Upgrading, Downgrading, Staging Your Home, Oh My!

Jed LewinLooking to upgrade or downgrade your home? No matter if you’re buying or selling, you need all the real estate advice you can get to make sure you’re making the most of your investment, especially when it comes to staging your home.

We checked in with Jed Lewin, Esq., a licensed associate real estate broker with Triplemint in New York City, for his thoughts.

Apiari: What are the most important considerations when it comes to selling a home?

JL: In a buyers’ market, you either want to be the best apartment, the biggest apartment, or the best-priced apartment. If you’re able to position your home as one of those commodities, demand will be much higher than it would be otherwise.

While you can’t change your apartment’s size, staging your home properly can help increase showability, interest, and value.

An agent who’s familiar with the competing inventory in the neighborhood can guide you through the process of meeting one of these three target objectives.

Apiari: When is the best time to sell? When is the best time to buy?

JL: For sellers, the best time to list is when the greatest number of people are looking. March through July and September through November are typically the busiest real estate periods. Most sellers will place their homes on the market at one of those times, with the majority of new inventory hitting the market in mid-spring.

For buyers, start looking as soon as you’re ready. Recognizing that the process from searching to contract to closing will typically take roughly three months if all goes smoothly (and remember to account for bumps along the way). If you’re hoping to find a bargain, take advantage of vacation times, such as August, or winter, when people are less likely to want to be outside because of the weather.

Apiari: How can I best present my home to prospective buyers?

JL: It’s essential to make your home as visually appealing as possible. This usually means working with your broker to find a professional to stage your home. If you can’t afford a stager, you can still take steps to make your home presentable yourself. Most importantly, you need to declutter and hide knick-knacks and family photos. The goal of staging your home is to help buyers envision their furniture, artwork, and lives there — not yours.

Apiari: In terms of style, what’s trendy these days?

JL: Color. Kitchens and bathrooms with midnight blue or even black cabinets with gold accents are very on-trend.

Apiari: What’s out of trend these days?

JL: You should avoid brown cabinets with beige granite countertops.

Apiari: What should I do about my pets when I’m selling my home?

No buyer would know that 2 cats lived here!

JL: This is one of the most frequent questions from sellers. Ideally, you would want to relocate your pet during the process, although that may not be feasible for most people. If you can’t, do your best to minimize your pet’s presence.

That means hiding food, taking your dog for a walk during open houses and showings, and de-linting and deodorizing in the case of cats.

Also, keep in mind that many people are allergic to cats, so I’d also recommend investing in an air purifier to prevent would-be buyers from leaving your home with a bad impression.

Apiari: Do I need to get my home professionally cleaned before every showing?

JL: It’s a good idea to get the place professionally cleaned weekly during your showing periods, especially before open houses. While you don’t need it cleaned before every single showing, it’s important to keep it “show ready” until the main event. This means wiping down surfaces and keeping the space clutter-free and orderly.

Apiari: What should I look for in a new home as we plan to expand our family or downsize now that the kids are off to college?

JL: Size, location, flexibility, and convenience are key. And, of course, the biggest factor: Do you love it?