This week one of my agents put a Park Avenue classic six on the market. (For those of my readers who don’t know the New York jargon, a classic six is a two-bedroom apartment with a formal dining room and a small bedroom (originally intended for the maid) behind the kitchen. It needs renovation. It does not face onto Park Avenue. And yet she has multiple offers after only a week, and the property will go into contract during the next two weeks. In this difficult market environment, how did that happen? A perfect storm of good planning created this outcome.
• First, the agent met with the estate executors and explained how difficult the sale would be without a complete clean-up. The executors heard her suggestions and, over the ensuing weeks, removed almost everything from the apartment.
• Second, they agreed to stage. We brought stagers to the apartment who, seeing it as a blank canvas, chose a few statement pieces to anchor their work and brought it neutral furniture and art which scaled the space for the buyer’s eye without imposing a particular taste. The entire property was painted and, finally, lightly accessorized with the help of the agent, who brought some items from her own collection and strategized with the stagers to create a few warm touches which made the space welcoming.
• Only when everything looked perfect did the photographers come in. The importance of well planned and well executed photographs cannot be overestimated. They need to be bright, glare-free, and capture the essence of a room or, even better, the relationship between several rooms. They should feature architectural elements like beautiful molding or a dramatic staircase. They need to capture the essence of the property with five or six shots: enough to entice a buyer but not so much as to enable the buyer to decide she already knows everything about the property and need not see it.
• Similarly, the agent wrote concise but not excessive copy (made easier in this case by the fact that the kitchen and baths were unrenovated, so there was no temptation to name the marbles and appliances!) She highlighted a few features intended to draw the buyer in. Ad copy, like photos, should always be created with one goal in mind: to persuade the reader to visit the property.
• And finally, the price. Once the staging process ended, the agent could price precisely for the moment at which the property hit the market. She aimed on the low side, knowing that the apartment needs a full renovation and that the Upper East Side remains saturated with co-op inventory. She intuited that a fair price, rather than an aspirational one, would attract interest and offers. And it worked.
Every listing demands different choices. And every one requires strategic thinking: who makes up the target audience, how can the property be displayed to its best advantage for that audience, what steps need to be taken to bring them in? These days, there’s no magic bullet, but following the above steps and enhancing them with a solid marketing plan makes any new listing more likely to attract a buyer before it has spent hundreds of days on the market.