As technology continues to improve, growing numbers of home sellers find themselves looking into the benefits of using virtual staging to help sell their home. But just what is virtual staging and how does it stack up against physically staging a home to sell?
As the name implies, virtual staging is done on the computer rather than in real life. This means that, unlike traditional staging, you don’t rent any furniture, decor, or accents. Instead, virtual staging digitally inserts all of those same items into photographs of empty rooms in the home. This, in turn, helps to attract potential buyers online to tour the home, where they can then use their imagination and consult the virtual staging photos in order to envision how each room would look with furniture inside.
Preparing for Virtual Staging
One of the most important steps when preparing to virtually stage a home is to professionally photograph the rooms that will be virtually furnished. It’s crucial that these images are high-resolution to ensure that the final listing product is perfected for online buyers.
Make sure to remove any unwanted items before capturing each room on camera – this will speed up the process of editing. Once the photos are primed and ready for staging, the virtual stager can add furniture and decor to compliment the overall style of the home. High-quality listing photos improve the final staged product by giving the stager the opportunity to work with an ideal canvas.
Benefits of Virtual Staging
Virtual staging has a number of benefits but the biggest is of course price. While staging a condo the old fashioned way costs an average of $2500 per month, virtual staging typically costs between $39 to $199 per room. What’s more is that this fee is a one time cost as you don’t have to pay for renting furniture. As the average home for sale in 2018 stays on market between 34 to 53 days, this means that virtual staging could save sellers several thousands of dollars.
Another pro of virtual staging is that gives sellers the opportunity to create a strong first impression with potential buyers. As Jen Williams, Redfin Market Manager says, this is important because “buyers will imprint on the first photos they see of a home and will develop their first positive feelings and attraction to a property at that time.”
Downfalls of Virtual Staging
The biggest drawback, of course, is the fact that because the home is only staged virtually when potential buyers show up they may be underwhelmed compared to the experience they had when they found the home online. While this may not be an issue for younger buyers, this could present problems with older audiences.
Being able to see the home fully furnished is also the main benefit of traditional staging. It allows prospective buyers to walk into a home and picture themselves living there without any of the guesswork of what kind of furniture they may need to purchase and where to place it. That work is done for them and, as a result, 33 percent of Realtors say that the home’s value actually increases an additional one to five percent when professionally staged, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
If you choose to stage your home virtually, remember to provide potential buyers with photos of the empty rooms as well as their virtually staged counterparts. This will help to show buyers that the home they’re thinking of touring not staged in person so that they are not confused when entering the home. Also be sure to not overdo the furniture and decor. Just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean you can’t go overboard.
Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to make sure your home looks ready to sell before it’s listed. First impressions are often a deciding factor for buyers and staging is a powerful tool to create a strong impression and sell your home quicker.
As a photographer, are you collecting sales tax?
Probably not, right?
In the state of Washington, digital photographs are treated the same as tangible, physical photographs — even if they’re transferred and sold electronically.
This means that each photograph taken for a client is subject to retail B&O and sales tax. Photographers are responsible for collecting and reporting such tax.
In contrast, the service you’re providing — actually taking the photos — is not subject to taxation. You only need to collect tax for each photo you provide.
To do so, you must determine the cost of each photo, and then collect tax based on each photo sent to a client or customer.
If, for example, a photoshoot costs $250 and you price each photo at $5, you would collect taxes for each $5 photo.
The cost of digital goods should be displayed as a separate line item on an invoice, with the next line showing the amount of sales tax being charged based on the cost of digital goods, i.e. not the actual photoshoot (which is deemed a service, not goods).
Consult a CPA or financial professional for help determining the percent of sales tax you should be collecting.
3 Ways Professional Photos Sell Homes
The internet is one of the best tools for posting a real estate listing. With more than 80 percent of home buyers using the internet to search for a home and a stunning 93 percent of buyers younger than 36 years old finding their new home online, it’s important that the photos in your listing capture their attention and generate interest in your home.
One mistake made frequently by home sellers and real estate agents is the lack of quality, professionally-taken photos. Hiring a professional real estate photographer is an investment that will pay off by increasing the interest in your listing, selling the home faster, and putting more money in your pocket.
First Impressions are Everything
Photos are “the most important website feature . . . for nine in 10 buyers under the age of 62,” according to the National Association of Realtors. If your photos are grainy, blurry, or out-of-focus, you’re already putting off potential buyers of your property.
You only have one chance to make a first impression. According to Market Leader, “40 percent of all participants don’t even look at the agent remarks section.” If your photos don’t immediately capture the interest of someone viewing your listing, chances are they’re moving on—and not in to your property.
As a professional photographer, I understand how to utilize proper lighting to create the warm, inviting look of a room—as well as a uniform light not affected by burnt-out or discolored lights and fixtures. I also understand the proper angles to take photographs from, especially when it comes to rooms that are generally difficult to capture in a photo, such as a bathroom or other small spaces.
Professional photographers also process photos in post-production to ensure every photo is as true-to-life as possible. Our goal is to have a potential buyer visit a home and not be able to tell the difference between the photos they’ve seen online and what’s actually in front of them.
Professional Photos Sell Homes Faster
In general, it takes an average of 65 days to sell a home. Yet as with any sort of marketing or advertising, it’s all about getting as many eyeballs as possible to see the product—in this case, your house.
Professional photos create a better first impression than amateur or “cell phone” photos, which results in more clicks and views on your listing. As any salesman will tell you, sales is a numbers game—the more people reached, the more likely it is you’ll make a sale.
That’s true in the world of real estate photography, as well. A study by VHT Studios in the Chicago market demonstrated that listings with photos taken by professional real estate photographers “sold 32% faster.”
Professional Photos Put More Money in Your Pocket
When your home listing includes photos taken by a professional real estate photographer, you’re more likely to sell the home for close to—or even more than—the original asking price. In fact, a study by Redfin shows that listings that use professional photos sell “for $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices.”
Of course, you’ve got to pay the photographer, so that means you’re out some cash, right? True, but it’s an investment well worth making. In fact, according to Market Leader (and my own rates), “hiring a professional listing photographer costs 0.09% of the median U.S. home price,” or “1/10 of 1 percent of the list price.”
For a fraction of a fraction of the sale price of a home, you’ll average an extra $3,400 to $11,200 in your wallet.
Working With a Professional Real Estate Photographer
All forms of specialized photography are different and each type of photographer has skills specific to their area of expertise. A nature photographer may not be the best choice for shooting a wedding in the same way a photojournalist may not be the best option for taking photos of real estate.
Hiring a specialized real estate photographer is the smart choice when it comes to selling your home or property faster and for as close to or more than your listing price.
Congrats to Gloria Christerson with Re/Max on a first-weekend offer! It’s always a joy when the client’s email their thanks.
Thank you so much for photographing our house for the advertisements and listings in order to help sell it. I know that there are probably a lot of factors that went into the people who came for the first showing making an offer on the house but your work got their attention!
Thank you so much!”
A Bremerton Investment Opportunity sold in record time with multiple offers! Thankfully it was amazing working on this project with a great partner, Shane Klinkhammer with Hammer Sells Homes. Check out the full listing at https://www.redfin.com/WA/Bremerton/2533-Fir-Ave-98310/home/2334527!
We all know about 360 Virtual Tours like the Matterport and RealVision, but have you ever seen a 360 video of a Real Estate property? You know, like the ones you see on Facebook – usually from National Geographic or something that show penguins or the serengeti.
With a quick Google Search I found the video below which shows the RC drone moving a 360 camera around the home allowing the viewer to experience the home in a new way, but still doesn’t allow the user to go where they want. They’re forced to go along with the robot to different parts of the house, even if they weren’t done looking at the former.
The problem with the Real Estate VR experience is that it’s still kind of boring. Nothing moves in the homes, unless it’s a fan, candle, or outside trees really. What might make it more interesting is a time lapse to show how the lighting changes, but this would obviously take a full day to shoot, or more.
See for yourself:
Drone cinematography is tough, at least when you’re new to flying, and may take a while to get the hang of. The Part 107 FAA license testing is even tougher though! Knowing the maps, airspace, acronyms, etc. is a job all in itself. The only reason I managed to pass (and not pay for a course) is thanks to Tony Northrup! I spent 3 days or so reading, watching, taking practice tests, and reviewing the questions I got wrong before scheduling the test. When I did actually take the test, it was so close that I told the curator I probably failed. Luckily, I passed by 2 questions… clearly I need to study a bit more.
After sending off the paperwork and results to the FAA it took an additional 8 weeks to actually get my license in the mail. They do give you a temporary license via email so that you can fly commercially without having to wait such a long time.
Check out Tony’s FREE study videos and websites (in the description):
Interior work is unlike any other form of photography – the lighting is complex and requires delicate planning and balance. Even more so, to make images “sexy”, as famous architectural photographer Scott Hargis puts it, you typically put multiple strobes in separate areas of a room or even outside a window to create the illusion of natural light. Scott’s method is quite unique and took years of trial and error to perfect. One of the aspects I have yet to try in his published workflow is the bounce umbrella. I’ve only used shoot throughs or bounce diffusers but absolutely see the appeal is bouncing the hard light to make it softer and wider.
The current technique I’m working on is meant to speed up my onsite time but is slow during the post-processing. It’s Nathan Cool’s one light strobing technique and you go to each room or sections of open space in a single room to light them separately with your light-on-a-stick. It definitely creates a harder light and the shadows can be tedious to deal with but, like I said, the onsite time has decreased by about 30%-40%. I’m currently averaging about 85 minutes onsite for a 1700sqft house and 2-3 hours in post processing. With the multi-strobe technique I think my work was getting to be better quality but was taking 120-150 minutes of onsite time with 2-3 hours of processing.
Here I am lighting the far side of the room, next I would have lit the black hole on the left.