Want your open house to hit the right notes? Consider renting a piano

By Donna M. Airoldi  | September 25, 2018 - 3:30PM

This Brooklyn Heights townhouse on Middagh Street, going for $11.5 million, is staged with a piano.

Leslie J. Garfield & Co. Inc.

With the proliferation of new high-end real estate developments hitting the market in the past few years, there’s also been an increase in the use of high-end furnishings being used to stage apartments, namely pianos.

One rental company Brick spoke to has seen demand for its pianos significantly increase in the past two years, and not just for luxury apartments, as brokers and sellers of more moderately priced apartments look for something unusual to make their open houses memorable (like this Great Dane).

“We weren’t really tracking staging versus home use until about a year ago, but right now we have more than 25 pianos rented just for staging all over the city. A year ago, it was maybe half or less,” says Sarah Binder Mehta, president of PianoPiano, one of New York’s top piano-renting companies. “In the past two years, it’s really picked up a lot, especially as more real estate developers and agents are interested in staging.”

Pianos in high-end developments are used to create a sense of sophistication, and they’re where more grand pianos are used—also not least because these units, often in the $5 million-plus range, have vast, open areas that require more furniture. But Mehta says she is seeing an increase in the use of uprights too, “to evoke the image of the family gathered around the piano when people come to look at apartments. We’re seeing that trend in prewar apartments and townhouses in Brooklyn.”

Dan Ennis, founder of staging company Homeage (which is rebranding to Domaine next week), agrees. “Part of the increase [in piano usage] is due to the high-end market becoming more and more competitive. Five years ago, people were buying properties on spec. Now the $5 million-plus market is slowing down, so there’s more demand for staging.”

But he’s also been placing them in older apartments. “Pianos work great in prewar apartments. It matches their classic style,” he says.

Pianos have been a huge selling point in proposals as they always “wow sellers,” Ennis says, adding that they definitely can help to sell an apartment. “It shows scale and gives the buyer an idea of how big the space is. And it conveys luxury, even if [the buyer] has no intention to have a piano in the space after they buy it. It just shows really well.”

You may find that renting a piano is not as expensive as you might expect. Of course it depends on the model and size of the piano you go with, but for staging purposes, PianoPiano starts with a three-month contract. For grand pianos, it’s about $200 per month; for uprights, it’s from $70-$100, Mehta says. If the apartment sells right away, you can return the piano and are not obligated to pay the full three-month term.

You also might think getting a piano into and out of your apartment would be difficult. Not so, says Mehta. “We use a moving company with over 40 years experience moving pianos in and out [of apartments]. For grand pianos, they remove the legs and turn it on its side, so it can fit in any standard elevator. They also can climb stairs in a walk up or townhouse with a stoop.”

When you’re finished with it, just give a couple days notice and they’ll come pick it up.

As for whether you want someone to play the piano during your open house, Mehta says they can arrange that, too, though most brokers and stagers just want the instrument for the look.

“It’s really a sign of sophistication and education, and that’s so important in Manhattan especially.”


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