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In starting Staging Pads I visited alot of blog sites talking about virtual home staging. What surprised me was the amount of people asking for advice as to which programs they would need to use to create virtual staging. However, it makes sense for the thousands of graphic designers to want to use their talents for this newly developing business.
Virtual Staging works by taking a picture of a vacant room and digitally adding furniture, pictures and other items you might find in a room. It gives the room a non-cluttered look that agents will list in the MLS to increase traffic. New home builders have been using this technologies for years. Photographers and virtual tour companies are starting to get into the action as they see the value of adding this to vacant listings. Generally, in many areas the cost is about 10% the cost of home staging. It is a great value for sellers that do not have the budget to stage their vacant homes for listing.
The problem with this cool technology lies in the submitted images and furniture library needed. Most of the images we receive are not adequate for staging. They may be too small, wrong angles, excessive glare, shadows or incorrect light balance. Even the professional images generally need some editing to make them stageable.
Secondly the furniture libraries need to be large, 3d, high quality furniture that can spin 360 degrees and still look good. Most graphic platforms such as Photoshop do not deal normally with 3d movement. Pictures have a different degree of depth depending on the photographer and lens used. This means some furniture needs to sit way back in the picture. They are going to look smaller than objects in the front of the picture. Then there are shadows. Shadows are also affected by the time of day and direction of the light. So you need to add the correct type of shadows to furniture.
Generally, even when using one of the few virtual staging platforms that are out there one has to take the image to several other programs to complete the image. Repairing the white balance, straightening the image so furniture sits correctly, adding post production fires and dealing with rugs are all areas that require additional programs.
At an average cost of $75 per staged image, a seller can stage 4-5 primary rooms for about $300. This makes it a terrific value to get attention on the MLS. The ethical issues that have been raised on the internet so far seem to be motivated by home stagers and a a few other people that do not want to see it succeed. However, there could be problems downline if agents use the online virtual staging services that alter flooring, wall colors and edit landscaping, if they intend to use it for existing resale listings.
So in closing, at this point it is probably worth using one of the better online virtual staging services that work exclusively with realtors® and understand home staging for real estate listings. At some point downline, the software and furniture collection will be quality enough to complete a realistic virtually staged room in one location. Staging Pads is a high quality virtual staging company online that works with realtors®.