Staging a home with photoshopped furniture and features

Here is a solution for empty homes on the market for a long time: photoshopped home furnishings.

With virtual staging, Spinelli said, she visits an empty house or one that’s in need of updating, draws on her designer talents to capture the most important rooms photographically, then stages them digitally…

One reality of selling in the digital age is that a large percentage of buyers sit at computers, sifting through hundreds of listings, to cut physical visits to a reasonable number…

“Not staging an empty house makes it look cold and less inviting, but not everyone in today’s market can afford the cost of doing so, especially when you add in the monthly expense of furniture rental,” said Schumacher, who has been using Spinelli’s virtual efforts for one of her listings, a $500,000 house owned by a couple who moved to North Carolina and left it empty.

“It is the electronic version of curb appeal,” Schumacher said, adding that activity picked up in the first three weeks of the virtual staging.

The cost is $198 an image, which comes with an unlimited licensing fee for use in brochures. On the Multiple Listing Service, the house must be identified as digitally staged.

Helping potential buyers see the home as it might be used is helpful. As one can see on numerous HGTV shows, some buyers have a really hard time seeing past the small cosmetic issues and what is possible in rooms. The furniture can help provide perspective on room size and also make a more bland room look sharper.

However, I was amused to see this story because I just saw an example of this the other day. The problem: the photoshopping was not done well and it made the pictures comical. Some issues like the lighting on the furniture versus the lighting in the room are difficult to handle (the furniture does seem to float above the floor a bit). On the other hand, if you are going to show two pictures of the living room, don’t reverse the furniture so it always faces the camera even as the angle changes. And then you wonder, are the kitchen appliances photoshopped (I don’t think so)? Can they photoshop bathrooms to show newer fixtures (which this house might need)?

Given the difficulties sometimes present in photographing homes for sale, I’ll be curious to see if this photoshop trend catches on.