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View the Possibilities With Virtual Staging

By Brian Balduf, VHT Studios

Appealing to home buyers is all about making that emotional connection. Smart marketers know emotions trump other factors, especially when you hear buyers say the listing “just feels right.” They may be searching for a new house, but they’re envisioning their next home.

Buyers’ emotional experience while home shopping is heightened even more by stunning real estate photography that is the attention-grabber in the age of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Houzz.

Breathtaking photographs and video stir buyers’ emotions and imaginations and prompt dreams about how they’ll live in that home.

New virtual staging tools go even one step further. Virtual staging makes a listing stand out and allows buyers to visualize their dreams – not only in their minds – but on their monitors or mobile devices.

When marketing to those buyers, virtual staging allows real estate professionals to present the rooms of a listing in many styles and functions, enabling agents to reach the widest audience possible by appealing to myriad tastes and lifestyle needs.

Virtual Staging blows up the current one-size-fits-all listing model and gives real estate pros far greater flexibility in customizing a listing to the desires and expectations of their perceived audiences.

It starts with high quality photographs, the standard for showing how a home is currently furnished and decorated today for its current owner.  Virtual staging tools inserted into or enhancing those photographs amp up the features of a listing and showcase why each room is a great space and how it can be used, whether the prospective owner is a workout enthusiast, a craft hobbyist, or a new parent.

Also, virtual staging eliminates the expense of renting furnishings or hiring traditional stagers, while allowing buyers to mentally prepare how they can live in their prospective home.

Virtual staging helps buyers look beyond the stark, off-putting appearance of a vacant room. It also presents decorating options that enhance, for instance, a living room containing worn carpeting and outdated furniture that could leave a bad impression.

Virtual staging presents a property’s potential and can attract and interest different audiences with a variety of lifestyles.

See for yourself how virtual staging was used successfully by Robert Pribyl and Bernadette Ray, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Chicago. Robert says they took advantage of virtual staging’s flexibility for a vacant and fully remodeled 130-year old house in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

“This neighborhood is very hot. It’s become a magnet for millennials and high-net worth investors, so we needed to showcase how single professionals or families with different needs might live in the home,” Pribyl says. “I like the modern furniture that buyers see in the living room – it fits the style of the buyers I’m trying to attract. The home looks more appealing to buyers when they can see select rooms that are furnished.

They used virtual staging to showcase how a bedroom might appeal, for instance, to a young couple with a newborn. They also transformed that same vacant bedroom into an office and an exercise room for a young entrepreneur or a workout enthusiast.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In the finished basement, virtual staging allowed the duo to show the space’s potential as a child’s playroom and man-cave for TV sports fans and game lovers.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In just four weeks after installing virtual photographs, they received multiple offers on the listing, and as of this writing, they were in negotiations with potential buyers.

Virtual staging opens many real estate marketing options which up until now have been impossible to deploy. There are now unlimited ways to present a room’s functions or decor through virtual tools.

Real estate professionals are also applying flexibility to how they use virtually staged photographs. In addition to websites, advertising and brochures, agents are using enlarged virtually staged photographs that depict multiple room functions and placing them on easels in each room of their listings. This allows buyers to instantly recall the virtually staged home they viewed online, as well as to envision the many possibilities.

Also, consider these other virtual tools that can solve common headaches that real estate professionals have had to work through over the years:

  • Virtual paint is helpful when walls need a fresh coat of paint or when dated wallpaper needs a makeover.
  • Virtual declutter removes mementos and personal effects that may be cherished by the owner but are distractions to buyers.
  • And virtual twilight wows buyers and with warm, romantic, and welcoming exterior views that appeared to be photographed at dusk.

Here’s another example of a virtually staged living space at a listing in Rosemont, Ill. See how the space has been configured to appeal to different style preferences.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

Don’t Try This at Home!

Some digital photography pros may be tempted to hire a Photoshop hobbyist to digitally alter photos with virtual enhancements. Having great Photoshop skills doesn’t guarantee beautiful virtual staging.

Installing a virtual couch into a photograph and hitting “Sharpen My Image” may do more harm than good to a vacant room.  Often the end result looks like the old Colorforms stickers we played with as kids.

Experienced virtual stagers are studio and image specialists who have composition skills in real estate photography and know how to blend multiple exposures in which lighting, window views, and details are merged to create the final composite photography.

They also understand perspective, shadows, and size in relation to room dimensions.

We advocate trusting your visual marketing to a pro, just as real estate brokers advocate to their clients.

The newest visual marketing tools are proof that real estate marketing is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. Smart professionals are adopting these tools to reach a much wider audience, to make a greater first impression on potential buyers, and sell homes faster and at the best price.

Brian BaldufABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Balduf, CEO, chairman and co-founder of VHT Studios, has built the Rosemont, Ill.-based firm into the nation’s largest real estate photography and image management services company. Since he co-founded the company in 1998, VHT Studios has helped more than 200,000 real estate professionals sell more than $200 billion in properties through its nationwide network of hundreds of photographers and image specialists. Delivering to real estate professionals their most powerful selling tools – high quality photography and video – Balduf has worked to ensure their properties get seen more, sell faster and at the highest price. For more information, visit VHT.com, The VHT Studios Blog or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.


Source: StyledStagedSold

Use Plants to Showcase a Healthier Home

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

You can clean the air with plants. And in an age when “healthy home” is what so many buyers are saying they crave, you may find this a cheaper alternative to improving the air quality in a home by just being smarter about the plants you choose to stage with.

The Center for REALTOR(R) Technology has been studying how plants can improve indoor air quality, and has written a book on the topic, “A Pocket Guide to Cleaner Air.” The book focuses on which plants can improve air quality in commercial settings. Their findings can also apply to residential spaces too.

At the 2017 REALTOR(R) Conference & Expo this past weekend, CRT showcased an orb of clean-air plants on the show floor. We thought it looked like a chic space for an outdoor oasis of fresh air. But as the healthier-home trend catches on more, maybe we’ll even see this idea move indoors—like an indoor tropical paradise home office orb. After all, the cleaner air is supposed to make you more productive.

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CRT’s clean-air orb display during the 2017 REALTOR(R) Conference & Expo

The average American spends about 90 percent of their time indoors. Yet, indoor air quality is about five to 10 times worse than outdoor air quality.

Certain plants, however, can actually improve the air quality of a space and even make people more productive and healthier, research shows. For example, dracaena warneckii is known for cleaning benzene and formaldehyde from the air—chemicals that are often linked to some furnishings. The “Money Plant,” or also known as Devil’s Ivy, is known as one of the hardiest house plants to kill and also will rid these potentially harmful chemicals from the air. The Chinese evergreen is another plant that is known to clean indoor air, and as a bonus for when selling a home, it’s known to bring good luck to those who grow it.

Infuse more clean-air plants into your next listing. Maybe buyers will notice there’s something different in the air.

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A sample taken from CRT’s book “A Pocket Guide to Cleaner Air”

 

 


Source: StyledStagedSold

Styled, Staged & Sold Earns Some Props

Thank you to our loyal readers and top-industry contributors for helping to make Styled, Staged & Sold the top ranked “home staging blog on the planet!” Feedspot, a news RSS reader, ranked Styled, Staged & Sold number-one out of 100 staging blogs.

 

Feedspot used the following criteria to rank the blogs:

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking;
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites;
  • Quality and consistency of posts; and
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Check out the full rankings.

 


Source: StyledStagedSold

4 Home Staging Horror Stories to Haunt You This Halloween

By Jessica Santina, guest contributor from MoneyGeek.com

As little ghosts and ghouls appear on every corner, how about settling in for a few scary stories of home staging horrors?

The following tales of botched staging jobs, homeowners from hell, and nightmarish décor will likely give you some real-life shivers.

The Scary Screamer

Lori Matzke, owner of CenterStageHome.com, is a home staging expert in the Minneapolis area. As a new stager in 1999, she encountered a horrifying homeowner.

“Unfortunately, at that time, staging had a really bad rap,” Matzke says. “People were so offended if a [an agent] wanted a stager to come into their home — the perception was that you must really live in a pit if you needed staging.”

That was the case with this job. Matzke received a call from a real estate agent asking her to do a staging consultation on a home that was going on the market. Matzke agreed to meet the agent at the home that Sunday morning.

She arrived on time and knocked on the door, only to be greeted by a furious homeowner.

“What do you want?” he barked at her. When she explained who she was and why she was there, he replied, “Oh, yeah, you’re the one who’s coming to criticize our house.”

Matzke politely explained that she only wanted to help them to sell it. The man’s wife came to the door, apologized for her husband, and invited Matzke in. Once she was inside, the man slammed the door so hard that three items fell off the wall.

The agent was running late, so Matzke proceeded to do a walk-through of the home. But every suggestion she made, including the need for a neutral paint color to replace the dark gray, was met with intense hostility.

“He went crazy and started cursing me out,” she says.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Matzke feared for her safety as the man repeatedly hurled personal insults at her, screaming, and slamming doors until — at long last — she was able to make her getaway.

Since then Matzke has made it a policy to warn clients not to take offense of her staging suggestions.

“It’s not personal; it has nothing to do with the homeowners’ taste. It’s just about the buyer experience,” she says.

The Body in the Closet

Man hiding in closet

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Another time, Matzke was asked to meet an agent at a home for a staging consultation. The two of them walked through the empty home, which Matzke thought was quite nice and needed only a little editing — things like moving furniture around a bit.

The consultation with the agent went on for some time, and she thought it was going well until suddenly, to their extreme shock, the hall closet door swung open and the homeowner jumped out.

“He’d been waiting there a long time in that closet, wanting to hear what people said about his house when no one was there!” Matzke says.

As if this weren’t bad enough, Matzke heard later the house had remained on the market for a long time, mostly because the homeowner had a nasty habit of jumping out of closets and startling visitors.

“The moral of the story is, you can’t be hanging around,” Matzke says. “Some sellers take it very personally when people come to view their homes, but it makes buyers very uncomfortable” for you to be there (especially if you’re hiding in a closet).

Hall of Severed Heads

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Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Nothing kills a sale like a room full of dead heads. That’s what Matzke suggested to one client whose small house was packed with at least 20 taxidermied animals, including a giant moose head.

“You literally couldn’t walk into the kitchen or you’d be gored by an antler,” she recalls.

Of course, as an experienced stager, Matzke recommended removing the heads to make the home more appealing to potential buyers, and reminded the homeowners their new home would have plenty of space for these treasures. They reluctantly agreed, and when Matzke returned the next week to paint and finish the job, the heads were gone.

“It looked beautiful, like a totally different space,” she says.

Matzke arranged to have a friend go take pictures of the home a few days later so she would have photos for her portfolio. But when the photos arrived in her email, Matzke made a horrific discovery: “The first photo I opened, there was that giant moose head again!”

Nightmare Décor

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Photo credit: Shell Brodnax, Real Estate Staging Association

In this age of DIY reality shows, many people fancy themselves as amateur home stagers, says Shell Brodnax, CEO of the Real Estate Staging Association.

“We love HGTV, and they’ve definitely shined a light on staging,” she says. “But it also leads homeowners to believe they can do stuff on their own. But, like anything else, you need a professional to make it look professional.”

Brodnax has seen some truly frightening faux pas as a stager — forlorn tableaus like card tables set up in the middle of empty rooms, or armchairs and throw blankets stuffed into awkward spaces.

Or this head scratcher: “I saw one where people just put a pile of throw pillows on the floor. We’re not sure why, but it was bad,” she says.

Don’t leave staging to hobbyists, she cautions. Instead, collect bids from at least three stagers, check out their professional portfolios, and call references. Even in the staging world, you get what you pay for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Santina is a freelance writer, editor and contributor to the mortgage and home buying channel at MoneyGeek.com. She is an award-winning arts and culture, travel, food, and lifestyle writer and blogger whose work has been published in numerous local and regional publications.


Source: StyledStagedSold

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