A comparison between the best virtual staging services and what they can offer your business in 2021.
Written by Jeremy Daniel: Jeremy Daniel is a freelance real estate photographer and blogger with a special interest in using web tools that can benefit the creative process
As a real estate photographer, I have been looking at ways to extend the services I offer to my clients. One of the ways I want to do that is via virtual staging. That means using software tools to stage a room with virtual furniture and decor. It’s a trend that has gained popularity here in the US since COVID-19 hit in 2020.
The aspects I decided to focus on were:
- Overall quality
- virtual furniture catalog
- Turnaround time
- Ordering system
Here is the image that I was going to use as a basis for the test:
The act of getting your image up onto the various platforms is easy to achieve. They each offer simple drag-and-drop interfaces. On the same page, the virtual staging services offer you a number of options to choose from, for example, what kind of room it is, what kind of furniture you like, and whether you want to remove items already in the picture. (For BoxBrownie, there is an extra cost for removing items. They also provided an option to add text to the image, which was interesting.)
BoxBrownie virtual staging uploader
All three services offer sophisticated, contemporary furniture items that are beautifully rendered and would enhance any room. While PhotoUp and Virtual Staging Solutions (VSS) use beautiful catalog-style design sets to help you make a choice, BoxBrownie goes for a more ‘Instagram-filter’ style approach to help you make a selection.
Each of the services has more than enough great items for you to choose from. I selected a Farmhouse style look for the empty room for each of the services.
There was slight divergence between the services here. PhotoUp works with credits while BoxBrownie and VirtualStagingSolutions offered a US$ fee for their services. With PhotoUp the cost of the job was 25 credits (US $25), while BoxBrownie’s fee was $32 for standard virtual staging with extra costs for any other additions or subtractions, which I didn’t use.
Delivery and Turnaround Time
Just five hours after I had uploaded my test image, the results started coming in. The first response was from BoxBrownie and PhotoUp was close behind.
Both companies notified me via email that the image was ready and offered a link to click within the email, that opens onto a page that shows your virtual image next to the original.
Differences become apparent in the services once you are looking at your edits. For example, BoxBrownie only lets you download the image before you can look closely and interact with it. On PhotoUP, it’s far easier to click and enlarge, flip easily between the examples and leave a note for your virtual staging editor.
BoxBrownie Virtual Staging
Here’s my virtual staging result from BoxBrownie:
I was fairly happy with the virtual staging result. The furniture seemed well-proportioned and tasteful, although I thought perhaps the rug should contrast more with the floor. But my biggest problem was that the furniture in the image felt unbalanced. I know if I was in the room I would definitely be pushing that table to the right, so I asked them to realign in a follow-up message and they obliged, free of charge.
Revision 1. I thought this looked so much better
The completed photo appears on a page with useful metadata about the job number, when it was done, and how much you paid. There’s also a big red button that lets you download a ZIP file of the job.
PhotoUp Virtual Staging
Here’s the virtual staging image I received from PhotoUp:
What most impressed me about the PhotoUp final image was the attention to detail that they provided. For example, the hint of a pot plant in the foreground gives the impression that you are looking past a real plant into a room. A scene on the television screen brings it to life, as opposed to BoxBrownie’s black screen.
The drapes frame the windows in the room. The succulents on the shelves, and the flowers on the coffee table are beautiful extra details that help make the image feel warm and inviting. Overall, I was very pleased with the initial result and did not need to send back any revision requests.
BoxBrownie or PhotoUp?
Communication was great with both companies and they were responsive to my suggestions. I especially liked the personalized email from PhotoUp’s support team who explained a few issues they were having, based on the furniture selected. It was great to be able to give feedback in real-time as my image was being staged.
Because of the quality of the final image along with the price and turnaround time, PhotoUp stood out to me as the clear favorite when it comes to virtual staging.
At the end of the day, either company is a great choice and virtual staging is a great tool to have in your toolbox. Virtual staging is a great way to extend the services you can offer to realtors as a real estate photographer. Now, try out these services for yourself and see what works for you. Good luck!