If you haven’t shopped for virtual staging software lately, you might be in for a bit of a shock. Many apps that used to offer Realtors an easy-to-use DIY virtual staging platform now just sell done-for-you professional virtual staging—usually with a higher price tag. While that’s great for teams and brokerages with big budgets, many agents still want to get their hands dirty and DIY their virtual staging while bootstrapping (which is perfectly fine).
That’s why I decided to put together this guide to the best virtual staging software and done-for-you professional staging options on the market in 2023. I cover pricing, interior design quality, and share examples of their virtual staging. I also worked with my friends to get some expert virtual staging tips from top listing agents.
Virtual Staging is the affordable digital version of home staging—a property marketing strategy where Realtors furnish and decorate vacant homes for sale to make them more appealing to potential buyers. Instead of renting furniture and art to stage a vacant home for sale, virtual staging allows Realtors to decorate pictures of vacant homes with digital renderings of furniture, art, and even plants.
DIY Virtual Staging Software vs Professional Virtual Staging
There are two ways to get your listing virtually staged in 2023:
1. DIY Virtual Staging Software
The first way to get your listing digitally staged is to use virtual staging software to pick the furniture you want to stage with and place it in your listing photos. This is usually the more affordable option, but can be very challenging if you’re not used to working with design software. I don't recommend this option if you're always stressed by technology (or something as basic as creating an account.)
2. Done-for-you Professional Virtual Staging
The second and most popular way to get your listings virtually staged is to hire a virtual staging professional to pick the furniture for you and place it in your photos. This option is generally more expensive, but the results will almost always look more professional.
How Much Does Virtual Staging Software Cost?
Instead of a monthly fee like most software as a service (SaaS) products, virtual staging is generally priced by the image. Pricing for virtual staging software can range from USD $7 per image for DIY software to USD $49++ per image for professional staging services.
The Best Virtual Staging Software for 2023
Here are my picks for the best virtual staging software and professional staging for 2023.
Virtual Staging Software
Price per Image in USD
DIY or Professional?
Apply Design (Best DIY option)
High quality and affordable DIY virtual staging
$7-$10 per image
roOomy (Best Overall)
High-quality, pro virtual staging + a free DIY app
$49-$69 per image (app is free)
Pro staging + DIY
High-end pro virtual staging
$32 per image
$79-$199 per image
Apply Design: Best Quality & Most Affordable DIY Software ($7-$10)
About Apply Design
A relatively new virtual staging software startup, Apply Design is an easy-to-use app that allows anyone to quickly stage their listings.
What I Love About Apply Design
First and foremost, Apply Design is one of the only virtual staging apps on the market that still allows agents to DIY their own virtual staging. It’s also very easy to use, and includes a large number of tasteful, high-quality renders of furniture, art, lighting, rugs, plants, and other home furnishings.
One very helpful feature is that the furnishings are grouped into room bundles—collections of furniture, art, and other furnishings that all work well together. If you don’t have a savvy eye for interior design, they make it easy to pick out furnishings that are guaranteed to work well together
Drawbacks to Using Apply Design
I was kind of hoping for more options for high-end furniture from brand names like West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Design Within Reach. They have some great options already, but more would be great!
Example Virtual Staging From Apply Design
roOomy: Great Image Quality & a Useful DIY App ($49-$69)
roOomy offers agents the best of both worlds with professional staging and a DIY app agents can use with their clients.
What I Love About roOomy
While their image quality might not be quite as photorealistic as Hasten, roOomy offers one killer feature that leaves the others in the dust. Their free DIY app is perfect for helping buyers visualize living in your listing.
Instead of cheesy-looking models of knockoff Eames chairs, roOomy lets you stage your listing with photorealistic models of furniture your customers can actually buy. Even better, if you get to know your buyers well enough, you just might be able to stage an empty room with furniture they already own. So if you know they have a specific couch from, say, Pottery Barn, you can show them a staged photo with their couch in it.
Drawbacks to Using roOomy
While roOomy has great furniture options and their designers produce high-quality images, their app has limited features for agents and poor reviews in the app store. We wish they spent more time developing the app and less time on professional virtual staging.
Example Virtual Staging From roOomy
Hasten: The Gucci of Virtual Staging? (Call for Pricing)
Hasten is a high-end virtual staging and 3D rendering company that works with some of Manhattan’s top developers and brokerages.
What I Love About Hasten
Hasten has the best image quality and interior design taste that we know of among staging service providers. While they don’t offer virtual staging software for agents, they consistently put out photo-realistic virtual staging images with stunning interior design.
Drawbacks to Using Hasten
Since Hasten doesn’t list pricing for their services and only seems to work with high-end brokerages, we’re going to assume they are, shall we say, not cheap. That said, if you want the best, it couldn’t hurt to call.
Example Virtual Staging From Hasten
BoxBrownie: The Disruptor With a Great Price-to-Quality Ratio
If you’ve been to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) or Inman conference in the last few years, then chances are you already know who BoxBrownie is. The friendly Aussies who run BoxBrownie have been trying to disrupt the virtual staging industry for years.
What I Love About BoxBrownie
There’s a good reason for this. BoxBrownie offers great quality services at an affordable price. Their virtual staging service is no exception. While the image quality might not be quite as striking as Hasten or other high-end services, it gets the job done at a price most agents can afford.
Drawbacks to Using BoxBrownie
While the quality of BoxBrownie’s images are comparable to Apply Design and Spotless Agency, their interior design leaves a little something to be desired. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not tacky—but it just doesn’t feel quite as stylish as other options.
Example Virtual Staging From BoxBrownie
Spotless Agency: Highly Realistic Images at a Premium Price
About Spotless Agency
Another relative newcomer to the virtual staging space, Spotless Agency offers drop-dead-gorgeous virtual staging, but at a slightly premium price.
What I Love About Spotless Agency
Spotless has very stylish options for furnishing that look a bit nicer than many competitors, and their professional stagers have great taste.
Drawbacks to Using Spotless Agency
Coming in at a hefty $79 per image with only one round of edits, Spotless is more than double the price of BoxBrownie. So it’s up to you (and your listing marketing budget) to decide if their image quality is twice as good.
Example Virtual Staging From Spotless Agency
12 Virtual Staging Tips From Listing Agents
At the end of the day, which virtual staging software or service you choose is far less important than learning the best practices of virtual staging. That’s why I reached out to my friends to get their take on how to get the best bang for your buck from virtual staging. Here’s what they told me:
1. Always Include Unstaged Listing Pictures After Virtually Staged Pictures
In order to help buyers understand just how much the right furnishings can improve a home, I recommend including a picture showing the room vacant right after the staged picture. This can also help manage the buyer’s expectations and avoid having to overcome the inevitable disappointment that comes with seeing beautifully staged pictures online and then walking into a vacant home. Want to help remind buyers how great your vacant listing can look with the right furnishings? Print out the virtually staged picture on a nice canvas and hang it in the empty room.
2. Keep the Furnishings Neutral
Keep the furnishings neutral in order to help prospective buyers get a better sense of perspective and room size.
Here are a few more tips:
- You have to take the time to go through the options; don’t rush it or assign it to an assistant unless you trust their taste fully.
- Don’t assume that what you choose will be sized correctly or in the manner you were hoping for on the first try. Make sure they allow for changes (one or two rounds should work), even if you have to pay extra for them.
3. Always Stage for Your Buyer Profile & Property Lifestyle
Agents should always keep their buyer profile and property lifestyle in mind when virtually staging a listing. Even if you think you have an eye for interior design, don’t make the mistake of staging for yourself rather than your potential buyers. For example, you might love mid-century industrial design, but if you’re trying to virtually stage a beachfront condo in a senior community in Key West, a large number of your potential buyers might hate it.
4. Use Earth Tones to Make the Space More Inviting
Choosing the right color theme for your virtually staged listing is crucial. Use earth tones or soft beach colors to make a listing feel more inviting. Plants can help warm up a space and make it feel more inviting.
5. Make Sure the Images You Choose to Stage Have Great Lighting
This is something that many newer agents might not think of: Always make sure that the pictures you choose to virtually stage have great lighting.
6. Add a Pop of Colour to Make the Room Feel Alive
Muted colors like earth tones offer a clean, neutral palette that will help buyers imagine themselves in the home. However, add a subtle pop of colour to the staged images in order to make the room feel more alive. Use art specifically, but you could easily add a pop of colour with a small rug, vases, flowers, or even children’s toys.
7. Use Virtual Staging to Compensate for What the Home Is Missing
While you should never fake views out of windows or make a listing sunnier than it is in reality, you can and should stage strategically to compensate for problems the listing might have.
“If the apartment is small or lacks closet space, have the virtual stager add furniture that offers storage. Instead of an L-shaped couch and chairs that take up more depth, opt for a standard couch and put the television on top of a deeper console that offers storage. Instead of night side tables, add nightstand-height dressers; the top still functions as a table while offering storage.”
8. Stage Using Current Design Trends, but Always Keep Your Audience in Mind
Since today’s buyers are more design-savvy than ever, incorporate current design trends in your staging. Even if they don’t love the styling, it helps show buyers and your seller that you’re aware of the latest trends.
However, knowing your audience is crucial, so don’t go overboard with whatever’s cool on Pinterest this week if the majority of your potential buyers aren’t quite as hip as you are.
9. Collaborate With Your Virtual Stager
Collaboration is key to working with any marketing freelancer. Make sure to take the time to talk with your virtual stager to make sure they understand the look you’re going for, your audience, and any other tips that will help make your virtually staged pictures get your phone to ring.
10. If the Listing Is Already Furnished, Include Pictures With the Current Decor
Contrary to popular belief, virtual staging is not just for empty homes. Today, stagers can remove outdated or ugly furniture and replace it with anything you want.
However, don’t think you can get away with not including images of how the home is currently furnished. Like with an empty home, always include pictures of what the home actually looks like with the current furnishings. Full disclosure and honesty will always pay off in the long run.
11. Label Each Picture With the Name of the Room
Sometimes virtually staged listing pictures can look so good that your buyers may become confused as to which room they’re looking at online.
This problem becomes 10 times worse if you stage the same room multiple ways.
In order to keep your buyer’s confusion to a minimum, always clearly label each picture with the room it’s showing.
12. Make Sure You Know the Company’s Revision Policy Before Hiring Them
Unless you have total confidence in your virtual staging company, you should always ask about their revision policy before hiring them.
After all, even if you take the time to brief them well about the listing and your audience, they may not quite understand what you want. Most companies will offer one or more free revisions, so make sure to ask before you hire someone.
Over to You
Have great virtual staging software you swear by or a tip for our readers? Let me know in the comments.
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Yasser Khan is a real estate coach at YasserKhan.SG, trainer at PropertyAgentUniversity.com and the author of Property Agent Secrets Book who teaches Realtors how to make more Money, have more Time and enjoy more Freedom without all the B.S. plaguing the industry today.
Yasser Khan’s approach to coaching is highly personalised, holistic, no B.S., and for “PROS ONLY… amateurs not allowed.” He believes that true success means winning in every single area of your life (like Financial, Family, Social, Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Fun).
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