There have been a lot of theories about why there’s been any kind of slowdown in the New York City Real Estate Market: Higher Income Taxes, Higher Real Estate Taxes, Rising Mortgage Rates (though not presently), Donald Trump, Uncertainty, a Rising Stock Market, concerns about a Falling Stock Market, tough coop boards, prices got out of hand, lack of foreign buyers, a change in taste from one neighborhood to another. I’m sure that any or most of the above have played a part in the decision matrix of buyers.
However what has been most surprising over the last few years has been what I would characterize as a shift in buyer expectations.
Think about it this way: buyers are seeing images of beautiful homes pretty much where ever they look. Go on Facebook, Instagram, TV programs, the mansion section of the Wall Street Journal, the homes section of the New York Times. Open any number of design magazines. There is a massive proliferation of images of beautiful property. Add to this the virtual staging of apartments that digitally and magically turn dilapidated homes into pristine properties.
Pristine Penthouse with Views-
And then, the reality. Buyers go out and look at open houses and what do they find?
They see homes that need renovation. And there is a HUGE disconnect between their excitement about the vision of what they want, which has been strongly shaped by wherever they look, and what it looks like today.
not every kitchen looks like this
This curated vision of a decorated home has forever changed a buyer’s mindset- and has a meaningful impact on how we, as high-end real estate professionals, help sellers get their properties ready for market. One-bedrooms in the past never required home stagers! Now I would say that at least half of the properties I’m bringing to market, and many smaller apartments, mind you, are getting some kind of staging.
Virtual Staging of an Empty Apartment
There is no question that we want our sellers to paint their apartments, and really do a lot of medium-to-heavy lifting in preparing their home for market. I believe it is an absolute necessity for sellers to get ahead of buyer expectations. Staging and home prep are critical today, more critical than ever, if they want their property to stand out and match the vision of what buyers think their home should look like.
unstaged it’s a little less exciting (but still very nice!)
Sure, the reality maybe is that an apartments need renovation, new baths, new kitchens, etc. Putting the ” fantasy” front and center is really important today for buyers to ” buy in” , and for sellers’ homes to stand out.
I don’t see this trend ending anytime soon. In fact, I would expect more and more that sellers are going to need to even consider renovating before they go to market, if they’re going to achieve the demand and highest price for their properties. The real opportunity here may be for contractors, designers, a holistic business to help owners prepare their homes for market through real renovation, rather than just the skin-deep work of staging. Looking over the horizon is what our Visionary Brokerage continues to be about.