Arizona Real Estate

Virtual staging: effective marketing tool or deceptive advertising?

Virtual staging: effective marketing tool or deceptive advertising?

Virtual staging: effective marketing tool or deceptive advertising?

virtual stagingMost real estate agents agree that staging a residential property, represents an essential marketing tool, but what about virtual staging? When you virtually stage a listing, you use technology to transform empty rooms into inviting and hopefully more marketable spaces. The idea is to take a blank canvas of vacant rooms and present a landscape of the property’s potential.


Traditional staging by the numbers


The National Association of Realtors found, in a recent study, that most realtors see traditional staging as vital to marketing their listings. It comes as no surprise then, that virtual staging has taken off. Nearly 80-percent of buyers’ agents say traditional staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize listings as a future home. The study also showed that the living room ranked as most important, with the master bedroom and kitchen following close behind.

Nearly 38-percent of sellers’ agents say they stage homes prior to listing them. But staging a home that is vacant or has high potential with low cosmetic appeal, can prove difficult. This, say agents, is where virtual staging can save the day.


Virtual staging is inexpensive and easy


Proponents say virtual staging allows prospective buyers to better visualize how spaces can be maximized or even transformed by furniture and decorating. The cost runs anywhere from two to four-hundred dollars, which is significantly less than the cost of an actual staging. Typically, agents download digital photos of their listing. Then, designers with a virtual staging company  send back new images that show the space furnished and decorated, which are ready to be posted on the MLS.


Proceed with caution  


Be cautious about the extent to which you virtually stage your listing. Be very judicious. The realtor’s code of ethics requires agents to honestly represent the property. Virtual staging is merely supposed to give potential buyers a better understanding of how to layout a room. Seeing the space as it would look, filled with furniture, offers buyers an idea of how they might make the size and floor plan of the property work for them. Using Virtual furniture is acceptable because most buyers understand that furniture shown during staging, whether real or digital, is not part of what is being offered for sale.


Too much can mislead buyers


That line between virtual staging and deceptive advertising blurs if the virtual improvements go too far. For example, presenting a property with new cabinets and appliances could easily mislead a buyer. It is not an accurate portrayal of a listing when you virtually move walls, change counter tops or present high-end flooring. Only the real property is for sale. All digital images still need to reflect the property accurately. Keep in mind, virtually changing the permanent structures and fixtures of the house, can lead to an inaccurate portrayal of exactly what the seller is selling.


Virtual staging is not a replacement for traditional staging


Realtors who have used virtual staging as one of their marketing strategies say it complements traditional staging, but does not replace it. As we mentioned earlier, the research is clear:  most buyers find it easier to visualize a property as a future home, when it is staged. Traditional staging continues to be a valuable marketing tool. Where agents might find the most benefit with virtual staging is when they are selling vacant homes. Instead of only posting pictures of empty rooms, agents can also present those same rooms, virtually staged. It allows sellers’ agents to present to potential buyers with a strong visual that might just help clinch the sale.

At Landmark Title, we work with residential realtors and their clients providing escrow and title services. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact our office at (602)768-2800 or visit our website.


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