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Do You Need Virtual Staging? A Complete Explanation

What's wrong with your furniture?


I mentioned in my post about saving money on real estate photography that in prepping your home to be camera ready, we don't want to snapshot anything that wont be included in the sale. While we can digitally delete most things from a still life image -- what happens when you're ready to host an open house? Generally, you want an open house so potential buyers could picture themselves there. That means an empty shell. No bed, furniture, wall paintings, tables, chairs, etc. There are 2 exceptions here:

  • If you're selling a furnished home or with provisions optional;

  • If you want buyers to understand how furniture would look / fit in a space. This is most common when your home has an unorthodox layout or random rooms. Think: mezzanine spaces, your personal man cave, areas which could easily function as an office or guest room. In these cases you probably want to contract a HAR verified staging company.


Is physical home staging worth it?


In another circulation I showed you some pictures of a staged home we recently shot. Your first indicator will be to answer a personal question. Is your furniture on par with whats pictured? Because potential buyers who walk into a home like that usually end up paying top dollar -- and quickly. This 2021 study from the Real Estate Staging Association (slight bias perhaps) found that 73% of staged homes sold above asking price that year. Another survey from the International Association of Home Staging Professionals showed that staging helped sell 3-30x faster than their non-staged competition. Are you in a rush? Are those potential extra dollar signs important to you?


Everything noted, it's not all about free money and quick turnaround. There's a price to everything, right? Bankate breaks it down further. Renting furniture for an extended period can cost $2,000+ per month. Plus, a home stager generally charges for an initial two-hour consultation, which can run between $150 and $600. A widespread rule of thumb is to expect to pay 1% of your prospective property sale value. Does that fit your pre-closing budget?


What is "Virtual Staging?" (with examples)


As an alternative, we offer something called "Virtual Staging." What is it? Not clip art! We have 3D scanned images of real luxury furniture. That's what makes it looks so authentic. Then, we digitally insert the furnishings to the individual rooms. Each image can be customized to include your choice of details such as fresh flowers, framed art, table settings, candles, TV sets, etc. You can let our editing team choose the details with Feng Shui in mind, or draw in your own ideas. Here's my favorite example from a picky client (no shade!) who knew exactly what he wanted -- down to the home speaker setup:

Virtual furnishing from a picky client who knew exactly what he wanted -- down to the home speaker setup.
Virtual furnishing from a picky client who knew exactly what he wanted -- down to the home speaker setup.

Image by Studio Vos

What are some other scenarios where virtual staging might be needed?

  • Your dwelling is already vacant but you want to show what it could look like furnished.

This living room looked a little strange without furniture. Now it doesn't!
This living room looked a little strange without furniture. Now it doesn't!

Image by Studio Vos

  • You're undergoing construction but want to pre-list before it's all finished. We hope your home projects aren't this extreme. So, just use this as an example of the scope we can work on.

The most extreme home reno you'll never attempt.
The most extreme home reno you'll never attempt.

Image by Studio Vos

  • You intend to sell your own own (for sale by owner aka FSBO) but understandably don't want to host any open houses. I get it. Who wants strangers prancing around your messy closet or your child's room? This way, a future buyer can rely exclusively on photos.

Did you know you don't have to get rid of all your kid's stuff for photos?
Did you know you don't have to get rid of all your kid's stuff for photos?

Image by Studio Vos

  • You're an agent selling prefabricated homes from Lennar, D.R. Horton, KB Homes, or someone similar. In other words, there's a model for everyone to walk into but likely purchasers still want to see what "their" unit would look like.

Not all prefab units are the same. We take the time to add the details.
Not all prefab units are the same. We take the time to add the details.

Image by Studio Vos

  • Ruh-roh! You chose a new paint color, but didn't have time to finish before your photographer was scheduled. No worries! Virtual furnishing includes that, too!

Run out of time to paint? No problem! Just get it done before open house.
Run out of time to paint? No problem! Just get it done before open house.

Image by Studio Vos

  • Your current furniture was ripped up by your cat (who I'm sure isn't plotting your demise while you sleep) or is way too large for your space.

  • You live in an area where comparable homes are undergoing bidding wars. Meaning that demand is high so there's no need to pay for physical staging but you still want the visual effect for maximum profit.

  • You're on a tight budget. We offer virtually staged photos for $30 an image. Compare that to the prices above...


Show me more examples


Okay, you twisted my arm. Here's 3 representations I consider the gold standard.

  • Everything (except the fan) in this image is imported from a 3D scan. Can you even believe it?! How do the candles look so real?

A master bedroom totally done with virtual furnishings.
A master bedroom totally done with virtual furnishings.

Image by Studio Vos

  • Again -- everything here is from a 3D scanned computer image. Yes, even the books! If you had access to the full quality image you could read the titles. The fire in the hearth? Yeah, that, too.

A fully furnished computer generated living room. Right down to the library full of books.
A fully furnished computer generated living room. Right down to the library full of books.

Image by Studio Vos

  • If you saw the "before" image you'd be skeptical this room could fit a 6 person dining table. Plus, there was nothing on the walls and the cute potted plant covers an unattractive electrical outlet. The flowers and fully set table (complete with chargers) are the kind of details that truly set us apart from the competition.

The dining room is now complete with artwork, a table, chairs, flowers, chargers, and even a potted plant.
The dining room is now complete with artwork, a table, chairs, flowers, chargers, and even a potted plant.

Image by Studio Vos


Last thing... a disclaimer


It's only worth mentioning because we get this type of question surprisingly often. Can we add a pool to the backyard? Please... no 🤦. Could we? Yes. Should you? Absolutely not -- unless -- there will be a pool by the time you sell. Virtual staging, especially ours, can be difficult to distinguish from real life. For that reason we always ask that agents (including FSBO) demarcate which images have been modified and make the originals available as well.


Want to see more examples posted in real time? Check out our Facebook page where we post a ton of behind-the-scenes content. Our Instagram has a thousand images as well. You might also be interested in becoming your own real estate photographer.


Pro tips, props, problems?


Thanks for reading! Found a typo? Want to make this post more helpful? Add your pro tips and props to the comments 🙏


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