What is Virtual Staging and How do You Virtually Stage a Room?
Staging a home has been one of the most critical steps in the home selling process for twenty years. Real estate professionals say that staged homes get higher offers and faster sales.
It can be an especially invaluable tool for empty, high-dollar, and difficult-to-sell homes.
Knowing the advantages of staging, what's an agent to do when staging companies don't want to enter people's homes due to a global pandemic? Or when a seller can't stage their home due to budget or practical restrictions?
Technological advancements have made virtual staging a contender – not only in these extreme circumstances, but as a general home-selling trend.
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What is Virtual Staging?
Live, in-person home staging is the process of preparing a property to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Services can include upping the curb appeal, depersonalizing the decor, and changing or repurposing spaces to engage a larger audience, as well as the less glamorous steps of cleaning, making repairs, and decluttering.
Virtual staging performs the same services, but instead of changing the actual house, you change high-resolution images – mostly 2D, but sometimes 3D.
The rising importance of online listings in the home selling process has been a driving force behind this trend, but the advantages of virtual staging over live staging are the reason it may be here to stay.
What Are the Advantages of Virtual Home Staging?
Digital Staging is COVID-19 Friendly
Regardless of future popularity, digital real estate staging is definitely a tool made for our time.
As numbers climb again and states or municipalities tighten social distancing restrictions, virtual staging removes a lot of the uncertainty from getting a house ready for market. The reduced contact protects both home sellers and real estate professionals.
And at a time when only motivated buyers are visiting properties in person, the perfect in-person staging matters less. Online presentation is the key to engaging prospects.
Virtual Furniture Staging Provides More Options
Live home stagers have practical limitations regarding furniture and décor, like the expense of purchasing and storage or some inventory already being in use.
Virtual staging designers don't have this problem. They can have a huge library of digital assets so variety and availability are never an issue. It's easier to customize things like color scheme or design style, and they can include smaller décor items that aren't practical with real inventory.
It's Faster to Virtually Stage a Room
Turnaround for virtual staging can be same-day, in some cases. Even more extensive manipulations only take a few days.
By contrast, live staging is much slower. The stager has to assess the house, negotiate the estimate, check inventory, and schedule movers to deliver the rented items. Then you need another appointment for the photographer.
Live staging can take a week or even two. Those are weeks that the house can be on the market with virtual staging.
Virtually Staging a Room is Cheaper
Live staging involves the labor of an entire team, plus furniture rentals. Maybe even storage for the owner's real belongings. Staging an empty property is especially expensive because the entire house needs to be furnished.
With virtual staging, you're paying for the labor of software programmers and graphic designers, using assets that can be recycled over and over. Computer storage and processing power are much cheaper at volume than warehouses and moving trucks.
In terms of the price tag, it's no contest. Live staging costs are on the order of thousands. Digital staging typically costs hundreds for professional work, and less for DIY.
What Considerations and Concerns Come with Virtual Staging?
There are a few things you need to consider when you choose virtual home staging.
Look for Quality in Virtual Staging Companies
There are a few ways to approach virtual staging, but they're not all created equal.
You can hire professionals to digitally stage photos. The current technology can produce very realistic results with a skilled hand. Prices, turnaround times, and exact services vary by company.
A more economical option is virtual staging software or virtual staging apps that allow you to make changes yourself. Right now, the results of DIY virtual staging are hit and miss, but they're suitable for simple applications and will undoubtedly improve with time.
Either way, technical proficiency (yours or someone else's) should factor heavily into your choice – you want to avoid the uncanny valley effect of poorly manipulated photos. However, it's also important to think about design sense (a Photoshop license does not make someone an interior designer) and the ethical boundaries a company or tool enforces.
Use Digital Staging Ethically
Speaking of ethics, it's a potential pitfall of digital staging.
The whole point of virtually staging a home is to make the sale easier. But if buyers walk into a property and realize you've drastically misrepresented it, then you wasted everyone's time.
Be transparent about what is real and what isn't. Consider including untouched photos alongside the staged ones, especially for empty homes or those under renovation.
You should avoid making changes that are deceptive – for example, a drastic digital renovation with new kitchen appliances that don't exist.
You also want to make sure virtual furnishings are proportional to the space so you don't accidentally misrepresent the size of the room.
What Are the Best Virtual Staging Companies?
The field of virtual staging is still young, and there are dozens of contenders out there, especially in terms of professional services. Here are a few of the current standouts.
PadStyler, a Realistic Virtual Staging Service (including 3D)
PadStyler offers a well-rounded list of virtual staging services, including virtual landscaping, virtual renovation, 3D interactive staging, video walk-throughs, architectural rendering (for new construction), and rush services. They can also provide fully furnished 3D floor plans to help potential buyers visualize the whole space.
What makes PadStyler stand out? Their range of services paired with their commitment to quality. They use design collections hand-picked by professional interior designers, which are then staged for realism with an attention to light and shadow.
VRX Staging, a Fast & Affordable Virtual Staging Service
VRX Staging offers 2D virtual staging, along with photography services (in the U.S.) and special edits like virtual twilight, sky and grass enhancements, paint color, and custom requests. These touchups can be ordered with or without the virtual staging services.
What makes VRX Staging stand out? They have a reputation for being fast and affordable with great customer service. Their virtual twilight results are excellent, though their staging definitely looks virtual. Regardless, their fans say they provide excellent value for the price.
RoOomy, a Shoppable Virtual Staging Service/Virtual Staging App
RoOomy offers 3D virtual staging, including virtually staged Matterport tours.
What makes RoOomy stand out? For one thing, it's shoppable! All virtual décor comes from the very real catalogs of their retail partners, so buyers can purchase items if they like what they see.
It's also the best of both a virtual staging service and a virtual staging app. First, you consult with professionals who create expertly staged 3D renderings. Once the pros have done their jobs, agents can give prospective buyers the ability to customize the virtual staging further through roOomy's iOS interior design app.
VisualStager, a DIY Virtual Staging Software
VisualStager offers real estate agents the tools to virtually stage property themselves. It's a simple drag-and-drop interface that is best suited to empty (or nearly empty) properties, though there are also furniture removal options.
Since their virtual staging software is browser-based, you can access it anywhere regardless of platform or device.
What makes VisualStager stand out? Users say it's easy to learn and incredibly affordable. They also say the results are realistic, the furniture catalog is big, and the software is constantly improving.
Virtual staging is the next frontier in real estate, and it can help your listings sell faster, for more money. It's cheaper and faster than live staging, but it can also introduce ethical dilemmas and produce poor results. Those are important things to keep in mind as you add virtual staging to your toolbox.
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