Apartments start to look all the same once you've looked at a few. If you're selling, says Scott Dunn, of City Sales, you really need to make your apartment look like a home.

"You need to make it into a home, not a functional space," Dunn says. "Otherwise you get this box which is purely functional."

Staging it with just the right furniture and furnishings can make open home viewers stay longer, ask more questions and be receptive to follow-up calls from the agent says Dunn.

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Vendors do one of two things when it comes to staging apartments, says Katie Tomasi Edwards, at MJT Property Styling. They either get the apartment staged, or buy a furniture package to kit it out from scratch.

Staging costs from $1750 upwards for a one-bedroom apartment. The cost depends on a range of factors, such as how easy it is to get the furniture up the lifts and into the apartments.

Furniture packages where the vendor buys an apartment-lot of furniture and sells it with the home is becoming more common, says Tomasi Edwards.

Many buyers like this. They may be business people moving in or a landlord looking for a certain level of furnishings to attract tenants. Either way they are often swayed by the package, she says.

The benefit of having a beautifully staged apartment is that it will appeal to an investment buyer or owner occupier. They pay more than traders who are looking for a quick flick by doing a basic makeover or simply staging the apartment.

When Dunn looks online he sees a lot of cookie cutter apartments. Whether it's a $300,000 leasehold apartment or the $1.3m Freemans Bay apartment he just sold he recommends using a stager to make the most of the apartment.

"I have seen everything (in the Auckland apartment market) from low end to high end. Either way you are selling a home to someone."

Sometimes simply updating light fittings can really transform an apartment. All too often buyers complain that an apartment that is not facing due north is dark.

"Light fittings can counter that," says Dunn. "Newer light fittings can flood an apartment with light without making it harsh."

He has seen this done recently in The Statesman Apartments, where the original light fittings have started to look dated.

Too many apartments have exactly the same generic artwork on the walls, he says. A statement piece can really make that apartment stand out. "Something that really grabs people's eyes," he says.

That's the case whether you're selling an investment or an apartment you have lived in.

Tomasi Edwards and her parents, who are also her business partners, live in an apartment themselves, so understand the market. She says the advantage of using stagers in an apartment is that buyers walk in and can imagine living there.

That is all the more important in the apartment market where buyers don't necessarily own their own furniture yet. They can imagine having friends around and living the dream, not wonder where their sofa might go.