Virtual Staging Business can bring more money, especially If you hold a real estate agent license. I bet you have experienced the extent to which an empty or neglected house can painfully lose its value over time.
If there was a magic button to sell the listings instantly and beyond the asking price, I bet you would want to press it right away!
Let us face it, and there is no magic button!
Even though this might burst your bubble, this article provides sure-fire insights that will shed light on ‘something’ that will help you add value to your real estate deals and leave you satisfied in the end.
3 key questions about the virtual staging bussiness
How to start a virtual staging business?
Starting a virtual staging business is like any other business and these are the most important steps to take on at first.
- Select your strategy
- Consider your market
- Learn how virutal staging works
- Hire virtual stagers in-house or outsrouce
- Develop a pricing structure
- Prepare your marketing and network of agents
When is the best time to start a virtual staging business
Home staging and virtual staging businesses are proven to work at all times of the real estate market; booming or busing people need to sell – buy and move houses.
Booming: When the market is booming your virtual staging business can help and make any property stand out from the rest at a very low cost to the business or sellers.
Downfall: When markets are in the downfall or bouyant staging businesses help to make the property appeal to the right buyers envisioning the best side of the property.
Why to start virutal staging business?
Staging businesses tend to do well at all times, and costs associated with starting one are not high as any other business. In 2020 it was estimated that the real estate market stands at $200Tn;
There are millions of properties for sale globally at any given time in any country and especially with virtual staging you can reach all of them if that’s your main target. The staging business can be your main business or a secondary business to your main one as additional income.
If you want to learn more in-depth information about the exact steps what does it take to start a business, continue reading below.
What can you earn with a virtual staging business as an add-on?
I’ve written this article from the experience of growing a virtual staging company with 19 different services. Below is what I think is the best practice of making virtual staging an add-on service besides your main company.George Nicola – expert virtual stager
A virtual staging company can be profitable or not depending on the market, the current demand, and the strategy of the company.
In total freelance virtual stagers earn on average anywhere from $7 to $750 per project or $7 to $200 per room. An established staging company on the other hand earns $40 to $900 on average per project, $40 to $500 per room, and $100 to $250 for consulting only.
The prices above include both extremes of the market and are based on personal observation, experience, and market research. There are multiple factors that affect the pricing including the personal approach of each company or freelancer.
While there are several strategies that skilled real estate professionals constantly use to improve their businesses, home staging is on a whole new level. Statistically, 38 percent of realtors stage homes for sale before listing them in the market.
An exciting idea worth exploring is running a virtual home staging business as an add-on to your primary business. I recommend that you start small with minimal investment of time and money, and you will be surprised how fast your business will grow gradually.
If you haven’t launched your real estate company, check out the video Graham Stephan made some years ago, I love it as it’s simple and very well explained. He has made a course on this as well: click here.
Instead, if you’re already into the game of real estate, move on and keep reading after the video.
What is a staging company?
As a whole, a staging company is an entity that deals with the internal or external staging (often called styling) of a property for sale. The traditional staging company can re-style partially the space (called soft-staging) or entirely change the look of the existing interior or exterior.
What is virtual staging company?
Virtual staging company does use the same techniques as the traditional staging companies, but in the 3D virtual world where amendments are cost-effective and often quicker than traditional staging.
What Virtual Stagers Do
Behind any gorgeous, saleable real estate listing is an expert home stager. Since 90 percent of home buyers start their property search online, virtual stagers ensure that the images of properties stand out online.
A virtual home stager improves the attractiveness of a home using several graphic design techniques to fix essential aesthetics and personality in a home, consequently increasing the chances of selling it to interested buyers at a competitive price.
While realtors mainly focus on setting prices and seeking potential buyers, virtual stagers put extra work behind the scenes to make a home more attractive.
The following are key things that virtual stagers do:
Work with Professional Photos
First, a virtual stager must work with professionally taken photos of a home to render the high-quality results of empty homes. Second, they work with photographers to plan and produce professional pictures with the best angles to make the digital furniture and decor look real.
To make potential buyers envision themselves living in the space, virtual stagers furnish the home with 3-D furniture and accessories. The digital furnishings help prospective buyers to visualize the ins and outs of the property effortlessly.
Besides furnishing homes with 3-D furniture, virtual stagers may often recommend other decorations in a home, such as pops of color in specific rooms, light fixtures, rugs, art, sculptures, planets, wall decorations, etc.
Create Virtual Tours
Virtual stagers create virtual tours of newly staged homes by blending a series of short clips, still images, sound effects, music, narration, and text. This helps potential buyers to understand the property before physically visiting it entirely.
Staging Business Plan
Every business starts with a plan, even if it’s secondary to the main company. Realistically success and failure are the difference between having a good staging plan and not having one at all.
On average it takes 6 months to a year for a staging business with a plan to get its foot at the market’s door. Below we’ll look at the pros and cons of the staging business which you can also perceive as a business plan.
Pros of Virtual Staging Business
While this list may not be conclusive, below are common pros to starting a virtual staging business:
Low Start-up Costs
Statistically, virtual staging is 90 percent cheaper than traditional home staging. You do not need to buy furniture and decorations that cost thousands of dollars to venture start-up virtual staging business. Instead, you can fill an empty room with digital furniture, interior decorations, and accent pieces at a fraction of a cost. Besides essential equipment like a PC, good internet connection, and widely available apps, virtual stagers incur a one-time fee per image/room.
Independent of Real Estate Market’s Seasonality
Virtually staging is better than physically staging a home because the latter is usually seasonal due to the volatility of the real estate market. Virtual staging is a year-round business because time is of the essence in today’s real estate market.
For instance, a virtual stager can help you get the listing up and running within a few business days when marketing a property. This makes virtual staging a pivotal addition to your portfolio of services.
No Licensing or Special Training Needed for Virtual Staging Business
Virtual stagers do not have to go through the tedious process of seeking to license because they predominantly use technology to present a property.
They only need legal advice before making the specific home and specific language changes to digitally staged photos. In addition, you can horn your virtual staging skills via step-by-step tutorials provided by various software or on our virtual staging tutorial page: click here.
Ease of Marketing
Virtual staging is the ideal real estate marketing tool designed to help buyers imagine the practicalities of a home. Depending on the buyer demographic, virtual staging businesses can customize a home and market it successfully through realtors, mortgage brokers, and other networks involved in various real estate markets.
Customers will recognize its highest potential more quickly than traditionally staged homes when you virtually stage your home.
Cons of Virtual Staging Business
Like any business venture, there are a few possible downsides to virtual home staging, such as:
Difficulty in Finding Interested parties at first
While traditional home staging started in the early 1970s, virtual home staging is a modern-day phenomenon of the technological world many homeowners are still coming to terms with.
This makes it challenging for virtual stagers to find the right homeowners who clearly understand the need to hire them and the potential financial gain in the end. In addition, getting long-term clients to help you build your portfolio can be daunting.
Several Revisions from Clients
Unlike traditional virtual staging, which is usually a straightforward one-time task, virtual staging demands detailed adjustments to rooms, decorations, colors, accessories, etc.
Be ready to do extra work to meet the expectations of your clients until they are delighted with the virtually staged home. You will need to hire a support team to help you, including skilled real estate photo editors, graphic designers, etc.
Legal Issues you might face in Virtual Staging Business
In addition to the disappointment that potential homebuyers may experience at a physical viewing, your start-up virtual staging business can attract other real estate legal issues. The common one is a misrepresentation lawsuit, which negatively affects a buyer’s decision to take up a contract. These include:
- Fraudulent Misrepresentation – This means intentionally sharing false information about a property or knowingly failing to reveal a known problem, e.g., leaking ceilings.
- Negligent Misrepresentation – This occurs when you fail to perform your due diligence before providing information about a home, e.g., inaccurate square footage of a room.
- Innocent Misrepresentation – This is neither fraudulent nor negligent, e.g., editing out trees and power lines.
What You Need to Start a Virtual Staging Business
Generally, to rise to the top of the game as a virtual home stager, you need to have exceptional home staging skills to differentiate your staged properties from the competition. In addition, this calls for top-notch entrepreneurial skills to grow your business, including finding the right clients and charging the right price without engaging in unnecessary price wars with competitors.
So far, you already know that virtual stagers help homeowners and realtors sell homes faster and make a decent profit. While this justifies the lucrativeness of a virtual staging business, you still need to set up a few things before you go full throttle.
Below are some common prerequisites you need to put together before starting a virtual staging business:
Create a Website
Having an online presence allows prospective customers to examine the potential of your business and understand the value you can provide them. Ensure your website is excellently branded and optimized so that potential clients can find it easily. Include a blog for posting relevant topics that might interest your target customers.
Choose a Specific Target Market
While virtual stagers have a global playing field thanks to the internet, I recommend that you focus on a specific target market to maximize your marketing efforts. For instance, you can go for local flippers, apartment building owners, owners of commercial spaces, and so on.
Network with Local Realtors
The fastest and most suitable way to connect with home sellers is to reach their real estate agents. To do so, narrow down on homes that sell quickly in your target market and share your contact info with their realtors so they can refer sellers to you once an opportunity arises.
Develop a Pricing Structure
The pricing strategy is an essential prerequisite in a virtual staging business. Consider the time it would take you to complete each project, the size of the homes, and so on.
Ideally, the pricing structure will allow you to create quotes for new clients effortlessly. A starting point and a good strategy are to form fees based on photos while you gain more understanding of the service and grow your clientele; on this page, you can check out our pricing structure for virtual staging services: click here.
Put together Marketing Materials as Virtual Staging Business
Even with the popularity of virtual staging, some homeowners and home sellers are yet to accept it. Therefore, your marketing materials must be armed with solid pitches to gain the trust and loyalty of both potential and skeptical customers. On your website, include testimonials of your previously staged homes to provide social proof and the value of your services.
How to Start a Virtual Staging Business
By now, I bet your interest in a virtual staging business has gone through the roof. Right? But the biggest question is, how do you even get started? Keep reading the below eye-opening guide that will help you launch your virtual staging business successfully.
What Investment Do Staging Business require?
It is important to note that, unlike traditional home staging businesses, virtual staging businesses have relatively low start-up costs, meaning you can get yours up and running with little out-of-pocket investment. You can channel funds from your existing business(es), but applying for a loan is a viable option if it is insufficient.
I recommend that you develop a solid business plan to refine your cash flow and monitor the needed capital before investing it. Once secured, invest at least 15 to 25 percent of the money in the total start-up costs.
To Whom You Can Talk about Strategies in the Virtual Staging Business
Networking, and I repeat, networking is the only particular skill that will make your strategies succeed in the virtual staging field. One of the most practical approaches to networking is to reach out to other realtors to learn about the resources to look for and how they engage with other home stagers.
Try to reach out to other business owners and real estate professionals who have a wealth of networking experience. Moreover, you will need to build a long-lasting rapport with your first customers by providing professional services in a timely and reliable manner to keep them engaged, hooked, and satisfied.
You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How not to start your Staging Business
The success rate in start-up staging business is not high. Due to the ease of entry and low costs associated with staging the virtual staging business, many just copy-paste what they see in the competitor’s websites and business models.
Staging your staging business by replicating can be damaging not for you but for the whole industry as well. Since the majority of the market just replicates one another the prices for virtual staging can only go in one direction – down and not to mention that fighting low-cost competitors especially if this is your secondary business it’s a complete waste of time.
As I am writing this text, there is a new virtual staging company that offers vacant staging at $7 to $10 per photo. It’s not fully automated but a DIY solution, but still it’s pretty much rock-bottom. Often rock-bottom staging companies start their journey by locking themselves in a narrow gap of the market by undercutting even further.
The results are truly disastrous for the low-cost sector = low quality = high volumes = negative or no user experience with almost zero benefits. All this does not mean there is no place for low-cost staging companies, my point with this is to say:
Do not start the staging business without preparing yourself for success.
What is the Most Important Software in Virtual Staging Business?
Many virtual staging software is available today. However, it is essential to note that last year’s best software may not be the ultimate one this year. While your choice can spell out the difference between closing a sale and losing a valuable customer, you need to select the ones that are worth your time, energy, and investment. On this page, I’ve laid out some tips and tricks into the software and tutorials side of the business: click
For reliability, affordability, and authenticity, I have categorized the software according to their functionalities, i.e., customer relationship management (CRM), time management, photo-taking, photo-editing, 2D floor plans, 3D property models, invoicing, client engagement, cloud file storage, and integration.
The following are the 10-best software for 2021 and beyond that will allow you to revamp, design, and decorate any home space with ease consistent with your preferred style.
AutoCAD LT is the best 2-D floor plans app for uploading, opening, drafting, and documenting 2D drawings accurately, including layers and external references (Xrefs) of your home. Essentially, this software is the low-cost, 2D version of AutoCAD, its 3D version.
SketchUp is an inspiring 3D modeling software that comes with a robust set of features for 3D imaging, 3D printing, animations, document management, data import/export, etc. If you are a complete beginner in virtual staging and need a SketchUp tutorial, click here to learn the basics effortlessly.
Photoshop and affinity photo are worthy alternatives for virtual stagers looking for fully-featured image editors. Both have mutually recognizable features, including brushes, adjustments, layers, brushes, etc. While Affinity Photo lacks the depth of Photoshop, its set of features is sufficient for most users. If you cannot justify Photoshop’s recurring monthly fee, Affinity Photo’s one-time fee of $49.99 is your best bet.
This app comes with unique features for taking professional photos. You can easily control the focus, ISO, shutter speed, and white balance through your smartphone camera. Other features include burst shooting mode, color effects, interval timer, and real-time filters to adjust images. In addition to phone apps, you will need some more gear; check out another piece of information we’ve written recently:
This popular photo and video editing software not only helps you capture high-quality pictures from its im-built camera but also stores the images with thumbnail previews. The app also keeps essential information, including location, date, filters used, etc.
The output of a virtual staging business depends on its effectiveness to manage the time spent on various tasks, including marketing, emailing, cold calling, negotiations, social media, design, etc. Timely software tracks time and manages tasks, including the costs involved.
Structurally software uses AI/machine learning chatbot called Aisa Holmes to build relationships with potential clients with customized messages at first contact. Such a personalized client experience keeps website visitors engaged, and you can take charge of the conversation at will.
Google Drive + Dropbox
Both Google Drive and Dropbox backup your virtual staging files in the cloud. Google Drive gives you 15GB of free storage, while Dropbox offers 2GB. To get 2TB of storage with Google Drive, you must subscribe to Google One for $99.99/year. To get 2TB of storage with Dropbox, you will be charged $119.88/year.
While the obvious choice is Google Drive, Dropbox Paper might change your mind. This desktop app creates and coordinates your virtual staging designs by allowing you to edit, comment, manage tasks, or run meetings on your PC.
With 30+ payment gateways and custom invoicing options, this invoicing software organizes your finances by recording expenses, providing detailed tax reports, forecasting sales revenue, and attaining higher customer retention. In addition, its 3-layered security keeps your data 100% safe.
Zapier software acts as a go-between for two apps to automatically execute commands and trigger changes in the other. Zapier is compatible with Gmail, Facebook, Calendar, Dropbox, Microsoft Outlook, etc.
If you are starting your primary real estate business, you will need good management, and that comes with some good software and phone apps; it’s a good idea to check out our other piece of information written with a focus on that, too: click here.
Finding clients for Virtual Staging Business
- Put money aside to market your virtual staging business continually. After all, how do you think potential clients will know your business exists? Whether you choose to ask your family and friends to spread the word, share your business contacts on the neighborhood’s social media page, or post a flyer at your co-working space, self-promotion will pay off in the long run.
- The excellent news about self-promotion is that marketing your virtual staging business online, especially on social media, is expensive. For example, Instagram Live is effective in luring potential clients to know more about your services. You can invite up to three local realtors as guests to join you in the live session as you discuss pertinent ideas about your business.
- Another way is to seek collaborations. Reach out to real estate firms and home staging businesses in your target market and ask out one of their realtors for coffee so that you can exchange notes about what you can both bring to the table to benefit your businesses mutually. In the end, you will learn critical insights into finding home sellers looking for virtual stagers.
- Email marketing can magically help you stay in touch with your past clients and convert potential customers into loyal ones. Use impressive images of previously staged homes to email campaigns and increase the number of email subscribers. Send monthly newsletters about new properties, provide tips, and include links to ‘before’ and ‘after’ virtual tours of your virtually staged homes. Such visual elements will make the message more convincing.
How to Sell to Clients
The most crucial factor to consider when selling to clients is setting the right price per the market rate. Below are some tips on how to settle on the right price:
- Research the Market – Conduct a thorough analysis of the local market to know the prices other virtual stagers offer. Comparing prices of recently sold homes will help you quote the most competitive price that mirrors your objectives and projected profit.
- Consult Real Estate Agents – You can use a local agent with admirable experience selling virtually staged homes to help you analyze your local market in detail. The realtor will consider your objectives and motivations before setting a realistic price.
Compare the Cost per Square Foot – To arrive at the approximate appraised value, you need to compare homes with similar square footage. Keep in mind that price per square foot usually increases with a decrease in size and vice versa. Also, smaller homes have a higher square foot cost and vice versa.
There is an amazing piece of information that covers how to sell with virtual staging as an add-on to photography: click here.
Outsourcing Virtual Staging Business as an Add-on to the Main Business
Virtual Staging Resellers
You can use your virtual staging business as an add-on service in the central business by referring real estate sellers looking to rent or sell unfurnished properties to it or instead sell virtual staging to your colleagues and competitors. It will widen the possibilities of business with them. Outsourcing comes with the following critical virtual staging benefits:
- Selling more homes faster – Virtually staged homes sell up to 75% faster without the need to buy furniture or hire interior decorators.
- Increasing buyer interest – Since 90% of buyers start their home search online, virtually staged listings quickly draw their attention.
- Higher selling price – 83% of virtually staged homes sell for the actual or more than the asking price, as the buyer can quickly evaluate the property’s full potential.
- Access to the latest 3-D rendering technologies – Outsourcing virtual staging services helps home sellers gain access to the latest technology without investing.
What do you need to know about Virtual staging resellers
There are two sides of the coin with the resellers of virtual staging. Always make sure you’re dealing with the actual makers of the virtual staging and not a 3rd party that re-sells too. This not only will increase the prices, but it will prevent you from having direct control over the input and, most important – turnaround times.
Most virtual staging resellers tend to “squeeze” the staging companies for profits and being pressed by their clients; they push even further. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but surely it will not be in your favor.
Race to the bottom. Due to the global events in 2020, many start-up staging businesses appeared online, trying to enter the market and re-sell virtual staging at lower and lower prices. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you are in the lowest end of the market, but that’s about it.
My best advice is to do thorough research before embarking on a staging re-seller journey. The good thing is if you manage to find a decent reseller, you’ll enjoy an almost “hands-free” outsourcing model that brings even profits.
Let’s look at the positive and negative sides of working with virtual staging resellers.
Positives of the virtual staging resellers
- One point contact. Well structured staging providers must have dedicated managers, well spoken customer oriented person which is always there to answer questions and help. This removes the hassle from your shoulders to mess around with multiple points of contacts.
- Point and shoot. Staging resellers with good structures and experience must have a proven workflow in place which works like a charm e.g you send instructions and photos, they execute and return staged photos.
- Pricing model. Another positive side of this method. You will be able to predict in advance what your profits will be for every project you send their way.
Potential Negatives of the virtual staging resellers
- It takes time to find good staging reseller, especially in the todays market where 3D furniture accessible. Our reserach shows that 90% of the virtual staging resellers – just re-sell and they are not the actual makers of the stagings.
- Quality. Often the practice is to find a cheap staging company and re-sell their stagings. This method only increases the prices, but not the quality of the product.
- Limits. 97% of staging resellers can offer virtual staging via catalogs, you select – they execute. The end result often is “champaingne dinner on a beer budget”.
As virtual staging company we know works and what not. In the past 12 months we allocated plenty of time for reserach. Only 3% from all virtual staging companies offer bespoke staging with high-quality designs that really works.
With the tips mentioned above and tricks on how to start a virtual staging business, just put in the work, and you will be flying high even before you know it. If you need expert guidance and advice, drop us an email or call us, and I will be happy to help.
FAQ on Virtual Staging Business (As a Second Business)?
A virtual home stager improves the attractiveness of a home using several graphic design techniques to fix essential aesthetics and personality in a home, consequently increasing the chances of selling it to interested buyers at a competitive price.
– Low start-up costs
– Independent of real estate seasonality
– No licensing is needed to run the business
– Ease of marketing
– Difficulty in finding clients
– Several Revisions from Clients (Bottlenecks)
– Legal Issues (Fraudulent Misrepresentation)
To start a virtual staging business, you need:
– a target market (start local at first)
– network with realtors
– pricing structure
– marketing materials
– a team of virtual stagers
I recommend that you develop a solid business plan to refine your cash flow and monitor the needed capital before investing it.
Try to reach out to other business owners and real estate professionals who have a wealth of networking experience.
It is essential to select the most appropriate software for staging that will match your target market and pricing.
Conduct a thorough analysis of the local market to know the prices other virtual stagers offer.
Use a local agent with admirable experience selling virtually staged homes to help you analyze your local market in detail.
Keep in mind that price per square foot usually increases with a decrease in size and vice versa.
Offer your service at first as a Bonus add-on to your main package.
Gain trust with your new service and slowly build your client base.
You can use your start-up virtual staging business as an add-on service in the central business by referring real estate sellers looking to rent or sell unfurnished properties to it or instead establish a relationship with an already established virtual staging company.
At first, probably less than $500 a month; After you establish the practice, grow your clients and pricing structure, you can generate between $1,000 and $5,000 in the worst-case scenario per month.
The best place is to look at google. Find few companies, contact them and ask for information.
Compare the information:
– Pricing structure
– Turnaround time
– Quality of the stagings
– Customer service
After your analyses, think of where in the market is your real estate business. If you are in the average sector, selecting the cheapest staging provider might be a mistake. If you are at the low end of the market, it might be a mistake to select the most expensive staging company. Balance is the key!
Depending on what you have chosen as a strategy costs might vary from a few thousand dollars up to $20 – $25,000 to set up a workstation, hire a stager, and purchase models. If you have chosen to go down the outsourcing path, probably your start-up costs will be in the range of $500 – $1,000 for marketing purposes.
Profitability depends on your sector and focus. If your focus is quality but not quantity and depending on the capability of your team you can expect anywhere between $300 to $1,500 per project.
If your path is quantity rather than quality, achieving $50-$100 profit from a project is considered a great success.
Staging companies driven by a single person tend to make monthly between $1,200 up to $2-$3000 assuming they have a good customer database and setup workflow.