Sharon Chung - Top 1% of Century 21 Canada
Toronto Realtor Sharon Chung has an eye for detail and knows how execute a plan. Since 2010, of more than 10,000 Century 21 Realtors across Canada, she has consistently ranked in the top 1%. In short, she is known as a top performer and for her ability to get out ahead of real estate trends.
She says she believes that’s just what she did when she started working with Bella Staging.
“Working with Bella Staging was a perfect fit for me,” Chung said. “Their attention to detail aligns with the caliber of work I deliver for my clients.”
One of the properties Chung worked with the Bella Staging team to virtually stage was a new construction 5,000+ square-foot home that backs up to the beautiful Rouge River. She says the Bella Staging team hit it out of the park with the job they did in creating spaces that appealed to multiple buyers.
“I had a few people ask where the furniture and the art are from,” Chung said. “Bella does a great job to make it look real.”
According to Chung, Bella Staging produced results that helped sell the property faster and at top dollar by paying attention to style details of the home and complementing the home’s design with great pieces and the right color palette.
Chung has also used Bella Staging to stage homes that are empty and homes that need an upgrade or renovation to display potential. She says virtual staging has been a great option in times of COVID.
“Bella Staging came to my rescue for clients who uncomfortable with physical staging in their homes — not knowing where the furniture has been or who has touched it,” she said. “I was able to show clients that virtual can be just as effective as physical staging.”
She says she appreciates that Bella Staging’s customer service.
“It’s superb. For example, there was a piece of furniture which I asked be swapped out for something else — and with no questions asked, it was done within 24 hours,” she said. “Not only do they do a great job, their turnaround time is quick! All in all, I recommend them to others with no hesitation.”
Tom MacDonald - Principal at the MacDonald Group
Tom MacDonald knows real estate. He’s been a realtor in the Modesto, California, area for an incredible 48 years — and he says virtual staging is a game changer.
“We've gotten a higher asking price on every single home we’ve staged virtually,” said MacDonald. Then, he paused, “Except one — which we sold at full asking price.”
MacDonald explained that they’ve been getting multiple offers on most homes for three to four years.
“We spend time with our clients to help them get their homes ready — painted, new flooring, light fixtures,” he said. “With virtual staging, we’re able to do some of that without having to physically do the work. We disclose all in our marketing, but virtual staging gives buyers a home that they can envision.”
The MacDonald Group is a true family affair, with Tom, his wife, Jeannie, and the children involved. When the pandemic hit, daughter Jamie MacDonald, the chief operating officer at The MacDonald Group, started considering virtual staging options. After much research, she decided Bella Staging was the way to go.
Tom says the work Bella has done has been an incredible addition to their business.
“We have a warehouse full of furniture, but the pandemic changed everything. Bella has been incredible to work with,” said Tom, principal. “Every single home we’ve staged with Bella has sold more effectively.”
Jamie adds that virtual staging has pushed the price up of some homes more than $10,000 the minute they hit the market and with multiple offers.
“We’re in such a visual world,” Tom said. “By doing the virtual staging, we’re able to show homes at their best — and make everything look like it’s in 'Architectural Digest.' Everyone expects it to look like it’s on HGTV.”
Jamie says a big part of The MacDonald Group’s market is expired homes — homes that were previously listed with another agent with contracts that expired.
“We are fortunate to do many expired homes in the Central Valley,” Jamie said. “The homes are already out there in the world wide web. When we talk with sellers about listing their expired home, we explain that we have to rebrand the home. Virtual staging is a way to get buyers to look at it with fresh eyes.”
Jamie says that while most people believe they can visualize a room or a home’s potential, in fact, only about 10% are able to envision the possibilities.
“That leaves 90% of the people unable to see the potential — virtual staging opens up the possibilities for everyone,” Jamie said.
One of Tom’s favorite virtual staging stories doesn’t directly involve a potential client seeing the possibilities in a home. Instead, it’s a family member who grew up in the home decades earlier.
“At the beginning of COVID, we virtually staged the property — a Mid-century Modern home,” Tom said. “We always try and figure out who we think the buyer will be and directed Bella to stage the home with the potential buyer in mind.”
Once The MacDonald Group sent the estate’s executor the images of the virtually staged home, they got a call from a cousin.
“He was in shock. He said, ‘I don’t know where you found that house, but that’s not the house I grew up in.’ He's amazed by its transformation and goes on the website to see the images once a month,” Tom said. “Virtual staging has shown us what I can do with any home we have. It’s an incredible opportunity to allow people to see what their home will look like.”
Jamie refers to Bella Staging as one of The MacDonald Group’s trusted team members.
“They’re communicative. They’ve been great about taking some of our staging opportunities to another level,” she said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to work with a family here who has 12 lots in a gated community, designated for custom homes. We’re working with Bella and the architects to get images for these homes. Bella has opened other possibilities — not only for us but for our clients too.“
In short, Jamie says that she has recommended Bella Staging over and over again. She and the rest of the team at The MacDonald Group is so inspired by the work Bella has created that they’re constantly thinking of new ways to use the resource.
“We’re working with clients who are getting ready to move into a new home. As a closing gift, we’re going to get the home virtually staged for them,” Jamie said. “We can’t say enough wonderful things about Bella and what they’re doing for the virtual world of real estate — it has allowed us to pivot.”
Andrew Lasko - Partner Lasko and Associates
Andrew Lasko has only the highest standards in all business dealings.
He has high standards and expectations, especially with the vendors he uses with his real estate business, Lasko + Associates, based in Vancouver. He says that working with Bella has been a breath of fresh air.
“I recommend Bella Staging all the time,” Lasko said. “In an industry when I’m
constantly disappointed by many people, I’m never disappointed by them. They’ve gone to town for our business.”
Lasko, who’s been a realtor since 2012, says he routinely gets a higher asking price than expected for properties using virtual staging.
“I easily got $80,000 more than we expected on one property recently,” he said. “The same with another property with a digitally staged office. We got three to five percent more than we were expecting.”
The flexibility Bella’s virtual staging offers is especially helpful to show clients
alternatives for space usage, according to Lasko. He’s learned that while a lot of people believe they have a certain level of vision and can see the possibilities of a space beyond what’s there — in reality, most people can’t. He says that virtual staging allows a certain versatility in appealing to different buyer types as opposed to traditional staging that evolves around traditional styles.
“Especially in the pandemic, when people are having to re-envision how to use spaces. With Bella Staging’s capabilities, I can show clients how to turn a dining room into an office,” Lasko said. “I’ve also started using it for outdoor spaces. For example, I recently had an 1,100 square-foot patio virtually staged. We had fun with it and staged a home office and a mini-golf course on the patio — digital staging allows you to think outside the box.”
Lasko says Bella Staging’s design skills have come in especially handy when he’s run into a hoarder situation or a foreclosure — or other places he’s unable to stage for various reasons.
“We recently used Bella Staging with a foreclosure where we weren’t allowed to stage or touch anything,” Lasko said. “In reality, the place was a mess. I needed to be able to get people in the door. The virtually staging got people in the door —and I got multiple offers.”
Lasko says the biggest challenge is when people see something in a photo and it’s not there in person, they become disoriented, but he’s developed a solution.
“I call the images ‘re-imagined,’ and I remind buyers before we walk in that the space has been reimagined — so it’s not a shock,” Lasko said. “The use of virtual staging has to be targeted. Used or delivered incorrectly, it can backfire, but as long as I deliver it properly and use it subtly, then it works.”
With one recent higher-end property, Lasko was able to use virtual staging to make the furnishings more compatible with potential buyers. He says the furniture was incorrectly sized and the kitchen had an oddly shaped bar. He worked with Bella Staging’s designers to create three different options so that potential buyers could see the reimagined space — and the multiple options allowed people to get over the visualization hump and understand the use of virtual staging.
“Once they get to the third photo, they know that this is a demonstration of possibilities,”
Lasko said. “Removing existing furniture is a great way I use it and I’m not sure a lot of realtors realize you can do that.”
Additionally, Lasko compliments Bella Staging’s designers on their turnaround times.
“Turnaround is fantastic. If I’m on a tight timeline, they never say no,” he said. “If I need edits, they’re happy to tailor the outcome to tailor the outcome.”
Occasionally, clients are a bit skeptical about using virtual staging, but after they see Bella Staging’s work, Lasko says they’re quite impressed.
“Everyone who has seen digital staging has been impressed by its outcome. I haven’t had a misfire,” he said. “At the end of the day, I know what I want to see. I can give specific instructions and have a vision myself — which helps. But I know Bella works well with people who don’t have specific visions for a place, as well. They are good at figuring out something that works well in the space.”