Tag Archives: Hidden potential

Virtual home staging

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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Recently a friend sent me an article from the New York Times.com Real Estate section about virtual home staging:  “Staging, Ever More Virtual.” I was pleased to see that virtual home staging is becoming such a hot trend that it was written up in the Times!

Home staging is the art (or is it a science?) of preparing a home for sale, with the goal of making the home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers to help the property to sell more quickly and at a higher price.*

Staging focuses on improving the property’s appeal by adding a few carefully selected furnishings and accessories to transform it into an attractive, neutral space that anyone might want.  By adding warmth, staging can help the potential homeowner emotionally connect with and “see” him or herself in the home.  Plus, there are many people who simply can’t visualize furniture in a space without furniture actually being there. A few pieces of artfully arranged furniture can help the buyer determine scale in the room and imagine how their own furnishings will fit.

In the Times article, Vince Collura, the president of Gotham Photo, a company in New York City which offers virtual staging services, is quoted as saying:

“I’ve gone to dozens and dozens of open houses, and I’m always being told to use my imagination by a broker….   Customers don’t have imagination; they’re looking for the potential risks, not the possibilities.”

Staging is particularly important if a home is vacant, to minimize that hollow, echo-y, deserted feeling and help a potential homebuyer feel more at ease.  In today’s buyers’ market, it’s an especially worthwhile investment. Buyers may assume that because a house is empty the owner needs to sell quickly, and will make a lower offer.

The beauty of virtual staging is that it can help potential buyers see the possibilities of a property by working the same magic as regular home staging — adding extra warmth and livability to a vacant property — but accomplishing this much more cost-effectively than renting and hauling in furnishings, rugs, accessories, etc.

Home virtually staged by 3DPlanView

Home virtually staged by 3DPlanView

My colleague Kay Nordby of 3DPlanView has a wonderful example on her website of how powerful this technique can be and how much value it can add.  Using photos of an empty living and dining room, Kay added her beautiful furnishings and decor (see the “after” photo above).  The images were then used by the real estate professional as a virtual model home, showcasing the property’s hidden potential.

CastleView 3D did a similar type of project a few months ago for a realtor in California whose client wanted to use his home’s potential view of the bay as a selling point by creating a virtual second story with a balcony.  For that project, we created a 3D model of the home rather than digitally altering a photograph.

Gotham Photo, the company profiled in the NYT article, works their virtual staging magic with Photoshop rather than 3D modeling.  The article says that their pricing “starts at” $100, but I’d be interested in knowing what the price was for the nice example they show on their website.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t $100!

As noted in the article, it’s important to keep things on the up-and-up by being  clear with potential renters or buyers that digital modifications have been made to the space, either by including a notation on the image  that it has been enhanced with virtual staging, or by presenting side-by-side “before” and “after” images.  But as long as everyone is clear about what has been done and that no serious defects in the property are being hidden with tricky computer magic, virtual staging can be of real benefit to realtors, sellers, AND buyers.

If you’re interested in virtual staging for a home or property you’re selling, CastleView 3D would be happy to work with you!


*To be honest, there doesn’t seem to be any verifiable research on the ultimate value of home staging.  One widely-quoted statistic claims that a study by Coldwell Banker found that staged homes realized on average a 6.4% increase over the list price, and another claims that a HUD survey found that staged homes sell for an average of 17.9% higher than unstaged homes!  But unfortunately I was never able to find the actual study to verify either of those numbers.  So, while it makes sense that staging can boost a property’s sales potential, it’s hard to quantify by exactly how much.
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A roof with a view….

Posted by , CastleView 3D:

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I was recently contacted by a realtor in the San Francisco Bay area.  He was working with a client who owns a small one-story house with a great view of the bay — if you stand on the roof!!

He and his client felt that the house might sell better if potential buyers were able to envision themselves enjoying that view from the balcony of a second-floor master suite.  So they contracted with CastleView 3D to create a virtual second story for the house.

The realtor climbed up on the roof and took a series of photos of the view.  Now THAT’S a dedicated realtor! (Gordy Burton at Coldwell Banker.)  I just hope he used proper safety precautions.

I stitched those photos together into a panorama in PhotoShop:

Panorama photo montage of San Francisco Bay from roof of house

Panorama photo montage of San Francisco Bay from roof of house

Photo of house from the front

Photo of the house from the front

He also sent me a sketch of the floorplan and several photos of the house to use for creating the 3D model. Here’s an example of what I was working from:

Because they didn’t want to over-promise, they asked me to model just a simple second floor over the left side of the house.  They wanted a rendering of the house with the new “second floor” as seen from the street in front, and another rendering of the bay and valley view from the virtual second-floor balcony on the back of the house.

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Now before I reveal the “after” part of this “before-and-after” story, let me just say that the realtor currently estimates that this small house will sell for about $850,000. That’s eight-hundred-and-fifty-THOUSAND-dollars, people!  While it looks like a very nice house, that price is just unbelievable to me!!

In my little corner of the world, here’s an example of what $850K will get you (actually this house, 5 bedrooms and 6980 square feet, is listed at $859,900, but it will give you a general idea of the market around here):

House currently for sale in upstate NY, listed at $859,000

A house currently for sale in upstate NY, listed at $859,000

Interior view of house currently for sale in upstate NY

Interior view of house currently for sale in upstate NY

Here’s a description of it:

SECLUDED CUSTOM BUILT MANSION ON 7.44 BREATHTAKING ACRES, NOTHING BUT THE BEST OF EVERYTHING IN THIS HOME, LIVING AND DINING 17′ CEILING, FINISH CRAFTSMANSHIP UNSURPASSABLE, STUNNING GRAND STAIRCASE TO SECOND LEVEL, SUNROOM, ELABORATE CHEFS KITCHEN WITH 2 SUBZEROS, COMMERCIAL APPLIANCES & INDOOR GRILL *EXQUISITE FURNITURE GRADE CABINETRY *MARBLE,STONE,HARDWOODS * MULTI ZONE HEATING SYSTEM, 4 CAR HEATED GARAGE *WALKOUT LOWER LEVEL TO OUTSIDE AND TO GARAGE, METICULOUSLY MAINTAINED, ARCHITECTURALLY LANDSCAPED DESIGN

This actually seems MUCH more realistic in terms of what one should be able to expect for that kind of money.  Now it’s true that the California house IS in California, with all its natural beauty, Silicon Valley, moderate weather year round, Pacific Ocean, mountains, etc., etc. I guess it’s all relative.

But my question is, how can anyone afford to buy a home there?  I’m serious!  Do all jobs in California pay 10 times the salary of comparable jobs in upstate New York?  It just baffles me.

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But I digress.  Time for the big reveal.

Here are the renderings of the bay view house with its new virtual second story:

SF Bay house with new virtual second floor

CastleView 3D rendering of SF Bay house with new virtual second floor

SF Bay house showing view from new virtual second floor

CastleView 3D rendering showing view from new virtual second floor balcony

The realtor and homeowner were very pleased with these images.  They felt that this was a relatively inexpensive way to get buyers thinking about the undeveloped potential of the house, and could increase its perceived value and selling price.

And I think this was a very creative idea on the part of Gordy, the realtor.  The world needs more realtors who are willing to climb up on the roof of their client’s home in the interest of putting more money in both their pockets!

What do you think?  Is showcasing a home’s “hidden potential” like this fair game in the real estate business?


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