When starting a rehab project, staging should be in your budget.  However, there are times when your project may go over budget or some things just won’t fit into our budget.  Staging is an illusion.  The best staging practices are keeping the house clean, well-lit, moving furniture to make the house look spacious, and tending to the exterior of the house as well.  Some of these techniques may not require a large budget and can be accomplished on your own such as planting flowers, painting the front door, or hanging curtains on the interior windows.

The bottom line is that staging your project will in fact increase your opportunity for a more profitable and speedy sale but if there is not enough money in the budget for staging, another option that can be used is Virtual Home Staging.



Virtual home staging is a service that is provided by private companies which allows real estate professionals or homeowners to present their homes as being staged online when attempting to sell.  Virtual home staging creates the illusion of how the house may look if it was actually staged.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of potential home buyers start their home search online.  Virtual home staging takes individual photos or a 360 degree panoramic view of each room of the house and then digitally places 3D images of such things as beds, couches, flower pots, dressers, etc. into the photos to then be uploaded online when posting a home for sale.  Homebuyers will see these photos and can envision themselves living in the home just the same as physically staging a home and taking photos after it is staged.  The photos will look as though the property is actually staged.



Traditional home staging involves moving furniture and home décor into the property, and often times, you as an investor will pay to rent the items and to have them professionally moved into the house.  Then depending on how long the house is on the market (which by having it staged, will not be as long as not having it staged), renting fees will accumulate.  Staging your property traditionally can be very costly.  Traditional home staging could cost between 3,000 to 5,000 dollars and upward.  However the benefits of traditional home staging is well worth the cost.

Virtual home staging may cost you no more than a one-time fee of $500 dollars or no more than 10% of traditional home staging.  This depends on who you hire to complete your virtual home staging.



Most virtual home staging companies brand their staging photos with a small watermark and a disclaimer stating that photos viewed online may be virtually staged.  This discloses to the buyers that when viewing the home in person, the items that were seen in online photos may not actually be in the home phycially.  However, by viewing staged photos prior to viewing the property, buyers can better imagine what type of setup each room can have when walking through the empty house.

Most virtual home stagers will not alter or edit the underlying elements of the home.  This means that when creating your staged photos, there will be no alterations or editing of the color of the walls, window placement, etc.  When the buyer goes to view the property, they will recognize the home from the online photos but without the staged items.



Virtual home staging can be used for any project.  However, picking and choosing when to use traditional staging or virtual staging is completely dependent on your budget as virtual staging could be used as an alternative to traditional staging.  You might complete a rehab and do not have the funds for traditional staging and may want to use virtual home staging.  Or you could have several properties that you are ready to sell and would maybe want to use your budget to stage your “masterpieces” traditionally and use the virtual staging for the other properties.



When on a tight budget, virtual home staging is better than no staging at all.  Traditional staging will always work because physical viewings of the property will continue to capture the buyer’s interest, however, if you do not have the budget for traditional staging, at least very-well staged photos will entice buyers to go and see your property.  By having staged photos, buyers can remember how the property looked being staged or can actually bring their smart devices with them to view the photos while viewing the home to get a better feel of the actual space by comparing photos to the empty home.


Virtual home staging will not work as great at traditional staging but could be a great alternative.



Michael Moreno has been investing in real estate since 2008. He completed a year of real estate training at Investors United School of Real Estate where he was inducted into the President’s Club. He has attended numerous real estate seminars around the country including David Lindahl’s Apartment House Riches Bootcamp and Syndication Bootcamp, and Robyn Thompson’s Ugly House Renovation Bootcamp, among others. He is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Investor’s Association, the Baltimore Real Estate Investors Association, and Steve Cook’s Lifeonaire FlipVIPs mastermind group. He has completed 50+ and counting single family renovation projects in and around Baltimore, and currently holds and manages rental houses in Northern Virginia and Baltimore City.