What do you think of when you see an empty room with four bare walls? Do you see an empty canvas that your inner interior decorator imagination can immediately fill with furniture and accessories? Well the vast majority of buyers just see an empty box. Do you have the same budget as the Property Brothers on HGTV? If so, you can send the room specs to a high end CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) company and a few days later you get an animated, fully staged room that completely blows your mind and impresses buyers. Another low tech option is to stage the room(s) with actual furniture and accessories. There's nothing like being in a living room with a couch you can actually sit on and experience the ambiance of the room. There are professional home staging companies that give you a turnkey home staging solution. As you probably know, there's a “but” coming for this option too. But, there are a couple of drawbacks. One, is the cost. The other is convincing the seller that nothing will be scratched or damaged when furniture is brought in and then taken out.
If you don't have deep pockets and you can't convince the seller that an investment in professional home staging is worth it, don't despair, you still have a couple of less expensive options. Both options use virtual staging. Virtual staging uses a photograph of the empty room and utilizes 3D modeling to produce a fully staged room with furniture and decor. The virtually staged image can be uploaded to MLS and shown on Realtor.com just like any other photo. Here's a quote from Barbara Cochran when she talked about virtual staging on NBC's Today Show. “Because you have to realize that most people start their search online. So here’s a picture of a real bedroom and now there it is virtually staged. It costs very little money, a lot cheaper than buying the furniture. If you look at the living room, it’s amazing! I had to look twice to see that this is not a real living room. There it is empty, there it is staged. A great way to sell a house because it looks so much better!” That brings up a concern from some Realtors of whether or not virtual staging is a deceptive practice. While only showing a virtually staged image online with no indication that it was staged may be slightly deceptive there are ways to fully disclose to the prospective buyer that they are looking at an empty room that has been staged. One is to overlay the word “Staged” onto the image. Another is to show the staged image immediately followed by the empty room photo. You don't have to just show the staged image online. Print photo quality 8x10 images to leave at the home and also have the staged images on your iPad or tablet.
I mentioned that you have two options with virtual staging. Both options require a photograph of the empty room. The first option requires you to take the photo and upload it to an online service that does the virtual staging. A few days later, you receive a link to download the finished image. Taking a good photograph is very important in this process. Photos should be taken horizontally with the camera held level at 4-5 feet (chest level) above the floor, with a nice mix of floor and ceiling in the shot. For the best result, I highly recommend using a tripod with a bubble level. The tripod lets you ensure your camera is level and it lets you take the shot with a longer exposure with no camera shake. Also, avoid using your camera's flash.
The other option for virtual staging is to find a professional real estate photographer to do the virtual staging for you. The photographer will take the photographs ensuring that you have the best image for the virtual staging. You will receive the same finished product, a beautifully staged image and the image of the empty room. These images can be part of a virtual tour package, a virtual staging package including photographs of the entire property or just the virtually staged images. The cost is usually comparable or even less than the price charged by a reputable online service. Be aware that with all of these options, there may be a minimum number of virtually staged images required on the order. This also applies to online services.
For more information about the virtual staging that Harris House 360 offers, go to http://www.harrishouse360.com/staging.