Depending on your market, chances are you may have utilized virtual staging or seen an example of it online. More and more agents embrace this modern staging technique because it is cost-effective and convenient for sellers who might have moved their furniture and belongings already.
Unfortunately, some things can go wrong. Think misplaced or ill-fitting furniture, poor quality photos, or exaggerated images that detract from the home.
What are some classic virtual staging pitfalls, and how can you avoid them?
Continue reading this article from AgentStory to get the most out of your next virtual staging endeavor.
1. Not Prepping the Property
It’s tempting to relax when it comes to virtual staging, but forgetting the preparation stage is a mistake. Besides cleaning and decluttering each room, beautifying the home should be your client’s top priority. For example, if there are walls that could use a new paint job or there are scuff marks on the front door from furry friends, cleaning up can make a big difference. And when staging a home, you can keep the space empty or use existing furniture. For home staging best practices, read this article.
2. Not Using Professional Real Estate Photography
You should encourage your client to invest in quality photographs of the home’s exterior and interior so that your virtual staging efforts will pay off. Photographs with dark lighting, odd angles, or lack of focus will turn off potential buyers.
3. Hiring the Cheapest Staging Service
If you’re new to the virtual home staging game, choosing a staging service might be a bit daunting. Reputable companies include BoxBrownie and PadStyler, though there are many more. The cheaper you go, the more likely you’ll have to spend precious time redoing the staged images. Another way to find top talent is to ask your inner circle, brokerage, or real estate connections for a referral to a staging company or consultant.
4. Relying Solely on Yourself to Stage the Home
Virtual staging might sound fun and breezy compared to traditional home staging, but it’s a bad idea for you and your client to rely on your skills and biases. Instead, let the pros do their jobs! Unless you have experience with interior design, going the DIY route is a mistake. Designers will know what elements and mood to create based on the buyer profiles you’ve provided.
5. Not Focusing on the Buyer’s Preferences
Sellers will naturally struggle to see their homes as less than perfect. It’s hard to displace a strong emotional attachment, especially if there are years of memories involved. Your job is to acknowledge to clients that their home was special, but that it needs to appeal to buyers in their market to sell.
Explain that one of the benefits of virtual staging is that you can cater to multiple buyer profiles (e.g. creating a home office or nursery out of their spare bedroom upstairs to accommodate working professionals or young families) without spending tons of money on physical decorations and furniture. You’ll need to share the details on your buyer profiles with the consultant or home staging service you hired.
6. Using All of the Seller’s Belongings
Sometimes a seller’s furniture looks too big or small or even out of date. In this case, consider asking the seller to leave most of the house empty, and have the stager add digital furniture. Remember, if the furniture or decor is distracting, it’s not helping your marketing efforts. Your client can store things in boxes in the garage or a less conspicuous spot if necessary.
7. Forgetting to Feature Real Plants
No one wants to see fake, dusty greenery scattered haphazardly throughout a house, nor do live drooping plants instill confidence in a buyer. There’s nothing like fresh florals or simple greenery to liven up the space! If you have some eye-catching flowers to place in a pot in the living room, kitchen, or dining room, consider including them in the original professional listing photo. If you’re not able to find the ideal plant, have a stager add a digital one.
8. Not Providing a Full Disclosure
Shopping for a home online is already a time-consuming and difficult process. These days, buyers will find your listing frustrating if it’s not clear what the photos show. When you create a listing, label your client’s before and after pictures for each room of the house.
9. Getting Carried Away
The reason we recommend using a professional staging service or a consultant instead of designing on your own is that staging can go south. From excess decorations to harsh color correction to filters added to the staged photos, buyers will notice. Stick to the basics: use high-quality images of the home, enhance the listing with tasteful furniture, and leave it be!
10. Altering the Home
You should never alter the home’s foundation in a staged photo to intentionally hide defects or add desirable features. It’s unethical and can hurt your reputation as an agent.
The Bottom Line
The marketing technique known as virtual staging opens up possibilities for you and your clients. When done right, this type of staging can reduce days on market and help buyers visualize the property as their future home. Knowing the potential pitfalls ahead of time can help you find more interested buyers and increase your sales.