Staged homes sell faster than empty or cluttered homes, experts say.

Using computer programs that add furniture to photos of interiors of homes for sale is increasingly popular, but Long Island’s home-staging professionals say such digitally manipulated images are no replacement for the real deal.

Professional home stagers are a niche of interior designers that specialize in residences that are for sale. But since they typically don’t meet the soon-to-be buyer of the home, their job is to use the home as a blank canvas for what they think a potential buyer will like.

“One of the golden rules is to depersonalize and declutter,” says Tammy Torres of Superior Staging of her tips for occupied homes for sale. “They need to look like staged homes. They need to be pared down of personal things. They need appropriate-sized furniture. It needs to be neutral.”

Torres, who started out flipping homes with her husband, was so good at staging homes that she now leads one of several companies that perform such work on Long Island. Since starting a decade ago, she now stages about 45 homes annually.

“When I do consultations with people I tell them, ‘please don’t be upset,'” she says. “‘You can come over my house and you’ll feel better. I have three children, but I’m not selling my house. And when it’s time to sell my house it will be pristine. And there won’t be doorknobs that don’t work and light bulbs that don’t work…. or a house that has no curb appeal, because you’re not going to get the buyers in there.’”

Often the furniture, curtains and other items that she decorates a home with are sold with the property, especially on high-end properties. Staging a home for sale allows potential buyers to see what a previously empty home looks like furnished in person during an open house. The results are more tangible than virtually staged homes.

“There seems to be varying degrees of stagers,” Torres says. “You have somebody who can basically walk in to occupied homes and say, ‘This is what you need to do. Depersonalize, declutter, you’re moving anyway. Prospective buyers need to see the space not your things.’ And they just charge a consultation fee.

“A lot of real estate agents are very savvy and do it themselves because they, of course, want the best product they can put out there when they get these listings,” she continues. “And then there’s someone who does what I do, where I have my own inventory and I can stage 15,000 square feet in five business days. We start on Monday, we finish on Friday and the brokers have open houses that weekend.”

Torres maintains that neutral designs are best when staging. She’s careful not to use anything too bold.

“Vanilla sells,”” she says. “It’s just vanilla with a cherry on top.”

LONG ISLAND HOME STAGERS

Abella Home Staging & Redesign
Port Jefferson Station, 631-846-7724, carmela@abellahomestaging.com, abellahomestaging.com

Fresh Style by June
Smithtown, 631-366-4318, jconsalvo@gmail.com, freshstylebyjune.com

Home Staging by SPC
Manorville, 631-878-6143, stagingbyspc.com

Staged 2 Sell
Northport, 516-982-2671, info@staged2sellny.com, staged2sellny.com

Superior Staging
Nassau County, 917-838-3192, tammy@superiorstage.com, superiorstage.com

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.