Does Virtual Staging Help Actual Buyers?
Virtual staging – adding, removing, improving via technology-has been around for a while.
Time improved the software, and the skills of those who use it. So….does it work? Does virtual staging help actual buyers get to yes?
This home stager votes for…kinda-sorta. Maybe. It depends.
Few can visualize anything beyond what’s in front of them. And often, those who can don’t trust their instincts.
The case for actual professional home staging has always been to eliminate doubt and smooth the path to yes. Helping buyers quickly, confidentially see and feel the best a space can be.
Manufactured images can be helpful. And it checks two big boxes for agents and sellers, it’s quicker, and less costly than actual physical, professional staging.
But there’s a huge emotional component in home buying. Buyers buy with their heart. In my experience, the logical brain kicks in after the heart has fallen.
SO-what if heart falls for a listing photo, but reality is quite different? Does the heart feel confused, misled, or glad for the vision? Does the brain freeze/retreat, start calculating costs for these upgrades, or become more engaged?
Thinking about virtual staging for your Westchester County listing? Consider these points:
What: Are you laying out a floor plan in a tricky space or changing a paint color? Or are you sliding past old decor, and showing major renovation like new cabinetry, floors or windows?
Buyers of higher end properties often are prepared for a re-do with their own designer. Instinct tells me it’d be difficult for most homebuyers to reconcile reality (left) with the virtual staging (right).
Why: What are you trying to overcome? The brain could appreciate furniture placement or a fresh color palette. Price it right, showing some virtual minor updates would probably be welcome too. Virtual staging demonstrated scale and purpose in this lower level playroom in this spacious, higher-end property.
Photos courtesy of Mark Boyland, Keller Williams Realty Partners
But if you’re trying to gloss over deferred maintenance, or to justify an unrealistic price-save your money.
Buyers: Are they likely to be comfortable with technology? Sometimes it’s a generational thing, but its also where they’re coming from. Virtual staging abounds, is expected in new construction and urban properties.
Property: A center hall colonial or raised ranches are expected floor plans; not a lot of mystery to what goes where. Less standardized floor plans like contemporary (no walls), tudor (doors galore) or antique farmhouses (smallish rooms?) might need some help.
Photos courtesy of Janet Brand, Houlihan Lawrence
I loved this house above, but it was a crazy-wild floor plan, an older house with lots of additions over the years. It took me a few passes through to determine which room should be what. Buyers won’t work that hard, so this house was physically staged.
Price Point: The higher the price point, the greater the chance your buyer has purchased property before, and has more confidence in seeing an empty, or different space. First-time buyers are skittish to start with, and often come with suspicious parents.
Right now, it’s good for some, but not mainstream. But keep a close eye on your market, and the competition. As time goes on, more will adapt, accept, and even expect this…IMO we’re close, but not there yet.