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How Do You Feel About Virtual Staging?

How Do You Feel About Virtual Staging?

How do you feel about virtual staging?

I need advice from my lovely ActiveRain friends!

I have a very nice listing in an extremely popular neighborhood in South Charlotte, NC.  This home is now an inventory home for a relocation company, as the former owners have long since moved on with their new lives.  The relocation company has asked me to "virtually stage" this home so buyers can envision the home with furniture.

The idea of virtual staging gives me an icky feeling in my gut, and my gut is usually right!  The client may feel this is "thinking outside the box," but I think the opposite.

The home is beautiful.  Feedback about the home itself has been positive, as it is nicely appointed and in move-in condition.  The price is competitive. I've had lots of showings, but the feedback is consistent...the buyers don't care for the backyard, which has a retaining wall and a steep slope behind it.  It's definitely not the home for a family looking for a large, flat backyard that is perfect for flag football.  But, the retaining wall is nicely done, and the "hill" is nicely landscaped.  We've offered a landscape allowance, but to me, that is not the point.  No amount of allowance is going to overcome a steep hill in the backyard.  Either it bothers you, or it doesn't.

I have strongly suggested to the "Client," (through the relocation company, as I have never met, spoken to, or corresponded with the "client") that the best strategy would be to take the money being offered as a landscape allowance and hire a great stager to come in and turn the home into Pottery Barn Central.  Most people LOVE the Pottery Barn look, and I think good staging would evoke that "emotional connection" that buyers are looking for.  And....it may take away some of the negativity of the sloping backyard.

My gut says that virtual staging is just a straw man.  Buyers will see a photo of the virtually staged room online, then come for a showing and be disappointed in reality.  They will then obsess over the backyard.  The "client" wants me to set up easels in the virtually staged rooms with renderings of the virtual furniture.  Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think that's going to conger up the warm and fuzzy feeling buyers are looking for.

What is YOUR experience with virtual staging?  Does it work?  If you've used virtual staging before, why did you choose virtual over real staging?  IMHO, I think staging should be left to the real staging professionals. 

Please weigh in... How do YOU feel about virtual staging?


Melissa Brown



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Melissa Brown, Realtor, Charlotte, NC

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Comment balloon 12 commentsMelissa Brown • January 16 2012 06:57PM


I feel about Virtual Staging about the same as I do about a bad fitting hairpiece. That being said, if your client expects you to do it...


Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Melissa....I have never really seen it done but my gut reaction is the same as yours.  To get that emotional reaction, you need real furnishings.  I will be interested to see what the stagers have to say........

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) about 9 years ago

For as much as the really good virtual staging costs, the money would be better spent on actual staging.  The cheapo virtual staging just looks too CGI and becomes a turn off - now if they could only figure out the holographic staging - now, THAT would be COOL!

Posted by Chris Hardy, Northern Colorado Real Estate (Elevations Real Estate, LLC www.BuyFortCollinsHomes.com) about 9 years ago

Interesting! I've never seen virtual staging, but I'm with you - if you disappoint a buyer when they walk in the door, the house is toast. Even if what they're disappointed about doesn't really matter to them. Are you disclosing the backyard issue in the MLS? I would... you can do it in a way that will make people smile... but then they won't be unpleasantly surprised when they look out the back door. They'll probably say "Well, that's not so bad!"

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) about 9 years ago

Virtual staging sounds like a horrible idea.  I like your suggestion of taking the money from elsewhere and actually doing it.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) about 9 years ago

That's pretty funny, Rich, and about how I feel about it too!

Hi Christine, thanks for the comment. I feel the same way.  I was hoping some stagers would chime in, but alas!

Chris, I just think virtual staging is going to cut it.  The buyers will STILL walk into an empty home!

Thanks for your input in your email Jennifer.  I agree totally - the house will be toast when they're disappointed - I like that line.  And I have changed the MLS to reflect the backyard.

I wish they would do it, Chris Ann, but I'm not the boss on this one!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) almost 9 years ago

Melissa  I don't have a hairpiece problem, but I agree with Rich

Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) almost 9 years ago

I'm in agreement with you on this one!

As for stagers chiming in...  I only found this because you commented on my post...you didn't post it to any "staging" groups.  If you want stagers' advice, I suggest you post this to the Stage It Forward group.  You'll get plenty of attention there!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) almost 9 years ago

HAHA Karen!  I thought it was a great analogy!

Sharon, thanks for the tip, I'll post it to that group now!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) almost 9 years ago

I'm not sure why so many people speculate about how buyers will feel when they walk into a home. It sounds like most people have not even tried virtual staging, so they really do not even know. And since 80% of home shoppers begin their search online, don't you think the photos you use in your marketing are also a big piece of the puzzle?

Have you ever taken photos of a home while the homeowners were still living there with their furniture in it and then the homeowners have moved out with their furniture and you are still showing the house? Same concept. 

I speak from experience of dealing with thousands of virtually staged homes and buyers do not complain that the furniture they saw in the photos are not in the house. Thats just ridiculous. Most buyers do not expect the furniture to be sold with the home anyway.

I would honestly say that 90% of buyers are gratful that they got to see "the best of both worlds" and are able to go back and look at the photos to see the potential of the house. 

When I see comments like this it kind of makes me cringe for two reasons:

1. They are written by a traditional home stager. It sounds to me like they seem threatened by new technology.


2. They are always by people who havent even tried virtual staging!

The easel idea is a great idea, you can always frame and hang the photos on the wall also. Again, I've personally seen this work many times and it is successful but I guess you will never really know until you try it. Speculation is one thing but trying it and seeing real results is another

For $197 you can have 3 rooms virtually staged. There is no way you can do that with physical home staging, you are looking at a few thousand plus monthly fees to rent the furniture and haul it all in.

Now full disclaimer, I am a "virtual stager" but I'm just trying to share my experience and I think you will find all of what I have said above is pretty logical.

It just bothers me to see people completely dismiss new technologies because they draft up some story in their head to convince themselves that it just wont work without even trying it. Hmm.. Where have I heard that before....

“The ordinary “horseless carriage” is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.” Literary Digest in 1899 on the invention of the automobile.

“Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.” Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb, 1880.


Posted by Bryan B (Virtual Staging Solutions) almost 9 years ago

Bryan, thanks for your comment.  I actually did have three rooms virtually staged, per the clients' request.  I was very impressed with how great the rooms look.  I thought the company did a great job.  However, getting the people into the property wasn't the issue - I've had a ton of showings.  And you're right, it's no different from taking pictures when the sellers lived there, and then they moved out.  I don't know - I still think many buyers fall in love with a house when they walk into it.  And a staged home can help in that respect.  I won't diss virtual staging after I've seen how nice the pictures look.  But for this one listing, I don't think it is the answer.  We'll see.  The new pictures have been uploaded on the MLS for a week.  No showings!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) almost 9 years ago

Thanks for mentioning virtual staging as a great marketing tool to sell a vacant home! Keep in mind that virtual staging is not a way to replace traditional home staging services but a more economical marketing tool for agents and sellers to be able to show buyers the potential of a home, digitally.  Virtual staging should not entail altering the photos of the home as far as changing wall colors, moving walls and adding fixtures. As an agent, professional home stager and Pioneer of virtual staging, my company believes in virtual staging that abides by the Realtor code of ethics of a true representation of the property. This service is merely used to give buyers a better understanding of how to layout a room and make vacant photos of a home online more attractive and recognizable. And yes making sure each photo displays that the home has been virtually staged so buyers are aware is very important and my company has a strict policy on that! I am just glad to see that our #virtual #staging service has made a name for itself in the real estate world and is here to stay! Before you take a stab or buy a CAD decorating software program contact http://www.virtuallystagingproperties.com as we are professional home stagers of vacant properties of over 10 years through our sister company www.novacancy-atl.com in Atlanta and pioneers of our patent-pending virtual staging service that sells vacant homes faster anywhere in the world! KRISZTINA BELL, GA Real Estate Agent, Professional Home Stager, Pioneer of Virtual Staging & Real Estate Marketing Consultant

Posted by Krisztina Bell, Virtually Staging Properties (Virtually Staging Properties) almost 6 years ago

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