Virtual Staging 101: Best Practices
According to a 2017 report from Redfin, 35% of homebuyers make an offer on a home without seeing the property in person. This home buying trend means that if your online listing shows an empty home instead of a staged home, then you could be missing out on offers. This is where virtual staging comes in.
Virtual staging is becoming more popular, as it allows home buyers to view photos of your home staged. Buyers are not going to be interested in looking at photos of empty rooms showing blank walls and windows online in which they will instantly skip over such vacant listing photos and move on to the next property listing photos. They want to see attractive and furnished photos of a home that will give them an idea of what a space looks like so they can start to imagine their own family living there.
Before you get started placing an order for a virtual staging service online, we’re sharing some dos and don’ts to ensure your virtually-staged photos accurately reflect your home.
Virtual Staging Do’s and Dont’s
Do use virtual staging for homes with unique layouts and spaces. If you have multi-purpose rooms, like offices, playrooms, exercise/yoga rooms, or game rooms, you should definitely use virtual staging to show off the space. Renting furniture for these types of rooms can be rather costly and virtual staging allows you to effortlessly showcase these rooms with minimal expense. Another area to consider staging is your backyard or patio. Adding a patio table and chairs can really highlight your outdoor space.
Don’t throw away the vacant photos. Use them to show viewers how the room(s) look before and after being staged. This can really set your online listing apart from the other homes on the market.
Do consider virtual staging a budget-friendly marketing tool. Virtual staging is not as costly as traditional home staging and should be considered if you’re trying to keep your home selling expenses to a minimum. It’s also possible that your agent may pay for virtual staging (they most likely will not pay for traditional), or a hybrid approach, to make your listing stand out even more.
Quality and Hi-Res Photographs are Key
Do get high-resolution photos. Use a professional photographer to take high-resolution photos that can be used in both print and digital formats.
Don’t use low-resolution photos. Your online listing is the first impression a home buyer will have of your home and you want to make sure it is a good one! Don’t take photos on your smartphone or tablet to use for this. You want high quality, professional photos that use the right lighting and are centered to show the floor and ceiling.
Do have your photographer take photos as if the home is already staged. This means taking the photos at chest level and of varying angles to give stagers more opportunities to place furnishings. The photos should also have a good balance of the floor and ceiling.
Don’t take the photos yourself. We can’t stress the importance of hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your home. When poorly taken photos are used to place furnishings, it can sometimes make the furniture look amateurish, cartoonish, and not placed to scale.
Disclosure and Ethics
Do tell buyers and agents that your home has been virtually staged. This will prevent any confusion if a prospective buyer comes to see the home in-person. The best place to advertise that your home has been virtually staged is in the MLS listing. This will ensure that all the aggregator websites will also have the information too.
Don’t use a virtual staging company that alters your home in photos. You want your photos to appear as natural and realistic as possible. By altering the paint color, walls, floors, or appliances, you’re changing the look and feel of the home. This can signal distrust to possible buyers and also lead them to believe there are other issues you may be covering up.
Don’t hide the flaws of your home. Remember that virtual staging is not interior decorating or home restoration. It’s a way to showcase the existing rooms in your home, not change them. Your stager should be accenting the existing rooms to make buyers feel like this is their home. This also goes for the exterior of the home. Don’t remove power lines or anything else on the property to make the home more appealing. This can create distrust with buyers and cause legal issues.
How to Properly Use the Photos When Marketing the Listing
Don’t list your home before the virtually-staged photos are ready. While it may be tempting to list your home ahead of the photos, this can actually hurt your chances of getting any offers. The first two weeks a listing is live on the market are the most important and you want to make sure your home makes the right impression. Wait to list until the staged photos are ready to maximize your online marketing efforts.
Do get creative with how you use the photos. Your staged pictures can be used in a variety of formats, including printed brochures and social media.
Interested in learning more about how virtual staging can help your home sell faster and for above asking price? We’ve helped many clients stage their empty homes to sell with excellent results. To learn more, contact us today.