Virtual staging has gained traction among real estate agents around the county. As software gets better realistic virtual staging can turn an empty or outdated home into a fully furnished model ready for prime time.
Judy Dutton, deputy editor at realtor.com confirms that virtual staging is a fast-growing trend. “It’s much cheaper than staging a home traditionally. Agents tend to use it on vacant homes. It can be a lifesaver because it gives a sense of scale and what it would be like to live there. With virtual staging you can spend $100 a room, which varies on how many photos the agents use,” Dutton notes.
Real estate professionals love the ease of virtual staging and the options offered. The agents I spoke with use companies like BoxBrownie.com that works directly with them. There are also do-it-yourself software packages available kind of like video games.
Jack Luciano and Raul Siqueiros, partners at The Agency’s Scottsdale office started using virtual staging about seven months ago to help sell several of their luxury condominium listings. “We had two listings that were vacant and decided to try virtual staging. We looked at several companies and found one we liked,” Luciano recalls.
Luciano and Siqueiros sent photos of the rooms they wanted to be staged to the company they chose. “The virtual staging company sent back (turnaround time can be as little as 48 hours) high and low-res photos including furniture, artwork, accessories, and flooring in various rooms. ”We called them back and told them what we liked and what we wanted to be changed,” Luciano explains. You can select the textures and colors you prefer. Virtual Staging can also be used to change the purpose of a room or add or remove built-ins.
The challenge Luciano and Siqueiros had with this listing was illustrating how people can comfortably live in a 5,500 square foot space. “Our goal with virtual staging was to give buyers the idea of how they can live there.” The unit sold for $3.3 million. All furniture used in the photos is true to scale which helps buyers visualize a room. “It really works perfectly in a vacant condo,” Luciano confirms. “With an empty unit, most people have a hard time seeing it with furniture and a design style. It’s unbelievable how real the photos look. The cost ran between $75 to $100 a room,” Luciano said. Compare that number which the sellers must pay to $2,000 to $3,000 a month for real-time staging with furniture and furnishings. Most staging companies require a three-month minimum.
Many agents and brokers disclose in the listing information that the rooms in the photos are staged. “Virtual staging brings buyers in who might not have come to look at the property if all they saw in the listing photos were empty rooms,” Luciano said. In one photo, Luciano had the virtual staging company exchange a plant on a table for a vase of hydrangeas.
In the Miami area, Ron Shuffield, president Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty with three decades in the business is all for virtual staging. “It really does show potential buyers how updated decorating styles & colors can easily transform the ambiance of a home. Of course, the contrast is even more dramatic when going from an empty room to a fully designed and furnished photo.”
In some New York co-ops and condos, virtual staging makes perfect sense. Listen to Rachel Ostow Lustbader, associate real estate broker at Warburg Realty. “Much of the time, I use virtual staging for co-ops that have been owned by sponsors from the original conversion. When the renters move out the sponsor renovates from top to bottom and the units are totally empty after they are finished. Spending thousands on staging with furniture isn’t cost-effective. That’s when virtual staging really makes sense.” Consider in New York apartments you often find smaller combination dining/living rooms. Virtual staging helps show where the furniture can be placed and how that one space can function. “Psychologically and emotionally, you want to see an apartment come to life and not a bare room,” Ostow Lustbader observes.
In, The Agency’s Beverly Hills office agent Michelle Schwartz had a listing last year where virtual staging was highly effective. “It was a challenging home because of the layout yet we needed to maximize the home’s sale price. A massive formal living room was the perfect canvas for Schwartz to use virtual staging. ”With the staging tools, we divided it into two rooms and made them light and bright. We would never have been able to showcase the usability of that area and have buyers envision themselves in the house,” Schwartz confides. She went one step further and printed out the virtually staged photos handing them out during open houses and showings. It cost her $150 a room with two different options for each room. The result—-Schwartz was able to get the price the sellers wanted and quickly.
The next time you peruse online real estate listings, look closely your dream home may be virtually staged.