Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Oftentimes, realtors hesitate to virtually stage a luxury home when traditional staging is available, and when the seller is on-board. It took most of the last several decades to convince luxury home owners that staging their property was vital to its timely and profitable sale. Now, after finally becoming widely accepted as a fundamental piece of a real estate marketing package, we're going to switch it up--again?!
The answer is "yes," and here's why: Luxury virtual staging offers nearly every benefit of traditional live home staging, without any of the drawbacks. That's right - NONE of the obstacles.
Here are the top five reasons for using virtual staging rather than live:
Price is undoubtedly the number one reason to use luxury virtual staging in high-end homes. Traditional or "live" staging for a luxury home typically runs into the tens of thousands of dollars for a home that's staged for three months.
The initial staging move-in fee is often $3,000.00 or more. This fee includes the luxury home stager's design fee and the physical furniture move-in fees, but not furniture rental. Furniture rental is actually the bulk of the cost, generally. Depending upon the size of the home, and the number of art, furniture and décor pieces rented, this monthly recurring fee is usually a minimum of $2,500 - and for a large home which requires high-end furnishings, it's typically twice that. That's every month the home is on the market.
For example: a 6,000 square foot home is traditionally staged - and it takes 2.5 months to sell. Here is a sample staging invoice:
This number may seem mind-boggling, but it is both typical and expected in the luxury home staging and real estate markets. Staged homes sell faster, and for (a lot!) more money than unstaged homes, and so realtors and sellers have accepted this expensive marketing as par for the course during the sale of the property. What often goes overlooked is that luxury virtual staging can offer most of the same benefits as live staging, for 90-95% less, and with a host of other advantages as well.
Luxury virtual staging costs a fraction of traditional staging. It's at least 90% less expensive - typically costing between $400 - $1,000.00 for a fully virtually staged luxury home.
Luxury virtual staging is indistinguishable from live staging. Furniture and art are simply 3-dimensional scans and renderings of the same designer pieces you'd otherwise pay-per-item to rent. These savings will be passed along to everyone involved in the sale of the home, leaving quite a bit more change in the pockets of realtors and sellers.
At a minimum, realtors doing traditional staging are first spending time and effort convincing sellers that this expensive marketing strategy is worth it. Once that hurdle is cleared, they're scrambling for a stager who not only has a well-established reputation in the luxury home staging industry, but is also:
Available on the day you need her (and oftentimes last minute)
Easy to work with
Won't make mistakes and embarrass you in front of your client
Understands and aims for your desired furnishing+décor style for the property
Has a large collection
Will show up on time
Will not damage existing structure, floors or walls
Taking all of these variables and turning them into a showcase staging masterpiece in your listing is just statistically unlikely to leave all invested parties satisfied. And if you don't like the design the traditional stager has done, guess what your odds are of getting it redone prior to listing/open house/photography? Pretty slim.
With luxury virtual staging, most of these hassles simply dissolve. There are companies to choose from worldwide (but choose carefully - more on that in a future blog!) which eliminates the "availability dilemma." You'll be fully in charge of the project from first contact with a luxury virtual staging company, to deciding what style you'd like to see in the home and previewing the final product before your client.
Perhaps the most important distinction between virtual and live staging is that with the former, you can completely redesign the staged rooms in very short time and for little-to-no additional cost if you don't like what your virtual stager has come up with . With traditional staging, it would cost a fortune and be totally impractical to have the entire home redesigned with actual furniture and movers. The design flexibility luxury virtual staging offers an enormous advantage, and also brings me to my next point:
Flexibility + Selection!
When you work with a traditional home stager, you automatically limit your design selection. Even the largest staging companies just don't have the space to store tens of thousands of items while remaining profitable (And typically those aren't the organizations you'd want to work with, anyway!). Oftentimes, the current staged home might look exactly the same as the last property you staged with this designer, which is... ok. But you don't want all your luxury listings to look the same (and the same as your competition!), and unless you're selling tract homes each property is unique and would really benefit from staging designed for its own distinctive spaces.
With luxury virtual staging, every staged property is afforded the benefit of an enormous furniture and décor selection. Typically, your virtual stager should be able to show you a good selection of available pieces - even if their entire catalog isn't online. Say you're selling a 20 year old 5,000 sf luxury home with modest updates over the years. You really want modern furniture to enhance the spaces, but not so modern that your potential buyers notice a stark contrast between furnishings and fixtures. A good luxury virtual stager will know exactly what you mean and be able to choose from such a large selection that you will probably approve the photos on the first go-round; and if not, you can request precisely what you're looking for and there's a very good chance your luxury virtual stager will have it. The same cannot be said for traditional home staging.
In another example using the same house as earlier - say you at first tell your luxury virtual stager that considering the age of the home, you think a traditional style will look best. In a day or two you receive your staged photos you realize you were completely wrong. The traditional style does nothing for the spaces and actually makes the home appear older. With live staging as discussed above, you'd be pretty stuck. A virtual stager is one phone call or email away to making the requested changes - and fast. Usually within a day, you'd have your new, re-staged photos. This level of flexibility is exclusive to luxury virtual staging.
As professionals in the real estate marketing industry, we understand that when potential buyers feel an emotional connection to a property they are much more likely to feel compelled to buy it. We do absolutely everything we can think of to foster and grow this connection - and home staging is a big part of that. What many realtors fail to realize, though, is that this emotional connection can be achieved through luxury virtual staging as well or better than with traditional staging.
Have you ever bought anything online? Of course you have! Ecommerce revenue is over 700 billion per year. What motivates consumers to buy online? At least one part of the answer is - they can develop an emotional connection to the product just as well online as they can in person; and online is so much more convenient!
Why would home staging be any different? It's not. Luxury virtual home staging offers a similar sense of inspiration, and helps create a vision for a family's future in a certain home. Instead of becoming inspired by traditional staging once they open the door - these buyers arrive inspired! They can recall the staged photos - or have them handy on their phone (or on a tablet on the counter or printed in a physical brochure, etc...) and expand on that sense of attachment as they walk through the property with a good understanding of the flow and how the spaces are typically defined in a particular house.
We might even argue that a buyer's emotional connection to the property would be enhanced by viewing the virtual staging online, and then physically visiting the unstaged home. They've had
a chance to study the furnished spaces online and think about how their own life might fit into the home. When they walk through the door for the first time, they're already primed to begin imagining their own designing the rooms in their preferred style and with their own belongings.
In the future, a buyer's realtor could potentially close the deal by virtually staging a buyer's own furnishings and décor in the home so they could truly see exactly how the home will look for them.
All the Perks
As we've explored the benefits of luxury virtual staging, it's become clear that this young industry is brimming with opportunity to help real estate professional sell homes. As with all new technologies, once it becomes fully adopted by (and integrated into) the marketplace - we find it hard to remember how we sold homes without it.
How did we sell homes before the MLS?
How did we sell homes before the internet?
How did we sell homes without traditional home staging?
And soon. . . How did we sell homes without luxury virtual staging? It's so much less expensive and more practical. It's more flexible, and less time-consuming. It brings all the benefits of traditional home staging. It is the home staging of the future.
Have you virtually staged any properties in the past? What was your experience like?