Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon are known as superbrokers when it comes to the luxury real estate market in New York City. With $1.95 billion in residential sales under their belts, the two have gained recognition for their innovative marketing tactics and for starring on HGTV’s “Selling New York.”
One of their most valuable tactics for selling a property quickly and at its estimated market value is staging, which involves arranging furniture in a home to help potential buyers envision what it might look like if they were to move in. Working with a professional stager, Postilio and Conlon make the once-empty properties come alive by either using temporary furniture or arranging the owner’s existing furniture in a more aesthetically appealing way.
“We put the pieces together in order to give [potential buyers] an idea of how glamorous it could be to live here,” Conlon told Business Insider.
We visited the two at one of their latest properties (which has yet to go on the market) to find out about the art of staging and the effect it can have on market value.
Just one block away from Midtown Manhattan's 'Billionaire's Row,' this three-bedroom apartment has a distinct interior style. Both Conlon and Postilio immediately knew they were going to have to stage this apartment, which is expected to list for around $5.19 million.
'In this case, because (the apartment has) such specific decor -- heavy dark wood and stone floors -- we want to accentuate these special design features rather than just have someone walk in and go, 'Wow this (decor) is too much,'' Postilio said.
The two were careful to note the differences between staging and interior design. 'Too much of a design element can turn off buyers. (With staging) you want to neutralise the space in a way that suggests how one might live there,' Conlon said.
For Conlon and Postilio, staging helps complete the story they're trying to tell with the apartment. 'This (apartment) is (currently) a very incomplete picture,' Conlon said. 'We look at this (apartment) and (see) a sort of 1930s fantasy of what New York was like. We can see that -- but most buyers would not be able to.'
Conlon also explained the various versions of staging. 'There are levels of staging. You can (install) cardboard to bespoke finishings. People get really wild -- we've seen six-figure staging proposals,' he said.
'You have a floor plan, you have a concept, and you have to get on the market. It's nothing short of a small miracle that it comes together in time,' Conlon said.
The two wanted to fill the space with light and neutral-coloured furniture pieces to offset the dark wood and stone floor.
Postilio and Conlon are up front with their clients regarding costs, as well as what they might see in terms of a return on their investment. While sometimes they can call in favours and keep the budget low, other times staging can call for a six-figure investment.
'Staging is not inexpensive, but we look at the numbers and we believe it's an investment, not an expense,' Conlon said.
'If a seller does invest in the staging, they will see a better return in terms of the bottom line on a contract-priced selling apartment. (For this apartment) we believe that without the staging, it might be difficult to achieve (its market value), whereas with it, we're pretty confident (it will sell closer to its price),' Postilio said.
Staging can also help turnaround time when selling. 'It not only affects touring the apartment for when a prospective buyer comes through, but also the photography when it catches somebody's eye online,' Conlon said.
'(Being a real estate agent) is being a little bit of a designer, a bit of being an architect, and just helping people imagine things,' Conlon said.
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