Updated: May 17, 2022
Whether you are preparing a home for sale, redecorating a room or renovating an entire house, Virtual Staging software is becoming a safe, cost-effective, convenient and high-quality alternative to traditional methods of presentation and visualization for indoor and outdoor real estate projects.
Table of Contents
- Why Virtual Staging is Popular
- What is Virtual Staging?
- The Many Uses of Virtual Staging
- Benefits of Virtual Staging
- Cons of Virtual Staging
- Virtual Staging Vendors
- DIY Virtual Staging Options
- Additional Virtual Staging Service Providers
Why Virtual Staging is Popular
In a sellers’ market, homeowners may not be motivated to make costly and time-consuming repairs and upgrades, or be willing to invest thousands of dollars in property staging. Although sellers insist on getting top dollar for their homes, many balk at the idea of “spending money to make money”. This approach seems counterintuitive to sellers especially during a hot real estate market, where cash offers are common, plentiful and often over the asking price.
Virtual staging, on the other hand, can be a convenient, cost-effective method of presenting scale, visualization and varied possibilities of a property to perspective buyers, while saving time and money for sellers.
An Example of Virtual Staging in a Real Estate Listing
King Real Estate Group effectively demonstrates the value of virtual staging in a recent home listing of theirs in Southern California. The property clearly needs major upgrades, but the photo gallery helps to portray the home’s future potential by featuring virtually staged photos of key elements of the house: front facade; kitchen; dining/great room; main bedroom; balcony deck; and backyard.
Discovering the Benefits of High Quality Virtual Renderings
Similarly, diligent homeowners are employing virtual staging technology for planned renovations before signing any contracts or committing any dollar amount towards a project. Current virtual staging software allows you to plan designs, set moods and test furniture arrangements without having to leave your home or write a check.
Painting your home? Test color combinations with virtual staging apps that allow you to visualize realistically how your proposed changes blend within your neighborhood’s landscape. We believe it is only a matter of time that leading paint manufacturers will improve their visualization tools and services to match the current state-of-the-art of leading virtual staging solutions. Licensing best-of-class technology will give paint manufacturers a competitive advantage by instilling confidence in the color choices made by their prospective clients.
What is Virtual Staging?
Virtual staging is computer-aided graphic design that enables the reimagining of a given space using graphic design software to showcase both the current and potential features of a home. The practice gives potential buyers an idea of the size of the space and the actual property size.
Using just a photograph of a room, a graphic designer is able to create highly realistic images of a given space by changing such things as: flooring; paint colors; window treatments; and furnishings, such as chairs, wall hangings, lamps and rugs. This approach can effectively give a “lived in” feeling to a vacant property.
Once the photos of the “as-is” room are taken, homeowners simply choose preferences, furniture sets and styles. The speed, diversity, and convenience of digital technology greatly outweigh the laborious methods of traditional staging.
Similarly, virtual staging software is an excellent tool for interior design for home renovations, as it allows homeowners to examine flooring textures with various paint samples, while adding furniture, choosing window treatments and accessories, all from the comfort of a computer. In the same manner as preparing a house for sale, decorators can take photos of empty or half-furnished rooms and build the new style concepts around a favorite furniture piece or a favorite objet d’art.
The Many Uses of Virtual Staging
What are compromises for presenting a distressed, older property in the best light without investing large amounts of time and thousands of dollars in renovations? How can you determine the best renovations for your home without investing thousands in design fees? How will your home’s new exterior look in relation to your lot and neighborhood landscape? Enter the world of Virtual Staging that can help with:
- Home Sales
- Hardscaping & Landscaping
Even in a sellers’ market, real estate agents should be cost-conscious and consider the most effective way to attract buyers to a property. For camera-ready properties, this might require very little effort for the agent. However, a vacant home or one in a less-than-ideal state might call for technology to achieve the key objective of selling the home quickly at top dollar.
Home staging has been around since 1972, but it became a more common practice around 1999, as it became a proven method of selling a home quicker and to the highest bidder. Real estate agents began hanging paintings, removing old furniture, and adding new pieces to signal to potential buyers a home’s true potential. Fast forward to present day and technology is empowering an easier, more cost-effective way to perform the same task even better.
We are especially enthusiastic about the potential for this technology to scale, in terms of cost and time-to-deliver, to be able to present a diverse set of renderings per property to broaden a home’s appeal to a wider range of buyers. Renderings can be used to represent not only different design styles, but also distinct functional capabilities of a given property.
Virtual staging apps have proven useful tools for renovations, as they allow homeowners to test different color palettes before investing in paint, flooring, furniture and other décor items. Multiple scenarios can be tested to demonstrate design concepts and best use for a particular room.
Perhaps you recently inherited a high-end piece of furniture, and now discover that the room is in need of an update to accommodate your recent acquisition. Virtual staging can help you refashion a room, by providing various options to help you refresh your décor without overspending.
Hardscaping & Landscaping
Painting your home’s exterior requires decisions on a palette that is suited to the landscape and how it looks with realistic light, daytime, dusk or evening. Today’s virtual staging apps allow you to test various color schemes in relationship to the homes next door with minimal work.
Changing just your shutters or installing awnings? Test various types and colors to find the perfect complement to your home’s style without ever leaving your computer. Looking to change your driveway from asphalt to pavers? Which color best complements the new house color or the trees, flowers and shrubbery you plan to add. Virtual hardscaping and landscaping gives you options and realistic renderings to help you make confident decisions before the heavy equipment arrives.
Benefits of Virtual Staging
Through virtual staging, a professional photographer captures photographs of vacant or lived-in homes and virtually changes a home’s décor and furniture. The amount of convenience afforded through this method allows you to test more possibilities and permutations of your must-haves with your nice-to-haves. Virtual Staging can deliver the following benefits:
- Saves Time & Money
- Provides Scale & Visualization
- Provides Flexibility
- Allows Conceptualizing Different Options for the Same Room
- Provides Convenience
- Prevents Regrets of Aesthetic Choices
Saves Time and Money
There is no need to hire staging companies to move and replace old furniture, nor do you need to rent expensive staging furniture and accessories. Although virtual staging is ideal for vacant properties, it works equally well for renovations underway, new constructions or renovation designs and planning. Virtual staging is far less expensive than traditional staging. Some of the best virtual staging companies in the business offer staging fees as low as $16 per room with an average cost around $32 per room. Traditional staging, on the other hand, has an average cost of $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per staged room.
Provides Scale and Visualization
Wondering if that sofa you have your eye on will fit in your great room? How will new window treatments enhance the light of a room? Experiment with various colors, styles and moods, without the time and expense of moving furniture, hanging drapes or making purchases.
Unlike regular physical home staging, virtual staging allows you to work with current furniture still in the home or in partially furnished homes. Virtual staging software allows you to add décor such as art, additional furniture, plants, anything to bring warmth or color into the image with existing furnishings.
Allows Conceptualizing Different Options for the Same Room
The ability for this technology to propose multiple design themes will be immensely helpful for clients that may struggle with conceptualizing and visualizing distinct design options, with many underlying details.
Accommodate different styles, functions, layouts and tastes for the same home, e.g.: Modern vs. Transitional vs. Traditional vs. Mid-Century Modern; Home Office vs. Kids’ Room vs. Exercise Room vs. Home Theater. Appeal to different types of buyers or determine the best use of an extra room in your home. Virtual staging allows you to present various style options for the same room to demonstrate the versatility of your residence. Try doing that with traditional staging!
The average turnaround time is 24-48 hours from when the photograph of your room is submitted. How long does it take for a traditional stager to haul out your old furniture, haul in new furniture and arrange each item masterfully for the perfect shot? How many different styles can you get for that same price? How does traditional staging disrupt your lifestyle? Virtual staging is non-disruptive to your lifestyle, quick, and offers multiple style options for the same property.
Prevents Regrets of Aesthetic Choices
Even when a project is completed perfectly to the exact specifications of the client, this will not ensure that the client will be happy with the end results. Effective visualization can significantly reduce the likelihood of regretting key design choices made, e.g.: colors, materials and layout. How many times have you heard a friend lament about a major renovation project: “We thought we would like this color more than we actually do.”?
Cons of Virtual Staging
Though we believe that the benefits of virtual staging clearly outweigh its drawbacks, it is important to be aware of shortcomings and risks. Here are
- Needs a Professional Touch
- Disappointing In-Person Tours
- Legal Risks of Misrepresentation Claims
- Risk of Violating REALTORS® Code of Ethics
Needs a Professional Touch
Virtual staging photography and graphic design is not an instant DIY tool and can take considerable time to master. More than simply cutting and pasting, graphic design requires an understanding of real-world perspectives. The art of producing high-quality, realistic images requires experience with lighting and shadows, aspect ratios, and other photographic cues.
However, if you are simply looking to emulate options for your own personal use, home virtual staging apps can be a cost-effective way to evaluate styles, designs and moods in the comfort of your home. Since the average pricing is considerably lower than for traditional staging, it is affordable to use a virtual staging company.
Disappointing In-Person Tours
Given that professionally done virtual staging is highly effective in driving interest and in-person visits, these positive online experiences can set high expectations that may lead to negative in-person experiences. To prevent this from happening, it is a best practice to display photos of each virtually staged room within the house to reconnect prospects from the existing reality to the future potential of the home.
Legal Risks of Misrepresentation Claims
Be sure to confirm that any real estate photo-editing service used adequately and responsibly meets key legal requirements pertaining to altered real estate photos.
First, any altered photos need to be clearly labeled as such (e.g. use watermarks that state the image was virtually staged).
Second, altered photos may not include changes that would be impossible or implausible to make in real-life, such as removing a permanent eyesore like a public utility pole.
Third, be aware of any gray areas such as showcasing a significant improvement that likely would be denied by the local planning board. This scenario could be classified as an exaggeration in a Misrepresentation Legal Case.
Risk of Violating REALTORS® Code of Ethics
Member agents of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) who do not completely disclose in the MLS commentary that virtually staged photos were used could be in violation of Article 12 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics which speaks to issues pertaining to truth in advertising.
Virtual Staging Vendors
There are many vendors and firms that provide virtual staging services, whether they be companies with proprietary software or service providers that leverage the technical toolkits provided by other tech firms, like Adobe Photoshop and Foyr’s Neo. Here are just a few worth highlighting to get familiar with competitive capabilities.
Headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, and co-founded by a seasoned real estate photographer, Brad Filliponi, BoxBrownie is making a huge splash in America as they are quickly becoming the company to whom all other virtual staging vendors compare themselves. Offering $1.60 image enhancements for a single photo, BoxBrownie is competitive on quality, price and turnaround time, and offers a Free Trial for up to 3 image enhancements and 1 Day-to-Dusk edit (the process of turning a daytime exterior photo into a more visually appealing dusk setting).
A full service virtual stager, BoxBrownie offers 3D Virtual Staging and Virtual Tours, Virtual Renovations, Renders, Item Removal (virtual decluttering), amongst its many product offerings. By having a large team of photo editing experts located around the world, they are able to guarantee a 24-hour turnaround time.
BoxBrownie Virtual Renovation Product: Outdoor Pool Examples
Tantify by Hasten
Hasten, a 7-year old company that is the most sought after virtual stager vendor in New York City, began as visualization agents for interior and exterior designers. Their work was so superior to what was then the early-standard of visual staging, they began to field calls from realtors asking if they could produce life-like listings for their empty properties.
Hasten is also the number one choice for 84% of New York’s top-selling real estate brokers looking for realistic, professional grade renderings for their MLS listings. With a turnaround time of just 12 hours, and extremely competitive pricing, Hasten offers a menu of services including 3D Visualization, 3D Virtual Tours, and Flythrough Videos.
To improve and optimize the ordering process for virtual staging services, Hasten created Tantify, which ensures that all necessary details of a project are seamlessly collected.
- Time-Elapsed Image of a Virtually Staged NYC Apartment by Hasten
- Hasten Virtual Staging Portfolio
- Tantify Virtual Staging Portfolio
With discounts that encourage experimentation, PadStyler offers Virtual Furniture Replacement, which is ideal for planning a remodel, especially for homeowners unable to empty a room easily as part of the planning phase. Need to repurpose a room that is no longer in use? Simply take a photo of the room, submit it to PadStyler via email and allow them to create a re-envisioned space. With a 100% money back guarantee, rush delivery, and competitor price-matching, you can easily afford to test their services.
PadStyler also provides Next Generation 3D Video Rendering, a service ideal for new home builders and architects, as it can help them sell their plans before a property is built.
Rooomy caters to both real estate professionals selling properties and homeowners looking to make renovations to their homes. With their Studio Design iPad app, available for free download, homeowners can discover home design trends using the app’s gallery and large selection of 3D furniture products.
With direct integration to retailers, the Rooomy app allows you to shop for the items you like, as you renovate on the fly. You are able to select from various colors, fabrics, patterns and styles for any room in the home. Upload a picture of your room and the app’s Augmented Reality (AR) feature allows you to see your design placed in your room.
Virtual Staging & Rendering Group
Although their website appears to cater only to professional real-estate agents and brokers, Virtual Staging & Rending Group does work with homeowners looking to remodel or renovate a property.
Promoted as USA’s top virtual staging company, VRX Staging was co-founded by a veteran real estate professional. The company offers Virtual Staging, Blue Sky Green Grass, Virtual Twilight, Furniture Removal with Virtual Staging, and Paint Color Changes, among its services, which makes it ideally suited for planning renovations and remodels.
For just $15, homeowners can upload a picture of a room, and expect the virtually-enhanced photo with the new wall color to be returned the next day. Although you are welcome to specify your desired paint colors, VRX has professional designers who are experienced in interior and exterior design, who can choose a color best suited for your space.
VS24, based in Seattle, has been providing virtual staging services since 2019. Unique to their offerings is their 3D Virtual Staging Tours and blending virtual furnishings with existing furniture for properties without empty rooms. Furnishings can be chosen from eight styles: Coastal; Farmhouse; Modern; Rustic, Scandinavian; Traditional; Transitional; and Urban Industrial.
Additionally, they provide Enterprise Services for real estate partners to custom-label their services, including rules to automate disclaimers to prevent any misleading presentations.
DIY Virtual Staging Options
Foyr’s Neo is interior design and architectural software that is extremely popular with students and professional designers alike, as it allows floor plan creation in 2D, design in 3D and realistic virtual renders, all within a browser. With easy to follow tutorials available online, Neo gives you control of your renovation project in a simple, easy to use, fast, cloud-based application.
VisualStager offers an easy to use Do-It-Yourself virtual staging solution for tech novices. Their browser-based drag-and-drop solution makes it possible to stage room photos in minutes. Their library includes over 4,000 interior design and home décor items.
Additional Virtual Staging Service Providers
Choosing a Real Estate Photography Service
Though it can be challenging and confusing to stay abreast of emerging technology within the Real Estate industry, be assured that the best photo real estate firms and real estate agents will be incorporating the latest, most-effective solutions for their clients. Here are photo services to look for that are indicators that a firm has capabilities to meet current market demands:
- Virtual Staging
- 360° Virtual Staging
- 3D Tours (Matterport)
- Video Walkthroughs
- Virtual Open Houses
- Drone Videos & Photography
- Photo Editing & Virtual Retouching
- Floor Plans
Virtual Staging Resources
- How Much Does Home Staging Cost and How Much Will You Gain?
- How to Avoid Real Estate Lawsuits from Virtual Staging
- Case Interpretations Related to Article 12 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics (Truth in Advertising)
Recommended Design Articles
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- How to Apply Transformable Interior Design to Your Home
- Flexibility: The Only Home Design Trend that Matters
- How to Choose Interior Design Services from Virtual to Full-Service
- How Homeowners Can Work Successfully with an Interior Designer
- Crowdsourcing Your Renovation with GoPillar
- How to Use Havenly for Your Interior Design Needs
- Interior Design Resources for Homeowners
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