Recently my favorite house photographer sent me some examples of a service he will be offering soon — “virtual staging.” Never heard of virtual staging? That’s because it’s not a thing yet. But, I have a hunch it will be, soon.
When budgeting money to prepare a home for sale, one of the biggest factors driving any decision is, “how will this look in the photos?” These days, a house is essentially sold before a buyer even sets foot in it — by the way it is presented online. So, if it’s possible to make a house look the way you want by using digital technology (for a few hundred dollars), for a fraction of the cost of actual staging (baseline $5,000), why not?
Well…if you are selling an actual house, and not a virtual house, sooner or later the jig is up. Just as with online dating, photoshopping your head shot and lying about your age will only get you as far as an introduction. Then what?
I will be very curious to see which direction the virtual staging trend leads. In many cases, it would be quite useful to have a 3D rendering of how a particular area might be used. When hosting open houses, I find that potential buyers frequently need help figuring out where the TV would go, or how a guest room might be configured. With virtual staging, one could see several different mock-ups of the same space, to open up the imagination.
When I began my career in real estate in 1988, nobody had heard of “staging” a house. Houses were shown vacant, or they were occupied, and there was no third option. Over time, people began renting furniture for empty houses, and eventually, the home staging industry grew up, replete with artwork, living plants, linens, tablewares and textiles, and now, and “empty” house is almost never seen.
I believe the virtual staging industry will also find its legs in the coming years, though what the grown-up version will be is hard to guess. I do know that as soon as my favorite photographer’s service is up and running, I will be at the head of the line to experiment with it.