Virtual Staging: Optimizing Vacant Listings as a Marketing Technology

As it is known, demand creates supply and real estate business is a perfect marketplace for introducing new technologies and marketing tools. Surely, people do want to buy and sell homes but let`s remember, that year after year consumer becomes more and more uncompromising.

Real estate virtual staging is not a new service, it first became available nearly 10 years ago, but at that period it was not very popular. And do you know why? Because the quality of virtually staged photos was far away from perfect, the colors were sharp and bright; furniture looked like it was taken from a graphically poor computer game.

Technically, they lacked the most important element, which guarantees virtual staging effectiveness – realism. But there is also another requirement virtual home staging should meet – it is intended to help the buyer to visualize his future home, to see himself living in it, to catch a feeling of sweet home, not just bare-walled construction. This aspect deals with psychology, here is important to influence buyer’s decision and that is the most challenging part of every business.

Virtual Staging Services – The Idea & The Way It Is Achieved

So, it becomes obvious that somewhat funny pictures with terrible graphics cannot reach out the buyer`s heart but, fortunately, 3D technology development does not stand still as well as the professionalism of 3D designers. Nowadays, these two have reached incredible heights and in 90% of cases, it is impossible to distinguish real interiors with ones modeled in 3D.

The process of creating virtually staged room is described many times on the web, so there is no necessity to go into details. The idea is to add virtual furniture, design and decor elements on the photo of a real vacant room, received from real estate agent. Before starting work on the project, сustomers are asked to send pictures of interior designs they like to make sure they will be satisfied with the style and general conception. It is also possible to replace existing furniture or to change colors or textures of walls, flooring, and ceiling. But this variation of virtual staging services is more expensive because it requires full recreation of initial design in 3D.

Internet And Money Rule The Business

Just a small question, where is real estate photography used to make much money? You all probably guess it right; the answer is real estate brokers websites!

Now we’ve reached the point of online listings because this is the area where virtual home staging can bring maximum benefit. Excessive explanations are unnecessary, photos of empty rooms look ugly and unattractive, the buyer sees just walls, floor, ceiling, windows and at the best they are in good condition.

Now imagine 10, 20 pictures of this kind. They do not cause interest because they are not special (we have already spoken about consumers hunger for all the most beautiful and outstanding). Nearly 80% of realtors proved that use of virtual furniture for real estate had increased online sales to a significant degree.

Virtually staged pictures developed by the professional talented designer are able to cause wow-effect being published online. It is the same with showing before – after photos, customers love to watch them so much and this is only to your, real estate agents, advantage.

Is a good product always expensive?

The price for virtual staging services varies depending on a number of photos, turnaround time and reputation of 3D visualization company. On average, in 2017, it is about $60-$100 per photo and, in fact, some real estate agents consider this price high. However, as always, everything is known in comparison.

For example, traditional staging is much more costly arrangement when realtor can pay up to $2000 for a house of medium size. In addition, physical staging implies monthly payments due to the contract, so if you sold the properties in some days after staging, you would pay for some months anyway.

Of course, you can save and not use the service at all and if you are patient enough to wait for some months to find the buyer this variant will go with you. After all, the growth of our business is our personal responsibility and it is up to you to choose the strategy of its development.

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Eternal seller syndrome – why do some apartments never find their buyers?

Not in every instance the reason of the failure to sell an apartment is its state or market situation in general. What is an apartment? It is an object, a commodity or an estate. No matter how you call it, it cannot decide how it should look, how much it should cost and which side it should turn to a buyer to appeal. All of these questions are answered by an owner and/or broker of the property. The more brokers are in charge of an apartment the more difficulties there are in selling it.

There are tons of HOW TO articles in regards to the choice of a broker, his or her duties, however, there is a few words about how to become an effective seller and get the deal without being disillusioned with people and the process itself.

Long-term experience in real estate market has shown that less effective sellers are:

  • Owners of the property acquired as a result of a deed of gift, an inheritance or a privatization;
  • “downshifter” (selling a property to buy a new one);
  • Divorcing spouses;
  • Eternal buyers (believe in magic).

Here are some factors that affect sales:

  • Inadequate price through inflated expectations;
  • Ill-preparedness in showing the real price;
  • Lack of constructive dialog between owners on choice of a broker and sale strategy.

No matter what your beliefs or life circumstances are, you should not forget – the more time it takes to sell a property the less attractive it becomes for a potential buyer.  In order to avoid such issues we do recommend considering all pros and cons of your property and selling methods.

If you have faced such issue and have no idea how to get off the dime, virtual staging will be the life-line.

About 80% of “dead” apartments were sold in a few months once they’d been virtually staged. The apartments became fresh and welcoming that immediately appealed to buyers.  Just have a look at our works and see the difference for yourself. 

Is Virtual Staging the Future Way of Selling a Home?

Virtual staging is a relatively new concept, but it may be the ideal option for many sellers when it comes to putting a home on the market.

Staging your home creates an inviting atmosphere and helps potential buyers envision their own space. But hiring a professional service can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Fortunately, virtual staging is solving that problem. Keep reading to learn more about the amazing benefits of virtual home staging.

What is Virtual Staging?

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Unlike traditional staging, which uses rented furniture and decorative items to make a home look appealing, virtual staging takes an empty home and adds furniture via the web. Virtual services use pictures of your empty home and add furniture, rugs and accessories to give your home the optimum aesthetic.

Sellers Save Money

Virtual staging is also much more cost-effective than traditional staging. While prices vary, the virtual market demands around $100 per room. Compare that to the cost of traditional staging, which can easily cost more than $2,000 up front — and an additional $500 to $600 a month — and the choice is obvious for homeowners on a budget. Virtual staging also helps sellers with lower-priced homes turn a profit or pay off a mortgage when they sell.

Benefits for Buyers

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Virtual staging also benefits buyers. When visiting an empty house, a buyer actually has the ability to see more details of the space. For many buyers, the ability to see a home in the raw allows them to imagine whether or not the space is truly right for their furniture and sense of style. That can be hard to do when a place is full of rented furniture.

Does it Work?

Virtual staging is a relatively new concept, but it may be the ideal option for many sellers when it comes to putting a home on the market. The fact that it is cost-effective for sellers and visually enticing to potential buyers makes it a promising addition to today’s real estate market.

Why You Must Try Virtual Staging Right Now

With the virtual world taking a lead, many home sellers now look for homebuyers online and even strike deals without organising any physical property visits. For those going the online way, there is an interesting way of staging a property making the process faster. This formula also saves you the money you would have spent otherwise on the actual property to make it look sale- worthy. It is called virtual staging.

What is virtual staging

Virtual staging is a technology that lets you stage a property that you are selling through online platforms. It is a process that is helpful for both home sellers as well as buyers. For instance, you clicked a picture of the empty living room of the property. Now, using virtual staging tools, you could add furniture and other décor accessories to let the buyer visualise the room the way it would look when decorated.

As a seller, a well-staged room would always fetch you better results than an empty room while for a buyer it would be much easier to visualise and make them feel more connected to the property. Moreover, for homeowners who have been reluctant to list their property for sale due to their inability to renovate it and make it sale worthy, virtual staging can be a trigger to bring the property on market and find potential buyers willing to pay the right price.


It was during the Great Recession in 2008-2010 when virtual staging is known to have emerged. It was then that homeowners as well as banks used this technology to make their otherwise dull properties to look presentable and sell fast.

What can you do?

  • To achieve the best of virtual staging for your home, there are online tools that let you give your home a virtual makeover.
  • You need to have high-resolution pictures of the areas you would want to stage.
  • Ensure that while you are staging, follow a theme of décor and design to maintain consistency.
  • Using a virtual stager, you could try different décor ideas that you think look presentable.
  • It allows the home seller to demarcate each room for the purpose it can be used for. For instance, in a home with multiple rooms, you could showcase the children’s room, the home office, the living room, the master bedroom and the guest room.
  • You could also stage the view from the windows, during the day and the night.
  • If you are property is staged already in pictures, you could replace or remove things that you think might put off potential buyers or put your privacy at stake. This could include family photographs, dirty corners, dustbins, over-the-top upholstery, etc.
  • When using the pictures, do mention in the listing that the room might not look the same as it does in the images and that it is a staged look.

Mind it

Only genuine people succeed in materializing purchase deals quicker. This is why as a seller do not go overboard with virtual staging — show only what you have got present a genuine picture of the possibilities that a buyer can explore.

3x2017: Tech Trends That Impact Real Estate

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Presented at the Inman Connect New York Conference

Stories about people and their connection to place are at the heart of what we do at The New York Times, no more so than within the real estate section. So today, I’m going to share with you three short stories, which I hope will serve as food for thought for your year ahead. I believe that storytelling is at the heart of communities, families and cultures. It’s also at the heart of memories. And as a passionate advocate of real estate brands, products and building things to make the process more enjoyable, especially in New York, I believe it’s in the DNA of what it feels like to own a home.

As you can imagine, The New York Times is going through an exciting, unprecedented period of change. But in making our journalism actionable, we believe that true, future-facing value not only for our readers, but the users of the services we build, comes from bridging the gap between our journalism, and problems in our users’ lives. As such, we build tools for everyday living, built squarely upon the expertise and authority of our newsroom, with the clear premise that these tools become more valuable in our readers’ lives over time. In short, we believe that the future belongs to those who are relentlessly helpful, something we share a clear alignment with the Real Estate industry as it too continues to undergo seismic changes. We believe that this is the only way to grow a business in 2017.

With that in mind, let’s dive in here.

The first trend we’re seeing enormous momentum behind, especially at The Times, is Virtual Reality.

It feels as if we’re finally at that tipping point where, after many false starts and promises of truly immersive experiences, we’re at that point where VR is going to hit the mainstream. With an aggressive democratization of the means of experiencing VR content, most notably through Google Cardboard, falling hardware prices fueled by Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, the gaming industry, and Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus, it certainly seems as if 2016 is going to be the year where VR begins to gain some long-awaited traction.

Indeed, combined with some truly innovative new forms of storytelling, late last year some of you may know that we distributed 1.3 million Google Cardboard devices through one of the oldest forms of distribution, the newspaper. But cutting through the hype, it’s probably going to be off to a slow start, with traction around gaming in particular only picking up towards the end of the year, especially when titles such as Minecraft begin to ship for the Oculus Rift around the holidays, and June’s Playstation VR headsets (which are rumored to be significantly cheaper than Oculus) begin to hit stores.

As Ben Schachter of Macquarie Capital cautions,

“To over use the not used often enough baseball analogy, we don’t even think we are in the first inning yet. For VR, we have just pulled into the parking lot and tailgating is about to begin. Samsung just arrived with a six-pack of Bud Light, Facebook called and is bringing a new microbrew, and Sony might bring a more mass-market palatable ale. By the end of 2016, we’ll have a better sense of what’s been brewing at Google, Microsoft, and perhaps Apple might even stop by just to see where this is all going. Only after 2016 will the VR game begin.”

For the Real Estate industry, we’ve seen the growing democratization of VR through great folks like Matterport or Floored, but this is a much bigger opportunity. For those of you who work with international, or relocation clients, the opportunity to give them a remote, but truly immersive tour of your apartment might be something really special. We’re already seeing some of this via Google Hangouts, where the agent ‘drives’ for the client, but there’s also those agents who send the Oculus headsets around the world to prospective customers, especially in the commercial space, to let them ‘walk around’ the property themselves.

So the dynamics of falling prices, and a growing democratization of the tools needed to experience this are certainly something to keep an eye on this year, especially for those of you who have kids.

Second, it’s no secret that there’s more being produced than ever before. Indeed, as Erica Berger suggests, there’s a very real sense that the ecosystem we’re in right now is at highest editorial capacity for content, coupled with a shifting revenue stream away from publishers and to networks and large tech companies. That’s why she, and many other marketers suggest we’ve reached ‘Peak Content’.

Not only is this an assault on our attention, but it’s also an increasing challenge to keep up with. Especially in the Real Estate industry, while there’s no shortage of things that agents ‘could’ be doing on social platforms for example, the overwhelming challenge is simply keeping up. Not only is producing enough content fraught with its own logistical challenges, just the effort to respond to all the different points of interaction in a genuine, consistently interesting way is incredibly time-consuming, and for many, just exhausting. For many of us, the tyranny of our own inbox is enough. Ultimately, it’s not unreasonable to expect that, at some point, the investment necessary to keep attention will be higher than the impact on revenue.

For some context on what I’m talking about, here’s what happens every second on the internet:

  • More than 8,000 tweets go live
  • More than 1,500 Instagrammers post images
  • More than 54,000 people click “like” on Facebook
  • 92,000 YouTube videos play
  • 46,700 people conduct Google searches

And perhaps most shockingly, more than two million three hundred thousand emails go out every single second. Most of them from Inman Select signups of course (just kidding).

And if you think about where that revenue is flowing, towards sites such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, or YouTube, the main point of differentiation is that these sites don’t actually create anything themselves. This, of course, bears close parallels with larger Real Estate portals, who while fantastically skilled at the assimilation and interaction of cross-platform search experience, are not the source of anything they present as a ‘result’. Now, I’m not suggesting we’ll see a reclaiming of content from any of these services, but in the spirit of being relentlessly helpful, and making your own knowledge actionable for your customers, the means of that distribution comes sharply into question.

Ultimately we’re talking about the transference of value here, and for agents and brokerages in particular, the commoditization of listings data isn’t the question any more. The production of listings online isn’t either. So what is? For us at The Times, we hear from our users that finding listings isn’t a problem they have. But finding which neighborhood to look in still hasn’t been solved online, and this is a key value proposition when it comes to the agent. But very often that discussion is a cautious one based on Fair Housing implications. So how do you solve for finding that great neighborhood? I’m not talking about making blog-like ‘guides’, I’m talking about genuinely helping the userin the moment, solve for something that’s a very real problem for them. And brokerage sites, this is a call to action for you. Digitize what’s inside your agents’ heads, and you might be able to play here.

My last point is related to this idea of peak content, which is that given everything that’s being produced, curation as a philosophy is an obvious necessity, but as a business is a bit of an enigma. As Om Malik accurately describes it, ‘the problem with curation is that no one wants to pay for it’. This is no truer than for Real Estate professionals, who consistently have to distill all the information about the market, pricing, the process, inventory, neighborhoods or timing for each customer. In many ways, I think that Real Estate professionals are the ultimate curators. But very often that value proposition is in question, often eroded by agents less than willing to justify their commission check. This impacts everyone, even the perception of high-performing agents, and certainly the brand of the industry as a whole. Ultimately, the act of curation is about reflecting a point of view, but from a business perspective, sending people elsewhere very often doesn’t make sense.

A great example of what I mean here is the difference between what’s served up in the search results experience online, versus what an agent does with their customer. It’s not about volume of results and comprehensiveness, it’s about empathy, guidance, insight and understanding. And it’s the key point of differentiation between an agent and a portal. So in shaping the experiences of our customers, curation is increasingly a challenge, not only given the amount of content being produced every day (we write the equivalent of a Harry Potter book every day at The Times for example), but also our need to remain relevant in our customers’ lives, AND our future customers’ lives. In many ways, you are what you share. There’s many agents who do this fantastically well, truly ‘owning’ their respective markets, but for too long these folks have been in the minority.

So when we look forward to the kinds of technology trends which will shape Real Estate in 2016, keep an eye on the gaming industry in particular, as VR has the capability to hit our industry like a long overdue freight train, but also keep in mind that more is being produced than ever before, so distribution might be best thought out strategically, rather than from a ‘fear of missing out’ perspective. And lastly, curation is your key competitive differentiator, so use it wisely, sparingly, and stay relentless helpful as a means of remaining relevant.

I hope you enjoyed my stories. Thank you.

The original post: here.