Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Digitally Enhancing Home Values, Sales

Virtual staging really does hit home with buyers so much so that the digital marketing effort adds tens of thousands of dollars to the perceived value of the home and the home sells faster than those that don't employ the marketing technique.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Unauthorized use of this story is a copyright violation -- a federal crime


Deadline Newsroom - A report that quantifies evidence virtual staging really hits home with buyers comes from a couple of likely sources, but the findings do mirror data from focus groups and other studies on the subject.

Easily considered self-serving data from digital visual marketing firm VHT, Inc. and digital virtual staging company , PropertyPreviews.com, a survey nevertheless reveals videos and photography used in home marketing can increase a property's perceived value by tens of thousands of dollars.

According to their survey, video tours increased the perceived value of a home by nearly six percent, or about $30,000 on a $500,000 home, while professional photography increased the perceived value twice as much, by nearly $60,000.

VHT, which offers photography and video services and PropertyPreviews.com, which produces videos from photos online at no cost, surveyed 320 men and women between the ages of 35 and 54 with more than $75,000 in household income. Those surveyed were shown descriptions of homes in the $400,000 to $600,000 price range. Each property was shown with a description only or with a description and professional photography, unprofessional photography or video.

Those surveyed were then asked about their perceived value of the home; how likely they were to visit a home; and how quickly they thought the property would sell.

• Those who viewed listing information accompanied by professional photography, valued the property at an average price of $460,735, an increase of 11.5 percent or $52,896 over the average perceived price of the description-only property, $407,839.

• Those who watched a listing's video valued the home at an average price of $432,329, an increase of 5.7 percent or $24,490, over the average perceived price of the description-only property, $407,839.

"While perceived value is not the same as what someone ultimately pays for a property, it sets the benchmark as to what this property is worth in a buyer's mind compared to other homes in the same neighborhood. First impressions often have a big impact on a buyers' decision-making process on which homes to visit and how much to offer," said Brian Balduf, VHT's CEO.

• Survey respondents, were not professional real estate agents, but believed a home with professional photography was three times more likely to sell within the standard listing period than a home marketed with only descriptive information.

• When asked how likely they were to visit the homes listed with professional photography, seven times as many respondents indicated that they were "very likely" to visit the home as those who said they were "very likely" to visit a home with only descriptive information.

"More than 84 percent of prospective home buyers start their search on the Internet, so the use of video to market a property is essential," said Jeff Harris, General Manager of PropertyPreviews.com.

The study is in line with other reports that extol the value of virtual staging the use of digital images and photos to market a home. The technique is often used, hand-in-hand, with live, on-site staging.

After some impromptu focus groups, Freeland, WA-based online content expert Barbara Moran founded a virtual staging company, Virtual Staging, to teach real estate agents what she and good Web designers already know: content -- good, eye-catching and revealing content -- remains king.

Moran has helped clients boost sales so much they rave, but fear going public about their location so as not to give up their competitive edge in their local market.

The National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents cautions about staging that tricks the eye, but concedes honest staging can net sellers more cash and faster sales. The association says the relatively small expense of cleaning, decluttering, lightening and brightening, and other home staging efforts can generate an average sales price increase that can be more than the cost of staging.

Charts © 2008 VHT, Inc.

• Also see the DeadlineNews.Com special report, "The Three Stages of Staging."

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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