Staging For Tomorrow’s Masters Of The Universe!

Jersey City has become one of New Jersey’s trendiest neighborhoods especially down by the water.  With views of the Manhattan skyline and convenient, regular ferry service to the World Financial Center, the target buyer for the gentrified townhouses and condos tends to be Wall Street Gods-In-Training and down-sizers looking to be closer to New York City’s cultural options without having to sacrifice the peace and calm of the suburbs.

Staging and Redesign Example

Lifestyle Tells

Since this townhouse had lots of stairs, Bernadette Flaim and Susan Corbo, of Attention2Detail, opted for a young professional couple or singlet as their target buyer and set out to create the perfect cocoon for a future “Masters of the Universe” titan. The house came with a boat slip and direct water views. It was also “fully lived in” and clearly out of date, with lots of brass and Lucite.

Not knowing exactly where the realtor was going to price the property, the team worked with the seller to upgrade the obvious things – fresh paint, stainless steel appliances, refinishing the wood floors and a new carpet on the 3rd floor in the media room. The kitchen was dated, but realistically, those guys don’t spend a lot of time cooking anyway. There’s not a lot of time for cooking in a 75 hour week!

Contemporary with a subtle use of color, Flaim and Corbo decided their buyer would need a place to chill more than party. In a business of first impressions, the Living Room was the room a buyer would see first:
Lifestyle Marketing

Lifestyle Marketing

Soothing greens, geometric shapes, strategic use of bright orange and a whimsical mirror – to perhaps advise no-one take themselves too seriously – this space scores just the right tune. The orange leads your eye to the WOOD FLOORS, the brick facades across the WATER VIEW and to the FIREPLACE.

How many times in marketing do we get told to show rather than tell?

Stager Training

Stager Training

Staging and Redesign

Notice what is NOT here: today’s ‘Wall Street Journal’, a calculator, movie posters of ‘Margin Call’, ‘Wall Street’, ‘The Boiler Room’…Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’ etc. Instead, you find a massive bed with 5-star hotel-style appointments and the subtle Greek God (David) with a stack of old books for provenance and portend.  Upstairs, the media room is now about cameras, sailing, spectacular and precious shells…many, many Wall Streeters head to the beach as soon as it’s warm, whether it’s for ‘Revenge’ in the Hamptons or ‘The Jersey Shore’.

And yet…

The VerdictThe home did not sell, so far. Instead, all the foreclosures and short sales sold all around it, almost as if this property showed what these types of homes could look like. It turns out the listing price was $150,000 over asking. A strategy the realtor had used to get the listing?  What the seller suddenly needed to get out of it to make him whole on his initial investment? Enthusiasm from the [dramatic, eye-popping] staging making them use New Construction as a comp?

As stagers, we are unlikely to know for sure.  But it does raise a controversial point that any seasoned stager knows: we have to be involved in the pricing discussion if our interpretation of “value” is to be of any worth.  There’s nothing wrong with aiming high on price, so long as everyone understands that in so doing the selling time will be longer. The staging contract has to last long enough for all the other homes on the market (including distressed properties) to sell first, and endure multiple price reductions, no matter how small or drastic (to counteract the length of Days On Market).

In this particular case, the home is now empty as the price adjusts. Never the best environment for any property to sell, least of all for someone who wants to “see” themselves starting on the stairway to heaven!

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Photography:  Ryan Damiano, Front Door Photography

Juliet Johnson

About Juliet

I have been a high-end home stager for about 8 years in suburban NJ. Now, I write about real estate: home profiles for magazine, real estate copy blurb and blogs in the real estate space. I also serve a few local clients with social media marketing and website design.


  1. says

    Bernadette this is so right on. I have had this situation a couple of times now, and the seller has opted to unstage and leave empty rather than lower the price to what the market is demanding. Months later they still haven’t sold and are lowering the price with it empty, future looks bleak for them and it is hard to know what to say to them. You don’t want to make the Realtor mad and you don’t want to offend the home seller, so what to do or say????

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