Virtual staging is an up-and-coming trend - why, and why does it matter?
More than ever, society is trending in a digital direction. Every industry has been and will be affected; Real Estate is no exception! This was already the case due to an up-and-coming generation of homebuyers that are heavy technology users… but the global response to Covid-19 has catapulted this digital trend even further. Understanding and staying on top of new trends, like Virtual Staging, will help you stay competitive as an agent. In this post, we are going to examine:
-Current stats and trends related to real estate and Virtual Staging
-Pros and cons of Virtual Staging vs. Traditional Staging… an analysis of best practices for different circumstances
-How to choose photos for best Virtual Staging results
STATS & TRENDS
Everything is trending digital in general… just to drive that point home, think about the fact that these things didn’t even exist in 2010:
With a younger generation of people looking for houses, more people are starting their own house searches online… but with Covid-19, more than ever a photo is worth a thousand words.
-Covid-19 means more people are spending more time online in general.
-Covid-19 means people not going in person as much to houses.
Many people are even buying sight unseen because of the shortage of inventory in some areas. According to the National Association of Realtors:
- Forty percent of buyers’ agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers’ view of the home.
- Eighty-three percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
- One-quarter of buyer’s agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between one and five percent, compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged.
- 38% of buyers were More willing to walk through home they saw online
- Twenty-five percent reported that staging a home greatly decreased the amount of time the home was on the market
- Only six percent of respondents said that home staging had no effect on the buyer’s view of the home… that means 94% of people were affected.
These stats certainly suggest that staging is worth doing. The question is whether virtual staging or traditional staging is really right for your circumstance.
PROS & CONS
Traditional Staging Pros:
1. Buyers have a personal experience as they walk through a home or commercial space. They see a real life example of the potential of a room.
2. Your listing stands out in their memories after they leave the property.
Traditional Staging Cons:
1. Expensive… you’re looking at spending a couple thousand dollars if you stage the whole house.
2. Can slow down the process of being able to list the home (takes time to get on the stager’s schedule and actually stage the home) and when a market is hot this is certainly not ideal.
3. Moving furniture in and out could damage the property.
4. In light of Covid-19, many buyers are reluctant to house-hunt in person, and so your staging investment will not have as much impact as it might have in the past. (Also – on that note, sellers are more reluctant to have stagers in their homes, or have furniture brought in when they don’t know where it’s been.)
Conclusion: In our opinion it’s worth doing traditional, physical staging when the market isn’t hot and the price-point of the listing is high enough to merit the cost of physical staging. But if either of these things is not the case, traditional staging may not be the right option for you.
Before we get into the pros and cons of Virtual Staging, let me explain briefly what virtual staging is, exactly, and how it works:
We start off with 3D models of furniture, and then essentially add layers… like fabric texture, colors, etc… to make the 3D models look realistic. (Our company specifically uses models that are based off of Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel and other designers.) Then using photo-editing software, we can place that virtual furniture within a photo, and adjust the angles and sizes to fit the dimensions of the room. We also can digitally add shadows and light sources, which makes the finished product look realistic. (In addition, we can remove physical furniture from a photo using photo-editing, before we add virtual furniture… this adds a lot of flexibility if a room has ugly furniture or something that you don’t want in the finished Virtually Staged product.)
In short, virtual staging is like traditional staging except it’s computer generated instead of physical. This can help sell homes without the heavy lifting of physical staging.
So now let’s talk about the pros and cons.
Virtual Staging Pros:
1. Inexpensive… $40 an image, so you’d come out spending just a couple hundred even if you staged multiple rooms
2. Versatile – you can easily showcase the same room with different furniture options and styles, or “recast” the purpose of a room
3. Gives online viewers the first impression of your listing that you want them to have.
4. Much easier for homes that are occupied with tenants.
Virtual Staging Cons:
1. Buyers won’t see the effects of the staging when they visit the space in person.
CHOOSING PHOTOS FOR BEST RESULTS
According to NAR, the most common rooms that were staged included the living room, primary bedroom, kitchen, and the dining room. I would add to this that when you’re choosing what rooms to stage, take these statistics into consideration but also think about how buyers may perceive particular rooms when they first look through photos… you know your listing best, so think about what impressions you want them to have and how you can help them get past any uncertainty or hesitancy they may have about making the decision to purchase.
For example, buyers can’t always easily tell from a photo whether they’re looking at an office, a dining room, or a second family room area. A lot of vacant rooms look very similar. If they’re paying close attention perhaps they can tell… of course as a professional, you probably have a pretty good idea when you look at other listings… But most average-joe homebuyers are scrolling through photos rather quickly without spending too much time thinking about it, and don’t necessarily know what they’re looking at…
Virtual Staging essentially takes questions marks out of a buyer’s mind, and give them more confidence about the usefulness of the space. Obviously they can use this space for anything they want – but you’re essentially showing them that they’ll have room to work with. One of the greatest features of Virtual Staging is that you can stage the same room multiple ways – this helps buyers really see all of the possibilities. So for example you might stage a room as an office, and ALSO as a den.
Virtual staging results really depend on the quality of the photo, and the composition of the photo. As far as quality goes – be sure to pick the best angles, and pick the highest quality (highest resolution) images that you have. This will really enhance the finished product. The angle of the shot and the orientation of the room make a difference:
-ALL THREE WALLS in a straight-on shot is always an excellent choice when you have that option available, because it helps to "anchor" virtual staging furniture and give it some context.
-For straight-on shots, try to keep the edge of the floor in a straight line, and center the back wall in your camera frame.
-Lastly, try to show a little bit more of the floor than the ceiling.
There are cases, however, where you want to choose other angles in addition to straight-on angles. For example, one of our agents had a listing with an in-law suite in the lower level. The agent wanted to show all of the components and how the layout of the room really is. So we staged the same room from multiple angles, so give the buyers opportunity to visualize the flow of the space. Staging multiple angles helps bring a sense of realism that buyers are more likely to resonate with. Our furniture is modeled after Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and other top designers - the quality of the furniture we use of course allows us to add realism to our finished Virtual Staging results.
Let’s talk briefly about the difference between Virtual Staging and Virtual Renovation. We do both, and we get a lot of questions regarding the difference and similarities. Virtual Renovation is essentially Virtual Staging 2.0… we add elements, change colors, textures, floors, walls, and anything else and then Virtually Stage it afterwards at no extra cost. It’s important to know that Virtual Renovation is more expensive because there’s a lot more design involved, and if you virtually renovate something you do need to disclose on the MLS that it was virtually renovated.
Buyers need to know that they are seeing a visualization of the potential of a space rather than an actual representation of the space.
Virtual Renovation gives a unique opportunity to do whatever you want with the space, and to show buyers potential… particularly in a space that is unfinished or outdated or otherwise not ideal. Seeing the results of a Virtual Renovation can help buyers open up their minds to possibilities and even get a better sense for the size of the room and make them more excited about the space. Just remember, again, that if a room is Virtually Renovated, you do need to indicate that on the MLS.
Due to COVID-19 and a younger generation of homebuyers coming into the Real Estate market, more than ever your online presentation of a house is a first impression that you can’t afford to mess up.
The National Association of Realtors’ studies show that staging has a positive effect on buyers.
Traditional Staging and Virtual Staging have pros and cons. Though traditional staging may be ideal if you are not in a rush and have a high budget to work with, Virtual Staging is often the preferred option for agents that are looking for a fast and inexpensive way to make a great first impression in an online search.
According to The National Association of Realtors, the living room, primary bedroom, kitchen, and dining room are the most important rooms for staging.
The angle of a photo can really make or break the results of Virtual Staging, so take the time to really think about this when choosing your photos. (If you prefer to get our expert opinion, we’re always happy to pick the photos and furniture that, in our experience, we feel will look best.)