By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
A recent article from The San Francisco Chronicle ("Virtual Staging Sparks Sales of Vacant Homes" by Judy Richter) took a look at the growing trend of real estate professionals using virtual staging to move listings.
Virtual staging is where you take an empty room and then digitally enhance it with furniture to make the space more inviting. For example, a stager may digitally add some artwork, chairs, tables, and other items to liven up a vacant space, allowing buyers to see the potential of the home. The enhanced photos may then be used on the sales practitioner's flyers, Web site, MLS and in advertisements for the listing.
But some are beginning to question whether the altered photos may deceive buyers.
Virtual staging can work in driving more buyer traffic. Many practitioners report an increase in buyer traffic after virtual staging photos are posted than if they just posted photos on the Web of the vacant rooms in the house.
Some in the business are attracted to virtual staging, particularly now, because of the huge cost savings of staging on the Web rather than paying for actual physical staging. For example, some real estate practitioners say they have saved thousands of dollars in staging costs by opting for virtual over physical staging.
But are these altered photos accurate renderings of the space? Or are they misrepresenting the property by sprucing them up digitally?
Real estate practitioner Kirk Lebowe, owner-broker of PreVue Properties in Los Angeles County, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he views virtual staging as a great way give buyers decorating ideas. Plus, he said, it's not like you're selling the home with the furniture.