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Blog » Staging » Virtual Staging vs. Real Staging: Which One to Choose?

Virtual Staging vs. Real Staging: Which One to Choose?

by Tan Tason
virtual staging vs. real staging

Ever heard the saying, “First impressions matter?” Well, here’s some news: They still do!

Whether it’s a work meeting, a date, or an online shop, that first perception, that gut feeling you have the moment you set eyes on someone or something, makes up for at least half of whatever you will experience next.

The very same goes for a property on sale. Home buyers make up their minds regarding further considerations of a house the minute they step in or see it online. It goes without saying then that a staged open house or visually appealing online photos are of the utmost importance regarding the success of a listing.

The pressing dilemma, however, is finding the most suitable method for creating this striking first impression. Should you go all in and stage entire spaces with real furniture, or is it more feasible to use virtual staging and polish those online visuals? It’s virtual staging vs. real staging, and in this article, we’ll help you choose!

Table of Contents

Traditional or Real Staging

Let’s begin the debate with real staging, the time-honored approach to transforming a property into a captivating and inviting space. In real staging, professional stagers carefully curate an array of physical furniture and decor, tailoring their selections to suit the property’s unique characteristics and appeal to the target audience.

The result is a harmonious blend of aesthetics that resonates with potential buyers, offering a glimpse of what their life could be like in that very space. With real staging, you’re allowing potential clients to actually live for a quarter of an hour in what could be their future home. Nothing could give them a closer, more tangible experience.

Obviously, this approach comes with advantages deeply rooted in human curiosity and the need for genuine experiences.

Advantages of real staging: As authentic as it can get!


One of the most significant advantages of real staging lies in its authentic and tangible experience for potential buyers. Walking through a professionally staged home, buyers can see, touch, and feel the furniture and decor, establishing a genuine connection with the property.

Emotional connection

Real staging taps into the emotional aspect of home buying. By envisioning themselves living in the space, buyers can establish an emotional connection that goes beyond the physical attributes of the property. This emotional bond can play a crucial role in their decision-making process, especially when they’ve shortlisted a couple of options and are trying to choose between them.

Clarity and trust

When home buyers step into a house, they have the greatest opportunity to inspect every single element of a property, clarifying any vague issues and giving them the peace of mind that they have seen all there is to see. This experience gives them the assurance that there will be no unpleasant surprises once they put an offer down.

Disadvantages of real staging: Is it worth the effort?


Real staging comes with a considerable price tag. From renting or purchasing furniture to hiring a skilled stager to bringing the photographers and editors, the expenses add up quite rapidly. Additionally, there may be costs associated with storing the furniture after the staging period.


The process of real staging demands time and planning. Selecting suitable furniture, arranging deliveries, and meticulously setting up the space can be time-consuming, easily delaying the listing process by at least a few days per property.

Limited options

Staging professionals may have a specific inventory of furniture and decor to work with, which might not align perfectly with the preferences of every potential buyer. This limitation can impact how well the staging resonates with certain individuals. An elderly couple will definitely walk away from an avant-garde setup, just as a bachelor may dislike a farmhouse layout.


Real staging involves a heck of a commute for all parties involved, not to mention the tiring staging process, long open-house hours, dealing with property occupants, the arduous task of cramping numerous property visits in a few days’ time, and so much more. There are simply so many things to do and consider when staging houses in real life.

Though it’s highly effective, real staging can easily turn into a real headache. It’s resource-intensive, requires your undivided attention from the beginning to the very end, and can leave you with a few limited options.

As a result, it’s a good idea to explore other approaches. We’re not talking about disowning real staging altogether, but it just makes sense to have alternatives, doesn’t it? Read on through the next section, where we unravel the wonders of virtual staging and its potential impact on your property’s marketability.

The Alternative: Online Virtual Staging

As technology continues to revolutionize various industries, the realm of home staging has seen a remarkable transformation with the introduction of virtual staging. In this innovative approach, digital technology takes center stage, virtually furnishing and decorating the property to create stunning visual representations.

Virtual staging harnesses the power of advanced software and imaging techniques to digitally enhance property images. Through this process, virtual furniture, decor, and even architectural elements can be added to empty or sparsely furnished spaces, bringing them to life in a compelling and photorealistic manner.

Industrial bedroom before virtual staging Industrial bedroom after virtual staging

Advantages of virtual staging: Convenience at your fingertips


One of the most enticing advantages of virtual staging is its cost-effectiveness. Unlike real staging, where expenses can quickly escalate with physical items, virtual staging significantly reduces the financial burden. Sellers can achieve captivating results at a fraction of the cost, making it an attractive option for those working within a limited budget.

Quick turnaround

In the fast-paced world of real estate, time is of the essence. Virtual staging offers a swift turnaround time, enabling properties to be transformed and listed in a matter of days. This expedited process is especially beneficial when time is of the essence or when multiple properties need staging simultaneously.


Virtual staging presents endless design possibilities at the click of a button. Stagers can experiment with various furniture styles, color schemes, and decor options to cater to diverse buyer preferences. This adaptability allows properties to appeal to a broader audience, increasing their chances of attracting potential buyers.

Creative freedom

When you’re faced with physical spaces, you’ve many limitations concerning space, dimensions, number of items, etc., all of which can bind your hands creatively. But with virtual staging, you’re free to do as you please, which allows you to bring a lot of your ideas to life.


Furthermore, virtual staging can be tailored to the needs and tastes of various customer groups with very little additional cost. With this method, you can showcase one house with a variety of furniture layouts and styles, catering to the specific needs of different demographics and effectively reaching a wider market.

Disadvantages of virtual staging: Distancing real estate from reality?

Lack of physical appeal

Even though virtual staging gives you plenty of options regarding layout and style, its distanced nature in the form of a number of online pictures may not attract certain customers. What you need to understand is that buying a house means spending a lot of money, money that some people aren’t going to let go of based on a number of website photos. While virtual staging excels in creating stunning visualizations, some buyers may find themselves yearning for a more tangible experience.

Ethical considerations

As with any form of visual enhancement, there are ethical considerations to bear in mind. Opponents of virtual staging argue that this method can be misleading if not executed transparently. If potential buyers are unaware that the images have been digitally altered, it may lead to disappointment and mistrust when they visit the actual property.

Virtual staging introduces a host of advantages that appeal to modern-day sellers and buyers in the ever-evolving real estate landscape. Its cost-effectiveness, quick implementation, and design flexibility make it an alluring choice for property marketing.

However, virtual staging, too, has its shortcomings. Essentially, one could strike a balance between virtual staging vs. real staging, considering the unique characteristics of each property and the preferences of potential buyers.

Is there a possibility of finding harmony between these two staging methods? Potentially, one could harness the strengths of both to maximize the impact on potential buyers. Let’s discover how a hybrid approach can deliver exceptional results in the competitive world of real estate.

 Real StagingVirtual Staging


Emotional Connection

Clarity And Trust


Quick Turnaround


Creative Freedom





Limited Options


Lack Of Physical Appeal

Ethical Considerations

hampton livingroom before hampton livingroom after

Finding the Balance: A Hybrid Approach

As we started, it was virtual staging vs. real staging. How about we tweak that comparison a little and continue with virtual staging + real staging?

In the dynamic world of real estate, embracing a hybrid approach to staging can prove to be a winning strategy in certain scenarios. Rather than pitting virtual staging against real staging, savvy sellers and agents can harness the strengths of both methods to create a compelling and well-rounded property presentation.

Complementing one with another

In some cases, a hybrid approach can be used, where real staging complements virtual staging to eventually deliver a seamless and captivating experience. While virtual staging addresses the challenges of cost, time, and design flexibility, real staging can step in to offer the authenticity and emotional connection that some buyers seek.

With this mindset, you can approach your listings case by case with few options. One way to go is to virtually stage all the spaces of a house but limit physical staging to one main area, such as the living room. The other option is to virtually stage houses with numerous spaces, such as duplexes, and resort to real staging when you’re dealing with fewer empty rooms. The third option is to base most of your online marketing efforts on virtual staging to save time and cut costs. Then, spend those saved resources to physically stage only a few select but highly valuable properties that are sure to have a huge ROI.

The hybrid approach, where you use real staging to reinforce virtual staging practices, is quite plausible. It can be customized based on your resources, short- and long-term aims, customers, and properties. As the market tide turns, so can your staging methods.

Virtual staging in the front

Considering all the ups and downs and pros and cons, it appears that virtual staging can be the main go-to staging method for all properties, while real staging can be used with a more focused approach to drive home all your real estate efforts. By using virtual staging as the basis of your real estate advertisement activities, you can:

  • Lower the costs
  • Save a lot of time
  • Reduce manual labor
  • Decrease inconvenience
  • Pick up the pace
  • Remove the commute
  • Stage occupied houses
  • Enjoy creative freedom
  • Cater to various tastes
  • Apply a range of styles
  • Preview real staging projects
  • Attract remote buyers
  • Market more properties

Shall we go on? The advantages of virtual staging are clear and compelling, making it the more efficient method for many sellers and agents.


In the grand debate of “Virtual Staging vs. Real Staging,” it is essential to acknowledge the merits of both methods. Real staging has the power to create an authentic and emotional connection with buyers, making it an invaluable approach in certain situations. On the other hand, virtual staging shines with its cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and efficiency in today’s fast-paced real estate market.

By adopting a hybrid approach, sellers and agents can find the balance between these two staging methods, harnessing the benefits of each to maximize the property’s appeal. Virtual staging, however, as the more cost-effective and adaptable option, presents enticing solutions to modern-day challenges and can be chosen as the main staging method for most real estate businesses.

In the ever-evolving world of real estate, embracing innovative technologies like virtual staging can set you apart from the competition and position your property for success. So, take the leap, explore the possibilities, and unlock the full potential of your property in today’s competitive market. Happy staging!



Real staging might be more suitable for properties with unique characteristics that require a tailored approach to appeal to the target audience’s specific preferences.

No, rendering, specifically in the context of real estate, refers to the creation of photorealistic images or videos of a property that has not been built yet or is under construction. 

Virtual staging is a versatile tool that extends beyond real estate agents and is utilized by various industries and individuals for different purposes, including homeowners, property developers, interior designers, home builders, vacation rental owners, furniture retailers, home improvement companies, architects, event planners, and e-commerce platforms.

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