Depending on what email lists you belong to, you may have recently received a message or two attempting to sell you virtual staging software. I know this because I’ve heard from many of you curious about my take on this new practice.
In my opinion there are two types of virtual staging.
The first type of virtual staging (which I practice), is “virtual” because I don’t actually go into a client’s home but I give them staging advice by phone based on photos they provide me with to analyze.
This allows clients to have my staging advice and do the work themselves at a lower cost than if I were to do an actual consultation in their home. It also allows me to offer specific staging advice to clients outside my geographic area.
The second meaning of virtual staging I don’t practice and don’t recommend because I think it’s a waste of a client’s money.
Virtual staging companies have entered the home staging industry that use virtual staging software which allows you to load photos of vacant rooms to a computer and manipulate them to make it look like the rooms are furnished. The goal here is to sell attractive listing photos to real estate agents for them to use on their feature sheets and on MLS.
No home stager goes to the home and no real furniture goes in the house.
The software (used by a stager, decorator or interior designer), is doing the “staging” by creating images of fully-furnished rooms to show online.
While I can see the application of this software as a way to simulate what you’re going to do in a home to get a client’s approval for a decorating project where you’re asking them to buy new furniture, I don’t believe it has any place in staging in the way it’s currently being promoted.
Why is virtual staging, using software to manipulate listing photos, a waste of a home seller’s or real estate agent’s money?
Because potential buyers are going to be quite disappointed when they arrive at a showing and see that the house looks nothing like the photos they viewed online. And everyone knows a buyer in a bad mood is not a buyer that makes an offer!
Potential buyers might even find themselves wandering through the empty house wondering why the owners had to move out so suddenly. Sensing desperation, this might attract a low-ball offer, certainly not the goal of home staging! For more on this read, Why Home Staging Sells Your Home Faster and For Top Dollar.
Your job as a home stager is to romance the buyer and while photos count (considering 90% of Canadian buyers and 70% of US buyers look online for a home before ever calling a real estate agent) they don’t count for everything.
The buyer needs to be romanced when they pull up to the drive and take in the view from the curb. They have to fall in love when they walk through the front door and they have to fall deeper in love with every single room in the home they look at until they have the feeling that it’s the property they’ve been looking for.
That’s why virtual staging software misses the mark and it’s not something I promote.
Home stagers, have you heard of this new technology? What are your thoughts? Do you agree with me, do you have a different opinion or do you see potential in such technology? Please add your thoughts in a comment below so we can have a discussion about this.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Home Staging
Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is President of Six Elements Inc. and creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. An entrepreneur for almost 25 years and author of several guides, Debra has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate and uses her expertise to train others worldwide.