Home Staging: Is Virtual or Traditional Right for You?
As virtual reality and 3D imaging tech continue to encroach upon the real estate industry, many agents and consumers are asking the same question: what is virtual staging and how can I use it to my advantage?
We already know that traditional staging enables buyers to better visualize themselves actually living in the home they are touring. 77% of buyers’ agents agree that it gives a buyer the opportunity to see the home for what it could be and to see its potential as a unique living space. Virtual staging aims to supplant the traditional staging process for homes where real furniture and decor may not be viable.
In order to know which choice is best for you, you have to understand the key differences between traditional and virtual staging.
What is Virtual Staging?
Similar to traditional staging, virtual staging involves decorating a property to showcase its best features and qualities. Ideally, this attracts and motivates buyers by allowing them to visualize what the home might look like should they choose to move in.
“I have always explained to my sellers that buyers will imprint on the first photos they see of a home and will develop their first positive feelings and attraction to a property at that time” describes Jen Williams, Redfin Market Manager in California.
But as the name implies, virtual staging is done with a computer. There’s exactly zero real furniture, area rugs, potted plants or other décor involved. Professional virtual stagers digitally insert decorative elements in high- resolution photos to show the full potential of an unfinished or empty room.
Is Virtual Staging for Me?
It is important to note that virtual staging won’t work for all homes. There are many cases in which traditional staging is the superior choice. However, virtual staging can be a lifesaver if used in the right situation. These include:
● Vacant homes ● Homes with outdated furniture ● Properties with tenants in them, or similar incidences where the homeowner possesses little control over space’s appearance
If you still occupy your home and you can stage it to make it as appealing as possible to potential buyers, whole-house virtual staging isn’t for you. (You can still virtually stage some rooms if you and your agent think it’s appropriate, though.)
What Are the Key Differences?
Virtual staging is usually a lot cheaper than traditional staging is. Here’s a quick glimpse at what you’re looking at:
● Virtual staging costs somewhere between $39 and $199 per room, depending on the contractor you use, your location and the amount of space you need staged.
● Traditional staging can cost several hundred dollars per month, depending on the stager you use, how much furniture you need to rent, your location and the number of rooms you need staged.
Price isn’t the only sticking point, though. Each method has its own pros and cons that you’ll have to consider, particularly if you’re trying to sellan empty house.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Virtual Staging
As you can see, virtual staging can help sell a home faster and for more money – but only if it’s done right. In order to make sure you reap all of the benefits virtual staging has to offer, you’ll need to hire a professional photographer with experience in virtual staging, or a reputable company with a proven track record and a top-notch portfolio of completed work.
To ensure you make the decision that’s right for you, here’s a quick rundown of virtual staging’s pros and cons:
Pros of Virtual Staging
● Can help you showcase an empty home’s best features ● Is cost-effective when compared to traditional staging ● Attracts prospective buyers’ attention online ● Offers you the opportunity to stage any number of rooms ● Allows you to stage flex rooms in multiple ways Cons of Virtual Staging ● Becomes more expensive when you need to remove furniture or items from photos ● Can be difficult to use when the house is occupied, unless you have previous listing photos
● Furniture and décor only exist in the virtual space – buyers will never see it in person
Pros and Cons of Traditional Staging
The tried and true practice of traditional staging has been used by agents for decades and doesn’t always require a professional stager. However, it does require an eye for detail and the ability to create a space that appeals to the widest possible range of buyers.
To determine whether or not it’s the best way to sell your house, here’s a brief list of traditional staging’s pros and cons:
Pros of Traditional Staging
● Gives buyers real-life perspective when they tour the home ● Prevents buyers from having to tour a completely empty, vacant home ● Appeals to buyers’ sense of imagination ● Makes spaces appear larger and enables prospective buyers to gauge size ● Helps your home stand out in buyers’ memories after they leave
Cons of Traditional Staging
● Can be expensive, and you’ll keep incurring costs until the home sells ● Requires stagers to bring in furnishings, décor and other items ● May be unnecessary, depending on how quickly homes are selling in your market
Common Virtual Staging Missteps
The biggest mistake a seller can make is hiring a virtual staging company that’s not good enough. Virtually staged photos should be exceptionally realistic – so real, in fact, that buyers won’t know they’re computer-generated unless someone tells them. As you can see in the image below, the lighting and shadows don’t appear to be quite right and the chairs on the right side seem to be floating.
Other mistakes many people make with virtual staging is:
• Only providing the picture of the room after it has been furnished. Because buyers may be expecting the same pictures as the listing, be sure to provide both the staged image and unstaged image. • Overdoing furniture and decorative elements. Just because virtual staging provides limitless opportunities doesn’t mean the room should be packed to the brim with every chair, plant, and couch that was available. It’s important to use pictures that actually make the room look better than it did. • Using virtual staging when it’s unnecessary. Replacing furnishings and decorative elements in photos when they’re perfectly fine to begin with can be a significant waste of time (and money).
Will Virtual Staging Help Sell My Home?
Virtual staging can be a tremendous asset when you’re selling a vacant home or one that has wild-card tenants or outdated décor. It allows prospective buyers to view the right vision of the home – not an empty, cavernous space, but one that’s comfortable and easy to live in.
Have you used virtual staging to sell a home? We’d love to hear your story and how it worked out for you, so please share your thoughts in the comments below.