By George Nicola (Expert Stager)
32%! That’s how quickly well-photographed homes sell compared to text-based listings. It’s not a secret that visuals impact decisions; psychology has long maintained that imagery’s ethos, pathos, and logos are critical in human decision-making.
In fact, humans have a natural tendency toward beauty which is evident in our daily lifestyle. We are tempted to choose things that are beautiful to us on a visual and emotional level. This is why it’s not surprising that well-staged homes are likely to sell more than unstaged homes.
Realtors have always staged homes for open houses to increase the likelihood of selling a listing for a better price. However, the cost and time associated with this activity are considerable.
Moreover, traditional staging falls short in the case of buildings under construction (such as apartments or commercial spaces up for booking) or occupied dwellings (spaces already furnished by people living in them).
And here, virtual staging comes into play.
Virtual staging is where professionals digitally add or remove furniture and décor in a property to help buyers visualize its potential. It overcomes the shortcomings of traditional staging by offering flexibility, limitless design options, and lower costs. Reimagining a home in light of current design trends can also increase its marketability.
Are you a seller or realtor looking to give virtual staging a go? If yes, then you have come to the right place.
Here are a few virtual staging makeover tips for your home:
5 virtual staging makeover tips for your home
Let’s start with the elephant in the room – are virtual staging home makeovers ethical? Absolutely, as long as you:
- Don’t misrepresent the property, i.e., add or remove elements in the infrastructure. For example, if you add a kitchen island where there is none or remove a water tank to make the home look more presentable.
- State upfront that you are using virtual staging images and videos to help buyers realize the property’s full potential. You must add a disclaimer that the images and videos are not how the property looks in real life; rather, the images depict how the property can look.
Whether selling your home through the For Sale by Owner FSBO listing or through a realtor, you must ensure that the virtual staging photographs, animations, and videos are labeled clearly. In addition, you should ask the staging company to add a watermark to the imagery to ensure that potential buyers are not misled.
Identify Your Target Audience
The second most important tip when giving your house a virtual makeover is to consider the target audience. Who are you selling the home to? What are the demographic and psychographic elements that make up your ideal buyer?
The neighborhood, size, type, build, and price point are some factors that tell realtors who are most likely to buy a property. A 3-bedroom house in a suburban neighborhood in close proximity to schools is most likely to be purchased by a family with young children and a mortgage.
On the other end, an open-floor studio apartment in the downtown area is likely preferred by bachelors who want to avoid workplace commutes. If you know who is most likely to purchase your home, you will be able to inform your virtual staging, making it practical and worth the money.
Here are a few things to consider:
What is the architectural style of your home? One way to decorate the home is to let the architectural style inspire the décor.
There are more than 100 construction designs, from farmhouses to Spanish villas and modern apartment buildings to Victorian homes. You can choose to complement and even highlight the construction of your property by choosing to decorate it in style.
Professional staging companies have style counselors for advice. The architecture information you provide them will help them create more cohesive designs.
Another way to stage a home is by focusing on the style of décor, i.e., modern, contemporary, eclectic, traditional, luxury, boho, minimalist, etc. Think of what your target audience might prefer and stage your home accordingly.
Many people believe that using expensive furniture and decorations will sell the property more quickly, but that’s not the case. If the target audience cannot visualize themselves living in the space, they are less likely to buy the property.
Therefore, the purpose of virtual staging is not to upscale a building but to show potential buyers that they can make a home in this space. The best way to do it is by using design and décor trends that appeal to their aesthetics.
Who is going to live on this property, and what are they going to do in it?
If you think a middle-income family with school-going children is most likely to purchase your home, then decorating it in a warm and traditional style might be more appropriate. For example, use virtual staging to set up a kitchen that looks like the perfect homely place where the family comes together for an excellent dinner every night.
Similarly, you can stage the bedrooms as gender-specific or a unisex baby nursery. You can choose to decorate the room with a famous cartoon theme, such as Star Wars. Accompanying decor items such as bedsheets, cushions, and wall decorations should match the selected theme.
Lage format canvases with Stormtroopers or the Millennium Falcon will reinforce the room’s purpose.
On the other hand, if you think a socialite or businessperson will purchase the property, you can choose modern, minimalist, or eclectic design inspirations. Virtual staging can show how the den can be transformed into a modern office. Or perhaps how the life-sized painting or bronze sculpture in the lounge will make it a talking piece for the buyer’s next social event, and so on.
Choose the Type of Virtual Staging
Virtual staging started as a concept in which designers added furniture and decorations to empty spaces. However, it has grown much more prominent. Progressing from the simple photographs, virtual staging is now available in multiple formats.
- Photographic Virtual Staging – Still images of staging an empty or furnished space by removing undesired furniture and décor and adding desired furniture and décor.
- Video Virtual Staging – A video of a property furnished in the desired style. Just like a movie, buyers are able to see the entire home in the mp4 format.
- Interactive or 360 Virtual Staging – A relatively newer trend in which buyers control and interact with the virtual space to explore every corner of the property. Buyers are able to change the décor, the layout, the furniture, and other elements in the property from a list of given possibilities.
- Virtual Renovation – A staging service where buyers can see how a space will after the desired renovations have been made.
Virtual Staging Add-Ons
Along with the types of virtual staging, there are numerous virtual staging add-ons that you can choose. These are:
- Luxury Virtual Staging – The virtual staging company with high-end brands for furniture, decorations, and lighting to give a genuinely luxurious first impression.
- Animated Virtual Staging – A short (up to 5 seconds) animation showing the makeover details and engaging the buyer.
- Lifestyle Staging – This combines marketing and virtual reality to create an emotional and immersive experience for the buyer by adding furniture and décor by known brands that appeal to their aesthetics.
- Themed Staging – Livening up a property by adding décor that matches a theme, spring, summer, autumn, Christmas, Hanukkah, and more.
- Virtual Decluttering – A service that offers to remove clutter from photographs virtually.
- Virtual Outdoor Staging – Staging the yards, façade, patio, etc., to improve the outside look of the house.
Each type of virtual staging differs in cost; the more sophisticated and value-adding it is, the higher its price point. However, just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. Choose a service that is appropriate for the kind of property you are selling, your target audience, and your budget.
Get It Done by Professionals
You might be tempted to take a dab at virtual staging yourself, but we suggest letting professionals take care of it. Although many downloadable virtual staging software come with online courses and tutorials, you need the practice to perfect the craft.
According to The Washington Post, 87% of home buyers claim that photographs influence their purchase decisions. Therefore, it is safe to say that pictures make a significant difference in the sale of your house.
If your picture is unrealistic, would it convince a potential buyer to purchase your property? Probably not.
When newbies stage a home virtually, they may be unable to consider the lighting, the color palette, positions, and other factors that make a virtual image look realistic. And if your property’s image looks photoshopped or unrealistic, it will not impress potential buyers.
Virtual staging is only effective if the images look true to life. Professional virtual stagers with interior design knowledge and expertise in virtual staging software can help you achieve that realistic result.
Consider the following factors when choosing a professional virtual staging service:
- Turnaround time – How soon can they give you the images/animations/videos? Experienced companies take between 24 – 48 hours, check beforehand if there are additional charges for fast turnaround.
- Variety of services – Does the company offer basic and advanced virtual staging services such as animations, interactive staging, and more?
- Selection of digital furniture and décor – Which brands are they working with for digital furnishings and décor? Companies working with a higher number of brands have more options to stage your home according to your preference.
- Edits – Does the company offer free revisions? Can you make or suggest changes? Choose companies that allow both.
- Customer support – Choose companies that are always happy to provide information and help you after-sales.
- Cost – Price is not a marker of quality; choose companies that give you good value for money.
The final tip is to market your virtual staging makeover on social media. Although refrain from flooding your profiles with listings, it is an excellent idea to prompt engagement by publishing before/after images and asking followers how they will decorate a space.
Virtual staging makeovers were birthed for potential buyers browsing for listings online. Therefore, marketing it on social media is an excellent way to increase the likelihood of your property being seen by the right buyer.
Virtual staging is a digital solution for realtors who want to make their properties look beautiful for online listings and open houses. However, virtual staging is only effective if done right.
The first right step is to ensure transparency by telling your audience upfront that the imagery is virtually staged, not real. Secondly, you must keep the target audience in mind and decorate the home in a way that appeals to them regarding the use, emotional appeal, and aesthetics.
Sellers must also choose the appropriate virtual staging type and add-ons to maximize the efficiency of the digital makeover. Most importantly, we recommend that sellers choose professional virtual stagers instead of doing the design themselves to ensure realistic photographs.
Finally, taking your staging social will allow you to reach a bigger audience and increase the marketability of your property.
Follow these tips to achieve tremendous success with your virtual staging endeavor. Good luck!