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How realtors are using augmented reality to tempt you

Do you ever look at house or condo listings online and think it seems a lot of homeowners have nicer furniture and better taste than you do? They may not actually have any furniture at all.

Virtual staging has taken off.

“You take all of the pictures of your home without any furniture in the rooms, and you can put virtual furniture in using artificial intelligence technology to figure out exactly where to put the furniture, where the shadows should be. It looks really realistic. It has gotten much better over the last couple of years,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather told WTOP.

Virtual art can be hung on walls, virtual plants put on countertops and virtual dishes placed on the kitchen breakfast bars, along with just about anything else.

It is not expensive, costing as little as a few hundred dollars to virtually stage rooms throughout an entire house, or single rooms or outdoor spaces for a fraction of that.

Companies, such as rOomy and PadStyler, can choose the virtual furniture to insert — it is always stylish and expensive looking — and they can even work with pictures of rooms with existing furniture and virtually erase the original pieces before inserting the virtual ones.

“Virtual staging is a cost-efficient option that gives homebuyers an ultra-realistic view of what the vacant home will look like at its full potential,” said roOmy co-founder Pieter Aarts.

“It caters to today’s homebuyers who are increasingly demanding immersive services … that allow them to evaluate a property often without needing to physically set foot in the home,” Aarts said.

Virtually staged homes look very realistic, but also run the risk of making a place look a lot better online than it looks in person.

There are currently few rules about disclosure when it comes to the use of virtual staging.

“The rules are catching up to the technology. We think it is not right not to disclose that information, or to make it seem like the home has features that it doesn’t actually have,” Fairweather said. “For example, we don’t recommend putting fire in a fireplace that isn’t actually functional.”

Even less than perfect real furnishings are often better than nothing at all. Redfin said empty homes sell for less and take longer to sell.

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