Sotheby’s wants to replace home staging with augmented reality app

AR technology is coming to the luxury brokerage business

Curate by Sotheby's International Realty
Curate by Sotheby's International Realty

The elaborate staging of an apartment is a staple of the brokerage business. Now Sotheby’s International Realty is hoping to replace actual furniture with a smartphone app.

The augmented-reality app, dubbed “Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty,” allows users to look at an empty apartment through their phone’s camera and throw in different virtual furniture sets on the screen.

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“There’s a cost to physical staging,” says John Passerini, who handles interactive marketing at Sotheby’s International Realty, told Bloomberg. “And there’s even an environmental impact to it—carting [the furnishings] from one apartment to another. Plus, you can’t do things on the fly. Once you choose a physical staging set, that’s it, so if a client doesn’t like the modern furniture you’ve chosen, too bad.”

The brokerage is currently testing the product at a $7 million apartment at 481 Greenwich Street that’s about to hit the market. Sotheby’s is the first real estate brokerage to launch a virtual home staging app, though home goods retailers Ikea, Lowe’s and Pottery Barn already offer similar technologies.

Unlike its cousin virtual reality, augmented reality technology doesn’t create new worlds to walk through but overlays the real world with certain virtual images. The technology is popular in the construction and design industries. [Bloomberg]Konrad Putzier