Virtual Staging’s Scalable Impact on Net Operating Income

With the continued onslaught of new multifamily developments hitting the market in key cities nationwide, developers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate their properties. There’s no question that the process of distinguishing one’s property starts with the first impression; beautiful visuals are the first way to encourage a prospective renter to envision themselves in their new apartment. There’s certainly value in being able to “try before you buy” (or rent), but for developers/owners, this has traditionally meant setting aside staged model units for potential buyers/renters to view. However, an increasing number of developers and owners are bypassing the physical staging of model units altogether, instead turning to virtual staging in a long-term effort to increase NOI.

In general, staging an apartment still has great value. Consider this: 83 percent of agents said staging a residence made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Moreover, 25 percent of agents said that staging a residence increased the dollar value offered between one and five percent, compared to similar residences that were not staged. The same can be applied to rental units. It can often be very difficult for potential residents to visualize themselves in the apartment when staging is not present. Yet herein lies the problem: physical staging can be cumbersome, costly, and inflexible, making it difficult to showcase multiple layouts, functions and aesthetic stylings while also adversely impacting inventory.

Fortunately, thanks to continued advancements in technology, virtual staging has emerged as a much more cost-effective and time-sensitive option. At roOomy, we’ve developed a virtual staging and 3D modeling platform that enables developers, real estate professionals, and interior design enthusiasts to quickly and seamlessly transform static 2D imagery of residential interiors into ultra-realistic furnished 3D renderings. We have noticed a growing interest from larger, multifamily owners. Virtual staging can be done quickly and easily on standardized units and our turnaround can meet the needs of the accelerated nature of the multifamily industry.

Better Understanding of Space and Proportions

New multifamily developments incorporate numerous layouts and floor plans with the intent of maximizing every square foot of potential real estate, delivering a diversified property that satisfies a range of needs, from single professionals to growing families. With unit mixes typically comprising various studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or apartments, developers have continued to seek out innovative ways to uniquely appeal to each demographic subset. However, the average homeseeker struggles to fully understand proportions and scale simply by reviewing floor plans, and it’s just as difficult to get an accurate depiction of a space looking at 2D images of empty rooms.

Unfurnished units have the potential to adversely affect the perception of the space, leaving an uninspiring impression on a potential renter or homebuyer. But that same unit can be transformed and come to life through a virtually staged rendering or 3D model, helping paint a picture of a room’s true potential. Questions such as ‘where should the bed go?’ or ‘what size couch would fit without making the room feel cramped?’ can be answered in an instant. With a visual, flexible reference point, home buyers and renters now have a more informed representation of being in the furnished space, better understanding the proportions and layout potential.

No Models Needed

Virtual staging also presents robust cost savings for multifamily developments that traditionally utilize physical staging services. Again, with a mix of units, developers and property managers are faced with the decision of staging multiple units within a single development to appeal to the varying subsets of potential renters and buyers. Leasing teams will lose on average roughly $20 to 24 thousand by keeping a single unit open, with an additional three thousand spent to rent a physical staging product set (based on an average one-bedroom unit monthly rental cost on Apartment List, and CORTs one-bedroom physical staging cost).

Yet, virtual staging costs as little as having a set of staging furniture delivered and picked up. In fact, physical staging can cost ~1-3% of the listing price, whereas virtual staging will cost <.1% of the sale price. For large multifamily projects, these numbers get compounded based on the total number of units and layouts requiring staging. The virtual staging process eliminates the need to purchase, assemble and arrange furnishings, which often takes weeks and costs thousands of dollars.

Scalability + Shoppability

Through virtual staging, multifamily developers and property managers are provided a trusted platform with the ability to deliver timely results at any scale. For a developer that has multiple projects in various submarkets across the country, each with diverse unit layout mixes, it’s imperative for the virtual staging platform to have the bandwidth, library of furnishings, and infrastructure to deliver high-quality 3D models and renderings quickly and efficiently. Whereas a physical staging service can work on a limited number of properties and units, virtual staging platforms are equipped to handle any size order at any given time.

Taking it one step further, virtually staged models can be “shoppable,” meaning that you can click on the various pieces of furniture within the model, and everything can be purchased, adding an entirely new layer of interactivity. New home movers are a highly-coveted audience for furniture and décor retailers, and spend as much as five times on furniture purchases as compared to non-new home movers according to a study conducted by the National Home Builders Association 2017. Additionally, in recent surveys conducted by Redfin and Coldwell Banker, 68 percent of millennial home buyers noted they wanted to understand how their furniture will look in a home through the power of VR.

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, the expectations of buyers and renters will evolve and grow in tandem, making it essential for owners, developers and property managers to seek out innovative measures to stay ahead of the competition. It’s imperative to continue exploring new ways to streamline the home buying and renting processes, and virtual staging provides a cost-effective and flexible approach proven to deliver greater returns and quicker results. Furthermore, the scalability offered through virtual staging provides developers with a reliable service to deliver invaluable assets at turnaround times mandated by the demanding pace of the real estate industry. It’s clear why we are seeing increased adoption of virtual staging, and I’m excited to be part of the industry’s technological evolution. Afterall, it’s much easier to move a mouse than it is to move a couch.

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