Comparing Physical and Virtual Staging: Advantages and Drawbacks

Comparing Physical and Virtual Staging: Advantages and Drawbacks

Home staging has emerged as a pivotal component in readying a property for sale. The primary objectives of staging any home involve depersonalization, creating visual separation from the current owner, and enhancing the property's attractiveness to potential buyers. The ultimate aim is to fashion a space that allows potential buyers to envision themselves residing in it, closely resembling a 'showroom' aesthetic.

Historically, this has been achieved through physical interventions. Sellers and real estate professionals enlist the services of professional home staging firms that bring in their own materials, furniture, artwork, and other elements to transform the space. This approach allows prospective buyers to grasp the actual room dimensions, furniture placement, and fosters an emotional connection to the property by eliminating personal items and preferences.

During the pandemic, virtual staging gained prominence as an alternative method. While physical staging has long dominated the market, virtual staging offers flexibility, cost-efficiency, and limitless design possibilities. Virtual staging involves the creation of 3D room designs using photographs of the property's rooms, eliminating the need for physical materials.

Now that we've explored both approaches, let's compare and contrast their merits and drawbacks, enabling you to make an informed decision when preparing to list your home for sale. Like all significant decisions, both methods come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

The Advantages of Home Staging

1. Increased Appeal: Home staging significantly enhances your property's visual appeal, attracting more interest, increasing foot traffic, and expediting the sale process.

2. Higher Sale Price: Statistically, staged homes tend to sell for more money, often because they are perceived as being in better condition and of higher value. Studies indicate that staged homes can sell for an average of 17% more than unstaged homes.

3. Competitive Edge: In a competitive real estate market, home staging provides a distinct advantage over comparable listings. Even in cases where two homes are nearly identical, a staged property tends to show better and commands a higher selling price due to the perceived value it offers.

The Disadvantages of Home Staging

1. Time-Consuming: Properly staging a home is a time-intensive process, encompassing initial consultations, the removal of personal items, and may take several days or even weeks, depending on the property's size and condition.

2. Potential Style Discord: The choices made by the staging professional and real estate agent may not align with your personal taste and style, requiring you to inhabit a space that may not suit your preferences for an extended period. Additionally, you'll need to maintain these staged items in pristine condition for showings.

3. Costly: Professional staging represents a significant upfront investment, despite the potential for a higher selling price and faster sale. The initial financial outlay can be substantial.

The Advantages of Virtual Staging

1. Cost-Effective: Virtual staging is generally more economical than traditional staging, as it eliminates expenses associated with furniture rental, decor, art, and on-site consultations. It primarily involves the creation of 2D mockups of each room, with costs limited to graphic design services.

2. Limitless Options: Virtual staging offers extensive design possibilities as there are no physical constraints. Multiple design options can be explored, and adjustments can be made effortlessly.

3. Time-Efficient: Virtual staging images and mockups can be generated quickly, often within a few days, and are instantly accessible to a global audience without requiring physical property visits, making it a faster process compared to physical staging.

The Disadvantages of Virtual Staging

1. Lack of Authenticity: Virtual staging may sometimes appear unrealistic or artificial, potentially deterring certain buyers. Ensuring the quality of the designer's work is crucial to achieve a realistic look.

2. Limited Perspective: Unlike in-person showings that allow a genuine sense of the property, virtual staging provides a 2D view, making it challenging for buyers to fully envision themselves in the space.

3. Unrealistic Expectations: Virtual staging images, while visually appealing, might set unrealistic expectations for buyers, potentially leading to disappointment upon viewing the vacant property.

4. Showing/Listing discrepancy:  The virtual staging looks great, but it doesn’t do anything in the physical space.  Potential buyers show up to the property having already seen the listing, and are disappointed to see an empty space vs. what they had seen online.  Based on a NAR 2019 Profile of Home Staging, only 17% of buyers can visualize empty space, meaning the virtual staging helps get them in, but they are likely to be disappointed once they see a vacant home and aren’t able to visualize the setup.  

Ultimately, the choice of how to prepare your home for sale is a decision entirely in your hands. When I consult with my seller clients, an emphasis is placed on staging for both online viewers and physical viewers, which means staging the home for both.  A staging consultant meets with all my clients to ensure that the home is offered in the best possible representation to attract the most buyers, almost always using only the home owner's current furniture.  

If you’re considering selling your home, or wondering how staging can work for you, I’d be happy to chat with you!  My contact information is available on the site, or book an appointment virtually!

Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.