. Five star service!

-Valentine Sheldon 2/28/14

Thank you! I cannot express this enough to the staff at Sofia Storage, especially Robert! Robert worked with me so professionally and patiently - a very nice man! The storage center is very well lit, extremely clean, and very safe. Sofia Storage is the best storage facility if you need a space!

- Louise Santos 2/27/14

I have never experienced such great service as I have with Sofia Storage Center. I have been a tenant here for 6.5 years and I have felt like I have known the people here all my life. Francis, Ron, and Mike were a huge help and made my everyday work experience easy and enjoyable. Being a family owned business really makes a difference and Sofia makes you feel like you are part of the family. Thank you for all the help and service you have given me all these years. You have truly made my business here an enjoyable experience.

- Michael Libraty 2/25/14

I highly recommend Sofia Storage. Everyone was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They provided easy access to the space and were always friendly.

-Brooke Derian 1/27/14

Sofia Storage on W. 83rd & Amsterdam is a great facility.  The staff is helpful, nice & friendly.  We never questioned the safety of our belongings.  I only can say positive things about our experience there.

-Rachel Richardson 1/01/14

Great Customer Service ! Staff was great, especially warehouse staff. Friendly and very accommodating.Overall, a great experience.

-Neil Peyroux 12/17/13

I have been storing my belongings at Sofia Storage since 1981!  For more than 30 years, I have experienced, without exception, nothing but courteousness, professionalism, and helpfulness. This is an unusually high level of customer service--rarely seen in any branch. The facilities are impeccably clean, organized, and secured, and the staff goes out of its way to create a personal and accommodating environment.

When I recently decided to sell my grand piano--which has been stored with great care for a number of years at Sofia--it was necessary for me to photograph the instrument at the facility. On the day of my visit, the staff, and members of the Sofia family, graciously and efficiently had the instrument moved to a convenient and accessible area, where I was able to properly photograph it; this was a tremendous help to me.

Their sincere efforts in personally assisting me has demonstrated, once again, their high level of customer service. It has also reminded me of why I have placed my trust in Sofia for so many years. My praise, thanks, and appreciation to all at Sofia Storage.

 - Richard S. Goldstein 10/28/13

 

Sofia has been a great storage company. All the staff, including Francis and Harry, have always been helpful and polite. Thank you!

-Eric Schneck 10/21/13

Thank you to Sofia Storage for always having a great work team. Specifically thank you to Medina, who always was helping and always trying to offer best work with a smile.

- Javier Esguevillas 10/15/13

I've had some bad experiences with storage companies, but Sofia's customer service was nothing short of extraordinary.

- Tom Higgins 10/03/13

 

I am extremely pleased with the service that Sofia Storage has provided to me. The staff are very friendly, helpful, and professional. Francis, in particular, was a joy to work with. The storage units were clean and spacious and I use them again as well as recommend them to anyone I know who might need a storage facility in the future.
Thanks to everyone at Sofia Storage for such a good experience.

-Tammi Colichio 9/23/13

 

Personable service, I felt like I was treated as a friend more than just a customer. I highly recommend, and the entire building is cool too as its old fashioned. Good company to use – you’ll be glad you did!

- Kris Kemp 9/12/13 

Thanks to the whole crew at Sofia for providing a great service at good prices. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, by far the best storage experience I have had.

Thank you,

- Bion Barting 6/28/13

Francis and Sam were a great help in helping me move in and out and for regular use of my storage locker. They were always friendly and I enjoyed talking with them - very professional.

-Alex Lamis 5/18/13

Sofia Storage provided excellent service throughout our entire procedure. Going above and beyond that of a storage center, its entire staff was exceedingly professional, courteous, and extremely instrumental in such a big project and move. Reliable, convenient, and helpful, I would suggest Sofia Storage Centers to all.

- Jonathan Hawkins 5/01/13

I have been working with Sofia for 10 years. It's a family run business with friendly, professional staff. They have the same employees and Francis is a gem. I think employee retention, and a well-run facility are evidence of my endorsement.

- Jaye Bea Smalley 4/30/13

My husband and I are pleased to recommend Sofia Storage Centers as a clean and safe place to store belongings. We have used Sofia Storage since 2005, and have been totally satisfied with the storage facility and the staff, which has always been courteous and helpful.

- Joan Conner 4/6/13

Sofia Storage Centers has excellent service, is a clean and neat facility, and has nice personnel.

- Eva Kane 3/6/13

All of your staff, without exception, is extremely personable and recalls an earlier, more intimate New York.

- Paul and Francis 1/24/13

I think quite frankly and fondly of Sofia Storage. On two separate occasions-each comprising of several years- I used their services and almost thought of them as a second home. I was treated with kindness and respect even though my locker (room) was on the platform and someone had to come and unlock the gate for me (which shows how secure personal items were handled), I never felt I was a bother. If I ever have to use their space again, I would not hesitate to call upon them. I recommend them highly as a storage facility.

- Florine Skolnick 12/31/12

Having storage at Sofia Storage on 83rd St. & Amsterdam Ave. is a huge convenience. Everything works, the staff is helpful and they provide large shelves as needed. I use it like an extra closet.

- Martha Pinson 12/13/12

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