Much talk has been devoted to the idea of staging a home as part of the listing process. If there is furniture it should be uncluttered and depersonalized so that the new owners can see themselves in this property. For vacant and empty properties you can use staging companies, virtual tour specialists and even home furniture outlets to bring in staged furniture giving the property a lived in feel.

So how important is it to have a house staged? I remember once being offered a great job at a company that was a direct competitor of ours. I turned it down and a few months later found myself  looking for work. I called the company back to see if they were still interested. They were until they found out that I was no longer working for their competitor company. Just as an employee looks more attractive when working for a competitor, a house looks better when someone is living in it… except for when it is newly constructed and has that brand new appeal. When you can’t stage a house, take more pictures of interesting items in the home like a fireplace, appliances or landscaping.

For those that can’t afford the price tag to have furniture delivered, some agents carry their own staging furniture and make it available for the right listing. Staging companies are worth their weight if even to just help unclutter and make suggestions that the agent may not want to make to their client.

Virtual staging is a hot topic on the national forum. At about $65.00 per picture you can send a nice picture of an empty room and a Photoshop specialist will use miniature furniture and pictures to make a room look complete. They often will use furniture from catalogues of major home furniture stores such as Ashley Furniture. Virtual staging will garnish very different opinions from agents for reasons surrounding ethics. Where do you draw the line? Is it ok to cover up the stained carpet, wall or add landscaping that does not exist. While it can be argued that the furniture will usually go when the house is sold, agents should be very careful about any images that have been touched up and are to be placed in the MLS.

As real estate photographers, we always appreciate when a house has been prepared for the tour process. A conscientious agent, seller or staging professional is a huge asset to make the home photography session go as smooth as possible. Allow the photographer or staging assistant to be make the unpopular suggestions like removing family pictures – and be ready to offer moral support. If the home has a great view then you can offer additional staging and ask the photographer to schedule a sunset shoot when the light is leveling out allowing to shoot through windows.