I’m seeing more agents here in northern New Jersey using virtual staging to try to draw in buyers because it’s so much cheaper than “real” staging — typically only a couple of hundred dollars, vs. staging with actual furniture and decor, which starts at about $2500 or more for a 2 month installation for 3 rooms. However, buyers are usually very disappointed when they walk into an empty (and worse out-dated) house that they’ve seen virtually staged on-line, only to see that it looks cold, boring, and even confusing (especially open plan homes) without actual furniture in place. If virtual staging draws buyers in to look at homes because they look so much better and more inviting, the benefit is pretty much lost when they arrive to actually tour the home. I’ve also seen some really poor “furniture choices” and incomplete looks with virtual staging — out-dated dining room and kitchen tables, a couple of chairs only placed into a huge living room, a sofa or 2 with no coffee or end tables, no lamps, no art or poorly placed art, no decor items, etc. That kind of virtual staging isn’t serving any purpose, and does nothing to increase the appeal of the home.
So even though virtual staging on the surface can save a couple of thousand dollars, the end result will never be as effective as “in real life” staging, where buyers get to ooh and aah over the lifestyle they can experience in person. They can sit on the sofas, beds, and at the dining room table to see how much room there is with furniture in place — something buyers usually under-estimate. They can experience the “dream” lifestyle staging creates for them that makes any house more memorable and desirable than the competition. In 9+ years of staging in New Jersey, I’ve found buyer reaction to a staged home is always much more positive than to an un-staged home — and staged homes typically sell within a few days to a few weeks, depending on such factors as the time of year, location, and price. ANY house can benefit from staging to get a higher sales price as well.