Selling an empty home

valkyrie4791February 23, 2011

We will be moving out of our listed home in about a month. My husband is of the opinion that selling an empty home is an advantage to an occupied home. Is there any truth to this? What are the benefits of selling an unoccupied home, if any?

What are things to keep in mind about selling an unoccupied home?

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The most important thing to be aware of is that your insurance company may cancel your homeowners insurance since the house is unoccupied.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 11:39AM
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Are you planning to remove everything? I was amazed when we sold my mil's house at how big the rooms looked with about half of the furniture removed and then how much smaller they looked when all the furniture was gone. I had read that before, but it is true. Also, if there is nothing in the house your potential buyers will see every flaw and they will stand out so much more than when there are furnishings, accessories and pictures in the rooms. If it was really better to sell empty houses why would builders spend so much money on furnished models?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 2:02PM
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It really depends on the age and condition of the house if it's better sold empty or with a wee bit of staging.

It also depends where in the country you are .A empty house in the northeast still has to be heated this time of year while one in the south maybe able to get away without any heat.

Other things to think about is who is going to mow the lawn, shovel the sidewalk and check after the RA to make sure lights are off and all doors are locked.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 3:39PM
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ditto what mostone said!

Also, when people see an empty house they are more likely to assume that the sellers are "motivated" -- in other words, desperate and willing to take a low offer.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 4:53PM
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Usually with an empty house, sellers ARE motivated! We gave an offer $30,000 less than the asking on my existing home (They were asking $300,000). It was immaculate, hardwood floors gleaming, walls freshly painted - I was sold on it and would have paid more, but they accepted the low-ball offer!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 5:37PM
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Another thing to keep in mind is that sound travels more in an empty room so if you are trying to down play any noise from the busy road you mentioned in another post then realize it will be heard more when empty too.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 10:04AM
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In our previous house, we had to remove all the furniture from our LR and from one other room in prepration for floor refinishing. The most striking things about the house after we had done so were (1) how SMALL the rooms looked and (2) how every flaw or problem with the rooms themselves (state of paint, of trim, level of cleanliness, aesthetic appeal of light fixtures, etc.) REALLY stood out.

I'm a long-time house gawker who has gone to many open houses, and, from my own experience, it's the VERY rare house that looks better empty than with some furniture in it. Even if all you do is leave a sofa, table, and lamps in the LR and a table and chairs in your kitchen or DR, you will be much better off.

Unless your house is in a stupendous location, has amazing architecture, or is otherwise extraordinary, you're far better off furnishing and accessorizing enough to enable potential buyers to envision themselves actually living in your house.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 7:15PM
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I guess I'm not your usual buyer but I loved that the house we bought was empty... I could see every nook and cranny, and nothing could be hidden behind furniture. Mind you, it was spotless. It wouldn't work to try to sell an empty house where there were flaws in the drywall or floor, as these would be readily visible.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 7:31PM
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Our sale fell through, after we removed everything. I ended up hauling dining room furniture back, and even setting the table.

I think, when we still had a sprinkling of furniture (two rooms furnished) the house looked better. But we did sell the bedroom furniture when we thought, the house was sold.

It sat quite long before selling.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 11:22AM
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So what are you really asking? Is it listed now and you're just wondering if it being empty when you move could hinder a sale? Or are you deciding whether to list and show when you're there as opposed to after you leave?

Are you asking if you should leave some furniture in it, or empty it out when you leave?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 10:36PM
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"My husband is of the opinion that selling an empty home is an advantage to an occupied home. Is there any truth to this? What are the benefits of selling an unoccupied home, if any? "

Your husband is wrong. There are no benefits to the seller. While a few buyers like to see rooms empty, the vast majority need a frame of reference to visualize themselves living in the space. We're not talking about full on decorating, but a bed in a bedroom is a must.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 9:42AM
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Ideally you want a home with enough furniture to frame the rooms (as billl above suggested). Completely empty is never good, and overstuffed with items you love also does not help. A buyer needs something neutral, so they can imagine their own taste within that context, uncluttered and very clean. I would even say to take a look at the closets and keep minimal stuff there - so they have a larger appearance. The same is true for the walls. Neutral shades, uncluttered and clean. Oh - and let me repeat the same for the outside too :) ... curb appeal is critical.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 6:00PM
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What I'm asking is whether or not we need to leave some furniture in the house when we move...and if so, what? We can leave a few things but not much. Our home has incredibly beautiful moldings and a lot of nice, high end details (at a very modest price point).

My husband's thinking is that because realtors can show it on a whim (not having to get permission first) that we may get more showings and therefore a quicker sale.

We already know we're going to have to touch up some paint and leave it in impeccable condition. Curb appeal isn't an issue as we've had it professionally landscaped and it looks great outside.

Our major downfall, as I've said in another post, is being on a fairly busy road. :-(

Our paint is anything but neutral. Very bold (but tasteful) colors throughout. We get tons of compliments on the paint colors. I have never heard any criticism on the colors in the maybe I'm taking a gamble but I'm inclined to leave them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 8:21AM
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The problem with bold color and no furnishings is that it makes it much harder to see past them. When everything is decorated they are part of the whole scheme and generally won't have as much of a draw back as the whole picture makes sense.

I highly suggest you rough it some in your new house for a month or two to see what happens with the sale of the house once you slash the price.

Only remove essential furniture. For example when I sold mine it was sold a couple of weeks after we closed on the house we built, but I kept it staged until the weekend before the closing. We used our guest bed until we could get the master bed. The other bedrooms didn't have bed in them as we needed those, but kept dressers in the house we were selling.

We used a bean bag and one chair and a rug for living room furniture.

We had a card table we used for eating, but we also had a counter in our new house we were using to sit and eat at along with TV trays.

I don't think this is something you want to do long term, but I'd be careful to remove too much. Leave enough so paint colors and room sizes/purposes are still clear.

Also don't forget noise travels much more in empty rooms so the road could become an even bigger issue.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 11:33AM
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My husband's thinking is that because realtors can show it on a whim (not having to get permission first) that we may get more showings and therefore a quicker sale.

I don't see what this has to do with staging the house or leaving some furniture in place.

Of course it's better to have a house that can be seen at a moment's notice. It is also better to have the house somewhat "staged". A nicely made up bed in the bedroom, sofa and chair in the living room, etc. You want enough furniture so that buyers have an idea of the scale of the rooms, how their furniture might fit, etc. Also, you want enough in the room so that the buyers have a bit more to look at and spend more time in each room. It is easy to quickly glance at a totally empty room and move on, but a room with a bit of decor left in it will make them pause a bit longer. I would leave nicely arranged towels in the baths, and a couple of attractive accessories in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 12:09PM
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I simply don't have any way to leave beds. I was planning to leave a lot of the nicer accessories and nicer pieces of art. All window treatments. Furniture is going to be harder to come by. I guess I'll do what we can if the consensus is that it does make a big difference to leave some furniture behind.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 12:41PM
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You don't have to leave your beds, just get some air mattresses, cinder blocks and long bed coverings. No one will know. But, you need to have something that resembles a bed in the bedrooms. Smaller rooms can look downright tiny without furniture and people want to make sure that their stuff will fit.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 10:38AM
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What colors are your walls? Can you share any pictures? Bold colors are tricky, some people will love them but they are such a personal choice. Of course you like them, it's your house.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 11:01AM
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Bold colors on the walls of a room with furniture and rugs and window treatments chosen to coordinate with them look great and get compliments.

Bold colors on walls of a room with little to no furniture, with every scrape and rub and smear and chip showing, with nothing to relate the color to may look out of place, or bring nothing to the buyer's mind but "We'll have to paint every room!"

You might not need to paint every single room, but I'd neutralize the living and dining and family rooms, so the first impression that buyers have is of a move-in ready house. It may just be me, but I always think that bedroom wall colors are more idosincratic and I don't expect to like what's already on the walls. And in my experience, the average bedroom is easier to paint than the larger, more public rooms of the house. Unless they have cathedral ceilings.

So that's another point. If you have really large rooms, or rooms with cathedral ceilings or rooms that are in any way more difficult to paint than usual, it might be a good idea to neutralize those, so that a buyer's first thought isn't, "Oh my goodness. Puce paint. That wall's two stories high. We'll have to get professionals in here to paint. What's next on the list?"

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 6:04PM
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I just looked at a house today where the people moved out. They left bedframes in the bedrooms. I was glad because I could see a King would fit easily in the master. Two twin frames in a guest room.

They left a small, round outdoor table with 2 chairs in the kitchen. It helped to show a table for 4 people would fit.

They left a small loveseat in the living room with a long shelf unit (for TV). That was all.

What I found was the living room looked huge because there was only two pieces of furniture in the entire room. The wood floors looked beautiful because you could see them.

The bed frames might not be possible, but air mattresses should work.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 8:42PM
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