Should You Leave Your Home Vacant When Selling?

A clean, clutter-free home obviously shows better than a home that’s messy and not appropriately decorated or furnished. But does that necessarily mean that a home is better off being completely vacant when it’s on the market?

Sellers will often wonder if they should vacate the premises when their home is on the market.

Sometimes sellers don’t have much of a choice when it comes to moving out of their home before it sells. If the closing date of their new home arrives before selling their current property, they’ll have little choice but to move out and potentially bridge their mortgage. But regardless of why sellers have already moved out, the question remains: should the home be left vacant while on the market?

There are some perks to vacating the home while it’s still being marketed for sale. For starters, sellers won’t have to be tasked with constantly keep things neat and tidy, which would otherwise be a bit of a nuisance. Further, sellers wouldn’t have their evenings or weekends interrupted by last-minute showings.

That said, the overwhelming majority of professionals in the world of real estate – particularly home stagers – will say that a vacant home is generally a tougher sell compared to homes that are properly furnished and stylishly decorated. And there are a few reasons for this.

Empty Rooms Seem Smaller Than They Actually Are

If your home is already on the small side, you definitely don’t want to leave your rooms void of furniture. If you do, the rooms will appear smaller than they actually are. Furniture has a way of playing with the perceived scale of spaces, and when furnished properly, a room can appear larger than it truly is.

If your home is currently vacant, consider having it professionally staged. By using the right type and number of pieces at the right scale, the rooms will make your home feel as though the dimensions are just enough to fit buyers’ furniture. If buyers believe the home won’t accommodate their furniture, they might just walk away.

Most Buyers Can’t Visualize How a Vacant Room Can Work For Them

The overwhelming majority of buyers – about 90% – are unable to envision what a home can look like if it’s not presented to them in a specific way. If a home is vacant, buyers won’t be able to identify how the rooms in the home can work for them or what their purpose is. Not only that, but buyers also won’t be able to develop an emotional connection to a home that’s vacant, as empty rooms tend to feel unwelcoming, cold, and bland.

Staged Homes Sell Faster Than Vacant and Un-Staged Homes

No seller wants their home to linger on the market waiting for a qualified buyer to come in with a handsome offer. The goal is to get the home off the market as quickly as possible, but a vacant home might make that a little more difficult to do.

If a vacant home isn’t evoking those emotions from buyers, it might take a little more time to sell, and if a home isn’t selling within a reasonable amount of time, a price reduction might be required in order to entice buyers again.

Staged Homes Sell For More Money Than Vacant and Un-Staged Homes

It’s been shown time and time again that homes that are professionally staged can bring in a higher ROI. More specifically, sellers can recoup as much as 10x the amount of money spent on paying a home stager and increase the perceived value of their home to bring in a higher sale price. Buyers are more willing to pay a higher price for a home they fall in love with, and that might mean paying even more than the listing price.

But when buyers see a vacant home, they might think that the seller is already gone and may be in a bit of a rush to sell. In response, buyers may come in with low offers. The goal is to attract serious buyers who are willing to pay the big bucks, rather than buyers who are just looking for a bargain.

Furnished Homes Look Better in Pictures

Most buyers begin their home search on the internet, so it’s important that the photos posted with your listing are top-notch. The thing is, vacant rooms do not show very well in photos, and if buyers aren’t impressed by what they see online, they may be less inclined who want to book a showing.

Instead, rooms that have been appropriately furnished and decorated show much better in pictures. This is especially important for out-of-town buyers who depend on the internet to find their next home. You’ll be increasing the number of bookings by posting much more attractive photos of your property online, and furnishing all rooms appropriately is a great way to make sure the images turn out best.

Furniture and Accessories Draw Attention Away From Flaws

Not that you want to trick buyers into thinking there are no imperfections in your home, but there’s nothing wrong with using the strategic placement of furniture and decor to draw attention away from any flaws in the home while highlighting positive features.

When a room is completely empty, all the flaws will just seem magnified, which is the opposite effect you want to achieve. Instead, by furnishing each room, you’ll be better able to visually minimize the look of any imperfections that may exist.

The Bottom Line

While it’s not impossible to have a successful sale if your home is left vacant, you’ll certainly have an easier time selling if each room has been properly furnished and accessorized. Buyers simply have a tougher time envisioning how a space can work for them and what the purpose of a room is if a home is vacant. More importantly, buyers also have a harder time developing an emotional connection to vacant homes, which can stand in the way of an offer. Vacant homes simply show better, and when a home appears more attractive to buyers, it’s more likely to sell quickly and for top dollar.