Selling a house is always a stressful event, and today’s chaotic economy is no exception. Much of what your house ultimately sells for has to do with your initial asking price, and that price is largely determined by the value online homebuyers have to decide your home has.
By George Nicola (Expert Stager)
Since 90% of home buyers search online and vet your home before even stepping foot inside, the way your home is presented online is equally (if not more important) than the actual floor plan and condition of your home.
In this article, we’ll discuss how your online listing impacts your home’s sale, how traditional staging works, and everything you need to know in order to hire a virtual staging company.
“Inquiring a Virtual Staging Company may require you are doing some research ahead of order but surely if done well, it will payout in the long term collaborations.”
George Nicola (Expert Stager)
Why Does the Way Your House Looks Matter So Much?
It may seem superficial to focus so much on selling the appearance of your home – just remember that buying a home is largely based on emotions.
If someone can envision themselves in your home and feel like they’re home, they’ll fall in love with it and be willing to take steps to make it look the way they’d like.
When a home is older or decorated to a particular family style, it interferes with their ability to connect with the home as theirs.
While your home may have a great layout and location, it’s crucial to translate its potential to suit market trends and the changes in your neighborhood.
For example, you may have lived in a quiet residential area with the same families for a few decades.
Over the past five years, your neighbors have moved out, the neighborhood has become more developed, and younger families are filling the newly vacant homes.
Although your home is in great condition, it may look outdated and not be recognizable as a good fit for the new crowd.
How can you convince them to give you a shot?
Staging has always been the solution to showing an older or “lived-in” home’s potential.
Here’s what to expect when using a traditional staging company.
What Does Traditional Home Staging Require?
The point of staging your home is to mask or remove your family’s mark on the space to make it possible for another family to picture theirs.
That means step one is to remove as many belongings as possible. This includes pictures from the walls, knickknacks from bookshelves, quirky lamps and rugs, collections, and anything else.
While this sounds obvious, don’t think that it is simple ― removing these pieces requires a lot of work if you are not moving out of the home until the sale is complete, all to get the right pictures for your listing.
Then you have to either put everything back or (more likely) live without these homie touches until you move.
Once you’ve cleared the space, the staging company will come and refill it according to your needs and budget.
They can provide furniture and more generically appealing decor to refill the space.
This can cost anywhere from five hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the furniture’s amount, quality, and time you need.
Traditional staging can take a day or up to weeks, depending on the level of design required.
This may be a good option for you, especially if you live in a high-priced, vacant home and will use the staged furniture for showings.
But don’t make any decisions until you hear about the alternative option: virtual staging.
What do Virtual Staging Companies Offer?
Another option that has gained popularity is a virtual staging company.
Virtual stagers use high-quality photos that you have provided of your home and can do almost anything you want with them (there are legal requirements that we’ll cover later on).
If you’ve never worked with a professional virtual stager before, watch George from TallBox Design convert an outdated space into a modern masterpiece, and you’ll get a feel for the kind of work you can expect.
Here are a few examples of what a qualified virtual stager can do:
- First, give the room fresh neutral paint color.
- Remove your decor with trending decor, including books, statutes, knickknacks, and plants.
- Pick and arrange new furniture.
- Update a fireplace or other special feature.
- Improve flooring choices.
- Remove clutter.
These services can be for a direct shot, create a 360 view of the space, or create a virtual walk-through of your home.
What are the Legal Requirements virtual staging companies should comply with?
Before we go further, it’s important to set expectations for what compliant virtual stagers cannot do.
Certain characteristics and properties of your home are legally protected from tampering – failure to do so can open you and the virtual stager up to lawsuits.
There are three categories of changes a virtual stager cannot do:
- Fraudulent misrepresentation: A virtual stager cannot knowingly cover significant damages to the home, like flood damage, a broken roof, or signs of a cracked foundation, to name a few.
- Negligent misrepresentation: A virtual stager cannot present false information about a room from lack of knowledge. For example, a virtual stager needs to represent the actual square footage of a room correctly and is not protected by not knowing the square footage― they are responsible for both knowing and accurately represent it.
- Innocent misrepresentation: This includes removing items that do not threaten health, safety, or structure but do change otherwise permanent features, like removing trees and powerlines from the neighborhood photos.
What Does it Cost to Have Your Home Virtually Staged?
There is a broad spectrum of the cost for a virtually staged home.
Before your home can be virtually staged, you’ll need to have high-quality pictures taken of your home.
You may be able to find a family member or friend with a good camera who can take these pictures for you, but you will likely need to pay a professional to do this.
Professional real estate photographers average $100 an hour as a budget estimate.
The good news is that you won’t necessarily need the photographer to edit your photos if you’re having your home virtually staged.
Virtual stagers can use different metrics to bill their services, from charging per photo, per room, or per hour.
There is also a broad spectrum of costs due to experience and value. Expect to pay somewhere between $40-$200 per room depending on the scope of the changes needed.
What are Signs of a Quality Virtual Staging Company?
Like anything else you hire out, it is essential to know what you are looking for so that you get the desired product.
Here are a couple of ways to tell if you are looking at an excellent virtual staging company.
Reviews provide social proof – we trust products and services that other people have used and recommend. Google a company to see both their posted reviews and reviews on other sites before engaging in a contract.
Check Their Portfolio
Virtual stagers should have a gallery of past projects on their website or should be able to provide samples upon request. You’ll be able to gauge their skill level based on the kind of work they advertise as their best.
List of Services
The more experienced the company, the more offerings they are likely to have advertised on their website. This could include straight-on shots, 360 panoramic views, and a virtual walkthrough of your home.
See What Programs They Use
Quality virtual stagers will have command of multiple programs to provide the best possible picture for you. A few programs used by TallBox Design are:
- AutoCAD LT: Used for creating 2D floorplans to recreate your room for a virtual makeover.
- SketchUp: Robust 3D modeling software for a more realistic representation of the space and accessories.
- Photoshop/Affinity Photo: Heavy lifting photo-editing software with abilities that range from manipulating the layers of a room to detailed brushwork.
- 3Ds Max and Corona renderer: For rendering the virtually staged scene in a very realistic manner
Check Their Qualifications
Anyone can advertise that they are a virtual stager. First, check to see what qualifications the company or freelancer has.
- Interior Design Training: A virtual stager is doing the same job as an interior designer at a digital level. You’ll want someone who understands how to balance a room, make colors pop, and draw the viewer’s attention across the entire room.
- Technological Finesse: Obviously, you need a graphic designer with exceptional skills with various editing software.
- Years of Experience: Degrees and certifications alone do not create a quality artist. Check to see how long your virtual stager has been doing it and if their portfolio is a good representation of the time they’ve been working.
What Should I Expect in the Virtual Staging Process?
So you’re ready to move forward with a virtual stager! Here’s what you can expect when working with a company like TallBox Design.
The first step will be to share the pictures you want virtually staged to the designer and talk with them about the target buyer demographic and your timeline for listing your home.
Create Mood Board
Sometimes people jump right to picking a few couches or new paint color― but this is approaching the design process in reverse.
Instead of offering furniture piece by piece, Tall Box Design virtual stagers take the time to create a mood board for the room just as an interior designer would.
Then, after completing this board, they will create a comprehensive design flow to the room, feeling thought-out and intentional.
Sit Back and Relax
TallBox Design has a team of experienced designers― they’re virtual staging magicians.
Their dedication and experience allow them to meet quick turnarounds while delivering professional work.
If you didn’t see the video earlier, take a moment to get a feel for what virtual stager George can do for you.
Review and Make Final Edits
Make sure that everything you agreed upon is covered. If you have any last changes once you’ve seen the virtual representation come together, be sure to communicate them clearly.
Receive a File of the Finished Photos
You will likely receive the photos through Google Drive or Dropbox.
Now you’ve got the exact pictures you need and your Realtor or real estate agent can finally list your home.
You saved money, time, and effort, and you’ve presented your home in the best possible light to attract the right buyers. You are set up to have a quick sale at the price you wanted.
We’ve covered a lot of information. Let’s review the key points:
- What your home sells for largely relies on what the initial listing price is and if potential buyers agree that the price matches the listing photos
- Successful home sales depend on the ability of a seller to present a canvas for a new family.
- Staging is a proven method to attract the right buyers to your home
- Traditional home staging requires time, money, and effort on the seller’s part
- This is a more effective and realistic option if the seller has moved out of the home completely
- Virtual staging is much less involved for the seller, although it does require the cost of professional photography and the work of the virtual stager
- Professional real estate photography costs an average of $100 per hour
- Virtual staging services can cost anywhere from $40-$200 per room, depending on the scope of the desired end product
- Virtual staging covers:
- New paint
- Covering certain allowed damages
- Replacing family photos and decor with neutral options
- Replacing furniture
- Clearing clutter
- Can include panoramic or 360 virtual simulations and walkthroughs
- There are specific legal requirements that a virtual stager must meet to protect against a lawsuit:
- Fraudulent misrepresentation
- Negligent misrepresentation
- Innocent misrepresentation
- Check to make sure you have a qualified virtual stager:
- Service Offerings
- Programs in Use
- Qualifications and Experience
- What to expect during a professional virtual staging
- Initial consult
- Mood board creation and set expectations
- Relax and wait for the photos
- Review and make any edits
- Post finished photos with a home listing
- Attract the right buyers
- Sell home for the right price