Virtual Staging - the New Normal?

Real Estate Agent with Baird & Warner Real Estate


Realty Times, (which publishes the latest real estate, mortgage, and construction information) recently stated that virtual staging may become the norm in real estate marketing. They wrote, “. . .in the new world of physical distancing and COVID-19 related restrictions, virtual staging is bound to grow in popularity.”


Staging a home for sale in the North Shore is such an important and integral part of the process that most sellers don’t even ask what it means anymore. They understand the value in having a staged home that will appeal to potential buyers. 


So what is virtual staging and how would it work? A good place to start with virtual staging is in a vacant home. In a newer construction home that I have listed in Glenview, I virtually staged all the first floor rooms, the master bedroom, the patio, and basement area. Any virtually staged rooms must be identified as such in the Multiple Listing Service.


The technique involves taking good high-quality professional photographs of the home. For the staging, nowadays there are several companies that offer virtual House layoutstaging and after choosing one, I send the selected photos to them. I work with the technician to choose the furniture "style" based on the type of home (some choices are contemporary farmhouse, mid-century modern, and retro.) They work their wizardry and voila - the home is furnished with furniture, rugs, lamps, mirrors, paintings, and other accessories.


A few years ago, these completed staged photos could easily be picked out as fakes. Not so now - some are so well done that you can’t tell the difference. This has been a godsend for vacant homes that might feel large and airy but lack of sense of cohesiveness. Buyers don’t have  to guess where their particular pieces of furniture might fit.


The benefits to virtual staging are that it’s faster, cheaper, and easier. And in this time of coronavirus concerns, it’s also non-invasive and safer. Along with masks, booties, and hand sanitizers, virtual staging is another tool to utilize when buyers or sellers are not comfortable with in-person showings.


Virtual staging doesn’t have to be limited to vacant homes. Clutter and pieces of furniture can be edited out and replaced. In fact, entire rooms can be emptied out and recreated from scratch.


Some sellers and buyers may not like this approach. Seeing photos online  might cause buyers to be disappointed when seeing the house in person. But when the online presence is so vital to draw a buyer’s attention, and with the possibility that some buyers may not enter the home, I think it can only be a positive experience.


Regular (physical) staging of homes is not going away! It’s as important as  ever and still will be used the majority of Winnetka North Shore homes for sale. But there will be those times when it’s good to have another idea in your back pocket.


Here are side-by-side photos of my Glenview IL listing - you decide.


Glenview Staged Home for Sale


Glenview Staged Home for Sale


Glenview Staged Home for Sale


Glenview Staged Home for Sale


Glenview Staged Home for Sale


Glenview Staged home for sale



While you’re here, please see All North Shore Homes for Sale




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Margaret Goss is a full-time real estate broker since 1998 working in the North Shore communities of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, Glenview, and Evanston.

She can be reached at:

Phone:  847-977-6024


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Margaret Goss - Winnetka and North Shore Real Estate Broker
Specializing in homes for sale in Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Northfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Northbrook, and Evanston.

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Comments (25)

Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I’ve had to adjust myself and will have to atleast for a bit until the germs go away, so to say.

May 13, 2020 10:42 PM
Margaret Goss

Laura Cerrano - I can't wait for the germs to go away!

May 14, 2020 06:19 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Adam Feinberg you are now the standard in all this chaos and we can all learn from you for sure.

May 13, 2020 10:46 PM
Realtyna Inc
Realtyna - Newark, DE
Realtyna- MLS RETS Integration software & services

Hi Margaret Goss, the technology has really advanced in this area and the difference is tangible. 

May 14, 2020 03:27 AM
Margaret Goss

Realtyna Inc - that's why I gave it a try - so much better than it used to be

May 14, 2020 06:20 AM
Buzz Mackintosh
Mackintosh REALTORS - Frederick, MD
“Experience, reliable, leadership”

The technology has come along way, the early virtual staging you could pick out right away. Well done Margaret Goss.

May 14, 2020 03:40 AM
Margaret Goss

Buzz Mackintosh - yes, it was laughable to see the clearly fake furniture and pick it out for what it was. Honestly, I sometimes can't tell nowadays if it's fake or real.

May 14, 2020 06:21 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Margaret - adjustments in marketing is a constant based on a number of factors.  It will be interesting to see how any previous reluctance to this method changes.  Showing a side-by-side comparison is an effective message.  

May 14, 2020 04:55 AM
Margaret Goss

Hi Michael Jacobs - just the fact that the technology is so much better I think reluctance will fade. As I said though, physical staging will still be the dominant way of doing this.

May 14, 2020 06:22 AM
Matthew Klinowski, PA
Downing-Frye - Naples, FL
Golf Community Real Estate Specialist

Good morning Margaret, a great post about home stageing. Very well written and easy to read. I'm a big fan of home staging virtually. I had a home listed earlier this year and although I used professional photography it really didn't showcase the home. I worked with a company to do virtual staging of the main room and the house was under contract in 2 weeks.

May 14, 2020 05:13 AM
Margaret Goss

Matthew Klinowski, PA - that's great! I haven't had a contract yet but our market is very different.

May 14, 2020 06:22 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

The tastes of the stager that may or may not trip the trigger of the home buying audience. Clean up, declutter, price realistically and remove all obstacles to showing on the buyer's time schedule. Video of the open space with the agent or broker pointing out the possible uses for this area to key in on the lifestyle of the buyer. Those are more than doctored pictures that cover up the floor scratches, holes in the walls or faded paint. Present the way it is without manipulation works best but clean, bright, wide and handsome angles and helpful narrative work hand in hand with the on demand show it now video that mirrors the place they are buying. Not the virtually staged on where all the trimmings that ooh and ahh are sadly gone and reality kicks in Margaret.

May 14, 2020 05:48 AM
Margaret Goss

Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573 - if a house is occupied, than I totally agree that Clean up, declutter, price realistically and remove all obstacles to showing on the buyer's time schedule."

is best for most situations. In fact, that's where it all starts!


May 14, 2020 06:26 AM
Paula McDonald, Ph.D.
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

I love the idea of virtual staging. It provides a clean palette for those who can't see through other people's things.

May 14, 2020 07:56 AM
Margaret Goss

Paula McDonald, Ph.D. - that's why all staging is so important. Buyers nowadays really have a hard time envisioning the house as their own.

May 15, 2020 02:41 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Thank you, remember the first old virtual staging photos as you said easy to tell apart, these are very good, like your side by side comparisons. It does help when people are seeing the home for the first time online.

May 14, 2020 08:01 AM
Margaret Goss

Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 - since online is  pretty much their first encounter with the house, I really didn't want potential buyers lookiing at all those empty rooms.

May 15, 2020 02:42 PM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

I have to admit I am/was skeptical until I saw your before and after photos. Not convinced all the way yet...but hey...I am closer than before I read your blog.  Thank you for sharing!!  I will have to continue to study and understand this new way...of marketing!!

May 14, 2020 08:50 AM
Margaret Goss

Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker - the fact that it's so much better made it easier for me to try it. If you look closely at the 4th side-by-side photo, you'll see that there is even some staging done beyond the library. You can see a photo on the wall above the staircase and more things in the living room. They're tiny but look real.

May 15, 2020 02:44 PM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

There is no comparison between the non-staged home and the virtually staged, Margaret Goss ... the feeling that each elicits is quite different.  Your clients are lucky that you take advantage of all that virtual staging can offer on their behalf.  Best of luck with your current and upcoming transactions ...


May 14, 2020 01:40 PM
Margaret Goss

Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi - Yes, looking at vacant rooms online is not an enhanced buyer experience!

May 15, 2020 02:45 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Love virtual staging!  I also think matterport technology will be more readily accepted and adopted as well.  Great job!  Good luck on your listing :)

May 14, 2020 02:03 PM
Margaret Goss

Jan Green - I have tried Matterport and  loved that as well. It's much more detailed because of the floor plans but also more expensive.

May 15, 2020 02:46 PM
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Great before and after photos.     I'm seeing more virtually staged homes, since staging is NOT considered an essential service here.   Curious - why did you choose this vendor, and would you tell who it is please?

May 14, 2020 02:40 PM
Margaret Goss

M.C. Dwyer - I chose the vendor because I liked their work better than another local one. But it doesn't matter if they're local - all you need to do is send them the photos and it's done. 

They are called Roomhance. 



May 15, 2020 02:49 PM
M.C. Dwyer

Thank you so much Margaret Goss - I'm taking notes about them now!    You're right - it absolutely doesn't matter where they are....

May 16, 2020 09:06 AM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

I do love your photos, but we have had an awful time in my area when you see a home and it is no where like the photos, much worse and damaged even in my last case. 

May 14, 2020 03:47 PM
Margaret Goss

Scott Godzyk - I think you need to be careful about how you use it. If you're trying to make a property look way better than it is, then you're going to have trouble. 

May 15, 2020 02:51 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Those photos do look realistic (the after) and the comparison is quite helpful. I like the idea above from Adam Feinberg to include both photos in a listing. Then people can see what it might look like with furniture/art, but can see the actual condition of floor/walls/windows also.

May 15, 2020 05:36 AM
Margaret Goss

Kat Palmiotti - yes, I should have written that we are required to show both photos in the MLS.

May 15, 2020 02:51 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Good job on explaining how this work and I am see it more and more with other agents.  

May 15, 2020 08:05 AM
Margaret Goss

Will Hamm - there's always something new with technology, right? 

May 15, 2020 02:52 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Margaret Goss ,

Your photos tell the story and are so much better than virtual staging was when they first started. I do expect to see it gain in popularity. Matterport dimensional tours have really gained in popularity because you can arrow through a house just like if you were walking through the home.

May 16, 2020 07:03 AM
Margaret Goss

Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR - I also like Matterport and used it on another listing. This is a good choice when the budget is smaller.

May 16, 2020 10:09 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

New tools give us more options. Having more options is always a good thing. Admittedly, I prefer an actual well-staged home, but if virtual is the best way to get it done, so be it. 

May 16, 2020 08:45 AM
Margaret Goss

Hi Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD - yes, I prefer a true staged home as well. In fact, many new construction homes that are vacant do use real staging since the stakes are higher.

May 16, 2020 10:08 AM
Jeffrey Richman
Immediate Home Solutions - Waxhaw, NC
Creative Real Estate Specialist

Hi Margaret,

I like your article.  I just did one today on virtual staging as well.  Perhaps you'll join us this Tuesday at 2 HERE for our call with Kathy Streib who is a stager.

May 16, 2020 03:34 PM
Margaret Goss

Hi Jeffrey Richman  - yes I saw your post as well! Sorry I missed the webiner - I was happily negotiating a contract!

May 20, 2020 02:26 PM
Joe Trusty
Norcal Web Designs - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Website Development Expert

Its becoming more popular to do it as a 3d rendering too. Some of these architectural renderings put photos to shame.

May 19, 2020 08:13 PM
Margaret Goss

Joe Trusty - I like the 3D renderings too - I tried it once and it was a hit too.

May 20, 2020 02:27 PM