Home sellers weigh traditional, virtual staging as housing market cools

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Home staging businesses, both traditional and virtual, are getting busier as the red-hot Arizona real estate market shows signs of cooling.

“We’re seeing an increase in quotes and staging requests right now, probably three times the calls we’re used to receiving,” said Tom Carr, co-owner of Staged to Sell Design in Scottsdale. “Months ago you could put the hook in the water, not bait, and people were biting all day. [Home buyers] can be pickier now.” To help potential buyers envision a new home, stagers often opt for comfortable furnishings and neutral-colored decor to enhance the feel of the property and define the spaces.

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

Valley broker Trevor Halpern often uses staging when his offers come to market. He says the goal is to get potential buyers to look and linger in the house. “My experience is that a well-staged house will help you sell faster and help you get more money for it when it’s staged,” Halpern said. “You want them to sit on the couch. You want them to actually 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 bench to sit on? Increasingly, home buyers scrolling through property listings come across virtually staged homes. “I would say the pandemic has definitely accelerated the adoption of virtual staging and I think it’s here to stay,” said Matt Langan, the CEO and founder of Stuccco. The virtual staging company has thousands of 3D models that can be used to highlight the potential of a property.

“We can work on literally any space, indoors or out,” Langan added. “We staged boats on lakes. We’ve even staged buildings on properties to help people understand what it would look like if there were a shed built in the backyard.”

While some brokers are quick to adopt virtual staged photos, others believe they can hurt a sale. “When you have virtual staged photos, people expect a certain look and feel, and when they walk into the house, they are immediately disappointed,” Halpern says. “They don’t immediately see what they expected to see.”

“We’ve actually heard the opposite,” Langan objected. “They can see the virtually staged photos as the property would look like if it was properly furnished, but if the buyers enter the property because it is currently vacant, they can actually see all the surfaces in 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 price of the house.

Leave a Comment