Home staging expert, Debra Gould, shares her thoughts about virtual home staging.
Some home stagers are starting to receive emails promoting virtual home staging software. Home staging expert, Debra Gould, has heard from many stagers curious about her take on this new practice.
“In my opinion there are two types of virtual staging,” states Gould, founder of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. She explains, “The first type I practice myself and I consider it virtual because I don’t actually go into a client’s home but I give them staging advice by phone based on photos they send me to analyze. This allows clients to have my staging advice and do the work themselves at a lower cost than if I were to do an actual consultation in their home. It also allows me to offer specific staging advice to clients outside my geographic area.”
Gould neither practices nor recommends the second meaning of “virtual staging” because she believes it to be a misuse of homeowners’ money in most cases.
“Some companies have entered the field of home staging using virtual staging software,” states Gould. She explains, “This software allows you to load photos of vacant rooms to a computer and manipulate them to make it look like the rooms are furnished. The goal here is to sell attractive listing photos to real estate agents for them to use on their feature sheets and on MLS.”
In this scenario, no stager goes to the home and no real furniture goes in the house.
The software (used by a stager, decorator or interior designer), is doing the “home staging” by creating images of fully-furnished rooms to show online. Gould says that while she can see the application of this software as a way to simulate what a decorator or interior redesigner is planning to do in a home to get a client’s approval for a decorating project where they’re asking them to buy new furniture, for example, she doesn’t believe it has any place in staging in the way it’s currently being promoted.
“I feel virtual staging using software to manipulate listing photos is a waste of home sellers’ money because potential buyers are going to be quite disappointed when they arrive at a showing and see that the house looks nothing like the photos they viewed online. And everyone knows a buyer in a bad mood is not a buyer that makes an offer,” states Gould.
In a property like this, potential buyers might find themselves wandering through the empty house wondering why the owners had to move out so suddenly. Sensing desperation, this might attract a low-ball offer, which is not the goal of home staging.
A home stager’s job is to romance potential buyers and while photos count for something (considering 90% of Canadian buyers and 70% of US buyers look online for a home before ever calling a real estate agent) they don’t count for everything.
The Staging Diva says, “The buyer needs to be romanced when they pull up to the drive and take in the view from the curb. They have to fall in love when they walk through the front door and they have to fall deeper in love with every single room in the home they look at until they have the feeling that it’s the property they’ve been looking for. That’s why I believe virtual staging software misses the mark and it’s not something I promote.”
The creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, Debra Gould has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate, including seven of her own homes. She is the president of home staging firm SixElements.com and has trained over 4000 home stagers to start and grow their own businesses.
Debra has gained international recognition through features in major media in the US and Canada including: This Old House, HGTV, CNN Money, CBC National News, CBS Radio, Global TV, City TV, The Wall Street Journal, Women’s Day, Reader’s Digest and more.
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