Have you ever wondered how to stage a property without setting foot inside the space? Find out about virtual staging and how it can benefit you as an agent.
Virtual Staging is a major technological advancement in the world of real estate. Agents and agencies can utilize this technique to quickly and affordably stage a property—all without renting a single piece of furniture or stepping foot inside a home.
But what exactly is virtual staging, and how is it done?
What is Virtual Staging?
This convenient and affordable staging option occurs when real estate agents or professional stagers take photographs of rooms and use special software to transform them into tastefully staged spaces.
Kitchens and offices that were once cluttered messes are instantly refreshed into clean and organized spaces. New construction living rooms that start out sparse become gorgeously decorated retreats. With 3D furnishings and the careful use of light sources and shadowing, virtual staging affords homebuyers a unique glimpse at what it might be like to live in the home.
All in all, virtual staging helps agents and homeowners sell properties without the stress and cost of traditional staging.
How Virtual Staging is Done
To stage a property virtually, stagers require:
• Quality photographs of the room or rooms in question
• Reference images of design styles the homeowner or agent is interested in
• An eye for scale, lighting, and shadows
• Virtual staging software
First and foremost, stagers need quality photographs (preferably professional photographs) of the house, apartment, or building in need of digital TLC. Frequently, stagers hire or have professional photographers on staff to capture images from certain angles.
While it would be enjoyable to style a room any way the stager chooses, the style is determined by the homeowner or agent. Often, virtual staging is most successful when rooms feature carefully placed furnishings, tasteful décor, bright lighting, and a pleasing layout.
Scale, Lighting, and Shadows
Since the goal for virtual staging is to be as lifelike as possible, stagers must have a knack for true-to-life scale, natural light sources, and correctly placed shadows. Some stagers have degrees or certifications in architecture, interior design, and photo-editing software.
Stagers use a variety of professional photo-editing software, including Photoshop and InDesign. Some stagers use professional virtual staging software that comes with photorealistic furnishings—some of which homebuyers can actually purchase.
Because virtual staging is more complicated and time-consuming than meets the eye, agents and homeowners would benefit by hiring a virtual staging company to stage their property for them. These companies work directly with agents and homeowners to determine the desired design style. Many provide a catalog of furniture and décor so clients can even choose furnishings.
Virtual Staging and Ethics
Successful stagers are careful to maintain ethical boundaries when creating beautiful and marketable spaces. Because the possibilities are endless, it is easy to go above and beyond— and cross into false advertising—when virtually decorating a space.
For example, let’s say that an apartment living room looks out over a slushy and gray parking lot. It is tempting to replace that view with one that is sunny and lush. If a home has views of an unsightly water tower or utility pole, it is easy to wave a magic wand and digitally remove the eyesore. But what happens when an interested homebuyer walks in and discovers that the view they fell in love with doesn’t even exist?
That being said, there are a variety of embellishments that would be considered acceptable. If a home has a gorgeous working fireplace, it is a fine idea to light a cozy virtual fire. Adding bubbly aqua waters to a soaker tub or greening up a winter lawn is also permissible.
However, to avoid any potential issues, agents would be wise to let homebuyers know that the property won’t look exactly the same during the tour. Notify viewers that the staged images are a helpful, virtual tool that allows them to imagine how the home could look. Also, the images are a great way to glean inspiration for how to furnish each room.
How Virtual Staging Can Benefit Real Estate Agents
There are many ways in which virtual staging can benefit real estate agents. Such advantages include:
Greater First Impressions
Virtual staging improves homebuyers’ first impression of a property, increases the chances of an in-person viewing, and heightens the potential for a sale, leading to improved sales overall.
Traditional staging can be a costly, stressful, and complicated process that involves many moving pieces, heavy lifting, and maintenance as the current homeowner must keep the staged space immaculately cleaned and manicured. Virtual staging can cost significantly less—only about one hundred dollars per room.
Buy More Time
Being tasked with selling a dirty, cluttered, poorly decorated, or empty home is not an easy feat. Agents may need to hire cleaning services and professional organizers before the stagers can enter the scene. With virtual staging, agents buy the homeowners a bit more time to clean up and move out.
A quality photograph, editing skills, and a catalog of 3D furnishings bring endless options for preparing a home for sale. Agents or virtual stagers can “stage” a home in various décor styles, from modern to traditional to bohemian, in a snap.
A Glimpse into the Future
Virtual staging allows homebuyers to envision how lovely it could be to live in the home. The process allows potential buyers to visualize the potential of a space and imagine their lives taking place inside the house. In a way, this software provides a glimpse into a potential future that can entice buyers.
In addition to allowing homebuyers to envision themselves in a space, virtual staging can eliminate items that could turn certain buyers off. These items could include genuine fur coats and leather boots in a closet or a house cluttered with children’s toys.
Just as virtual stagers can eliminate distasteful items, they can also hide personal items that could be a privacy concern. Personal photographs, college degrees, professional certifications, and even valuables such as family heirlooms can be covered up through virtual staging to create a clean slate for potential buyers.
All in all, virtual staging is an excellent way for real estate agents to highlight a home’s maximum potential and show homeowners what it could be like to live in one of their listings.
Pro tip: while virtual staging is beneficial on its own, there is nothing like physically walking into a professionally staged property. Agents would benefit doubly by supplementing traditional staging with virtual staging.