Virtual Staging for real estate is most often described as a service which moderates a picture of an empty room by the addition of images of a sofa, coffee table, and other furniture and accessories. The empty property will be furnished with modern items without any actual changes. Cost effective and labor & time saving are the main factors making virtual staging more preeminent than physical staging. However, there are still some controversies around virtual staging.
Not all agents feel the benefits of virtual staging compares to the real thing.
Carl Medford, who owns his own staging company, The Next Stage – in San Francisco’s East Bay, feels virtual staging is deceptive and impractical.
“Since I’ve worked with so many buyers over the years, I know what they want to see when they show up—especially millennials. They are so visually oriented; they need the actual furniture to be in the room when they visit so they can fully experience the home in its best light,” he says.
Jennie – President & CEO of Stagedhomes.com and Chairwoman for the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) – wrote on one of her posts that “Buyers ONLY know what they See, not the way it’s going to be!”. She means that virtual staging for real estate is just the pictures showing empty rooms with its alternation. When home buyers actually stand in the empty house, it is still tough for them to imagine how their furniture fits the room.
Misrepresentation – a common concern of all agents. Greg Nino, a Texas realty agent with RE/MAX West Houston Professionals [now RE/MAX Compass], encountered the issue painfully. His clients felt outraged and blamed him for bringing her to such a blatantly misrepresented house when they had visited a house that had been digitally rearranged, repaired and enhanced. When they arrived, “The house looks like hell, the carpet is dirty, the walls have dents, scrapes and broken mini-blinds. Plus there was partially eaten and rotting watermelon in the kitchen”, he told.
Although virtual staging for real estate can create misrepresentation, there are numerous advocators for virtual staging.
Kirk Lebowe, owner-broker of PreVue Properties in Los Angeles County, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he views virtual staging as a great way give buyers decorating ideas.
Annmarie D., an agent with Prudential Connecticut says, “I had the property listed for just one short week and it produced 4 offers for full price!”
Catie M., a Top Agent with Long & Foster says, “We work with investors who renovate homes and having the vacant photos of the property virtually staged really helps sell the home fast and adds to our investors’ return on investment…a double positive for everybody!”
Sue M., a Broker and Agent with Re/Max of Naperville (Chicago suburb) listed a condo in a community where 60-plus condos were already on the market. “My condo was vacant and I had 3 virtually staged photos, which I added to my virtual tour,” she says. “Within 5 days, the condo was under contract, beating out all others that were in the same price range!
For or against, it depends on individual perspective. However, all the misrepresentation from Virtual Staging can be solved if the message the realtors convey is clear enough. Deborah Rutter, associate broker with Nest Realty in Charlottesville, Virginia, shared that “I have to believe the controversy around it now is not about the staging itself and not about the fake furniture, it’s the deception around how it’s used,” she says. “It’s such a reasonable tool to use, but like everything else, it’s all about application. It’s all about making sure the public has a clear understanding of what they can expect.”