Real Estate Series: Staging Secrets and Practical Tips

Real estate consultant Tara Rodgers debunks staging myths and provides real-life examples of why it’s worth it.

When it comes to staging, real estate consultant Tara Rodgers of Living West and Compass in Santa Monica is a firm believer that it’s worth both the time and the investment. “Generally speaking, the furnishings in our homes are a true reflection of our own personal taste and experiences, so the design approach may not always appeal to a broad audience,” explains Rodgers. “On top of that, we eat, sleep, play and entertain in our house on repeat every day. As a result, our furniture can start to look and feel worn over time. This is where we really lean on staging to give the house a refresh.”

Above: Rodgers inside a recent listing in Venice | Photo by Clout Real Estate Marketing


In Mar Vista, Rodgers utilized a staging design specialist to help remove personal items and create a more efficient flow for a family of four. “The sellers are two hard-working professionals and parents of two children,” says Rodgers. “Cleaning up after family every day to show your home can be a difficult task and very stressful. The property oozed charm, and was in a popular neighborhood in high demand. Our task was to remove ‘all things personal’ inside and out to create a more open fluid space.”

Along with the help of the staging team, they took two weeks to prep, paint, and decorate the property. “The end result was magical,” says Rodgers. “The owners were flooded with offers and we ultimately sold the property 15-percent above the list price.”

| Photo by Clout Real Estate Marketing

A crisp and fresh living room staged to sell | Photo by Clout Real Estate Marketing

A sparkling living room in Mar Vista offers a clear and concise vision for the buyer | Photo by Clout Real Estate Marketing

In Santa Monica, an unstaged condominium remained on the market for more than 80 days. “A client came to us early in the year frustrated by the lack of activity she previously received on her condo listing,” says Rodgers. “The property had sat on the market with little activity in a very active market. When we looked at how it was marketed and presented, we knew right away that with a staging refresh, some light updates, and new marketing we would be able to attract more attention to the property.”

Above: The dining room after staging | Photo by Pierre Galant••|••A dark Santa Monica condo before staging••


Light walls, fresh artwork, and a clean palette attracts buyers post-staging | Photo by Pierre Galant

The light and bright updated living room | Photo by Pierre Galant

But, there are rare exceptions, of course. “Sometimes we are really fortunate to work on special properties that are perfectly designed for its audience,” explains Rodgers. “Each room is curated by a designer, architect, or a client with fabulous taste. This beautiful Venice home designed by the famed architect, Steven Shortridge, is an example of a listing that we have at the moment that was impeccably designed. It is just perfect the way it is.”

Above: Photo by Clout Real Estate Marketing


“The dining room is my favorite space in the house,” says Rodgers of the Venice home. “The David Weeks Torroja Mobile is stunning, and the Eero Saarinen dining table is a dream. The property feels fresh and ready to inspire.”

Above: Photo by Clout Real Estate Marketing


To get the home market-ready, Rodgers offers her insight, resources, and tips on thinking big-picture, and why staging is a must.

Create An Inspiring Backdrop

“You want a buyer to be inspired as they walk through each room of your home and to focus on its potential, not its limitations,” says Rodgers. “You want them to be able to envision themselves living in the space and the right design approach can help them get there.”

Above: A Spanish-style home in Mar Vista gets a refresh with staging••|••Photo by Clout Real Estate Marketing


Devote Time to Research

“There are so many amazing stagers in Los Angeles both small and large,” explains Rodgers. “A few of my absolute favorites include Pride of Place Design; Marshall Design Group; Platform Experiment; and Meredith Baer Staging. Who we use for a project really depends on the style of the house and the client’s budget. It is also crucial to turn to your agent for guidance on the best designer. We have worked with a variety of designers at various firms. The specific designer you work with will make or break the experience.”

Plan Ahead

“In this crazy market, stagers are quite busy,” says Rodgers. “Ideally, you will want to book your stager two or three weeks prior to your desired launch date to ensure they are available. Every so often, we are lucky enough to book a designer with as little as one-week notice, but I would not rely on that. The actual staging installation can happen in 1-2 days.”

Maintain Perspective

“The cost to stage really varies depending on the firm you work with and the size of a property,” explains Rodgers. “For example, a 1,600 square-foot, two-bedroom townhouse on the Westside that we are currently preparing to stage in January, will cost anywhere from $6,500-$8,500 for a two to three-month term. We are also preparing to stage a gorgeous 5-bedroom 5,500-square foot home in Santa Monica. The cost will range anywhere between $20,000-$25,000 for a two to three-month term.”

Ditch the Skepticism

“Although your home may be absolutely adorable, your furnishings may not appeal to the taste and style of a broad audience of buyers,” explains Rodgers. “When we work with sellers, we always begin our marketing conversations with an overview of who our target audience is and what they will be looking for at a specific value. That way, when we approach the concept of staging, the seller already has a sense of who is going to be walking through their door and how staging can impact visibility and demand.”

Focus On The End Goal

“According to the Association of Staging Professionals (ASP), staged properties are currently selling roughly 15-percent more, on average, than homes that are not staged,” says Rodgers. “I firmly believe that if you have priced your home properly [this is key] and stage it beautifully, you will get every penny back and more. We know that staging is an investment and that can be overwhelming as you prepare to list your home. Thankfully, we are able to partner with Compass Concierge to help cover the upfront costs associated with staging and listing preparation. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

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