Complete Guide To Virtual Staging In 2022
Virtual Staging is a modern and alternative method of increasing the selling potential of a home. Virtual staging involves using a photo of an existing space (empty or with furniture) and adding new furniture or replacing existing items to make the property more visually appealing and thus make it easier to market and sell.
This article will cover the topic in detail, describing what virtual staging is , how it compares to more traditional methods and what its pros and cons are. In addition, the article will cover the option you have when it comes to virtual staging as well as going over a few different alternatives that could be a better fit depending on your needs.
What is Traditional Home Staging?
Traditionally, the only solution for furnishing a space or enhancing existing furniture is to do this physically, meaning that buying and replacing furniture with better models is the only way to have great photos that will make the house easier to sell. This is undoubtedly an effective approach, but is also a time consuming one as you have to go through the process of selecting the right furniture, purchasing everything and preparing everything for a photoshoot. This can also be an expensive route to take, and can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, making it an unideal solution for many people.
What is Virtual Staging?
Virtual Staging is an alternative to traditional home staging, and, as mentioned in the introduction, it involves using photos of the existing property and embellishing them by adding furniture, accessories, and changing colors with the end goal of making them more visually appealing without having to spend thousands of dollars. Essentially, this process allows you to make a visually unattractive space look great in a photo without having to fork out the money for actual furniture and go through an arduous process to achieve this.
What Homes Is Virtual Staging Suited For?
There are certain homes that are perfect for virtual staging, whereas there are other types that might be suitable for other modern methods such as 3d renderings. Here a few examples of homes that are great for virtual staging:
Vacant Homes – This is the ideal type of property for virtual staging and usually involves the least amount of work. Once the client takes photos of the vacant property, the virtual staging company is able to digitally add furniture, and make changes to accessories and colors.
Homes With Unattractive Furniture – A cheaper option than having to go through the tedious process of removing old furniture and then purchasing and installing new ones, virtual staging allows the furniture to be digitally replaced with better pieces.
Improving Properties That Are Already Rented – Traditional staging isn’t really a feasible option when there are already people living in a property, meaning that the option of improving furniture and other elements virtually is more attractive than having to wait until a property is unoccupied or having to kick tenants out.
When Isn’t Virtual Staging A Great Fit:
1. Making Changes to Exteriors of Homes – Whilst virtual staging works like a charm for interior spaces like the examples above, this task becomes trickier when having to make changes to the exterior, as more often than not the property will need to be redone in 3D in order to make the changes. That being said, if you’re looking to just touch up a few basic elements of an exterior (e.g. colors of certain aspects) then it’s a fairly simple process to fix this, but this isn’t typically considered as virtual staging but 3D renderings.
2. Major Changes to the Interior Design – If you’re looking to make several changes to the interior of the building, such as knocking down walls to make spaces bigger, and making big changes to the layout of an already existing property, and do a complete makeover of the design, then usually 3D Rendering is required and virtual staging softwares aren’t able to achieve this, as virtual stagging is more applicable to furniture rather than to design elements.
3. Unfinished Properties – When it comes to properties that haven’t been constructed yet, virtual staging isn’t a feasible option as the client isn’t able to provide a photo of the space due to the fact that it doesn’t exist yet. In this case, 3d rendering is required as a company will be required to rebuild everything in 3d and create a photorealistic interpretation, even if you have finalized the design.
Virtual Staging vs. Real Staging
There’s no doubt that Traditional home staging is still an effective method of enhancing a property, but it does come with its pros and cons, just like virtual staging. Please see a comparison of the two methods below:
Traditional Home Staging
Allows the Buyer to Actually Visit the Property – The most obvious advantage of traditional home staging is that the buyer is actually able to visit the property and walk through it, thus having a fully immersive experience. In some cases actually visiting the property is the most effective way for a buyer to get a feel for a home and ultimately decide whether they want to live there or not.
Top Quality Service – Usually traditional stagers have lots of experience on the market and will have a solid understanding of which features of the space should be enhanced in order to maximize the buying potential of a property, and make sure the style matches the buyer profile you’re looking to sell to. This means that if you design to go down the traditional staging route you’re guaranteed to get a professional service and see vast improvements to the property.
Expensive – Traditional home staging is expensive, due to the fact that there are many different steps to the process that each involve a considerable amount of work. You can expect the cost to start at around $3-4k and can up to the tens of thousands depending on your requirements, and the size and condition of the space
Long Turnaround – Although quality of service is guaranteed, traditional staging is a time consuming process and takes much longer than virtual staging. This is even longer if you have to make repairs or paint a space so that it’s suitable for staging.
Maintenance – Just like you would to your home, a traditionally staged space required upkeep as the space needs to stay tidy and visually attractive to potential buyers.
Virtual Staging Solution
Makes a Property Look Significantly Better with Minimal Work – It’s pretty difficult to wow any potential buyers with a photo of an empty unit, namely due to the fact that it lacks that homely vibe that’s so important when it comes to persuading buyers. The same goes for outdated furniture, if the style doesn’t match the buyer profile than photos can do more harm than good. With this in mind, virtual staging can work like a charm, as at a low cost you can add decent looking furniture and massively increase the visual appeal of a space.
Convenience/No Physical Efforts Required – Whilst physical staging can look amazing when finalized, there’s no denying that the process can be a tedious one. Having to lug furniture around and going through the purchasing process when it comes to replacing old pieces with new ones is a time consuming one if you want to do it yourself, and is an expensive one if you’re paying a company to do so. Virtual staging makes this much easier as everything can be done digitally.
Quick – Again, considering the above, traditional staging is a time consuming process whereas virtual staging can be done in a matter of days without any headaches.
Cost – Virtual Staging is a much more cost-effective option than traditional staging. For more information on pricing keep on reading this post.
Can be Misleading if Done Incorrectly – It’s absolutely vital to make sure that you make it clear that an image has been virtually staged. There’s nothing more misleading than making out that the property has a load of fancy furniture for the buyer only to find out that the apartment is empty. Usually users of virtual staging avoid this problem by adding watermarks to the image to make it clear that it was virtually staged.
Need to Find the Right Company – Just like most things, if you decide to take the route of virtual staging it’s important to make sure that you get a quality service. Going for the cheapest option may seem like a good idea, but if done poorly the photos can actually do more harm than good.
Limits when it comes to visiting the space – unlike traditional home staging, if buyers visit the space they will come across an empty room or outdated furniture, meaning that this technique is limited to online platforms.
Options You Have When it comes to Virtual Staging
1. Learning – How to Do Virtual Staging Yourself
Do it yourself Virtual Staging is an option for certain people and it’s a skill that anyone can learn and master if they put their mind to it, and it involves the creator learning to use a piece of virtual staging software for real estate. These are the most common types of virtual staging apps & software used:
That being said, it usually takes some time to get your head around these virtual staging apps, and this isn’t a skill that you can earn overnight. In order to make a virtually staged image actually look good, it’s something you’ll have to dedicate several hours of training and most likely invest in a few courses to make sure you reach a high level and learn everything properly.
Virtual Staging also involves a strong eye for design, so you can select and place the most suitable furniture within a space. As well as this, you’ll need a decent computer, access to a 3d model library and plenty of time on your hands to learn this skill and become competent. If after reading this you think that you meet all these requirements, then learning to virtually stage could be a good idea. That being said, if you have a busy schedule, don’t naturally have a knack for design or aren’t enthusiastic about learning about virtual staging then we recommend working with a company.
2. Working with a Company
The best option for the vast majority of people in need of virtual staging, working with a virtual staging company is the quickest and most efficient way of getting your property done considering that all you need to do is provide the company with good quality photos of the spaces you’re looking to get done, as well as a somewhat decent idea of the style of furniture you’re looking to add (if you have no idea the company can make a few suggestions). Also, the cost of getting this done is generally reasonable.
Costs can vary depending on the company and quality of service, but you can generally expect a price of between $20-200 per image. With this in mind, it’s important that you find the right company to do this, and you can find our personal recommendations below:
Virtual Staging vs. 3D Rendering A Better Option?
Virtual staging is a great solution for many people who are looking to improve the aesthetic look of an interior space(s) in order to improve its selling potential. As you can see in the article, there are certain advantages and disadvantages, and certain types of people/clients who are better suited to this solution. With that being said, virtual staging doesn’t work for everyone, and there can be many instances where 3d rendering can be a better solution (If you’re new to 3D rendering we recommend reading this guide so you can get a complete understanding of how it works.) When compared to virtual staging, 3D rendering can be a better option in the following circumstances:
The Property hasn’t been complete yet – if the property isn’t complete yet then virtual staging is impossible as you need actual photos of a finished space in order to populate it with furniture. Even if you have a design in mind, you’ll need to use 3d rendering to build this space out in 3D and create a photorealistic interpretation.
You Want to add custom furniture – Although there are plenty of furniture options when it comes to virtual staging, there are some clients that design furniture and want to make sure that exact replicas are added into the image. In this case, a 3D Rendering is a more suitable option as the company will have to rebuild the space in 3D in order to add the furniture which needs to be created from scratch.
You Want to Experiment with the Design – If you’re looking to completely redesign a space and edit the layout of the space then 3d rendering is a better option as you’ll have much freedom when it comes to being creative and testing out different ideas.
Exteriors – As mentioned previously, virtual staging is difficult when it comes to exteriors, and you’ll most likely require the property to be rebuilt in 3d in order to make any edits to the design. If you’re only looking to make changes to certain aspects of the property, then a hybrid approach can be taken where 3d rendered parts of a property are blended in with a high quality photo. Please see below for a few examples:
Conclusion – When Should I Use Virtual Staging?
Hopefully this guide has answered all your questions regarding virtual staging and whether it’s the right fit for you. In summary, while it has its limits, virtual staging is a great cost effective option for those of you looking to show a property in a better light and are able to get decent quality photos of a property. That being said, if the property is completely unpresentable then don’t expect virtual staging to make any miracles happen, and you may be better off looking at other methods such as 3d rendering in this situation.
Whilst we don’t work with virtual staging personally, we have a few recommended partners as this is something that many clients may end up needing at some point. If in any doubt whether virtual staging or 3d rendering is the best solution for you, feel free to send a message over to one of our specialists at [email protected]
Author – Eddie Kingsnorth, Co-Founder & COO at NoTriangle Studio