We’ve all seen those HGTV shows where a buyer just can’t get past the color of the room no matter how many times the agent says it’s easy to repaint. First impressions are key, and selling a home is all about enabling potential homebuyers to envision themselves living in it.
Home staging is the art that allows buyers to see the space as livable. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 77 percent of buyer’s agents believe that home staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize themselves living there.
But sometimes traditional staging isn’t feasible for many reasons. Luckily there are tech alternatives that can save you the backache of moving a bunch of furniture around while allowing buyers to see a staged home. It’s called virtual staging.
Virtual staging programs allow you to arrange computer-generated furnishings and props in the right places so that your bare-bones listing goes from weak to chic. Let's look at how virtual staging can help sell your home or listing.
How Virtual Staging Works
You begin by uploading a photo of the (ideally empty) space to a virtual staging platform (we’ll talk more about platforms in a bit). Then you can place computer-generated furniture and accessories from the platform’s catalog around the space to make it feel like home.
You can easily switch out pieces with the tap of a finger. Here’s a video that shows the process.
When to Use Virtual Staging
Staged homes get offers that are 1 percent to 5 percent higher, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, if your listing falls into one of the following categories, virtual staging is may be a good option for you:
- Traditional stagers aren’t accessible in the home’s area.
- The property is vacant.
- Money is tight, and there's no room in the budget for staging.
- The property has become stagnant after sitting on the market for months.
How to Choose a Good Virtual Staging Company
There are a lot of companies in the virtual staging space, so you have plenty of options in finding the one that’s right for you. Here are the questions to ask yourself:
- What digital furnishings does the company offer?
- How long is the turnaround time?
- How realistic do the images look?
- Does the company have an on-staff interior designer to consult on projects?
- How much does the company charge per edited photo? What are the pricing tiers?
A Few Virtual Staging Options
- Box Brownie offers a variety of photo editing services including furniture addition, photo retouching and item removal. The company is well-known for its day-to-dusk edited shots that replace a daytime sky with pretty sunset colors or an inviting twilight backdrop for just $4 a photo.
- VHT Studios is a major real estate photography and marketing services firm that launched a virtual staging suite in 2016. The company will virtually stage, paint, redecorate, or declutter your photos at different price tiers.
- Spotless Agency takes your high-resolution property photos and virtually stages them according to your preferred style. To get a feel for your desired design, they ask you to send in two or three interior home shots via Google or Pinterest that you like for inspiration. Then they’ll turn around your staged photos in as soon as one to four days, depending on which pricing tier you select.
- PadStyler charges $59 per photo, guarantees a two-day turnaround and doesn’t charge extra for revisions. The company goes so far as to offer “virtual curb appeal” by adding digital trees and shrubbery to your exterior photos or making the lawn a bright shade of green.
- Virtually Staging Properties charges $85 for one photo and promises best-in-class realistic photos with a focus on virtually staging vacant homes to help them sell faster.
As we move into a buyer’s market, be sure not to mislead buyers with your virtual staging. The best practice is to be upfront and disclose when posting virtually staged photos on the MLS or any other marketing materials. It would be terrible to have buyers show up to look at the beautifully staged home only to find it vacant in real life.