Staging a home is the process of curating a room’s furniture, décor and general appearance in order to maximize its visual appeal and let buyers envision living there. While staging a home was once primarily for the benefit of in-person showings, this new age of digital shopping demands that homes have screen appeal as well as curb appeal. Virtual staging helps sellers do just that, typically for a fraction of the cost of traditional staging.
What is virtual staging?
Virtual staging refers to an interior design made by a graphic designer or editor, where they add furniture and other items to photos of a home or room. It’s used to help optimize a space and showcase it as it may look if the potential customer were to live there, with the goal of improving a listing, increasing demand and eventually selling a home for the highest possible value.
In a traditional staging process, you would need to hire an interior designer, potentially empty out your home completely (if your furnishings don’t match the vision), rent new furnishings for the photo shoot, hire movers to arrange everything and then hire a photographer to take photos. If you have to empty your stuff out first, you’d also likely need a storage space to keep everything safe until it’s time to put it back.
By contrast, with virtual staging all you really need are quality photographs of your space and the graphic designer or editor can do the rest. They can remove unwanted items and then decorate the room using a vast digital library of furniture and décor to create whatever vision helps best sell the space.
How much does virtual house staging cost?
The cost of virtual staging for real estate depends on the graphic designer or editor you hire, but online services can go for less than $50 an image. If you hire a professional photographer to get higher-quality images of the space, that’ll likely come at an additional cost.
By comparison, a real-world staging can cost upwards of several thousand dollars once you add up the cost of renting furniture, movers, photographers and more.
How virtual staging may help your listing
There are several key benefits that virtual house staging can provide:
- Screen appeal: Virtual staging is first and foremost to make the house look as good as it possibly can so that it pops onscreen.
- Giving buyers a vision: Staging helps buyers picture themselves in the home. An empty room can be potentially perplexing for some people. A virtually staged home, however, gives buyers a vision of what that space can be used for and what living in it might look and feel like.
- Cost-effectiveness: As you just learned, virtual staging for real estate can be more cost-effective and requires less effort than hiring a staging company to do physical staging with real furniture.
- Ease of sale: According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nearly 82% of buyers’ agents claim that staging made it easier for buyers to envision a property as their future home. As a result, staged homes tend to sell faster than homes that aren’t staged.
- Increased sale price: If selling faster wasn’t enough of a benefit, the same NAR survey additionally found that a staged home also sells for more. Nearly 41% of buyers' agents said that home staging raised the value of offers between 1-10% compared to similar homes that hadn't been staged. None of the agents reported staging as having a negative impact on sale price.
Potential downsides to virtual staging
While there are several benefits that virtual staging can provide, it does also have its potential drawbacks. The most salient of these is the potential for misrepresenting a space. For instance, if the graphic designer or editor doesn’t scale furniture properly, a room may look much bigger or smaller than it is in real life. There is also the potential for unscrupulous sellers to make significant physical alterations to a space (like erasing damage to a wall). It’s helpful to be upfront about digitally staged properties so that potential buyers don’t feel like they’ve been subject to a bait-and-switch.
Staging a home can have a potentially notable impact on how quickly you’re able to sell it as well as the price it sells for. Virtual staging lets home sellers change out their furniture and décor with just a few clicks, at a price that's more accessible to the average seller. In the past, physically staging a home was typically a significant investment of both time and money. Thankfully, the advent of digital design and virtual staging has helped change that.