Santa Cruz Homes for Sale and Virtual Staging: New Sales Method or Old Scam?

Posted by Lauren Spencer on Friday, July 2nd, 2010 at 11:01pm.

Home staging has long been a way to sell Santa Cruz homes for sale. In short, stagers come into your home, look the place over and start packing (if it’s not already empty). They bring furniture, draperies and other things to make the home look warm, beautiful and inviting to buyers.

The trick is to make the Santa Cruz homes for sale inviting in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the buyer’s personal tastes. It’s worked, selling thousands of homes that might not have sold otherwise, and selling them faster than non-staged homes.

For the past year or two, however, virtual (or conceptual) staging has come into the real estate world. Somewhat like traditional home staging, the virtual stager spruces up your home for sale. The differences are where the work is done and what the live house looks like. They may not sound like much, but these two differences have people asking, “Sales method or a snake oil scam?”

Virtual Staging
Home staging came about because the real estate industry realized that most buyers have a tough time visualizing what a place will look like with their unique touch on it. With more tech savvy buyers, however, some may not even visit the home to enjoy the staged view. Many buyers find their potential home online and, once they’ve viewed the online pictures, contact the REALTOR® listing the home.

Virtual staging provides beautiful images for buyers to look at online using digital enhancement. You may have a home staging team doing the computer work, or it may just be one person with fantastic design software.

Here are the benefits to virtual staging:
• It may pull in more potential buyers than non-virtually staged homes.
• It can be cheaper than having a home stager come to your home.
• If you’re worried about vandalism and theft (some sellers have had the staging furniture stolen), it may solve this problem.

But there are potential pitfalls you need to be aware of before you try virtual staging:
• The first and most obvious is not to use virtual staging to deceptively hide imperfections in your home. The purpose of these images is to enhance, yes, but if you hide issues it’s not only unethical, but, in some states, illegal.
• The second is to be sure to let the potential buyer know that the home is either vacant or has different furniture than what’s shown.  You must be transparent and upfront that the images are computer generated. Otherwise, they will feel confused - or even scammed - when they get to the home to see and buy it.  This may seem a deal “killer,” but it all depends on how this information is presented.

Home stagers have written in favor of real life home staging (putting down virtual staging, of course). Virtual stagers have written the opposite. So which one is better? If you have one of the Santa Cruz homes for sale, consider your budget, your options and what you want to accomplish. As long as you’re willing to be upfront about the images, virtual staging may be the right option for you.

Need help preparing your home for sale?  I can help.  Give me a call today at 831.662.6522 or email me at


Traditional home staging

Home staging team

In favor of real life home staging


About Lauren Spencer

Award-Winning Santa Cruz REALTOR®

Lauren Spencer is your local real estate expert, specializing in Santa Cruz real estate and surrounding communities—this is where she lives, works, and plays too. Let her know your questions about the community and county and she'll be happy to fill you in on all you want to know! Lauren Spencer has consistently been voted best local REALTOR in Santa Cruz and is always happy to offer her advice and expertise. Call her at: 800.226.4717.

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