Homeowners turn to 'virtual staging' to sell

September 16, 2010

Virtual staging is the art of furnishing an empty house through a few key strokes in the hope of making it more likely to sell.

"I was surprisingly pleased with that the end product was. I didn't expect it to be as good," said realtor Morena Cohen.

Cohen recently used virtual staging for the first time. She provided the staging company with a few photos. Less than $500 and a couple of days later she had a fully furnished home to sell. Well, at least online.

"It's easy, it's fast. You take a picture of a vacant room and the furniture is slotted in. And you can improve or disprove it or try again if you need to," said Cohen.

Real staging has been a staple of the industry for a while now, adding tables and sofas or changing drapes to enhance the home's overall look. Virtual staging eliminates the costs involved in moving furniture in and out of a property.

One California company claims virtually staged homes sell for up to 17 percent more than vacant homes.

"It must be identified. Virtual staging must be identified as virtual staging," said Cohen.

Industry leaders say not doing so violated the buyer's trust. If Cohen's experience is any indication, virtual staging will be increasingly in demand.

Real estate experts say the cost advantage is key. Virtual staging can be a good tool for anyone on a budget who is trying to promote a property.

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