Is virtual staging worth it to sell your house?

If you've ever stumbled on HGTV, you know that there is a big push toward staging homes for sale. Cluttered, tacky, dirty, and even unfurnished homes are, we're told, a lot harder to sell than tastefully decorated homes because buyers need to be able to visualize themselves living in the property.

And with a glut of homes on the market, staging may be more important now than ever. But it's also expensive: hiring a professional stager and renting furniture to showcase a home can cost thousands of dollars -- and it may be worth it on a million dollar property. But on a $100,000 condominium or starter home, it tends to be impractical.

REALTOR Magazine reports on the latest trend in staging: virtual staging. That is, hiring a graphic designer/interior decorator to take photographs of your vacant home and add furniture to the photographs. Virtual staging can cost less than a few hundred dollars and you can print out the photos and leave them in the rooms -- they can also be uploaded into the MLS to entice prospective buyers.

One word of ethical caution though: it's probably best to restrict virtual staging to furniture and other items that aren't part of the house. Who can complain that the photos featured a fake sofa since the sofa isn't part of the house anyway?

According to REALTOR, "Obeo ( offers Obeo StyleDesigner, which enables you to change wall colors, countertop textures, and type of flooring. . ."

But that would annoy most buyers: If I am lured in to a house by a photo with hardwood floors, I better not show up and find 1970s shag carpeting.

Think virtual staging might help move your house? Here a couple sites that have more information: Virtual Staging Solutions and Virtual Enriching Homes.
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