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Does Virtual Staging Have a Place in Your Service Offering?

Published: 25/07/2019
By: Brandon

A friend in the industry recently shared this article with me from the business section of CNN’s website, in which the author reported on the recent increase of virtual staging within the real estate industry. The article quoted a couple of real estate agency executives in Florida who noted that with the increased quality and sophistication of virtual staging software, there was no real need to pay the money (or the time) on traditional staging with actual furniture, art pieces, etc. One executive was quoted as saying: “My average staging can cost between $4,000 to $8,000 (but) virtual staging will cost me $100 to $150." The article went on to note that, even when these agencies are doing an open house in an empty home, they are displaying photos of the virtually staged room on an easel set up in the actual room so that visitors can more easily visualize what the space might look like.

The article made a compelling case for the use of virtual staging within the real estate realm. We know that the cost of virtual staging has come down over the past 3-4 years and the quality has increased by leaps and bounds. We also know that many real estate photographers have already incorporated additional services beyond standard still photography as part of their business (i.e., aerial photography, video, 3D, floor plans, etc.). So, my questions to the group are: Is there a legitimate opportunity here? Is virtual staging something that you might consider including as part of your service offering? Or do you consider it gimmicky?

18 comments on “Does Virtual Staging Have a Place in Your Service Offering?”

  1. Hi Everyone, Ted Salamone of PERC Photography School here (www.perconline.org). I train a lot of real estate photographers and in the course of doing so I have recently added Virtual Staging to my repertoire. My students and realtors hire me to do the service for them (as I also operate a photo and video studio.) So far none of the photographers have been interested in learning about VS themselves, they are happy to hire someone to do it for them. It is too early for me to tell if VS will be a large part of my revenue stream, but so far, with just word of mouth, I am happy.

    The tools have gotten much easier to use and the quality of the images are superb. It does not take more than a few hours to learn, so I think it is worth offering.

  2. We did a shoot for a client - nice house - a little quirky.
    It sat on the market with a low number of showings.
    They virtually staged some rooms - showings increased, but no offers.
    Finally they staged for real and we did a new photo shoot.
    Multiple offers that weekend.

    My point is that with every tool Virtual Staging has its place. I recommend it to clients for condos for "cookie cutter" places. But you cannot beat real staging and great photos to really make that emotional connection with a buyer.

    I have the option on my website, but would rather refer my clients directly to Box Brownie if they want VS.
    Its more hassle than value for me.

  3. I do offer virtual staging, but do not get a lot of business from it. I think most realtors want to avoid the 'let down' when people come to see the empty property for real. On the other hand, plenty of realtors do moan about the cost of real staging... so there is probably some market there.

    I do the "staging" of the photos myself, rather than sending them offshore, so what I would like, is a virtual staging program/library that I can buy rather than use on a per photo cost.

  4. I have had a few architectural clients (not R/E) ask for the service. Only two have gone forward with it. The rest felt that it was too expensive.

    R/E clients are far more price sensitive and thus not good prospects for the service.

  5. I believe that there is still a very important place for real staging - people visit homes and if it isn't staged, (at a minimum beds made, kitchen and baths cleaned with accessories, etc.) then the chance for a favorable viewing is proportional to the imagination of the potential buyer. However, so many people look online for homes to see and agents show images on each sheet they give the potential buyers that sometimes a virtual staging makes sense - especially for an empty house or an older house. I believe these virtually staged images should be labelled as such and MLS should allow for this labelling for a truth in advertising. One thing we have done in the past is we have virtually staged a room in 3 different decorating styles and then blew the images up and put them on easels in the living room. This is great for an empty house or a home that is minimally decorated as it can give concepts to buyers - i.e. midcentury modern, beachy or traditional.

  6. I have been asked in recent months to consider VS. I don't have a lot to add but am interested in others experiences and appreciate this article. Thanks!

  7. I provided virtual staging services for the past two years. However, very few listing agents or builders wanted it, so I removed that service from my website. I used visualstager.com.

  8. I've done a few homes (outsourced), but the cost isn't inline with my customer's budgets (they're a load of cheap skates). I think it's a great option for a home that's vacant and in the middle of the market where VS can add a bunch and there isn't the marketing budget for physical staging. Even as good as it is now, it's not perfect and lighting is a big issue. We don't get to photograph each room at the time of day we want and that can mean light streaming in through a window and it would take a very talented virtual artist to put that light across the staging in a way that looks realistic.

    The local MLS is getting more restrictive about things like VS and sky swaps along with all of their other prohibitions on image editing. They do seem to be fine with very sub-par cell phone photography. I don't have an issue with virtually staging a home. The furnishings aren't being sold with the home and as long as the virtual furniture isn't scaled to give a false impression, it's not cheating. It easy enough for me to output a gallery for the MLS and another set of images for everyplace else if an agent thinks it will get them in trouble. As I've stated several times, I don't think the MLS is as relevant for consumer facing marketing as it once was. It's more of a B2B (or agent to agent) resource.

    It's not always a bad thing to show a home as being vacant. If an agent is seeing lots of inquiries from out of the area due to a big company starting a new project or facility, a buyer might prefer a home that is move in ready so they can get in as soon as escrow closes.

    The most useless thing in my opinion is the staging job that's just 6-12 decorative items that are being shuffled from room to room for the photos. I don't get warm fuzzies from a photo that shows a fireplace with 3 things on the mantle, a fake tree in the corner and a fake fire with no furniture, pictures, etc. Another negative is the divorce sale where the house is clearly showing one occupant, typically male, and the rest of the house is vacant except for some toiletries near one sink in the master bath and a smattering of things in the kitchen. If you are in the market and see something like that, it might be a good home to lowball. It's a good bet that the sellers need to sell with the one left in the home wanting to take the money and move elsewhere as soon as possible. Some VS might be good in that instance to make the home seem fully occupied.

  9. I started offering it at the beginning of this year because I kept having requests for it. I outsource it and make very little from it due to the amount of time I have to spend explaining exactly what I want and usually having to submit edits because they didn't do something right. When it is done right, it can look really good (for what it is) and definitely helps people visualize the space better. I feel like in my market, it has taken off as kind of a novelty/trend, and I've been surprised with how much agents have been willing to spend on it (while sometimes whining about the cost of photos).

    If I could figure out how to do it myself and do it quickly, it would be a nice add-on, but as of right now it is often more trouble than it is worth.

  10. "Does VS have a place...." If you are in business and your clients are asking for it....you would be misguided in not giving them the option. Is it close to the real thing...He.. no, but it is a lot better than it used to be. I have found that most clients are those that are leasing out their properties and rental units.

    Bottom line, it is an easy offer and if you don't take advantage of it...someone else will

    BTW, BoxBrownie claims rights to your image if they mess with it...something to think about

  11. We see virtual staging in use on just under 5% of our listings. Its important in designing your offering to be something that you are comfortable with and stand behind. Most of our VS services are rendered on truly empty rooms, and we limit modifications to simply furnishings on our main VS product.

    My favorite clients are the ones that "get it" or use the service responsibly. Some clients print up the work on a board and have it displayed at the open house. Every image we offer is marked with a disclosure note, which is something that we will under no circumstances remove, and are rarely asked to do it.

    I look at it as a problem solving kit for agents. What is it about the home that is going to prevent it from moving? if its something non intrinsic to the home itself, like the furnishings / decor (or most often "lack of decor"), I think its wise to responsibly illustrate a lifestyle.

  12. Important things to consider: Not all Virtual Staging is created equal. Ive seen some people have virtually staged photos with furniture that looked like it was out of a Sims computer game in the 1990s. Quite often you get what you pay for, which is why its important to check out the stagers work before hand. Also pay attention to if they claim rights to your photos and what their revision policy is.

    For example http://www.SnapSharks.com offers high end Virtual Staging for less than half the price of a lot of their high end competitors and they have unlimited revisions.

  13. Thanks, bro for sharing the article with us.I'm a realtor and three months before I was in doubt whether should I try traditional staging or Modern staging for my client who was looking to sell this home. So I researched through the internet about the difference and compared the price and I found virtual staging is much cheaper than traditional staging, so I did the same I hired a company called Editblocks and there from India, doing real estate image editing work. I emailed them saying can you edit my real estate photos. I never believed them at first but thought outsourcing my files to the US and UK will cost me more, so I went through thier portfolios and decided to take this risk. I told them I'm sending you some of the sample images and if you are able to edit those images then I can refer you the rest of my images to edit. After two to three hour I got an email from them with the sample images then I opened and checked out those sample images and there were upto the mark which I was expecting. Decided to send the rest of the images to edit, they also claimed with a money-back guarantee if the images is not upto the mark then they will return back the money this a great deal for me, my client home got sold and I was happy with less price I got a better deal.TRY it if you're looking to stage your real estate photos, at low price.

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