How Virtual Staging and Internet Dating are Similar

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This weekend I had an interesting question from a very nice realtor who was holding an open house. She was showing a typical un-staged house in a popular area for young families, but has had little ‘action’ on the home.   

When she found out what I do for a living she asked my opinion on ‘virtual home staging’ because she heard it was ‘way less expensive’ to have virtual furniture added to the list photos than having a house staged for real. 

Virtual Home Staging could seem very cost effective, as it may cost less than having your listings showcased by a professional home stager, especially if rental furnishings are involved. 

My answer surprised her a little, but was effective in helping her see why using real furnishings might be a better choice for staging her properties. Don’t get me wrong, I think the virtual tools have a very valuable place to show a realtor or seller what showcasing could do for a property. I don’t stage just for photos, and wouldn’t think of using the tool as a replacement for physical showcasing and here’s why.

Everyone has heard about the experience of a friend who’s tried Internet dating. I’d like you to imagine yourself as the person looking for a partner online.  

You’ve entered an age range, the distance you’d be willing to travel, and then scrolled through the profiles looking for someone who fits what you find physically appealing. As you scroll through profile after profile you see one that catches your eye, so you stop to read the profile. They have similar interests to you, and they seem like a good ‘fit’ so you reach out. 

You’re excited to meet in person, so you set up a meeting date. You anticipate how great the date is going to be, and start picturing yourself ‘clicking’ with this potential new partner. You’ve read the profile and looked at the pictures over and over.  You’re already starting to imagine all the great things you’re going to do together.

Home Buyers searching through MLS listings are doing the same thing. They enter their search criteria and price range, then scroll through listing after listing until they find one with appealing pictures.

Do you see where I’m going here? Virtual home staging can give them that immediate attraction, that’s true. Now here’s where things fall off the tracks. Back to that first Match date, how would you feel if the date you’d liked so much online was actually 15 years older, 25 pounds heavier and doesn’t have that sparkling wit you fell for?

Not only would you feel disappointed, but a sense of betrayal would no doubt creep in. Your trust would be broken, and your ‘fight or flight’ response may even kick in, making you feel as though you want to run as far as you can without looking back.

However, If you show up for that date and the person is close to resembling their photos and still has you laughing, there’s a chance of a future together. Even if the photos were carefully taken from their good side, like most professional real estate photos are.

 With virtual home staging, you’re selling the sparkle, but when a potential buyer shows up, their response is the same.   Disappointed the property looks nothing like it did in it’s online profile.  It has the seller’s furnishings and artwork and is nothing like what they saw in the photos, or even worse, it’s vacant.  

 How do I know so much about what Internet dating is like? I met my amazing husband on a dating site.

We both lived through some terrible dates with people who were less than honest about who they were, but when we met that first date lasted over 4 hours and we have never looked back.  

We were able to start from a position of trust, because we had posted flattering but realistic photos and were candid about our ages and interests.  5 years later he’s still making me laugh every day.

A potential home should have that instant connection too. It should live up to the virtual picture when potential buyers walk through the door. That’s what leads to a ‘happily ever after’.

If you have a question about home staging you’d like answered, shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to answer as simply as possible.

Ellen Mann

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