What Is Virtual Staging, and Is It Worth It for Selling Your Home?

Staging might help your home sell faster and for more money. But can virtual staging produce the same results?

By Terri Williams | Published Dec 14, 2021 9:47 AM

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 Q: I’ve heard that it’s important to stage my home before I put it on the market, since this may help it sell faster and I may even get more money for it. Virtual staging seems more convenient, but is it as effective as traditional staging?

A: Virtual staging—also known as digital staging—is growing in popularity as a way to stage homes that are on the market. Buyers tend not to like empty homes (that’s one of the 10 things your realtor wishes you knew about selling your house). But traditional staging can be an expensive and time-consuming effort.

Virtual staging is significantly less expensive, but does it really work? Is it as effective as traditional staging? Keep reading to find out.

What is virtual staging?

Virtual staging is the process of furnishing a property digitally. Instead of an interior designer or home-staging expert physically adding furniture and decor to a room, the updates are made on a computer. “Our designers take an empty space and use various techniques such as 3D modeling, Photoshop, and rendering software to transform an empty room into a beautifully staged room with furniture and accents,” explains Y.J. Kim, CEO at Bella Staging in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Related: 7 Digital Tools That Can Help Sell Your House

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What are the benefits of virtual staging?

Virtual staging helps potential buyers visualize how the home can look. While conventional staging could cost several thousand dollars, virtual staging is a more cost-effective option.  “And just like conventional staging, it helps spark the interest of potential buyers with beautiful staging,” Kim says.

Selling a house is already a tedious process, but virtual staging can help you avoid some of the hassles. “Traditional staging entails contracting a third party for labor and furniture rental, as well as insurance in the event of damage, to create a unique look that appeals to a wide range of clients and markets,” explains KD Reid, a virtual staging expert at KD Reid Interiors in Newark, N.J. “However, virtual staging allows you to present a variety of options to appeal to different markets simply by changing the color of a floor or house with the click of a button,” he says.

As a designer, Reid says that working with virtual staging (he uses Padstyler) is useful because it gives his client a visual representation of the design goals. “Although walking through a traditionally staged setting gives buyers a sense of scale—and touching things makes it tangible for them to imagine themselves in the space—I can make real-time changes for clients utilizing software that gives them immediate delight.”

That’s because the beauty of virtual staging is not only what it can digitally add to the room, but also what it can easily take out of the room. “Our designers can Photoshop out older, unwanted furniture and items that do more damage to the look of the property than good,” Kim says. In addition, Kim says Bella Staging can also turn around the digital photos in 1 to 2 days. “And we will keep working with our clients until they are ecstatic about the work our designers have done.”

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How much does virtual staging cost?

Virtual staging costs can vary by company and platform. For example, Kim’s company charges $22.50 per image (and offers a 25 percent discount for real estate professionals). “Whether it’s one photo or 10, the price remains the same, and our designers will spend the same amount of time on each photo to maintain a consistently high quality.”

According to Bill Golden, realtor/associate broker at RE/MAX Around in Atlanta, the price can range from $20 per photo up to $150 per photo.

Mihal Gartenberg, an agent for Warburg Realty in New York City, adds that the price can also depend on how much touching up a designer must do before adding the furniture. “In a recent listing, it cost roughly $90 to remove all the furniture and another $90 or so to restage it virtually.”

However, this depends on which company or platform you use. According to Reid, pricing can range from $100 to $1,000.

Related: 10 Home Staging Tips for Your Outdoor Spaces

Is virtual staging worth it?

For sellers who aren’t willing or able to invest in conventional staging, Michael J. Franco, a broker for Compass in New York City, believes virtual staging is worth it. “In most instances, if the alternative is an empty room, it’s a good alternative to at least present a prospective buyer with a vision for what the home could look like if it was furnished—and furnished well.”

However, he doesn’t think anything can match the feeling of physically walking into a staged home, and feeling at home. “Virtual staging can show what can be done, but that can still feel like work to a buyer,” Franco explains. “Physically staging simply gives a sense of well-being when entering a room, which isn’t something that can be replicated in a photo.”

Golden doesn’t think virtual staging is as effective, either. “It’s great that it looks good online, and that may attract some buyers and help them envision their possible use of space, but from my experience, buyers tend to feel disappointed (or even tricked) when they get to the home and it doesn’t look anything like the pictures.”

Golden says, “To that point, I believe being super transparent about virtual staging is crucial; you never want anyone to feel misrepresentation has come into play. And staging can’t hide some problems that will become apparent in a physical visit.

Gartenberg also doesn’t believe that virtual staging is as effective as physically staging a home, but she says that sometimes it may be the only option. “For example, virtual staging can show how a kitchen or bathroom can be updated, or how a room can be furnished in more than one way.” It isn’t always possible to stage with physical furniture, and in those scenarios, Gartenberg says doing so virtually can be very helpful

Related: 14 Cardinal Sins of Staging Your Home to Sell

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Virtual Staging Companies to Check Out

If you’re looking for a virtual staging company to help sell your house, check out these options:

  • Bella Staging: Provides furniture removal, staging, 3D floor plans, 3D architectural rendering, 3D home tour staging, floor plans, and Matterport floor plan.
  • Pad Styler: Provides virtual remodeling, 3D architectural rendering, and 3D floor plans.
  • Brownie Box: Provides photo editing, virtual staging, floor plans, redraws, and renderings.
  • VHT: Provides virtual staging, painting, decluttering, redecorating, and twilight.
  • VRX Staging: Provides virtual staging, twilight, paint color change, blue sky/green grass, and furniture removal.