5 Important Do’s and Don’ts of Virtual Staging
Above photo of lotus 3d staging- virtual staging
In today’s age, when everything from dating to working is virtual, one part of life is slowly embracing the trend: real estate. Potential home buyers have been turning to the internet for nearly 15 years as they search database after database of homes for sale before ever stepping foot out of the door. It makes sense, right? They can interact with a listing and see the location, amount of space, street view, schools, and photos of the property without hiring a real estate agent before they’re truly ready to buy. This has cut down astronomically on the ancillary costs and risks, like taking time off work to view multiple homes, the hefty gas bill to get there, and potentially having to buy a home sight unseen.
It’s rather brilliant, to be honest, but it wasn’t until recently that the average home seller began to truly benefit from this virtual movement. True, sellers have had an easier time getting their home out there and letting people know it’s available, but everything else has remained the same, including the costs of staging and selling a home. Thankfully, the virtual revolution is here, and home sellers will be pleased to know that they can cut the cost of staging by as much as 90%. How? By virtually staging a home!
Virtual staging is shining the light on the endless possibilities a home has to offer and can truly take your home from the maybe list to the “must-see.” However, just like any type of image alteration, it has to be done right, or you risk the potential buyer clicking past your house before giving it a thorough look. Let’s go over the five “do’s and don’ts” of virtual staging so you can rest assured you’re getting the best virtual home staging possible.
Do #1: Outline your expectations in writing.
Virtual staging is an online process, which means some things can get lost in translation. Yes, most professional stagers will be able to take a blank slate and make it a true beauty without input, but if you have a vision, share it. This is your home that you’re selling, and no one knows it better than you. By starting on the right foot with clear expectations, the final product will be exactly what you want. This includes the rooms you wish to fully stage or simply enhance and the overall feel of the home.
Do #2: Send a reference photo.
Many virtual stagers have an online library you can peruse. Take advantage of this by informing the stager which of their photos you like the most. If you send a magazine photo, you might find that the result doesn’t match if they don’t have the furniture in their library.
By using their photos as a reference, you can ensure your virtual staging will look natural. Keep in mind that some types of furniture don’t translate well online, and the professional stager has to work with the angles of the photos of your home that you’ve provided. Do yourself a favor and choose contemporary furniture over traditional, so the result looks as authentic as possible.
Do #3: The more details, the better.
The possibilities are endless when virtually staging a home. There are very few constraints, and this is your best chance to show the world your home the way you’ve always imagined it could look. Your personal preferences matter during this process.
Everyone has specific things they do and don’t like, such as color schemes and flowers. Your virtual stager should take the time to get to know you and align your expectations with what is best for the market. For instance, if you want a sunflower in a blue vase on the table, let them know. As interior designers, they can take this information and design each room around your wishes.
Let them know what each room is for, as well, whether it be a child’s or a teen’s room, and what vibe you want to see. Is this a high-end property? A country home? This is crucial information. You are buying a product, and you have every right to retain control of the process. You don’t want to purchase a virtual staging and have them miss the mark.
Do #4: Be upfront about having the house virtually staged.
Once the process is done and you’re ready to list the house, be sure to inform potential buyers that you have used this process. You don’t have to yell it from the rooftops, but it should be clearly stated somewhere within the listing. Often, virtual staging requires fixing blemishes on the walls and other such issues, and false advertising is not okay. Virtual staging exists to show a home’s potential, and so long as you are upfront, you will be fine.
Do #5: Title your photos.
As you save the images to your computer, make sure you are marking them clearly. Without the titles, you can easily misplace them within your documents, and the professional you’ve hired won’t retain them for long. It’s up to you to be sure you have saved them where you can find them later and that you know which photos belong with which room.
Don’t #1: Hire a cheap stager.
Like any other product, you get what you pay for. This means that if you want quality virtual staging, you need to do your research. Image alterations can be tricky, and you want to ensure you’re using a knowledgeable stager, so you don’t waste time and money. Ask them about their process. Do they sketch it out first? Are they willing to talk with you to get the details? Do they listen well or talk over you? These are essential things to consider when choosing a professional.
Don’t #2: Do it yourself.
Yes, you can buy apps to do it yourself, but honestly, unless you’re an interior designer with a photography background, you don’t want to go this route. You need this to look real, or you will regret it. It may seem easy to place the couch within the room on the app, but once you start placing tables, accents, changing wall colors, etc., the overall photo can quickly look jarring. Many people who do it themselves focus wholly on each aspect and can’t figure out where they went wrong in the end. You have one chance to show a potential buyer that your house is the perfect one for them, don’t waste it.
Don’t #3: Rush the process.
Give yourself and your stager time to create the best virtual staging possible. Once you’ve submitted your photos, it should take about a week to get the edits back. After this, if you want any revisions, it can take another 48 hours. This means you don’t want to wait until the last minute to hire someone, or you’ll put undue stress on everyone involved. If you give yourself extra time, you will be more comfortable asking for specific edits once you’ve seen the first draft.
Don’t #4: Pay for a complete virtual staging without a test run.
Choose one room and speak with a few virtual stagers. This pre-shopping can make all the difference later on. If you hand all your photos over and buy the whole package up front, you might regret it a week later when you get them back. If you take the time to shop around, you’ll find the perfect stager for your home, and you’ll feel good about hiring them.
Don’t #5: Settle for poor photos or lousy customer service.
If something looks off when you get your photos back, the virtual stager you’ve chosen isn’t good at their job. There are some fantastic virtual stagers out there, and it’s up to you to read the reviews and follow the advice laid out above to ensure you’ve chosen a great one. Aside from their abilities, you want them to be personable. If you hire someone that is brisk, you won’t be comfortable asking for revisions or edits. Be sure to foster a good working relationship so that you’re comfortable asking for what you want.
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of virtual staging, you are ready to get started. Take a deep breath and dive in. You’ve got this!
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