Real Talk with Matt Epstein and Home Stager Kimberly Behling

To Stage or Not to Stage?

I recently had a lengthy conversation with stager Kimberly Behling from UpStage LA, a local home staging company.  We talked about the pros, cons and facts about staging a home for sale. 

Matt:  What does it cost to stage a house in Los Angeles?

While the price alway varies. Kimberly gave us some insight on the average cost of staging. “Generally, the cost is between 1% - 3% of the total listing price, which comes out to about $3/SqFt. In other words, a 3,000SqFt house can be staged for $9,000 for the initial 3 month term. Typically, these houses do not stay on the market for longer than 3 months, in fact, they almost never do. The quick selling time is the direct benefit of home staging.”

Matt:  What is involved in Staging?

“Each house is fitted with a custom design and layout, thus the custom budget. However, the services generally cover the same areas of expertise.”  Kimberly stresses “that a successful staging creates the room’s ‘complete’ look. That means coordinating everything from wall art to throw pillows. While each house has different needs, home stagers generally address the following categories:”

  • Major Furniture (couches, tables, chairs, etc)
  • Design & Layout (for each room)
  • Art, Mirrors, Pillows, etc
  • Area Rugs
  • Accessories (a book here, a flower there, etc)
  • Mirrors
  • All the Fluff (de-cluttering, the perfect accent, etc)
  • Setup, Installation and Removal

Matt:  What is Partial Staging?

“Partial staging is when home stagers work with your existing inventory. This process is atypical of the industry standard, but it does help those that have already invested in professional design services for their home. Typically, partial staging involves re-arranging, de-cluttering and re-organizing a room while bringing in a few pieces of furniture and art to tie the final look together. As a result, home sellers pay a lower fee with similar benefits to a complete staging. However, partial staging is usually recommended for those with existing design elements already within their house.”

Matt:  What do home buyers want from a stager?

After working as a real estate agent for several years, Kimberly realized that buyers want an emotional connection with a home. They want to see the big picture. Is this room a living room or a dining room? How does the room fit into the overall flow of the home? These are questions homebuyers are not consciously asking, but rather feeling from the moment they step foot into the house. These first emotional moments tend to be when most buyers make a decision, after all it is the first impression. 

Matt:  What is the Average Return on Investment

“The biggest hold up for home sellers considering staging their home is the cost. After all, $10,000+ can be a lot of cash to fork over for a house you are about to sell. However, looking closer reveals that home staging typically increases your return on investment. While the average time on the market varies with the seasons and various economical factors, staging a home has proven to sell homes considerable faster— and usually at a higher price (sometimes 10%+).” 

“Not to mention, selling your home faster reduces your overhead costs. You save on utilities, mortgage, cost of living, etc. Combine the reduced carrying cost with an increased selling price and home staging becomes one of the most valuable return on investments that home sellers can make when preparing their home for the market. “

Should You Stage in Today’s Real Estate Market?

If you can afford it, absolutely. Home staging can potentially lead to a quick sale, a bidding war or an increased home value. Always consult your realtor before making a decision, but typically a staged home makes for a happy home seller.

Not familiar with Home Staging? Be sure to read my previous article “To Stage or Not to Stage!”

Start the Staging Process Now!

Did you enjoy this episode of Real Talk? Let me know!

Any questions of comments please contact Matt Epstein from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices at or (818) 789-7408.  Matt Epstein is considered the expert for real estate sales in the South/East San Fernando Valley.