One of the most common questions regarding selling one’s home is whether vacant properties sell better or faster than occupied ones. The answer is that it depends.
Unoccupied versus Empty
There is a big difference between being unoccupied and being completely vacant or empty. An unoccupied house will usually be easier to show because there will be no issues with realtors making appointments to see the property at the convenience of the current owner. On the other hand, that will also mean you don’t have a chance to give any input or answer any questions about the house, so you need to be sure that your realtor is armed with all the information they need in order to sell well.
An unoccupied house is also better because it is likely to be better staged. It will be clean, clutter-free, and you won’t have to keep it immaculate all the time just in case someone wants to come to see it. On the other hand, it can look a bit bare.
If you have moved out, chances are you’ve also taken most of your furniture with you, leaving nothing but empty, echoing rooms behind. It can be difficult for a prospective buyer to find it homey and picture living in it.
A happy medium would be to leave some furniture behind, or get some inexpensive furniture for staging. There should be a couple of items in each room that will give an idea of what it should be used for. Various chairs, tables, lamps and sofas can help. If the furniture is old and you really don’t want it, or the colors are a bit loud, you can drape with a neutral-colored throw and some pillows to give it a cozy touch.
The furniture you do leave should help give a sense of the scale of the room as well as the purpose. Multifunctional rooms like a finished basement and/or attic conversion should be made to look warm and inviting, not too industrial.
Watch Your Lighting
The window dressings should be very plain, with simple draping, and also in a neutral color. There should be plenty of natural light in the rooms, but also the ability to close the curtains or blinds as needed. Lamps and attractive lighting fixtures can really wake up a room.
If you do take all of your furniture with you, chances are you will be exposing any issues with the floor coverings, such as stains on the carpets. Replace the carpeting or opt for wood flooring in the entryway and most trafficked areas of the house.
Some people love their appliances so much, they take them with them. However, this can lead to a very bare-looking kitchen, and concern over the expense of having to buy it all from scratch. If your appliances are more than five years old, leave them behind and treat yourself to some new ones with a high Energy Star rating.
Cutting Out Clutter
It is important to get rid of all clutter if you are living in the home. Vacating it might seem to be the obvious solution, but many realtors report they sell well when houses are still occupied as long as they are well-maintained and the dÈcor is neutral.
They have also reported that with an unoccupied house, prospective buyers tend to offer less money. This could be because there might be some idea the property is less desirable. They might also think the seller will be desperate because they might be paying two mortgages, for their new house as well as the old.
The bottom line: A well-staged house that is lived in, but immaculately neat and tidy, is the best way to get a quick sale.