Virtual Staging Brings Empty Homes to LifeOctober 16, 2009
Submitted by Bill Rawlings, REALTOR®
By Katherine Tarbox, REALTOR® Magazine
Even vacant listings need to look their best. But what if neither you nor your client can foot the bill for staging? To professionally stage an occupied house can cost from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000, says Barb Schwartz, a staging pioneer and founder of StagedHomes.com. The price tag is even higher for vacant properties; add rental furniture and the costs can skyrocket.
That’s why some salespeople are turning to virtual staging-using computer technology to add furniture and other décor to photos of their listings. Since many buyers today narrow their choices based on online photos, virtual staging is an economical way to show the potential of a vacant property.
Practitioners have been hesitant in the past to use virtual staging solutions because the images looked computer-generated (similar to the virtual world of Second Life). But a new generation of these services allows you to create realistic images using photographs of actual furniture.
One option is Virtually Staging Properties, a program developed by professional stagers Krisztina and Jay Bell of Atlanta. The husband-and-wife team photographed more than 1,000 pieces of furniture, creating a virtual database that they use to lay out a room with images.
Cynthia Temple, a sales associate with First Weber Group Inc. in Middleton, Wis., used the service to create staged images of a vacant condo. Turnaround time: less than one week. Cost: less than $225. “The images are stunningly realistic,” Temple says. “It’s hard to believe they’re computer-generated.”
The company also provides its customers with high-resolution 8-by-10-inch images, which the Bells recommend leaving in each room of the house.
Before virtual staging, Temple’s condo listing had been on the market for more than two months without a showing. Within days of uploading the new photos, she says, traffic increased significantly and she quickly had six showings.
Virtually Staging isn’t the only show in town. VitualStagingSolutions.com offers its lifelike photos through a partnership with Ashley Furniture. Obeo (http://www.obeo.com/) offers Obeo StyleDesigner, which enables you to change wall colors, countertops textures, and type of flooring, and Obeo SpaceDesigner lets you create drawings of a room with furnishings. Other do-it-yourself options include Home Design Studio (http://www.punchsoftware.com/) and Live Interior 3D (http://www.belightsoft.com/).
While there will always be strong demand for traditional home staging,” says Krisztina Bell, “this virtual technology is an affordable solution for cash-strapped sellers.”