Summit Entrepreneur Shares Secrets of Home Staging Success

Natalya Price, the powerhouse behind NJ Staged2Sell, discusses setting the stage for a winning home sale.

Sunset, after photo. Credit: Natalya Price
Sunset, after photo. Credit: Natalya Price
Natalya Price may not have realized it at the time, but she began her career as a home stager and interior designer at the age of 5. 

The Summit resident, who was raised in Kazakhstan, recalls walking into the homes of friends as a child  and immediately rearranging the family's belongings.

"I was five years old and my mother would say, 'You cannot touch people’s things!' but I couldn't help myself," Price said. 

After attending college in Russia, the economics major moved to California where she began what she described as an interesting and challenging career working for a company that prosecuted those who committed mortgage fraud. On weekends, Price enjoyed assisting friends with their interior design projects and remodeling her home with her husband. 

"While other people went on dates to dinner or the movies, we went to Home Depot to pick out tile," she said. 

Because the couple was unable to afford their "dream home," they bought houses they knew they could improve and flipped them. 

Within five years, the couple had moved 10 times. When the finishing touches on their "forever home" were nearly complete, Price's husband was transferred to the East Coast. 

"He said, 'You're going to kill me but we're moving across the country,'" said Price, who added that her husband purchased a fixer-upper in Summit without her even seeing it.

Simultaneously, the mom of two received another surprise. 

"I found out I was pregnant with my third child. I had a child in fourth grade, an 18-month old and we had a huge project on our hands," she recalled. 

With her characteristic enthusiasm, the design devotee took up the challenge, but as her Summit home makeover neared completion she said she began to feel depressed that her decorating days were soon to be behind her. At her husband's suggestion, Price went to see a farmhouse in Chester with the intent to possibly purchase and renovate it. 

While others touring the home thought it needed to be razed, Price said she saw great potential for restoration. A builder, overhearing her suggestions, immediately offered her a part-time job, which she happily accepted. 

As Price began working with the builder, she pursued certification and training as a home stager. Before she knew it, realtors were calling and asking for her assistance.

"I got so busy; it just sucked me in. For the longest time, I still believed I'd go back to mortgage fraud," said Price, who went on to start her own business, NJ Staged2Sell, offering home staging and redesign. "I love this and every home presents new challenges." 

Setting the stage for a successful sale

Price offered her top tips for those considering listing their home:

  • Declutter, declutter, declutter. While it might sound redundant, Price said she cannot stress enough how important it is to get rid of extraneous items that crowd a room.
  • Clean every nook and cranny. The home stager recommends sellers scour the home from top to bottom. "Clean, not the way you typically clean, but deep clean," Price said. "When you live in the house, you can no longer see the dirt. Bring in a fresh pair of eyes, someone who will see things you, as the homeowner, no longer see." 
  • Eliminate eye-catching decor. While most people think home stagers come in and decorate, Price's philosophy is to remove any decor that would distract buyers from noticing "the bones of the house." Rather than being fixated on an item the owner has on display which will be packed up in the move, Price said she wants buyers to remember the hardwood floors or the crown molding.
  • Curb appeal. Never underestimate the power of a first impression. As soon as the potential buyers get out of their car, they're forming opinions about a home, the home stager noted.
Price said a pristine residence, with well-organized pantries and vanities, gives buyers confidence that the house has been well-loved and maintained.

"Buyers have peace of mind that there aren't going to be any surprises and often that can help them overlook other things," she explained.

More than simply staging, Price draws on her remodeling experience and does a thorough walk-through, advising sellers to take care of any issues that might arise during a home inspection. 

Finish any projects that aren't completed; fix anything that is broken or needs to be replaced, suggested the home stager, who added that nothing she asks her clients to do is counterproductive because, ultimately, they will need to either take care of the items before the closing or offer the buyer compensation.

Price also said she doesn't mind being the bad guy, often providing clients with important insight that others, such as friends or realtors, are afraid to say for fear of damaging the relationship.

"If your house smells like your dog, I'm going to tell you," Price said. "People want to know why their home isn't selling. Most of my clients are receptive to the feedback because they want the help."

The entrepreneur said it is difficult to say how long the average staging or redesign might take as so much depends on the circumstances and the amount of work the home requires. Likewise, when it comes to pricing, Price said it is hard to determine an average. While some estimate that staging can cost roughly 1 percent of the asking price, Price said that is "very rare," and typically costs less. The stager also said while she encourages homeowners to do as much of the work as they can themselves, she has a network of people who can assist in getting the job done so sellers don't feel left on their own. 

Recently named one of North America’s Top Staging Industry Experts by the Real Estate Staging Association, Price said her career is extremely rewarding, especially when she hears positive feedback from clients who report that having her assistance in organizing their homes has been "life changing." 

"Many will say, 'For the first time, I know where everything is in my house.' It's a great feeling not to have all those piles to tackle. A lot of clients say, 'Why didn't I do this sooner?'"

For more information about NJ Staged2Sell, visit the website or Facebook page or call 973-255-7534. 

Photo Captions:

Oak Ridge: Estate Sale: Challenges: incredibly dated and cluttered. Without staging, most likely would have been marketed to builders and sold for a lower price. Solution: We painted, refinished hardwood floors, edited furnishings and staged to showcase the space using what was in the house. Sold in a week with multiple bids and for 5% over the asking price. 

Sunset: Challenges: great bones, but was too cluttered and dated. We painted a deeper color to warm up such large space and to showcase the beautiful trim that otherwise was lost in the sea of white, removed mirrors on the back wall and edited and rearranged sellers' furniture and accessories. Sold within a week with multiple bids for $16,000 over the ask. 


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