Interview with Jewell Staley

HeadshotHow long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to become a Real Estate and Home Staging expert?

Prior to real estate, I worked at Goldman Sachs, and I earned my M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania.

To help you understand how I got to where I am, I think it would be helpful to share my defining moment and compelling story.

My defining moment came in 2008.  Three years earlier I had started investing in residential real estate to both hold and flip (fix and sell quickly) and had been using home staging as my own secret weapon for selling my properties faster than other houses on the market.  As an aside, I was doing all of this mainly on the weekends, while working full-time on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs.

In 2008, I had just finished staging one of my properties, and one of my contractors asked me who was doing all of the staging on the properties I was selling.  He said that a friend of his was looking to get into the flipping business and would need to stage his properties.

When I told him that I was doing all of the staging, he was surprised to learn that I hadn’t hired a company and had staged the property with my own design skills.   Shortly after, I got another inquiry from some other local investors that I had a good relationship with, and I told them the same thing, that I was designing all of the staging on my properties.

Shortly after, because of my relationship with one of the largest investors in my investing area, I had the opportunity to be featured on A&E TV’s “Flip This House”.  Being on the show was  a lot of fun and opened up a whole new world for me.

It didn’t take me long to realize that there was a need for home staging and other related services among other people trying to find a way to sell their properties faster and for more money.  I started working with top producing real estate agents who wanted to offer my services in their marketing package, and homeowners who wanted to outshine the local competition.

Since then, I’ve staged everything from the $6 million Soho penthouse to the $400K studio apartment on the Upper West Side, and everything in between.  I’ve worked with many clients who have seen great results from working with me.  Some have even sold their properties in as little as one day, even in a declining real estate market.  Read some of their Success Stories.


What kinds of clients do you work with exactly?

  •   Owners of Estate Properties (especially those requiring updates for a faster sale)
  •   Vacant Property Owners
  •   Occupied Property Owners
  •   International/Out-of-State Homeowner
  •   Management companies of high-end luxury properties
  •   Builders and Developers of Luxury Properties


How are you different from other “home stagers”?

roiBecause of my experience buying, fixing, and selling properties for my own portfolio, I take a much more comprehensive view of a property than most home stagers.  Most home stagers will just focus on the furnishings and accessories.  I create a customized plan that will best speak to the target buyer from every facet – structural, finishes, as well as aesthetics.  In addition, I pride myself on helping my clients with everything they need to get their property ready for sale, which often includes small renovations and updates, organizing the donation of excess personal items, and selling high end collectibles or other unwanted items.  Unlike, other home stagers, I handle all paperwork and offer a complete turn-key service. 

Prior to real estate, I worked at Goldman Sachs, and I earned my M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania.  Because of this background, I always focus on getting my clients the maximum return for their investment, while providing the kind of high level service that discerning clients expect.  It’s not just about making a space “pretty”.

What type of personality do you work best with and what is expected of me? 

Grande Properties home staging services is designed for property owners who are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that their property will stand out from the competition and get offers.  You will be responsible for making sure that all necessary repairs, updates and cleaning have been completed BEFORE staging (unless you are using our Project Management option).  Besides that, all that is expected of you is that you let me use my expertise to help you and trust that I will provide the best plan for your property.


For what type of person will Grande Properties home staging services NOT work?

You should know that I am very selective in deciding who I want to work with and I cherry pick my clients, choosing to gently and respectfully turn away people who I don’t think my services are well suited for.

Grande Properties home staging services are NOT for those who are in financial desperation and would be put into financial hardship by the investment in home staging.  It’s been my experience that when someone is in a financial crisis they will not trust the recommendations I give them and will not implement the changes necessary to best position their property for sale.

If you fall into this category, you are not alone, as everyone has faced a financial crisis at some point in their life.

The other type of person I will not work with (no exceptions) is the person who is married to their personal taste and wants to control every aspect of the staging design.  I gently and respectfully ask that you not call and I hope you understand why.  We likely wouldn’t work well together and I wouldn’t want you to waste your time or money.  Is that fair?

What exactly is the Model Home Creation SystemTM and what does it include?

Getting your house ready for a faster, more profitable sale, starts with a look at who your target buyer is likely to be and how you can increase the likelihood that they will take your product off the shelf (buy your property).  Here’s what the System will do:

1.  Identify your target buyer

We will examine who is the likely buyer for your type of property and in your neighborhood.  Knowing as many factors about the buyer ahead of time will be important to creating the most effective design plan.

2.  Establish what price point you would like to sell for

Working with your real estate agent, you will have determined a price that you want to sell the property for.  We will work together to make sure that all of the sourced items, speak to the price point you want to sell for.  For example, if you want to sell a property for $2 million, then you wouldn’t select the same items you would put in a $200K starter home.

success3.  Create the ideal design plan

Factoring in who the target buyer likely is, and what you’d ideally like to sell your property for, I will craft the ideal design plan to pull the buyers in.  Detailed measurements, notes, and photographs from the initial meeting will be used to create the design plan.

4.  Source the items for the design plan

Here is where we identify all of the resources for the design plan.  Using a combination of rentals from hand-picked vendors that I’ve worked with and Grande Properties own inventory, we put together a comprehensive solution for everything needed to set the stage for the buyer.

5.  Implement the design plan

For most clients, and for me, this is one of the most exciting parts about staging a property.  This is where you get to see the property transform into a model home that buyers just fall in love with.

6.  Market the property

This is the stage at which your real estate agent will take pictures and start marketing the property to potential buyers.  As you might know, most buyers will start their search on the internet, so it’s important to make sure that the house shows well for the pictures that will go online.

7.  Sell or Rent the property

When we’ve completed all staging for your property, it will show beautifully and make your prospective buyer fall in love.  A great sales price coupled with a model home feel that pulls the buyer in equals a successful offer to buy.  If you’re planning to rent, your rental is sure to stand out from the competition (most landlords market empty rentals) and impress your prospect into becoming a paying tenant.

These are the steps of the Model Home Creation SystemTM that I’ve created after not only successfully using staging to sell my own properties, but also after years of working with other sellers to help them sell more quickly.


Does this really work?

Yes!  The result of what we do is an approach to staging a house that consistently wows prospective home buyers and has often brought in offers before the buyer ever leaves the open house.  (See Client Testimonials)


How much will this cost me?

The investment in home staging varies from property to property.  I typically advise clients to budget between 1% – 2% of the listing price or value for staging.  The higher the price point of the property, typically the closer the investment will be to the lower end of the range.  For example, a $10 million property, will likely be well under 1%, depending on square footage, whether it’s vacant, etc.

The guideline factors in the design plan, sourcing items for the property, staging time, any rentals, and removing the staging post sale of the property.  It’s also important to understand that outside of square footage, the variation in the investment is largely a result of the price and quality of the furniture, accessories, and other furnishings needed to appeal to the target buyer.  Imagine that the items selected to stage a $10 million property, that must appeal to an affluent buyer, will be very different than the items selected for a $500K property.

How quickly can I expect results?

How quickly your house sells depends on a number of factors.  I can tell you that with all else being equal (fair price, good location, marketing, etc.); most homeowners see results within the first couple of weeks on the market.

Thriving in Real Estate
Will I recover the investment I put into home staging?

Absolutely, yes!  Many homeowners recover their investment in just a couple of weeks, when they receive a great offer, and have saved themselves months of carrying costs and inevitable price reductions when the house sits with no activity.  Ask yourself, “How much would it be worth to me to sell my property in a couple of weeks or even days?”  Studies show that most sellers will see an average 10% increase in their home value, more than recovering their investment.  The investment in preparing a home for sale is typically significantly less than the first price reduction after a house has been sitting for too long with no offers.

Also, the investment in home staging may be a tax-deductible selling expense, but you should check with your accountant or financial adviser about your individual tax situation.


Jewell, based on everything I’ve read and heard about you, I know you’re the one I want to work with.  What are my options for getting started with you?

Congratulations on making a decision to do everything you can to maximize your return on sale!  I’d be happy to work with you!

To get started with staging your property for a faster, more profitable sale, here are the different packages I’ve created for you based on how quickly you want to see results, how much time you have, and your budget level:

1.  In-Person Staging Consultation

This package includes an in-person meeting at your property to provide you with detailed staging recommendations (exterior and interior) based on the demographics of the target buyer.  This is by far one of my most popular options, because it gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get an inside look into how the staging plan comes together.  If you plan to do the work yourself or would just like to have a game plan, this is a great option for you.

2.  Basic Home Staging  – Includes initial site visit, sourcing all items, staging time, rentals and after-sale removal of all items (additional fees apply for rentals)

If you know that you don’t have the time to do all the planning, sourcing, and staging for your property, than this is the perfect package for you.  Before staging, we will visit your property to take detailed measurements and photos to create a customized design and layout plan that will be best suited to the property.

3.  V.I.P. Home Staging and Project Management – Includes residential project management, sourcing all items, staging time, rentals and after-sale removal of all items (additional fees apply for rentals).   

This is the complete turn-key solution for the busy owner who knows they need more than staging alone, but does not have time to manage contractors, sourcing, staging, or maintenance.  If you live out of town, this is the perfect solution for you.  Before updates and staging, we will visit your property to take detailed notes, measurements and photos to create a customized plan that will get your property ready within an optimal time and budget.


Okay, I know which package I want.  How do we get started?

calling Grande Properties

Great!  Did you know that one of the most common characteristics of successful people is that they take action?  They take decisive action and move forward.

Here is what you do:  If you’re in the New York Tri-State area call my office at (646) 863-7173 to get acquainted and discuss your particular situation.  You can also email any additional questions you may have to  I look forward to meeting you in person or on the phone to get you on your way to selling your property more quickly!