Virtual vs. Traditional Staging: What You Need to Know

You've decided to sell your home, but you're not sure whether to go with traditional staging or the newer virtual staging option. As a homeowner, this decision can be confusing. Should you invest time and money into physical decor and furniture changes or is a virtual 3D rendering just as effective?

With virtual staging on the rise, it's worth learning the key differences between real and virtual home staging. This article breaks down the pros and cons of each approach, specifically for the real estate market. You'll learn tips for when virtual staging makes sense and when you may want to opt for the real thing.

We'll also overview average costs, look at ROI, and examine which method buyers prefer. With the right information, you can determine if old-school staging or modern virtual staging is the better fit. Let's explore both approaches so you can make the ideal choice for selling your Canadian property faster and for more money.

What Is Virtual Staging?

Virtual staging uses digital technology to stage real estate listings. Professional stagers create realistic digital renderings of empty rooms to help buyers visualize the potential of the space. Instead of the seller paying to have the home physically staged, virtual stagers use software to add furniture, decor, and styling to photos of the empty rooms.

Why use virtual staging?

For sellers, virtual staging saves time and money. It allows listings to go live faster without the hassle of moving furniture or hiring a stager. For buyers, virtual staging provides a glimpse into the potential of the space so they can better envision themselves living there. Studies show that virtually staged homes sell faster and for higher prices than non-staged homes.

How does virtual staging work?

Virtual stagers receive photos of the empty rooms from the real estate agent or seller. Using design software, they choose furniture, decor, paint colours, flooring, and lighting to suit the home's style and create a welcoming space. The stager then digitally adds these elements to the room photos. The final virtually staged photos are provided to the agent to use in the listing.

Is virtual staging right for you?

For most sellers in today's competitive market, virtual staging is a smart choice. It allows you to maximize your home's selling potential without the significant investment of time and money required for traditional staging. The small upfront cost of virtual staging is often recouped through a higher selling price and quicker deal. However, for some high-end properties, traditional staging may still be preferred by buyers. Consider your needs and target audience to determine if virtual or traditional staging is the best fit.

The Pros and Cons of Virtual Staging in Canada

Virtual staging has become popular in Canada, and for good reason. It allows sellers to showcase listings without the hassle and expense of furnishing and staging an empty home.


virtual staging is much more budget-friendly than traditional staging. You don’t have to rent furniture or hire a stager. All you need is a camera and some photos of your empty rooms.


With virtual staging, there’s no need to schedule time to stage the home or be present while photos are taken. The stager can work remotely on their schedule.

However, virtual staging does have some downsides to consider.

Limited creativity

While virtual stagers aim to make rooms look realistic, the results may seem artificial or lack originality. Traditional stagers can create a custom look tailored to the home’s style and architecture.

DIY look

If not done professionally, virtual staging can appear computer-generated, like something a homeowner did themselves using an app. This may turn off some buyers.

For many sellers, the pros of lower cost and convenience outweigh the cons. But for some properties, especially higher-end homes, traditional staging may be worth the investment to achieve a fully customized look. The best approach depends on your home, budget, and target buyers.

Talk to local real estate agents to determine what kind of staging, if any, would benefit your listing. For the right property and with a skilled stager, virtual staging can be an attractive option in Canada’s real estate market. When done well, it allows you to showcase your space memorably without the hassle of furnishing an empty home.

What Is Traditional Staging?

Traditional staging is the method real estate agents use to make a property look appealing to potential home buyers. In traditional staging, real estate agents hire professional stagers to furnish and decorate the home. The stagers bring in furniture, art, plants, and accessories to showcase the home's best features.

Stagers work with what’s already in the home and supplement it with extra furnishings and decor to make each room attractive and inviting. They organize and arrange furniture to make the space feel open and flowing. Stagers also declutter the home and do a deep cleaning to make the place shine. The goal is to help buyers visualize themselves living in the space by creating an appealing ambiance.

With traditional staging, stagers physically visit the property to evaluate what’s needed and personally style each room. They transport furnishings and decor to and from the home, which requires extra time and labour. All costs for renting and transporting these items are passed onto the seller. While traditional staging can be quite effective in making a home appealing to the largest number of potential buyers, it is typically the more expensive option.

For sellers in a rush or on a tight budget, the costs and logistics of traditional staging may be difficult to swing. This is where virtual staging has become an attractive alternative. With virtual staging, stagers use digital tools to create a staged look for the home without having to physically visit or furnish the actual property.

When to Use Virtual vs. Traditional Staging

Virtual staging is best suited for homes that need minimal cosmetic updates and aesthetic changes to impress buyers.

Virtual staging for remote buyers

Virtual staging works well if you’re targeting remote buyers who can’t view the property in person. With virtual staging, you can give these buyers a sense of the potential by showing them digitally enhanced photos of the empty rooms. The virtual images allow them to visualize what the space could look like if it were staged and decorated. For remote buyers, virtual staging is the next best thing to seeing the actual staged property.

Virtual staging for tight budgets or timelines

Virtual staging can be a good option if you have a tight budget or timeline. It’s typically more affordable and faster than hiring a stager to furnish and decorate the entire property. Virtual stagers can turn around edited photos within a few days. The lower cost and quicker turnaround of virtual staging may appeal to sellers who need to get their listings up fast.

Traditional staging for local buyers

For local buyers who will be viewing the property in person, traditional staging is often more effective. Physically staged homes allow buyers to get a real sense of the space and layout. They can see how furniture fits in each room and get a feel for how they would use and live in the home. Traditional staging also allows buyers to appreciate small details like natural lighting, storage space, and flooring choices. For these reasons, traditional staging tends to be most impactful for buyers visiting the property.

A hybrid approach

In some cases, a hybrid approach using both virtual and traditional staging may work well. For example, you could virtually stage some rooms to give remote buyers a visual, but traditionally stage the main living areas that local buyers will see. Or you could do virtual staging upfront to get the listing up quickly, then follow up with traditional staging if needed to help close a deal. A hybrid solution gives you the benefits of both types of staging.

Ultimately, choosing between virtual and traditional staging comes down to your specific needs, timeline, budget, and target buyers. With the right approach for your situation, staging of any kind can help you sell your home faster and for a better price.

Virtual Staging FAQs for Canadian Home Sellers

Virtual staging is a cost-effective alternative to traditional staging that uses computer-generated images to showcase a home's potential. Here are some common questions Canadian home sellers have about virtual staging:

What is virtual staging?

Virtual staging uses digital rendering software to place virtual furniture and decor into still images of empty rooms in a home. The virtually staged photos allow home buyers to better envision the potential of the space.

How long does virtual staging take?

The virtual staging process typically only takes a few days to complete. The specific turnaround time will depend on the virtual stager’s current workload and schedule. It is a much faster process than bringing in a traditional stager, purchasing furniture and accessories, and physically staging each room.

Will virtual staging help me sell my home faster?

Yes, virtually staged listing photos have been shown to reduce the time a home spends on the market. The enhanced photos help buyers visualize the potential of the space and make a quicker, more confident buying decision. Studies show homes with professionally staged photos sell up to 50% faster than homes with amateur photos.

Can I do virtual staging myself?

While there are some DIY virtual staging tools available, for the best results it is best to hire a professional virtual stager. They have the proper training, experience, and access to high-quality rendering software and a library of furnishings to properly showcase the space. Professional virtual staging will lead to a more realistic result that helps buyers envision all the possibilities in your home.

In summary, virtual staging offers an affordable, fast, and effective way for Canadian home sellers to showcase the potential of their space to buyers. For the best outcome, consider hiring a professional virtual stager to help sell your home faster at a great price.


Virtual staging and traditional staging both have their pros and cons. Virtual can save you time and money, while traditional provides that hands-on experience. As you look to sell your home in Canada, think about your budget, timeline and personal preferences.

Do you want to be heavily involved or hand things off? Are you on a tight schedule or have flexibility? Weigh the options presented here as they relate to your unique situation. And don’t forget - a good real estate agent can help guide you.

With the right information and advice, you can decide if virtual or traditional staging is the best fit. The key is making an informed decision that sets you up for success. Now you’re ready to confidently move forward with staging your home for sale!

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