How to Use Virtual Staging Software to Sell a Home Faster
Virtual staging is the process of using software to digitally enhance a vacant room photo with furniture and décor to help a potential buyer visualize the potential of a living space in a home. All principles of traditional home staging are used in virtual staging to reach the goal of attracting buyers.
This process is facilitated through the use of virtual staging software. These are some of your options for getting a vacant room staged virtually:
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Truth be told, I have thought about purchasing software to virtually stage property images myself. Seems to make sense. Why hire a virtual staging service to do a job that I am very capable of doing myself in the real world?
But as with most things that are tech-based, there is a learning curve. And not one that I have the time to tackle at this moment in time. What it all boils down to is that if I add the hours it would take to master one of the above software, and assign $50 an hour to my time, it would cost me thousands of dollars of time plus the cost of the software. Furthermore, the time it takes to learn the software takes away from the time I have to physically stage other properties, and that costs me in lost income on those jobs.
There are only three scenarios I would recommend purchasing staging software for:
1. You want to start a virtual staging business and sell virtual staging services to real estate agents and homeowners.
This is a good scenario because the cost of the software and the opportunity cost of your time are costs you would have to incur no matter what business you went into. All new businesses have learning curves and start up costs and this one is relatively low cost.
2. You are a homeowner and have lots of time to research software and learn the skills required to do a credible job and you don’t want to spend money on something you are capable of learning yourself.
3. You are a broker/owner and you want to hire someone on staff to do virtual staging for your real estate agent listings.
Both are valid reasons to explore virtual staging software and the options that are available to help sell a home faster.
Virtual Staging Software Options
Staging software can be purchased, or home sellers can use SaaS services (software as a service) online, or you can hire a virtual staging company to do your 3d virtual renderings for you.
1. Purchased or Leased Software
If you plan to go into virtual staging as a business, then purchasing or leasing software is the best option for you long term. It is a one time investment or monthly fee investment and perhaps smaller investments as time goes on to upgrade the software or its 3d warehouse design options or to get a higher level of support.
Having one go-to software allows you to become an expert at that software. You can refine and improve your skills to a point where you can become a more efficient designer and create more work product per hour than before. And, importantly, that work product gets better and better as you acquire more expertise.
When selecting among the top virtual software offerings, finding one that you will be comfortable working with into the future is very important. Take your time looking at the demos of each software to see which one appeals to you visually and has the requisite instruction that you will need to learn and master the craft. The number of design options (furniture and décor) are also important considerations as you will digitally stage many different types of homes.
As with most purchases, you need to use the software or it will become an expensive trinket and just gather dust.
If you are just starting a virtual staging business and you don’t have the funds to invest in good software, there is another stop-gap option for you to get your business off the ground. Check out the second option below for a way to start a business with little capital.
2. Use Software as a Service (SaaS) Online Options
This option is also known as DIY virtual staging software. If I were going to start to virtually stage client properties, this is the option I would choose. This option works for professional stagers, homeowners, and aspiring virtual staging company owners who are just starting their own business and aren’t ready to invest in software ownership.
These virtual staging software services charge based on how many photos are staged. The software’s user-interface has been simplified so that one time users or less frequent users are guided to produce a quality virtually staged image with a minimum amount of training.
This option requires empty homes. These lower-skill-level SaaS options are not designed to remove furniture as more advanced software can. Many done-for-you services, however, will remove existing furnishings from photos for a fee.
The costs are comparable on a per photo basis to professionally staged photos (see #3 below).
3. Hire a Professional for Image Enhancement
Hiring a professional virtual staging company is the most popular way for real estate agents and homeowners to get a quality virtual home staging project done. Real estate offices may have a virtual stager on staff to do this work, or each agent may want to find their own virtual designer to work on their home listings. These individuals may be found online and charge you either on a per photo basis or based on the size and complexity of the virtual staging project.
At this point, it is helpful to remember the pros and cons of virtual staging.
Benefits of Virtual Staging
- homes sell faster
- less expensive than physically staged homes
- enhances the online listing with a fresh look to appeal to target demographic
- short turnaround time
Cons of Virtual Staging
- can be a negative if photos look fake
- may create buyer disappointment if not disclosed fully
Virtual staging is not without controversy, but has steadily gained acceptance from homeowners and real estate agents alike over the past decade. As more and more homeowners become accustomed to seeing virtually staged photos in online listings, the appeal of virtual staging should grow.
Editor’s Note: Jennifer Tarrant, the author of this article, is our newest team member bringing more than 15 years design and staging experience to our team.