As more real estate agents and homeowners in the Baltimore area begin to use virtual staging, we have to ask: Is it really worth it, and does it compare to traditional staging?
The National Association of Realtors indicates that 77% of buyers' agents report that staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize themselves living in a home. As many as 38% of listing agents say they stage all of their clients' homes before putting it on the market. Virtual staging was developed to provide the same benefits of traditional staging, at less cost.
In order to decide whether you could use virtual staging, you need to know what it is and how it compares to traditional home staging.
What is Virtual Staging?
Like traditional staging, virtual staging consists of adding furniture and accessories to showcase the best features of a property in an attempt to make it more attractive to prospective buyers.
Jen Williams, Real Estate Market Manager at Redfin, says "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."
As the name implies, virtual staging is done with a computer. There is no real furniture, rugs, plants, or other decorative elements involved. Instead, virtual stagers digitally insert those elements into high-resolution photos to show the potential of empty rooms.
What Homes is Virtual Staging Best Suited For?
Virtual staging may not work for every home, but it can be a tremendous benefit if done properly in:
* Vacant homes
* Homes with outdated furniture
* Properties with tenants in them, in which the homeowner has little control over the appearance of the space
If the home is still occupied but you can stage it to make it as appealing as possible to potential buyers, virtual staging of the entire house may not be a viable option. However, you may wish to virtually stage a few rooms if you think it's appropriate.
Virtual Staging vs. Traditional Staging
Usually virtual staging is much cheaper than traditional staging, with costs of somewhere between $39 and $199 per room, depending on the contractor you use, your geographical area, and the number of rooms you need staged. On the other hand, traditional staging can cost a minimum of several hundred dollars per month, depending on the stager you use, the amount of furniture you need to rent, your location, and the number of rooms you need staged.
However, price shouldn't be the only factor to be considered. Both methods have their own pros and cons which need to be considered, especially if you're trying to sell an empty house.
Pros and Cons of Virtual Staging
Virtual staging can definitely help to sell a home faster and at a higher price, but only if it's done correctly. You still need to hire a professional photographer who knows how to take high quality photos for virtual staging, and you need to work with a reputable company with a great portfolio of completed projects.
Take a look at these lists of the pros and cons of virtual staging to help you make the right choice:
Pros of Virtual Staging
* Can help you showcase the best features of an empty home
* Costs less than traditional staging
* Attracts the attention of prospective buyers online
* Provides the opportunity to stage any number of rooms
* Allows you to stage rooms in multiple ways
Cons of Virtual Staging
* Has a higher cost is furniture or items need to be removed from photos prior to virtually staging them
* Can be difficult if the home is occupied, unless you have previous listing photos
* Furniture and accessories only exist virtually - buyers will never see them in person
Pros and Cons of Traditional Staging
Traditional staging, used by successful real estate agents for decades, doesn't always require a professional stager. However, it does require an eye for detail as well as the ability to create a space that will appeal to the widest range of prospective buyers.
Take a look at these lists of the pros and cons of traditional staging to help you decide whether it's a better choice for selling the home:
Pros of Traditional Staging
* Provides a real-life perspective when potential buyers tour the home
* Prevents buyers from having to tour an empty, vacant home
* Appeals to the imagination of buyers
* Allows prospective buyers to gauge the size of rooms
* Helps the home be more memorable after potential buyers leave
Cons of Traditional Staging
* Can be expensive, with ongoing costs until the home sells
* Requires stagers to bring in furniture and decorative items
* May not be necessary, depending on how quickly homes are selling
Common Virtual Staging Mistakes
The biggest mistake that can be made is in hiring a virtual staging company that isn't good enough. Virtually staged photos should look so realistic that prospective buyers won't be able to tell they're computer generated unless they are told.
Other mistakes are:
* Failing to provide photos of both empty and staged rooms. Buyers may expect the home to look the way it does in the listing photos, so provide both photos to them.
* Selecting virtual staging that makes the home look worse instead of better. You have to be careful of not overdoing furniture and decorative items in staged photos.
* Using virtual staging when it isn't necessary. Replacing furnishing and decorations in photos when there is nothing wrong with them can result in a significant waste of both time and money.
Could Virtual Staging Help You Sell a Home?
Virtual staging can be a great asset for marketing a vacant home, one with tenants, or one which has outdated furnishings. It permits prospective buyers to view the proper vision of the home - not an empty space, but one that's easy to live in.
Have you used virtual staging to sell a home? If so, we'd love to hear your story and how it worked out for you, so please share your thoughts with us!
And, we'd be happy to assist you if you would like to use virtual staging to help you sell a home. You can find out more about our services here, or simply call us at 410-707-3306.