Virtual Staging: A Less Expensive Way to Market Your Home

A virtually staged living room and bedroom.
This living room and bedroom were virtually staged. Virtual staging offers sellers an entirely digital way to effectively showcase a home’s potential, without involving any physical furniture or home visits from staging companies. Photo courtesy of roOomy

Virtual staging might sound futuristic, but it’s actually one of the easiest ways to successfully market your home.

Whether you’re in the process of selling a home, or just mapping out a plan for sale in the coming months, here’s what you need to know about virtual staging in the age of COVID-19 and beyond — including how it can help you save money.

What is Virtual Staging?

Virtual staging offers sellers an entirely digital way to effectively showcase a home’s potential, without involving any physical furniture or home visits from staging companies.

“With virtual staging, sellers and agents are able to take static photos of home interiors and create ultra-realistic, furnished property assets at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional home staging methods,” says Lindsay Dillon, VP of Strategic Partnerships & Marketing for virtual staging company roOomy.

Staging a home can help it sell faster — and for more money. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, a majority of sellers’ agents said their clients make anywhere from 1% to 20% more on a staged home than an unstaged one.

So how does virtual staging work? It’s actually pretty simple.

How Virtual Staging Software Works

While traditional staging involves a team of professionals coming to your house and doing things like rearranging furniture and bringing in supplementary decor, virtual staging is a lot less complicated.

“Usually the seller simply sends in pictures of the spaces they want staged,” says designer Stephanie Purcell of Redesigned Classics. “In some cases the company can come out and take pictures, but this usually involves an extra fee. Virtual stagers then add 3D design items (like couches, beds, plants, etc.) to give the space a lifelike appearance.”

Virtual stagers are also well-versed in design, so they create appealing virtual decor for each room.

“The seller doesn’t need to do any of the heavy lifting or prepare the space,” says Dillon. “We’re able to build our virtual staging models using a simple 2D photo – just a JPEG – of the interior, which can be done for both furnished properties or unfurnished ones.”

Can you really get a fully staged home without moving a single piece of furniture? Yep. And like most entirely virtual services, as compared to their IRL counterparts, you can save quite a bit of money.

How Virtual Staging Saves Money

A virtually staged living room and dining room.
Virtual staging can be far less expensive than having a home traditionally staged by a professional. Photo courtesy of roOomy

Since sellers sometimes end up paying for staging services out-of-pocket, price is an important factor when determining how to best stage your home.

“The cost for virtual staging is a fraction of the cost of traditional staging,” says real estate agent Shea Adair of Sell Raleigh Home Fast. “I paid $1,200 to have one room traditionally staged for a three-month term, versus $100 for three virtually staged rooms. The price difference is astounding, and you literally can’t tell that those rooms were staged virtually.”

Although the price of virtual staging can vary based on the type of project, most experts agree the savings is significant.

“Virtual staging typically costs less than 1% of the home’s sale price, while physical staging (depending on the size of the project) can quickly add up to thousands of dollars,” says Dillon. “Most physical home stagers also require a three-month minimum staging contract, even if you sell the home before that time, in addition to charging design consultation fees and a monthly staged fee for the duration that the home is on the market.”

Note These Things When Hiring a Virtual Staging Company

A few things to keep in mind:

You should always check out a virtual stager’s portfolio before hiring them. Be sure you like their overall design style, and chat with them about what your expectations are for the finished photos. It’s also a good idea to coordinate with your real estate agent during these initial talks, since they likely have more insight into trending designs for your neighborhood and what will attract the most buyers.

Next: turnaround time. While most experts we spoke with cited turnaround times by virtual stagers as short as a few business days, it’s still worth verifying the time frame with any professionals you hire — especially if your agent is waiting on the photos to list your property.

Finally, keep in mind that virtual staging is just that —  a few photos of your home that exist in the digital world. In other words, it won’t change what your house looks like in real life. And while that might be just fine for you and your favorite old couch, it can sometimes come as a surprise to the buyer.

“When someone goes to view a house in person, they might expect to see a house physically staged like they saw in the pictures,” says Adair. “That reality can sometimes be a drawback. In those cases, I have a small picture on an easel of one of the staged pictures, so people can visually see again what they saw earlier, with the entire room virtually staged.”

As long as your buyers understand the photos they saw show a hypothetical version of your home, they won’t be too disappointed when they see the non-staged version in person.