“Keep it neutral” used to be the mantra of home staging. Designers prepping a house or condo for sale would make it bland and boring, so the broadest possible range of buyers could picture themselves moving in.

But there’s a newer, better way, says Gary Sefferman of Nickian Home Staging in New York.

“When it’s up for sale, it’s no longer a home. It’s a product and it needs to be marketed as a product, which means zeroing in on who the customer is,” he explains.

So Sefferman will tour a property, case out the neighborhood, assess thecompanies, restaurants and shops nearby — and then use all that to determine the demographic and “psychographic” profile of the buyer most likely to be looking at that home. “Instead of casting a net to try and catch a fish that isn’t even swimming in those waters,” he says, “you crest a perfect lure to go after a specific fish.”

That might mean putting up a poster of Michael Douglas in “Wall Street” above the computer desk to lure a young professional working in finance, or casually placing a bag from Tiffany in the closet to appeal to the female half of a “DINK” couple — Dual Income, No Kids. “It’s an emotional trigger,” says Sefferman.

Of course, some sellers have their own vision of how their property should look — even if that look might not be the best way to stage.

“If we go into Grad Hospital or Northern Liberties and they want old-fashioned, traditional furniture in a loft space that young professionals will be looking at, we’re going to question why,” says Mark Miklosovich of Busybee, a home staging company in Philadelphia. “But in the end, we’ll give our best advice — and then do whatever the client wants.”

Simulated staging

Can’t afford to overhaul your entire home? Go virtual. Home stagers can create digital renderings that show what a staged room might look like. It’s especially useful for smaller spaces, where buyers need help visualizing what furniture can fit, says Miklosovich of Busybee. The company is adding the service to its list of offerings this month.