Staging A House – Phase One

I am so excited to take you through the journey of staging a home, start to finish. This post is one of a series in which you will see the transformation right before your eyes. This post is all about Phase One.

While staging is usually done in preparation for putting a house on the market, we are staging this particular home while it is already on the market. We haven’t been happy with the amount of traffic and felt it was time to change it up.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the home’s decor as is, but it’s just not feeling contemporary enough for today’s young buyers. Before we can think about adding and replacing the furniture and accessories, we need to change the canvas or the backdrop.

Paint color sets the tone of a room and is therefore the single most important staging element. Too dark, and buyers worry the house doesn’t have enough light. Too bright and they can’t see through the color to visualize what it might look like with something softer. This particular home that you will witness, is very well maintained and the paint isn’t cracked or peeling. The issue is far more subtle. The whole first floor is painted beige/cream/off-white with a sort of yellowish cast. It isn’t warm and inviting and its definitely not cool and “hip.”

Staging Phase One –

I chose to hire Jane and Rachel of Verber & Sullivan because of their experience staging luxury properties. They came for an initial consultation that lasted an hour and a half. They went through each room, taking copious notes, and photos. Two days later they sent a detailed proposal describing their vision for making the space feel more luxurious.  Tomorrow we begin phase one with interior paint. Below are the photos of the rooms we are tackling first. Each photo shows how they are painted now, followed by the Benjamin Moore Color swatch we will be using in each room.

Entryway After












Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.56.42 PM

Revere Pewter

















Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 9.19.07 PM

Iron Gate -The dining room is to the left of the center hall and is very visible from the entry way.









Living Room Before- Alternate View

Living Room Before- Alternate View











Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 9.30.00 PM

Ashley Gray -The living room is to the right of the center hall and is very visible from it.










At first glance the colors don’t seem all that different from each other or the paint that is already on the walls, but I can tell they will give a huge boost in making the rooms feel warmer, and more sophisticated. Once the painting is done, we are bringing in new furniture to compliment what is already there. The furnishings and accessories will be richer in textures and colors and will make the house feel very inviting.

Before the painters started the inside work, I convinced the seller to paint all of the wrought iron detail on the front of the house. It was white, which made it stand out too much against the red brick in the photos. Now the front of the house looks so much more cohesive – don’t you think? 


635 Lonview Road South Orange NJ 07079










black front









If you are thinking about freshening up your own home or thinking of getting prepared to sell – don’t do it alone. Call a professional — Jane Verber and Rachel Sullivan do more than just staging. They can do color consultations and complete interior design projects and best of all they live locally in Maplewood and South Orange respectively. Check out some of their past projects here. And stay tuned to see the next phase of this incredible transformation.


Why Brooklyn Transplants Love Living in South Orange and Maplewood

brooklyn transplants love living in south orange and maplewood













So why do Brooklyn transplants love living in South Orange and Maplewood? Here are the reasons my buyers who hail from Brooklyn have said they enjoy their new life in both towns.

Reason #1 – Coffee

Brooklyn residents are crazy about their coffee. They like it organically grown, with “fair trade” growers, from exotic lands. South Orange offers a wide range of coffee options from the mundane (Dunkin Donuts), to more artisanal options like Mara’s Cafe, Kate & Abbe’s, good old fashioned diner coffee and of course – the most expensive of all… Starbucks. So Brooklyn we’ve got your coffee addiction covered.

Reason # 2 – Public Transportation – Ease of Commute

I have been told over and over by former Brooklyn residents that their commutes from South Orange and Maplewood basically take the same amount of time as they did when they commuted from Brooklyn to Manhattan. How is that possible? Because South Orange and Maplewood are located only 18-20 miles from Manhattan and offer trains that go direct to Midtown or to Hoboken where downtown commuters either switch to the Path train or take the ferry across the river. View NJ Transit schedules for South Orange and Maplewood.

Reason # 3 – The Mix of People

Probably the scariest thought about moving to the suburbs is the fear that people will be bland or uninspiring. And that’s probably one of the most  unique aspects of both towns. The diversity is unmatched by most suburban towns in the area. Kids who grow up here have exposure to so many different types of people racially, socially, and professionally it prepares them for today’s global economy. Residents include some of Broadway’s most esteemed actors, the star of one of Fox’s most successful sit coms, musicians (especially jazz), corporate types, entrepreneurs, journalists, bankers and artists.  View the demographic profile of South Orange and Maplewood.

Reason # 4 – Cultural Engagement

Former Brooklynites are amazed by the slew of cultural activities on-going in both towns. Have you heard about Maplewoodstock? Its a 2 day music festival held every July right in the center of town at Memorial Park. Some top headliners this year included Ziggy Marley and Rusted Root (read the full line up). There is the South Orange Performing Arts Center that has 5 state of the art movie theaters as well as a live stage. Here you can see everything from well known comedians (Colin Quin will be performing his one man show at the end of August), to rock ‘n roller Leon Russell. There’s also kids programming, readings etc. Theres is a free concert in the park every Wednesday evening during the summer in South Orange.  Believe me you’ll have plenty of opportunities to be entertained.

Reason # 5 – The Housing Stock

Both towns offer classic style homes including Colonials, Tudors, Victorians and Mid Century Ranches. No two houses are the same and each neighborhood has a different character and appeal.  View the newest South Orange and Maplewood homes for sale.

Get more info, enjoy a private tour, see some homes in your price range. We are happy to help you make the successful transition from Brooklyn to South Orange and Maplewood.

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South Orange Real Estate is Having a Great Year

The first half of 2015 is over and all results point to the fact that South Orange real estate is having a great year. Using analytics from the Garden State Multiple Listing Service (the most reliable real estate info compared to  consumer sites like Zillow and Trulia), here are the results:

Second Quarter 2015 Versus 2014

  • The average house stayed on the market only 13 days – compared to 48 days in 2014 – 66% less time
  • Homes sold for 3.5% above list price compared to 1.9% below list price – that’s an increase of 5.4%
  • The average sale price was 9% higher

First Half 2015 Versus 2014

• Houses stayed on the market for 22 days in 2015 which is 40% less time than the previous year
• Homes sold at 2.2% over list price – compared to 2.1% below list price year prior – an increase of 2.1%
• The average sale price was 8% higher

What Driving the South Orange Real Estate Market

South Orange Real Estate MarketIn my own informal buyer surveys, the majority of South Orange home buyers are coming from Brooklyn, Hoboken and Jersey City where they enjoy an urban lifestyle, but need more space. South Orange is the perfect solution since the village has such an urban vibe that includes a live theater, movie theater, good restaurants and of corse an amazing selection of great coffee shops.

Another  reason this generation of buyers is finding South Orange a great value is because they are either selling their co-ops for a big profit or, because interest rates remain low, its cheaper to buy than to rent.

At the same time, the downtown has never been more vibrant, more beautifully landscaped and had so many great options for dining. The South Orange Village Alliance is largely responsible for these improvements and they are indeed making South Orange an even more appealing place  to call home.

Read more about South Orange

Everything Baby Boomers Need to Know About Selling Their Homes to Millenials

Most of the the properties I list for sale are owned by “Baby Boomers.”  Their homes are being purchased by the next generation of buyers flooding into the housing market — known as the “Millenials.” The more familiar we are with the Millenials’ wants and needs, the better we can cater to them in the sales process. Because getting my clients top dollar for their homes is one of their most important goals when they hire me, I have taken time and done the research to aptly inform them about everything Baby Boomers need to know about selling their homes to Millenials.

millenialsFirst- what exactly is a “Millenial?” The term is loosely defined as the generation that came into adulthood about the year 2000 (born between 1980-2000). There are varying dates, but these seem to be most common. Much of the press has characterized them as apathetic, over indulged or over rewarded. But that is not what I witness in my profession. The Millenials pouring into our urban/suburban towns largely hail from a city lifestyle in neighborhoods they helped to renew (ex – Williamsburgh Brooklyn, Jersey City, Astoria Queens) and they are looking for the same urban feel in a town’s cultural amenities as well as it’s residents. They like good restaurants, live music, art and a diverse population. Because they are making terrific profits on their current apartments, they are financially viable buyers and incredibly desirable to mortgage folks.

In most cases both members of the Millenial household work and many will commute to NYC on a daily basis. This is a key lifestyle component to understand because it directly affects a home’s potential resale value for 2 key reasons. The first is location – the closer a home is to the train station the higher the Millenial will value it. This is primarily because they want to maintain as much of their current commuting style as possible, which entails walking to the subway. The second reason – they want homes that have already been updated with a modern feel. In the Millenial household both members are likely to be working and commuting, leaving little time for overseeing home renovations. Those sellers that update their homes are selling in less time and at higher prices.

So how do we prepare? While we can’t control a seller’s home location, we can control the decor. A seller can make updates to their home during the sales preparation phase that do not need to be labor or cost intensive. They just need to give a buyer a sense of how they can adapt the traditional home to their modern sensibilities. Millenials love modern style. They want the architectural detail of a classic home (like picture molding, wood burning fireplace), but updated with clean lines, pops of color and with a nod to Mid Century Modern style. Got it?

So how does this work? Well, let’s take some examples.  Here is a traditional dining room in a traditional home:

dining room
And here is a traditional dining room in a traditional home with updated decor:

While I don’t recommend buying all new furniture, I highly recommend painting the dining room in a cool hue and contrasting it with the molding. Remove all the small accessories and accent the table with one important, modern shaped accessory – I love hurricane lamps as an example. The last thing is replace the lighting. This can have incredible impact and can be very inexpensive. This round drum shade on the fixture is a very appealing look and you can get a fixture for about $200 that will suffice.

You may also want to consider replacing traditional art on the walls with more mid century looking accessories like the mirror pictured here.

Here is a traditional living room that clearly does not speak to a Millenila buyer. While I can appreciate it -it yells “grandma’s house to a Millenial.

traditional living room decor













Instead, de-clutter the space (less is way more in this case) and replace accessories, pillows, and area rugs with modern, colorful, sculptural ones. Here is what appeals to the 35 year old – likely to buy a traditional home:

Then, there is the kitchen – perhaps the most costly renovation project in a home. Maybe you never got around to renovating your kitchen and it looks like this:














But Millenials Like:

Well, the old style can be spruced up to appeal to a modern eclectic style without a great sum of money. Some good ideas are to paint your cabinets a neutral color, replace the countertops with a natural stone (granite is on the way out – think more of quartz and even poured concrete) and replace the backsplash with a glass tile that has a pop of color. This will instantly be more appealing to a buyer, who will think, maybe the kitchen isn’t new, but they can live with it.

A home for sale should not be a reflection of the owner and their tastes, but a reflection of who the buyer might be and their personal style. The buyers is always the one to determine a property’s value. The less work the house looks like it needs the higher the buyer’s perception of value will be.  if you would like to get some resources for updating your home please comment below and I will be happy to share.

Have you made any updates you’s like to share? Please comment.


Don’t Think You Need to Stage Before Selling? Think Again

One of the hardest parts of a Realtor’s job is winning the listing vis-a-vis competitive Realtors and then persuading the seller to make changes to their home.  Right now I have three listings of magnificent homes in South Orange, NJ. South Orange is very well known for having classic homes on beautiful lots with impressive curb appeal. And, all 3 of my listings fit this bill.

However, just because they are beautiful doesn’t mean they don’t require staging to get sold. While I fully appreciate the seller’s tastes and style, they just don’t match up with the tastes and style of today’s home buyers. Today’s buyers are 2 generations behind many empty nesters and their ideas of what makes a house a home are completely different. They want clean lines, pops of color, modern rooms and an open flow. But many sellers decorated heir homes more traditionally – which was the style when they purchased them. Many times that means floral prints, dark color palettes, light floors etc.

Here’s the biggest hint of all. Want to sell your house quickly? Here are 5 things you need to do:

  • If you have wood floors, stain them “Espresso.” That is an actual stain color
  • Paint the walls a light gray and the trim and ceiling bright white
  • Place solid color upholstered pieces sparingly
  • Add decorative pillows with a pop of color
  • Remove all formal drapery from windows – replace with panels or sheers

That’s it – in a nut shell. I was able to update 2 of my listings without painting or re-staining floors. I was able to work around their furniture by repositioning it to open the space more and added accessories in bright colors and varied textures to make it feel crisper. The draperies were all removed and new area rugs were essential. Don’t think you need to stage before selling? Think Again. Here are some before and after shots of 2 homes I recently staged myself after they were already listed.

First Home

Living Room Before

Living Room Before













Living Room After

Living Room After

Alternate View of Living Room Before

Alternate View of Living Room Before














Alternae View of Living Room After















Dining Room Before

Dining Room Before













Dining Room After

Dining Room After














Master Bedroom Before
























Master Bedroom After

Master Bedroom After















Second Home

Entryway Before

Entryway Before

Entryway After

Entryway After

Living Room Before- Alternate View

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Living Room After


Living Room Before – Alternative View

Living Room Alternate View - After

Living Room Alternate View – After


Family Room Before

Family Room Before

Family Room After

Family Room After

Hall Bath Before

Hall Bath Before

Hall Bath After

Hall Bath After




Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bed with vcurtains good

Master Bedroom After








3 South Orange Homes for Sale

Three South Orange homes are now for sale in various locations and price points and at least one is sure to meet your needs.

Option I – 535 Longview Road South Orange, NJ 07079

A large Tudor style home perched high on a hilltop with sweeping NYC skyline views. Located in the Newstead section of South Orange. It has 6 bedrooms / 5 1/2 baths, totally renovated on .71 acres. List Price $1,250,000.

Option II – 635 Longview Road South Orange, NJ 07079 

Brick, center hall colonial home also located in the Newstead section of South Orange. A corner property with great space 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, brand new kitchen, family room off kitchen, central air, built-in generator. The jitney stops right in front making it an ideal spot for NYC commuters. List price $799,000.

Option III – 391 Thornden Street, South Orange, NJ 07079

Stone front, side hall colonial – perfect for NYC commuters since it is just 3,600 feet to the town and train. It has 5 bedrooms 3/12 baths, eat-in kitchen, first floor family room and professionally landscaped backyard. List Price $730,000.

View All South Orange Homes Currently for Sale

View Newstead Homes for Sale

Want to Learn more About South Orange? Get a free neighborhood report.

Neighborhood Mkt Report

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635 Longview Road South Orange NJ 07079 – For Sale

635 Lonview Road South Orange NJ 07079

This stately, brick, colonial home located at 635 Longview Road, South Orange, NJ 07079 will be for sale very shortly. It has amazing curbside appeal, sitting on a large corner lot in the highly sought after Newstead section of South Orange (read more about what makes Newstead so special).

There are numerous amenities that will make this home a “must buy” for those seeking a traditional colonial updated for today’s lifestyle. The kitchen was gutted and renovated in 2014. It has great counter space and a smart layout for those who enjoy cooking and entertaining. It has a center island, Subzero refrigerator with 2 freezer drawers, 2 Thermador wall ovens, Wolf gas cooktop with exhaust and warming drawer. It has also has multi zone central air conditioning and a built in generator.

Upon entering you are welcomed by an impressive, light filled, center hall flanked by the formal dining and living rooms. There are 2 bonus rooms on the first floor. One is a family room off the kitchen and the other is currently used as an entertaining space.

On the second floor there are 4 spacious bedrooms, the hall bath and the master bath that includes a jetted tub and stall shower.

There is a full finished basement that has a built in bar, large family/rec room, tile floor, windows, the laundry room and a full bedroom and bath.

The backyard has a custom designed patio and the sweeping side yard is surrounded by mature plantings providing  open space and privacy.

635 Lonview Road South Orange NJ 07079 side yard

The list price is $819,000.

If you, or someone you know is interested in seeing this beautiful home please call/text me at (917) 327-0701 and I can give you a private showing

Home for Sale in South Orange – 535 Longview Road

This home for sale in South Orange – 535 Longview Road is in the Newstead neighborhood of South Orange, one of the premier areas in town. It will be coming on the market about June 1, 2015, but I couldn’t resist sneaking some pictures in when I was there today. It has 6 bedrooms and 5 1/2 fully renovated bathrooms a gourmet kitchen, formal living and dining rooms, a family room, media room, rec room and more.

What makes this such a distinctive home is the architectural detail and its prime location. It sits perched up high on a hill with panoramic New York skyline views. The individual rooms are generously proportioned and are defined by arched door ways, wooden beams and wainscot panels. Leaded glass windows also attribute to this homes gracious charm.

535 longview road south orange for sale










classic tudor style vestibule









formal dining room with wood beams and wood panels










The kitchen was completely renovated top to bottom and maintains the integrity of a true Tudor style home. It is surrounded by windows and French doors which lead to the back patio and barbeque. There is ample seating around the center island and  also in the breakfast area.


gourmet chefs kitchen










kitchen center island










There are 6 bedrooms, 5 full baths and 1 powder room. All of the bathrooms have been renovated, the house central air conditioning, gas heat and digital music system with speakers throughout the house. It is a true one-of-a-kind-home ideal for those who want something extra-ordinary.

The property and location are incredible

new york skyline view
View the interactive floor plan below for more details


 For a private showing please call or text Amy at (917) 327-0701

Where Do You Stand on the Nail Salon Debate?

handsLast week, the New York Times ran an investigative report about the inner workings of nail salons in the New York/New Jersey area. We’ve all benefitted from these sanctuaries where we can walk in without an appointment, be seated and experience a good quality manicure at an incredibly low price. While manicures used to be an indulgence for the affluent, these salons have enabled us to make it a weekly activity – especially for professional women who need to look “polished.”

But, now that I know what is involved in keeping the prices so low – it makes me feel guilty about patronizing them. How about you? Where do you stand on the nail salon debate? While we all enjoy a good set of nails, can we really indulge the salon’s practices of providing below minimum wage labor and poor living conditions for their employees? The article revealed that most manicurists work for free or have to actually pay their employers during their training period. This can last from several months to a year.

Newer immigrants that are desperate for an opportunity live in small, crowded apartments with a mattress on the floor and a mere curtain as a room divider from the many other “trainees” also living there. It’s a warehousing approach and is often the only opportunity young, largely female immigrants have for a ticket out of their own poverty stricken country to the USA. Knowing this, where do you stand on the nail salon debate?

I equate it to the incredibly attractive prices of clothing and accessories found ant Old Navy or The Gap. Its great style for not slot of money. However, do you wonder how they make this possible? Many investigative reports reveal they use factories in third world countries who often employ child labor and pay practically no wages. Does this type of business model make you feel guilty for patronizing these stores?

Shouldn’t these employers be forced to pay a fair wage? If a manicure cost $25 instead of $10 would it prevent you from getting one? Or would it mean you get one less often?  In true capitalism, competition is good. However, unfair competitors, who don’t play by the rules, ruin it for the business environment and for the economy. If nail salon owners paid fair wages their employees would have more money to buy goods and services, therefore improving the economy. By keeping these employees “working poor” we deny them the true American Dream for our own selfish need to have nice nails at a cheap price. Giulty as charged!


391 Thornden Street, South Orange, NJ Coming Soon

391 Thornden Street, South Orange, NJ

Boy, you won’t want to miss out on seeing 391 Thornden Street in South Orange, NJ coming soon to market. Unless of course you want to see it before hand. With an exclusive listing Realtors can show buyers homes that are not yet available to the public and therefor not on any of the portal sites like Zillow, Trulia, or It’s one of the great benefits of having a good working relationship with a Realtor and gives you the competitive edge you need in the current market.

Step inside this stone front colonial style home, just steps from the train, and enjoy total relaxation and comfort. With an updated eat-in kitchen, formal living room with wood burning fireplace, family room, 2 car attached garage and mudroom it provides a great floor plan for today’s living.The second floor has 4 generous sized bedrooms with 2 full baths including a master suite.

But perhaps the best part of this house is the beautifully landscaped backyard with stone patio that is incredibly hard to find so close to town.  The list price is $730,000. For more information or to schedule a showing text (917) 327-0701.

garden2 - Copy

391 Thornden Street South Orange NJ