A home is a huge financial and emotional investment, and a dream for many. Most of us imagine it in our childhood, then plan for it in adulthood. When you’re finally ready to shop the market, today’s homebuyers have technology on their side, helping them find that perfect place.
Unless it’s not really perfect.
Welcome to the world of virtual home staging, where things aren’t always as they seem. Let me illustrate my point by telling you my personal home-buying horror story.
As is common nowadays, my search started online. After a seemingly endless stretch of scouring listings, I finally came upon a real contender. Stainless steel appliances, granite countertop, gleaming hardwood floors and crown moulding. This place almost seemed too good to be true, for that asking price.
I booked a viewing, prepared to be blown away and make an offer. That is until I saw the place in person.
The furniture was gone. I’m talking empty, except for my disappointment. I’m not sure what the biggest let-down was: the stained carpet, the dated laminate countertop (where I swear I remembered granite in the photos), the leaking faucets, cracked walls, the list continues. That’s when I learned that “virtual staging” is a thing.
With technology, it’s easy to entice homebuyers by showcasing a perfect home using virtual staging. While conventional home staging involves furniture and decorative elements to boost the home’s appeal, virtual staging requires no physical furnishings, just software and imagination. There’s no limit to the types of digital upgrades that can be applied – none of which actually come with the house.
Decorating software has its place. As a stylist, it’s an awesome tool to test new finishes and products before making a financial investment. Virtual staging programs let you try it before you buy it, so you can make confident choices.
This technology can also be used to give prospective homebuyers a view of what’s possible in a given space, with the right investment. Some homebuyers have a hard time seeing beyond the dingy wallpaper and old carpets. Virtual staging programs help homebuyers picture their potential dream home, with all the bells and whistles of their dream home.
In my case, virtual technology was used to falsify a listing with phony features, and it only served to turn me off – and likely many other home hunters, too.
Real estate agents have a moral and professional code to present listings truthfully. Speaking as a decorator and a homebuyer, there’s a lot to be said about a little honesty.
TIP FOR HOMEBUYERS: Do your due diligence as you shop for homes. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And before you schedule a showing at that incredible home you saw online, it never hurt to ask the listing agent if the photos have been digitally altered.
TIP FOR HOME SELLERS: Attracting home hunters is a good thing, but closing the sale is the real objective. If your home has been virtually staged, disclose such information to your buyers right off the bat. After all, if they can’t trust your listings, what else are you hiding behind the walls?
Originally written for Stylishly Living for The Toronto Sun. Click here for Toronto Sun article.
REDESIGN4MORE Inc. Home Staging & Interior Decorating
Red Barrinuevo is a Toronto-based, award-winning Interior Stylist and Principal Designer of Redesing4More Inc., servicing Toronto & the GTA. The firm’s known for enhancing and creating stylish yet functional spaces through their creative home staging, interior styling, and design services.