Lately, I've been called in to "fix" vacant properties where virtual staging failed to yield a sale. It occurred to me that since I run into this situation more often, I must blog about why virtual staging just doesn’t work. Sure, you’ll get nice photos for the internet, but when a buyer walks thru the door to an empty house, it doesn’t help to sell the property.
And here’s why virtual staging doesn’t work:
1. You’ve immediately lost the TRUST of the prospective buyer who expects to see a gorgeously decorated property (like the one they saw on the internet). Let’s face it, buying a home is emotional. And trust is the foundation of any great relationship. Realtors want to make the sale, but more importantly, they want to develop a relationship to get future listings. You start off on the wrong foot when the buyer is disappointed as soon as they walk through the door. If anything, you want to set a lower expectation about a property and then over-deliver when the buyer walks through the door. (Not the other way around which is what happens with virtual staging.) Even if it’s not your listing, a buyer could be thinking: “What else isn’t my realtor telling me?”
2.When there’s nothing for the buyer to connect with (via furniture and accessories) they have nothing to “fall-in-love with” about the property. Buyers need to emotionally connect to a space. Staging is about selling a lifestyle, so buyers see themselves living in the home. When a house is vacant, buyers will notice its “defects” (like, painting and repairs). Conversely, when there are furniture and accessories, and a buyer loves the home, they may not notice a its defects.
3. Furniture helps buyers to visualize size and scale of how their furnishings will fit. 9 of out 10 buyers can’t visualize how their furnishings will fit in a space? Staging is a must to overcome this!
4. Empty rooms can feel small, cold and uninviting which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve when marketing a house. A buyer will decide if they like a house within the first 7-12 seconds of entering, so you must make a great 1st impression. Don’t make the mistake of spending money (and time) on virtual staging. If a seller can’t afford to fully stage a vacant property then It’s better to invest money on repairs, cleaning and doing light staging, so the home is presented fairly & in the best possible light.
One last thought, if a seller isn’t initially open to staging a vacant property, re-visit the subject before asking for a price reduction. Vacant staging typically costs approximately 1% of the purchase price, (which is usually less than a price reduction.) This way, the seller isn’t leaving money on the table; the home will sell faster and for the most money possible. Besides, Staging is Tax-Deductible, so your seller will re-coup staging costs anyway. Vacant staging is well-worth the investment to help homes sell quickly, and for the highest price possible.