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.
That’s why we decided to put together this guide to the best virtual staging software and done-for-you professional staging options on the market in 2022. We cover pricing, interior design quality, and share examples of their virtual staging. We also worked with our friends at Douglas Elliman to get some expert virtual staging tips from top listing agents.
As an added bonus, you get our top 10 staging tips in this free PDF download:
- What Is Virtual Staging?
- DIY Virtual Staging Software vs. Virtual Staging Services
- How Much Does Virtual Staging Software Cost?
- Best Virtual Staging Software for 2022
- Virtual Staging Tips From Douglas Elliman Listing Agents
What Is Virtual Staging?
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 2022:
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 challenging if you’re not used to working with design software.
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 $7 per image for DIY software to $49-plus per image for professional staging services.
The Best Virtual Staging Software for 2022
Here are our picks for the best virtual staging software and professional staging for 2022.
|Virtual Staging Software||Best For||Price per Image||DIY or Professional?|
(Best DIY option)
|High quality and affordable DIY virtual staging||$7-$10 per image||DIY|
|High-quality, pro virtual staging + a free DIY app||$49-$69 per image|
(app is free)
|Pro staging + DIY|
|Hasten||High-end pro virtual staging||Call||Pro staging|
|BoxBrownie||Price-to-quality ratio||$32 per image||Pro staging|
|Spotless Agency||High-quality images||$79-$199 per image||Pro staging|
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 We 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
We were 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 We 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 We 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 We 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 We 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
Sean’s 47-Point Ultimate Real Estate Listing Marketing Plan (PDF Checklist)
Virtual Staging Tips From Douglas Elliman 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 we reached out to our friends at Douglas Elliman to get their take on how to get the best bang for your buck from virtual staging. Here’s what they told us:
1. Always Include Unstaged Listing Pictures After Virtually Staged Pictures
Laura Copersino, Douglas Elliman, New York City
In order to help buyers understand just how much the right furnishings can improve a home, New York City Associate Broker Laura Copersino recommends 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? Laura has a brilliant solution: Print out the virtually staged picture on a nice canvas and hang it in the empty room.
2. Keep the Furnishings Neutral
Nancy Strong, Douglas Elliman, Westchester
Nancy Strong, a listing agent with Douglas Elliman in Westchester, New York, recommends keeping the furnishings neutral in order to help prospective buyers get a better sense of perspective and room size.
Here are a few more tips from Nancy:
- 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
Jared Bonasera, Douglas Elliman, Texas
Jared Bonasera, Managing Director for the Development Marketing arm of Douglas Elliman, Texas, said that 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
Lauren Spiegel, Douglas Elliman, Hamptons
Lauren Spiegel, an agent in The Hamptons in New York, reminded us that choosing the right color theme for your virtually staged listing is crucial. She recommends using earth tones or soft beach colors to make a listing feel more inviting. She also pointed out that 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
Marci Williams, Douglas Elliman, New York City
Marci Williams, an agent in New York City, offered great advice 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 Color to Make the Room Feel Alive
Ron Saltarrelli, Douglas Elliman, New York City
Ron Saltarrelli, an Associate Broker in Brooklyn, definitely agrees that muted colors like earth tones offer a clean, neutral palette that will help buyers imagine themselves in the home. However, he advises agents to add a subtle pop of color to the staged images in order to make the room feel more alive. He mentioned art specifically, but you could easily add a pop of color with a small rug, vases, flowers, or even children’s toys.
7. Use Virtual Staging to Compensate for What the Home Is Missing
Rebecca Orbach, Douglas Elliman, New York City
While you should never fake views out 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. Here’s New York City Associate Broker Jessica Orbach with a few clever strategies:
“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
Cynthia Jacinta Keskinkaya, Douglas Elliman, New York City
Since today’s buyers are more design-savvy than ever, New York City Broker Cynthia Jacinta Keskinkaya recommends incorporating 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, she also warned that 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
Carol Staab, Douglas Elliman, New York City
Carol Staab reminded us that 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
Tina Newman, Douglas Elliman, New York City
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
Lorna Leibowitz, Douglas Elliman, New York City
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
Samantha Curry, Douglas Elliman, Florida
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 us know in the comments.