Ask The Expert: Remotely vs Virtually
For Agents & Sellers:
excerpt from The Staging Standard magazine May 2020
Q: During the recent crisis, several local stagers approached agents about “helping” clients by conducting virtual staging. This caused confusion among us, as we have been hearing from stagers for years that virtual staging is a “no go” area – no emotional connectors and so forth. So now do we do virtual? And if we do why would we ever do live staging again? Confused in Texas
A: What a great question! Thanks a million for asking it.
I think the confusion stems from the use of the word virtual. My understanding from stagers I have spoken to is they suggested to agents they could remotely (vs virtually) connect with your seller via FaceTime, have the seller walk through the house with a tablet/iPhone and converse live with the stager. The stager would tell them what to do room by room, from a condition perspective. This facilitated preparation of property during a time when face to face, in person, wasn’t safe. It gave the seller items to work on while Shelter In Place was in effect and mentally it helped the seller feel they were doing something constructive during an uncertain time.
Where recommendations included improvements or items to be purchased, the stager was able to send via email links for purchases and some even sold soft goods packages which were enabled via curbside drop off. We stand firm against the virtual staging you might be thinking of, where vacant rooms have simulated furnishings creating a visually pleasing room but ultimately a false image. When the buyer visits the property-it is still absent of furnishings. Properties are generally bought in person (inspecting before buying is vital) so virtual stimulus leads to ultimate let down syndrome. There are no emotional connectors and the viewer sees reasons not to buy. YES there will be live staging again, because remember, 90% of people cannot visualize space. Take a close look at the vacant spaces in some of the articles in this issue. Without furniture the space looks cold, unfeeling and small and the complete opposite after showcasing. The results speak for themselves when property sits unstaged month after month, then sells in a day or under a week after showcasing(staging) AND often for over asking price! It’s pretty hard to beat that result! Go REAL, Go Pro -always!
To expand: Many stagers have not qualified for any government support during this crisis and were deemed a non-essential service. They say necessity is the mother of invention; well stagers have developed complete ‘virtual-reality staging safe™ packages to help sellers who can’t wait. Buyers want move-in ready but vitally important to remember having outstanding photos online is vital because this is where people will decide whether to come view your space. They do not want old and tired carpets, faucets and other fixtures that need replacing or the shocking pink walls in the daughter’s bedroom. The skills & knowledge from a trained professional are even more important in times like these.
Step one is addressing the condition of a property via a complete assessment of the entire property inside and out. This is easily accomplished via facetime, zoom or other video conferencing systems. Add this to details about the property and photos submitted prior to the online review, a stager is then able to have questions ready as they guide the seller through the house, completing customized recommendations which are sent to the seller after the session.
Now the owner can do step two, preparing the property for market. The stager can offer guidance via zoom call/ FB where to buy items need, how and where to hire contractors (post covid) As this could take some time, it does allow for the market to reopen.
This crucial step of condition assessment is often overlooked & undervalued, even pre-Covid yet is a vital key for securing equity. The major confusion is around the word “staging”; perceiving it to mean “decorating, when in fact the word alludes to a vital three step process. The stager becomes involved again for step three which is the placement of furniture, art and accessories -again this can be via a technology platform, the stager directing the seller on placement. It takes a bit of co-ordination and a lot more time of the stager but worth it if you are in a “must sell” situation. Stager’s with their own inventory are also curating the perfect items to enhance the property, then selling the package to the property owner (no COVID worries because items are pre-packed and isolated prior to curbside delivery.
With today’s life & work restrictions in place remote/virtual staging provides a solution, filling the gap between “I can’t sell right now” to “I can work on prepping my property to be ready for when the pandemic restrictions ease.
Your strength as an agent, is in educating your clients to the complete process, having them understand today’s solution is innovative and necessary & by not completing the whole three step process, they are leaving money on the table when they sell.