There are vacant homes in every market place and they are extremely difficult to sell as a general rule. Statistics show that vacant houses typically sell for up to 20 percent below asking price and they take 30 to 90 days longer to sell than a comparable house that is furnished. I have heard agents use the fact that a house is unfurnished as a selling point, “Mr. Buyer, this house is just what you need; it’s empty and ready to move into.”
Let’s pretend for a moment that we are the customer interested in buying a house with certain requirements as to area, school district, size of house and etc. The agent calls us and very excitingly says, “I think I found the perfect house for you based on the specific requirements you gave me.” The showing appointment is set. When we arrive at the house, we are pleasantly surprised. It appears that our agent has found exactly what we wanted. The subdivision is well maintained and demonstrates pride of ownership. The house has great curb-appeal and has some unique details that other houses in the subdivision don’t have. We enter the house and find a layout that meets our family needs.
The house is unfurnished and we’re having a little difficulty visualizing what the house would look like completely furnished and well decorated. These room sizes look smaller than the rooms in our house. I’m not sure our furniture will properly fit in some of these rooms and still have sufficient walking space. We do have a couple pieces of furniture that is uncommonly oversize. We tell our agent we like the house but we need to think it over and we also need to go back home and measure some furniture.
On our way back home we began talking about how much we like the house and the area. I wonder how long that house has been vacant. My wife says, “I wonder how long it’s been on the market and why it hasn’t already sold?” I wonder why the owner is selling the house. There could be something wrong with the house. If their job caused them to vacate the house and move to another city or something like that, it would ease my mind.
In this scenario we used an existing home and there are always some concerns to a buyer about the condition of the dwelling or why the people are selling. With a new house in a new subdivision, the concerns about problems with the house are greatly reduced. Naturally you look for a quality built home but the builder must stand behind his work and fix anything that doesn’t work properly. That takes a lot of the pressure off the buyer.
Regardless of which type unfurnished house is in question; it would sell much quicker if it were furnished. There are companies that specialize in placing furniture in houses and professionally decorate them for the purpose of selling or for the purpose of entertaining guest that need to be highly impressed. They generally have a warehouse full of all types of furnishings and decorations needed for any requirement. This process is called staging and it is cost proficient.
First impressions are everlasting. In most cases, when people first enter a house, they know immediately if they like it or not. During my 44 year tenure in real estate, I feel like I’ve heard every possible reason for people not buying a house. Since I have always specialized in listing property, I had to explain to existing home owners the importance of curb-appeal; how well the outside is maintained and its general appearance. At times I had to have a discussion with the owners concerning cleanliness of the home, or the amount of clutter. Too much furniture, poorly decorated, or furnishings that are out of character can cause a house not to sell. I even warn owners that have pets that they need to make arrangements for them to vacate the premises until the house is sold. Some people are allergic to pet dander. When I have to discuss such sensitive issues with owners I refer to it as staging the home to sell. We want the house to be appealing, interesting and possess a feeling of security, and a place their family will enjoy living. Many times I will go to a house about 30 minutes before showing and put a cobbler in the oven which provides a great homey aroma, covers up many fowl orders, and provides a nice snack after the showing. I always prearrange this with the owner so I have their permission. Besides they get what cobbler is left.
Whether you are an owner or a real estate agent that is listing a house to sell, you should consider staging that house to look as good as it can possibly look. Whether you’re putting furnishings in or taking them out, make sure it is inviting to a prospective buyer.
Should you have specific questions concerning various issues, please let me know and I’ll research the answer for you. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to our “News & Updates” weekly report so you can stay abreast of issues that might affect you when buying or selling real estate. If you haven’t visited my website, please go to www.AlabamaRealEstateInstitute.com and view previous articles.