- Virtual home staging for a certain type of property can produce stronger consumer interest and attract offers on empty homes.
It can be difficult for a buyer to get over an unsightly paint color, let alone envision a space with tasteful furnishings or new flooring.
And many online real estate consumers who see a property with forlornly empty rooms will move on swiftly to homes that work harder to catch their eye.
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Miami Beach agent Alyssa Morgan Brinegar recently took on a listing that had languished on the market for more than nine months and gone through a number of price reductions.
Using virtual home staging technology while keeping the home at the same price as the previous agent, she sold it in four days.
Virtual staging places furniture and decor in a room to make it seem more appealing and livable, but unlike traditional staging, the furniture and finishes are all computer-generated.
She put a second property on the market last week, which had only garnered two showings in seven months, and after eight showings in the first couple of days, Morgan Brinegar had two offers this past weekend.
“I believe the power of virtual staging played a large role in the quick sale of the properties,” Morgan Brinegar said. “Virtual staging really allows buyers to envision the possibilities the property has to offer. It helps them picture a space at its fullest potential. It shows more of a finished product.”
Virtual staging for $200K-$300K listings
As one of Coldwell Banker’s 30 under 30 last year, Morgan Brinegar has sold three listings so far this year totaling $4 million. She uses VHT Studios technology for her virtual staging and pays $199 per photo.
She said she usually concentrates on “the two most important rooms,” for staging — the master bedroom and the living room.
To use VHT Studios’ Virtual Staging Suite, agents must submit high quality photos of the rooms they want digitally revamped and specify the decor style, furniture and paint colors that will best fit the room and potential buyers’ tastes.
The renderings are ready within three days and can be immediately uploaded to an MLS or used for print advertising.
The staging suite offers four options:
- Virtual Staging decorates vacant spaces in any style.
- Virtual Declutter removes clutter and “depersonalizes” living spaces.
- Virtual Paint changes the appearance of any flat surface in a room.
- Virtual Redecorate transforms any room with wide-ranging design styles and furnishings that are most likely to attract buyers.
For Morgan Brinegar’s two properties, the majority of interested buyers have been investors who don’t need to fall in love with the home. Being able to see that it would be easy to market and command a certain rent, however, is useful for this clientele.
When attracting these kinds of buyers, virtual staging can come into play, she said. The properties, both condos, were in the $200,000-$300,000 range.
“It’s great for this price range,” Morgan Brinegar said. “Everything that is a million dollars or over, you would need professional staging.” When using professional home stagers, she spends from anywhere from $12,000 and up.
Why it’s important to stay realistic
When using VHT Studios technology, the key is not to get too carried away, Morgan Brinegar said.
“You can choose from a slew of different finishes, but it’s super important to make sure it looks realistic,” she added.
A modern look may not suit the building, for example. If it’s a 1920s building (as is common in Miami) you have to keep with that era or style.
Morgan Brinegar posts the virtually staged photos in the same carousel as the originals so consumers can see the rooms both empty and staged. For example, on this listing, photo no. 1 is virtually staged, and photo no. 4 is the original. In addition, photo no. 2 is virtually staged, and no. 5 is the original.
Including both virtually staged photos and unstaged photos online is considered to be ethical practice in the industry, as is avoiding the use of virtual staging to cover up a home’s flaws.
Morgan Brinegar makes it clear to buyer clients that the virtual staging works as a rendering, so they can better imagine what the space could look like. She said no buyers have complained when they arrive to the house unstaged.
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Southeast regional vice president, Nancy Corey, who oversees Morgan Brinegar, said it is in the agent’s best interests to disclose the use of virtual home staging because you don’t want the buyer getting there and being disappointed.
Brian Balduf, CEO and co-founder of VHT Studios, said some MLSs had now added a checkbox on the MLS listing to indicate that a home had some rooms that were “digitally altered.”
He finds that quite often agents will use virtual home staging to show what a difference some TLC — such as painting a room a certain color — can make and encourage sellers to do the work.
Seeing spaces: Office, nursery or bedroom?
Balduf is also increasingly seeing agents show a space in different ways to broaden the appeal to buyers.
They might show a room in various styles and illustrate how it could be used — as an office, a nursery or a bedroom, for example.
The VHT Studios founder added that one of the company’s most popular requests from agents at the moment is intel on what sorts of styles and designs are popular in the neighborhood of the home they’re preparing to list.
“The current furnishings might be outdated, but they don’t know what would work in the space. We have all kinds of different styles, but they may not know what people are looking at. We have that data because we own the photos,” he said.
“There is a big difference between how you would style a condo in Miami compared with a single-family home in Jacksonville,” said Balduf.
VHT Studios is using the data it’s collected to offer additional insights on design trends and make its recommendations more salient. There will be more to come on that front, said Balduf.
Other competitors in the real estate virtual staging realm include Spotless, PadStyler, Virtual Staging LLC and Rooomy, which in addition to others offer varying services and price tiers.