Buyers in the market for a new home can be put off by so many things: children, exercise equipment, paint that is too bland, paint that isn’t bland enough, family photos.
Basically, any indication that people live in an apartment can be a turn-off. Except that apartments which look like no one really lives in them are also be a turn-off. What we really want is to believe that catalog people live in apartments, that we might ourselves be catalog people. Hence, the increasing popularity of using stagers—once called in for only very high-end properties or the truly terrible—to redecorate apartments before they go on the market, according to The New York Times. Or at least the stagers that The Times talks to would like everyone to think that apartments can’t possibly sell unless the owners hire someone to diligently erase all traces of the life they lived there, putting pets and personal items into storage (although photos of pets are allowed to stay because they add a “generic homeiness.”)
“People can’t always visualize what’s going to happen in any given room,” stager Pam Pagano told The Times. “Even if you put a desk there, they kind of look at it and say, ‘Who’s going to sit there?’ You put a computer there and they think: ‘Oh! I can sit there and use my computer.’ Some people really can’t visualize anything.”
And so many high-end apartments need the help, claim stagers, shuddering in horror over things like a children’s play area with toys! in public spaces of the apartment. In one West Village co-op asking just under $6 million, for instance, the broker was anxious that a lack of throw pillows on the expensive furniture and a sports-themed rug in a child’s bedroom would disgust buyers. So a stager was brought in to transform the children’s rooms into minimalist spaces and throw things like cowhide rugs around (which disgusted the vegetarian owner, but the stager insisted would appeal to prospective, presumably meat-loving, buyers).
“I would say 99 percent of buyers have no vision, absolutely no vision,” Sotheby’s broker Mara Flash Blum told The Times. “If they can’t get it at hello, they just pass it and go to the next one.”