Home Staging Explained
Before understanding virtual staging, we must understand its predecessor, home staging. Around 1999, real estate agents discovered that if they staged homes for sell, they could sell more of them. By staging a home, we mean putting in furniture, hanging paintings, or photos, and putting in electrical appliances that signal to potential buyers what a home might look like when fully outfitted.
Real estate agents have found great success by creating ideal homes. Instead of selling shells and relying on buyers to use their imaginations, real estate agents outfitted homes for sell with an image of what the home might look like.
Clean, comfortable, and an exciting place to call home. Providing those impressions are the goals with home staging. Agents that became great home stagers ended up selling more homes. Home staging has become close to a necessity in today’s real estate agent industry. It’s so important that companies exist to specifically help real estate agents stage their homes for sale.
Although home staging is necessary and helps real estate agents sell more homes, there is a major pitfall: cost. The cost to stage homes has only risen. Companies that stage homes must sell their services at a premium. If real estate agents wish to stage homes themselves, they must gather the necessary furniture, paintings or photographs, plants, appliances, pretty much anything for their ideal home.
Doing so costs money and time. It takes money to secure rental contracts for art work and furniture. It takes money to secure the movement of pieces for home staging. It takes money to take out the furniture, art work, appliances, etc., once a home has sold.
Some real estate agents found that staging homes, or using a home staging service, ate into their home sale profits. For many real estate agents, home staging costs do not justify the rewards.
The solution? Virtual staging. With virtual staging, real estate agents can cut home staging costs. Virtual staging is a quickly growing segment in the real estate agent industry.
Trouble Staging a Home? Virtually Stage It!
Cost is the number one reason not to traditionally home stage a house. For real estate agents that are first starting out, it’s almost impossible to traditionally home stage a residence. They don’t have the funds.
How much cost are we talking about here? Per Realtor.com, the average cost for a home staging consultation is $300 to $600. The average cost to stage a room per month is $500 to $600. That’s per month. If the house is a slow mover, the costs can significantly add up!
Real estate agents have no reason to worry, though. If they can’t afford to physically home stage, they can turn to virtual home staging.
What is Virtual Staging?
Virtual staging is all about the software.
It is all about the software, but it’s more than just the software. Virtual staging is cheaper than home staging. It allows real estate agents to virtually stage a home. When you stage a home, when you put specific furniture, art on the walls, plants on a coffee table, etc., you make a home look more attractive to potential buyers.
Virtual staging allows you to do all of that online. You mustn’t spring for the cost of furniture, moving furniture, cleaning the home, putting in plants, live or not, or doing anything else to the home to get it ready to show.
Virtual staging has revolutionized the real estate agent industry because it’s allowed agents to do everything they’d do during the home staging process via the internet. That saves real estate agents money and helps them create the home of their choosing.
How? They decide on the couch, coffee table, and towels in the bathroom. Nothing depends on cost or availability. The only cost is software.
Why Virtual Staging Might be Worth It
No doubt, a traditionally home staged residence will sell faster than a virtually staged residence. However, using real estate tech like virtual staging might be worth it. There are some positives to virtually staging a home as opposed to traditionally staging a home:
- Virtual staging costs less – $500 to $600 per room per month can add up to thousands of dollars that many real estate agents don’t have. It costs significantly less to virtually stage a home.
- Virtual furniture isn’t real – Furniture, art work, everything in a traditionally staged home is worth something. In a virtually staged home the furniture and art work aren’t real. There’s no chance of someone breaking or defacing the furniture or artwork. Nobody will steal any of the towels or kitchen utensils.
- Virtually staged homes allow for freedom – Traditionally staged homes are great, but real estate agents don’t have the same freedom when they traditionally stage a home than they would if they virtually staged a home. When real estate agents traditionally stage a home, they must use what’s available to them. They can’t pick and choose.
Expounding upon this idea of staging freedom allows us to see the real value in virtual staging. When a real estate agent pays the initial $300 to $600 for a home staging consultation, the home stager automatically chooses furniture they have available to them.
Here’s an analogy:
When we go to the doctor, the doctor often describes medicine that they discovered via a pharmaceutical pitch. Does the doctor really know if that medicine is better for you than other medicine? Maybe. Maybe not.
The same is true for home staging consultants. They stage homes based on a) their preferences, and b) what they have available to stage the home with, or c) what they know their suppliers have available. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any good home stagers out there. There are! But, real estate agents should be aware of how professional home stagers think before signing up with one.
Now that we’ve got a good idea of the benefits of virtual staging, let’s get to the nuts and bolts.
Use Virtual Staging Common Sense
Effective virtual staging is about common sense.
What you should do to create the perfectly virtually staged home:
- Think about the entire room
Let’s say that you find the perfect image of a couch on whatever virtual staging software you’re using. So, you drop the couch into the living room. Then, you find what you think is the perfect coffee table. You drop that into the room.
Perfect couch and perfect coffee table. What could go wrong? For starters, do the coffee table and couch create an aesthetically pleasing room? Or, are both just aesthetically pleasing on their own?
If whatever you put into your room only exists as a beautiful piece on its own, what’s the point? You must consider the entire room before deciding on the exact pieces of furniture. Staging is about the full effect of a room, not just a specific piece.
- When in doubt, go with white with splashes of color
The fantastic blue couch might look great when you first see it, but it may not work with the full black coffee table and that stark red loveseat isn’t doing you any favors either.
What to do in this situation? How about white? White won’t offend anyone. You can also add flowers to contrast something like a white couch as well as throw pillows to really bring the entire look together.
In the bathroom, you might not be able to use white as much. Still, be careful about what color you choose. Colors affect moods. So, be sure you’re not going to put anyone in a bad mood with your color pallet.
- Put yourself in the viewers’ shoes
If you don’t think like a viewer, how will you know the staging work you’ve done will have the desired effect?
Take a step back and think like a viewer. Viewers, potential home buyers, will look at your virtual staging and consider how they might roam through the home. It’s not just about creating a pretty picture. It’s about putting the viewer into the home as if you had staged it in real life.
That’s the key. The feeling a potential buyer might get roaming inside the home in real life must translate through your virtual staging. It’s not easy. But, if you take a moment to think like a viewer, you can accomplish it.
- Think about what you’d like to see
Consider what you’d like to see if you were a potential buyer. If you’re a real estate agent who owns your own home, did you view a staged home? Have you ever walked into a staged home? If so, what did you think? How did it make you feel?
Were you critical about how the real estate agent staged the home? Also, there’s nothing wrong with borrowing from a peer. Ask their opinion if you trust them. Better yet, see how they’ve staged the homes they’ve sold.
- Have fun and create that lived in moment
If you concentrate too hard on making everything perfect, there’s no way your virtually staged home will have the live-in feel. Unless you’re selling a model home, you want to make sure that viewers see themselves living inside the home for sale.
They must imagine what it would be like to sit on the couch, sleep in the bed, wash up in the bathroom, and cook in the kitchen. Have fun while you put together your virtually staged home for sale and more than likely everything will seem natural.
Virtual Staging Pitfalls to Avoid
Now that we know what we should do as real estate agents to virtually stage a home, we want to stay away from the following virtual staging pitfalls.
- Go overboard
This goes without saying, but before skipping over #1 and moving to #2 consider how easy it is to go overboard. So many great images exist pretty much with every staging software that real estate agents could easily get out of control.
If you’re not virtually staging Kim Kardashian’s home, don’t make it look like Kim lives there. Don’t ever forget the lived-in feel. Home buyers will most likely purchase the residence to live in it. Definitely make it clean looking, but don’t go overboard and make it look too posh or flashy.
- Overthink things
Overthinking things can lead to a stodgy virtually staged home. You must think about how the entire room looks, but you can’t worry about every single detail. If you do, you could end up taking a week to get your virtually staged home up, which means you’re wasting time trying to get the virtual version of your home for sale together while you could be working to sell it.
- Forget to get someone else’s opinion before going live
Don’t go live, don’t publish, until you’ve gotten someone else’s opinion. Just like any art, you need someone to critically consider your work before publishing. Take their criticism with a grain of salt, though.
Just because someone has an opinion, it doesn’t mean that you must go with it. Always criticize the criticism even if you do it internally.
- Get too cute
Cute is okay, but you can get too cute. Remember, whomever sees your virtually staged home will probably want to live in it. Cuteness can be a turn off if it’s too much.
- Try to make things look overly sleek
The flip side of cute is sleek. Sleek can be nice. But, it’s not always a good idea. First, this is a virtually staged home. If it looks like a show room for the furniture, that will turn off potential home buyers. Second, sleek is often expensive. Remember, the images you put into your virtually staged home are just images. Third, sleek often is overly effective. What we mean by that is sleek gives the impression that it’s the only way to outfit a home.
Make sure your virtually staged home doesn’t look too sleek. Sleek is good. Too sleek will turn off home buyers.
Ensure Virtual Staging Best Results
How can real estate agents ensure best results when virtually staging a home? That’s the most important question. Virtual staging is meaningless unless it’s effective. Effective virtual staging starts with great software.
Virtual staging software provides the platform for real estate agents to stage homes. Like not all home staging companies are the same, not all virtual staging software is the same. Before getting into what you should look for in software, see below for the top 5 things great virtual staging software provides.
- Supports what you’re trying to accomplish
The only reason to purchase any software for anything is if it helps us complete tasks. When it comes to virtual staging, we should have an idea of what we’re trying to accomplish. Because we don’t want to continually purchase virtual staging software, it will help if we write down exactly what we expect to accomplish from our software.
Not all virtual staging software is the same. Some provide benefits like customer service while others don’t. Also, staging software interfaces are different. So, always consider the software you purchase in conjunction with what you intend on doing with it.
- Provides images that don’t go out of style
Once you start virtually staging homes for sale, you’re going to learn rather quickly that what was hot and in last year isn’t necessarily hot and in this year. Sometimes, styles change in the matter of months. Not only that, but you must always consider your audience.
Who’s your audience? That’s easy. Your audience is anybody who might purchase the home you’re staging. That’s it. Your audience isn’t anybody else outside of those individuals. Sounds easy enough, right?
Nope. Because you have no idea who might see your home for sale, you have no idea in what style to stage your home. That means you must think about purchasing software that includes images that never go out of style.
It’s really the only way to ensure you virtually stage a home for sale that won’t turn off any buyers. You must use images that cross styles without being boring.
- Easy to use
Not all software interfaces are the same. Hopefully, you get a chance to try out a few interfaces before settling on the right staging software for you. Some interfaces are easy to use while other interfaces take more time.
Don’t just settle on ease of use interface software, though. By easy to use, we mean everything. It can just be easy to use without excellent images. It can’t be difficult to use with great images. Ease of use, means the whole package: great interface that allows you to virtually stage a home without any trouble and provides the necessary images.
Any staging software that provides one without the other will be a waste of time and money.
- Realizes it’s only a tool
The very best software knows that it’s only a tool. By this we mean that the best virtual staging software doesn’t make decisions for you. Instead, it allows you, the real estate agent, to make those decisions.
That makes sense when you think about it. If a real estate agent uses the same virtual staging software as everyone else and that staging software makes decisions for the real estate agent, the idea of home staging as art goes out the window.
You always want to maintain control. Choose software that’s a tool, not the final word in staging.
- Provides assistance and direction
The best software most definitely realizes it’s a tool, but it doesn’t just present itself and that’s it. The absolute best virtual staging software realizes it’s a tool, but also provides a fair amount of assistance and direction.
Most real estate agents don’t have an innate ability to home stage. That means for most real estate agents, they must spend some time learning the best way to stage homes for sale. This is true even if they employ software to virtually stage their homes.
Once a real estate agent becomes adept at virtually staging homes, the agent can then disregard any type of assistance or direction. Getting to that point could take time, though.
Find the Perfect Virtual Staging Software
You want to find the perfect staging software for you. The best way to know what software will work for you is to compare and contrast that software. Below, we compare 6 different staging software.
6 Virtual Staging Software Compared
Virtual Staging Solutions
The Pitch: Virtual Staging Solutions gives the impression that it’s the big dog on the block. Like most of the sites on this list, the company provides a virtually staged photo on their home page. The staged photo, of a home in Laguna Beach, CA, perfectly demonstrates how the software can help real estate agents.
One thing Virtual Staging Solutions does in its pitch is only give snippets of information. For example, they write something like, “Be Ahead of the Game. Surprise and delight buyers and sellers. Stand out from competitors, presell new builds, get buyers into their dream home and help sellers show the potential of their property.”
That’s all well and good, but they don’t give hard specifics about how they do it.
Cost: Virtual Staging Solutions charges $59 per photo. That’s much more than either BoxBrownie or VRX Staging.
The Pitch: While companies like BoxBrownie and Virtual Staging Solutions pitch their customer service, Visual Stager has decided to do something different. From Visual Stager’s perspective, real estate agents know exactly what they want. They don’t need help from outside sources.
Visual Stager has decided to be the low-cost leader in virtual staging software. They make no bones about this. On their home page, they describe their software as a “DYI Virtual Staging Software”. Their pitch line is, “The do-it-yourself virtual home staging software that lets you stage your photos in minutes!”
Virtual Stager provides a 4-stage, self-service process for real estate agents to virtually stage a home:
- Click – Click a photo and upload it to Virtual Stager
- Erase – Optionally have them remove any other furniture
- Stage – Select photos, click, drag, and stage
- Flare – Save on the cloud as a flarelet, or share staged photos as JPEGS
Cost: Real estate agents purchase credits and then they use those credits to stage a photo. To stage a single photo costs $15. If you prepay, the cost per drops to $6.99. You must prepay $700 to get the $6.99 per unit rate.
The Pitch: PadStyler fashions itself a virtual staging company for the everyday real estate agent even though they pitch the fact that Drew Scott from Property Brothers has used their services. It offers you the chance to chat with one of their representatives so that you can get to know exactly what differentiates them from their competitors.
Cost: Although the website gives off a friendlier feel, PadStyler does charge $59 per photo just like Virtual Staging Solutions. That’s a lot for a photo.
Virtual Staging Lab
The Pitch: You’d be forgiven if you confused Virtual Staging Solutions and Virtual Staging Lab with one another. Both created sites in the new, modern, style. Like Virtual Staging Solutions, Virtual Staging Lab purports to be experts in staging homes online for real estate agents.
Cost: Virtual Staging Lab charges $40 per photo. They offer discounts to help with the cost per unit.
The Pitch: BoxBrownie’s main pitch is that they use technology to provide the best possible customer service. BoxBrownie makes a point to say that they’re cloud-based. They also offer a 3 image free trial.
BoxBrownie doesn’t charge a subscription rate. Per their site, “Pay only for what you use with no subscriptions – just pay one fixed low rate per image.”
Cost: BoxBrownie’s rate is $32 per image.
The Pitch: VRX Staging says that they can get virtually staged photos back within 2 days. VRX Staging wishes to sell their services on “speed.”
Cost: VRX Staging charges $35 per photo
Although Virtual Staging Solutions, Visual Stager, PadStyler, Virtual Staging Lab, Box Brownie and VRX Staging are all possible choices, in our research we found roOmy to offer the best value for the cost.
The Ultimate Real Estate Virtual Staging Software: roOmy
To us, roOomy is the top virtual staging software on the market. What is roOomy and why does it get the Home Value Leads stamp of approval? Check it out!
What is roOomy?
roOomy is a tech company that provides virtual staging for real estate agents, home furnishing companies and interior designers. If you’re looking for a cool, cost-effective and relatively easy way to visualize a room with a specific style and set of furniture and decor, then this is the tool for you.
roOomy allows you to upload a photo of every room in a house and to choose from more than 100,000 furniture and household items to decorate it.
How does roOomy work?
The team at roOomy has made it super easy to not only get started but to get your virtual staging complete in a relatively short period of time. It all begins with a simple contact form to let them know what you need and to submit your listing images.
From there, the roOomy team will get to work to create custom 3D images of your newly stage rooms. They actually style the rooms for you. It’s like having a personal interior designer staging your listings.
You approve the proofs of your staged images then receive high-res, realistic-looking images to use. You will also receive a web link to embed your images in case you’d like to include on a page in your website or on your blog.
More info about roOomy
You didn’t think the roOomy team would have all the fun, did you? You and even your clients can use the roOomy app to stage a listing on any iPad. Augmented reality is another awesome feature, using the roOomy Reality app built for Google Tango.
Don’t let the cost of traditionally staging a home stop you. Staging is necessary. Homes that are staged sell 73% faster. With tools like roOomy, real estate agents like you can virtually stage any room.
The benefit of using roOomy is that you’re not alone in the staging process. roOomy’s team will style your rooms for you. No problem if you don’t like it because you have the chance to change things up as well.
By virtually staging your homes for sale with roOomy, you can get the same home staging feel that you would if you traditionally staged it. No matter if you use roOomy or not, make sure to not be afraid, virtually stage!