Ok, I know I may ruffle a few feathers with this one but I have felt compelled to write about this topic since I have seen some not so good virtual staging lately. Sure, there is also excellent virtual staging out there too but even the most realistic virtual staging has its pitfalls. Here’s why:
It’s a Tease
Have you ever booked a vacation online with what looks to be the most amazing resort (beautiful beaches, glimmering pools, luxurious rooms) except when you arrive the resort looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 80’s and the linens are like sandpaper? Yep, it sucks. Most of us would pitch a fit, demand some kind of refund, and definitely never give that resort business again. Well, in a way I equate virtual staging to this type of “false advertising.” Sure the pictures look amazing and draw you in, but once there in person, you are let down by not having the experience you expected. I know this may seem a tad dramatic but think about your mindset when you are shopping for a home. Homes are hardly ever purchased sight unseen. We as humans have to physically be in the space, feel the energy, and ultimately connect with a home in order for that “this is the one” to click. If you have ever bought a home I am sure you know what I mean. If your first thought is something like “this doesn’t look like it did online” your chances of making that connection are reduced dramatically.
Get your mind out of the gutter, hahahaha! I’m talking about the size and scale of the furniture in an actual room. Have you ever gone house shopping and wondered if your massive king sized bed will fit in a room or if that large sectional will function in a space? Since virtual staging involves a person sitting at a computer adding digital images to a photo, they have most likely never visited that home or seen the digital furniture in person. Most professional stagers preview each home prior to staging and take into account the architectural features of each room such as actual room dimensions, window size and orientation, and natural traffic flow before even selecting furniture pieces. It is very easy for a graphic designer to digitally scale down furniture pieces to fit more items in a space, giving the false representation that the room is larger than it actually is. This, of course, cannot happen with real staging. Professional stagers are trained in the art of furniture placement, scale, and overall flow of a space. We select furnishings based on these design principles, creating real rooms to scale that represent a realistic furniture layout. With real staging you can be certain that your king bed will fit with room to spare.
All About Connection
Staging boils down to visually creating a dream home for potential buyers. It is a powerful marketing tool when done correctly. The goal is to have buyers not only be drawn to the photos online, but actually see the property in person, walk in and fall in love with the lifestyle being sold to them. Any good professional stager will take the time to research and understand the buyer demographics for a particular area and home. Is this a perfect home for a first-time buyer that may be younger and just starting out, or is this a move up home for a growing family that is looking for more space to spread out? If you are considering using a virtual staging company, ask them if they take these factors into account when selecting furniture images for the home. Most likely the answer is no (and you can almost be certain they are not local). Staging is so much more than just making something look pretty, it is about selling an attainable dream. Showing a buyer, yes, you can have this if you buy this house!
In conclusion, I’ll admit virtual staging is better than nothing when it comes to marketing a home. I know I would much rather see a photo online of a furnished space then an empty room, but when it comes to ROI (return on investment) real staging is hands down the best option if its within the seller’s budget. Like I always say, staging is less expensive than your first price reduction!