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Augmented RealityModel UnitStaging

Model Unit vs Augmented Reality Staging: Navigating the Future of Property Presentation

By January 11, 2024February 15th, 2024No Comments

In the ever-evolving landscape of multifamily real estate, the competition for the most effective property presentation method is reaching new heights.

The longstanding favorite of traditional model unit staging is now being challenged by the cutting-edge technology of augmented reality (AR) staging. 

This image shows an empty apartment and the face of a man and woman using augmented reality on an iPhone. On the iPhone's screen is a couch, rug, and table illustrating what the empty apartment could look like.

The Time-Honored Tradition of Model Unit Staging

Staging model units have stood as a cornerstone in the multifamily industry, aiming to create the “dream home” experience for potential tenants is part of the touring process in most multi-family properties across the US.  

An industry survey reported that 85% of multifamily developers use staged model units in their properties (NAA) and 95% of newly built apartments have staged model units (Urbanland). 

These numbers leave no room for doubt – Model units are incremental to the leasing process.

Model Units and Staging Drive the Following Benefits:

  1. Faster Sales/leases – Staged homes generally have a faster selling time compared to non-staged ones, reducing the property’s time on the market and potentially expediting transactions. According to a study by the International Association of Home Staging Professionals states that staging helps sell homes three to 30 times faster than nonstaged competition. In the leasing sector, the practice involves staging a representative unit type (model unit). Although the staged unit may not precisely match the currently available unit on the market, it still offers an excellent representation of the space and plays a crucial role in enhancing the in-person showing experience.
  2. Enhanced Visual Appeal – Staging helps create a visually appealing environment that attracts potential buyers or tenants, making the property more memorable and desirable. 
  3. Highlighting Property Features – Staging allows for the strategic placement of furniture and decor to accentuate the property’s unique features, helping prospective buyers or renters envision themselves in the space.
  4. Better Online Presentation – Staged homes often photograph better, providing high-quality images for online listings. This can significantly improve the property’s online presence and attract more attention from potential buyers.

See a broader definition of a model unit in the Syndication Pro article, quoted here:

“A model unit is a great way to show potential buyers the unique features and unique selling points of a property by fully furnishing the unit. It is an important marketing tool in real estate as it provides potential buyers an immersive and realistic experience of the property. This experience greatly influences the buyer’s decision and can generate sales more quickly.”

A staged living room with a blue couch and a coffee table on the left
 vs the same apartment empty of furniture on the right
A typical multifamily living room: staged vs empty – The value of staging is made clear.

But all good things come with a price, and in this case, it’s a hefty one.

Property Staging Cons

  1. Hard Costs – The endeavor of staging a model can become a significant financial commitment, entailing various expenses such as fees for professional stagers, costs associated with furniture rental, and expenditures on decor elements. On average, this comprehensive staging approach tends to incur expenses of approximately $5,000-$15,000 per unit.
  2. Revenue Loss – An inherent challenge in the model staging approach lies in the fact that model apartments, once staged, cannot be leased out to tenants. Instead, they are exclusively reserved for showcasing during property viewings. This restriction inherently leads to a revenue loss, as these units remain temporarily unavailable for occupancy.
  3. Time-Intensity – The staging process is inherently time-intensive, involving meticulous steps from initial research and proposal development to the procurement and setup of furniture. Additionally, the task of relocating furniture from the first listed model to another vacant apartment further contributes to the overall time and logistics investment and hassle.
  4. Limited Flexibility – A noteworthy constraint associated with model staging is its limited flexibility once implemented. The process of making changes or adjustments to the staged environment can prove to be quite challenging. Such modifications may necessitate additional time and resources, hindering the ability to swiftly adapt to market demands or shifting preferences.

Augmented Reality: A Paradigm Shift Towards Swiftness and Efficiency

An iPhone held gracefully in a hand, showcasing the SparX app in action on its screen. Witness the seamless transition of furniture appearing and disappearing, demonstrating the app's innovative features

Introducing the first Augmented Reality staging mobile application!

SparX’s AR app revolutionizes the entire staging process, optimizing efficiency by simplifying it to need only floorplans! This innovative technology introduces an unprecedented level of efficiency to the industry. The app’s interactive features empower leasing teams to quickly customize designs, ensuring a tailored turnaround aligned with the unique demographics and preferences of the target audience.

Enhanced flexibility and Cost-Efficiency in AR Staging:

In contrast to the limitations of model unit staging, AR staging offers unparalleled flexibility in design options. Leasing teams can now seamlessly toggle furniture, switch between styles, and cater to diverse tastes. The inherent cost-effectiveness of AR staging makes it an increasingly appealing choice for property managers and developers. It provides the capability to cover a broader range of units and floor plans without surpassing budgetary constraints.

Augmented Reality (AR) Staging Pros and Cons


  • Efficiency – Streamlines the staging process, requiring only floorplans, leading to a quicker turnaround.
  • All Units Turn into a Model Unit – With AR staging, every unit within a property transforms into a model unit. This means that 100% of the units are effectively staged, providing assurance to agents that the actual unit on the market is impeccably presented
  • Cost-Effective –  Typically more budget-friendly, staging eliminates the expenses related to physical furniture, setup, and maintenance. Moreover, the model unit can promptly return to the market, generating rent that was previously unattainable.
  • Flexibility and Interactivity – Provides unparalleled flexibility in design options, allowing leasing teams to toggle furniture, switch between styles, and cater to diverse tastes.
  • Shop the look – Allows prospects to see real furniture in real size, with the added benefit of being able to make purchases online.
  • Continuous experience- Enables the use of the same designs for marketing materials, ensuring a consistent and cohesive presentation.
  • Appealing to Tech-Savvy Tenants – Attracts a modern and tech-savvy demographic, aligning with the preferences of a new generation of renters.

There are some cons as well:

  • Lack of Tangibility – Some tenants miss physically walking through a staged unit.
  • Dependency on Technology – Relies on tech, subject to hardware capabilities.
  • Learning Curve – Leasing teams may require training to effectively implement the new technology.

But when evaluating the two options, the decision becomes evident. If you possess the financial means to invest in physical furniture, allocating a mere 5% of that budget towards AR staging emerges as a prudent and forward-thinking investment strategy.

This image shows the pros and cons of traditional staging and using SparX to stage with augmented reality.


As we navigate the future of property presentation, augmented reality emerges not merely as an alternative but as a nimble and efficient revolution, seamlessly blending technology with aesthetics. It’s a testament to the industry’s commitment to embracing innovation and meeting the evolving expectations of both property managers and discerning tenants.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of AR staging, please leave your details here, and we will get back to you.