Home sellers weigh traditional, virtual staging as housing market cools


PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Both traditional and virtual home staging companies are bustling with activity as Arizona’s red-hot real estate market shows signs of slowing down.

“We’re currently seeing an increase in requests for quotes and staging, probably three times the calls we’re used to,” said Tom Carr, co-owner of Staged to Sell Design in Scottsdale. “Months ago you could throw the hook in the water without baiting and people would bite all day. [Home buyers] can now be choosier.” To help potential buyers envision themselves in a new home, stagers often choose comfortable furniture and neutral-colored decor to enhance the feel of the property and define their spaces.

“I would describe staging as a first date. When you first meet this person, you don’t want their ex all over their clothes, do you?” Carr said. “What if you buy the house and only see the previous owner?”

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Valley real estate agent Trevor Halpern often relies on staging when his listings go to market. He says the goal is to get potential buyers to view and linger in the home. “In my experience, a well-staged home helps you sell faster and get more money for it when it’s staged,” Halpern said. “You want them to sit on the couch. You really want them to walk around the house and introduce themselves there, and if you have well-placed, beautiful furniture in the house, they can do that.

But what if there is no couch to sit on? House buyers scrolling through real estate offers are increasingly coming across virtually staged houses. “I would say that the pandemic has certainly accelerated the adoption of virtual staging, and I think it will continue,” said Matt Langan, CEO and founder of Stuccco. The virtual staging company has thousands of 3D models that can be used to highlight a property’s potential.

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“We can literally work on any space, indoors or out,” Langan added. “We put boats on lakes. We even staged buildings on lots so people can understand what it might look like if a shed were built in the backyard.”

While some real estate agents are quick to adopt virtually staged photos, others believe they could hurt a sale. “When you have virtually staged photos, people expect a certain look and feel, and when they step inside, they’re immediately disappointed,” Halpern said. “Right away they don’t see what they expected.”

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“Actually, we heard the opposite,” Langan replied. “You can see the virtually staged photos of what the property would look like if it were properly furnished, but when buyers then enter the property because it is vacant at the time, they can actually see all of the surfaces of the property.”

Virtual staging is cheaper than traditional staging. Stuccco charges $29 per photo to virtually stage an empty space and $39 if items must be virtually removed first. Traditional staging typically costs less than 1% of the home price.



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