The real estate market has been strengthening in many parts of the country, including our local area of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. That’s great news for homeowners planning to sell.
Recently, we’ve had many discussions with homeowners and real estate agents about staging vacant properties. A recurring question has been whether staging a vacant home is necessary when area homes are selling relatively quickly.
We recently spoke with a homeowner in Ellicott City, Maryland, who had renovated his large, vacant home and had concerns about spending more money to stage it with rental furniture before putting it on the market. He was certain that the renovations were sufficient to attract buyers, and he planned to recoup his renovation costs by listing for a higher asking price than comparable homes.
This was our response—if a buyer is choosing between your renovated, vacant home and your neighbor’s renovated, fully furnished home, which one do you think they’ll choose? They’re more likely to buy the home that feels like—you guessed it—a home. Unfurnished homes can take longer to sell for several reasons:
Vacant homes leave too much to a buyer’s imagination because buyers can’t visualize how to use the space. Unfurnished homes make buyers question whether their own furniture will fit, and instead of trying to figure it out, it’s easier for them to move on to another home.
Vacant homes make buyers wonder if you have a financial problem. They’ll make lower offers because the empty rooms suggest that something bad happened and you’re desperate to sell. Even if this true in your situation, you don’t want to project this image to buyers.
Vacant homes don’t photograph as well as furnished, staged homes because buyers see nothing but empty rooms with little suggestion as to what the room is or how they can use it. Unimpressive online listing photos may deter buyers from making an appointment to see your house in person.
Unfurnished (as well as sparsely furnished) houses just don’t give buyers the inviting feeling of home. Real estate professionals agree—81% of Realtors say that staging helps buyers visualize your property as their future home.* Even if your house is in good condition, if it is empty, it is less inviting, which ultimately makes it less competitive with comparable homes for sale.
If your goal is to sell fast and for the highest possible price, don’t lose sight of the fact that your home is indeed in a competition. Staging with attractive furniture and accessories will make your house stand out and help buyers see it as their future dwelling. Yes, staging a vacant home with rental furniture is an investment, but it is far less costly than reductions to your asking price.
by Jennifer Westbrook | Main Stage Home Staging & Organizing
*Nat’l Assn. of Realtors© 2015 Profile of Home Staging