Does an Empty Home or Lived in Home Sell Faster?

When getting ready to sell your home and either move away or move into a different home in the area, a big question sellers ask is should they move first? Would it help to have an empty house that can be shown whenever and does not have the owner’s clutter? Or is it better to show your home with furnishings and looking like a home instead of just walls?

This question has many answers as it can depend on many different factors.

1. What is your timeline? If you are moving for a job or transferring out of state, you may not have a choice to live in your home until it sells. On the other hand, if you are purchasing another home, can you afford to pay two mortgages while you wait for your first home to sell?

Make sure you think about your priorities. If you have to wait for the sale of your home before you purchase another, your answer is easy. Make your home show worthy while you live there until it sells.

2. What condition is your home and decor in?

It has been said that your home should look like a model home or hotel-like to sell as fast as possible. Is this doable or out of the question? Are your furnishings old and out dated?Is it possible to clear out most of your clutter? Can you neutralize your decor while your home is on the market? You may love that deer head that showcases your husband’s hunting abilities, but a buyer may be totally turned off by your taste specific decor. Can you keep your home show worthy while living there? This means keeping all surfaces clean and clear, bathrooms and floors clean, clutter to a minimum, and beds made.

If you can commit to keeping your home as model like as possible, your option of living there while selling will be your best option and most cost effective. %90 of buyers have poor imaginations. This makes it very tricky to visualize an empty space. Buyers need to feel an emotional connection to a home to be able to see themselves living there. When a typical buyer goes into an empty home, it is very difficult for them to imagine how the room would look furnished.

3. If you need/want to move first, can you leave minimal furnishings?

If your best option is to move before you sell, it is ideal to at least have minimal furnishings. A small room of 8X10 square feet can actually look bigger with a bed in it.

Rooms need to be well defined when buyers walk through. If a buyer cannot figure out which the living room or dining rooms are and if they could even fit a bed in the bedrooms, they will have a very hard time emotionally connecting to the home.

Best furnishings to leave would be:

  • couch and coffee table in living room
  • made up bed and dresser in each bedroom
  • desk in a small bedroom so it can be viewed as an office
  • neutral curtains on most windows, pulled back or sheer to let as much light in as possible
  • table and chairs in dining room
  • small table and chairs in an eat in kitchen so buyers know it can fit

If you can leave most of these types of furnishings while not living in the home, this is your best option. Agents like to show a home that is empty because they can pop in and out without intruding on the owners. It is also easier to keep this type of home clutter free which is a huge plus when buyers are shopping. Clutter is the biggest turn off for a potential buyer.

If you are moving before selling, please be sure to remember up-keep details you may not normally think about when you are not in the home. This can include the following:

  • be sure the lawn and weeds have regular landscaping- overgrown yards are a huge downfall to your curb appeal
  • keep counters and floors dusted- an uninhabited in home can accumulate dust from sitting with no air flow
  • leave air freshener plug ins or odor absorbants- from not being aired out, a home can smell stale and musty
  • keep the temperature at a comfortable level- especially in winter, a home left cold is uninviting to a buyer
  • make sure your mail is not piling up

4. If you must move first and cannot leave furnishings, at least have the pictures taken with furnishings. Most buyers look at the homes they are interested in online before viewing in purpose. If buyers see beautiful pictures of your home with furnishings and neutral decor, they can still imagine the layout when they visit even if the home is empty.

empty vs furnished

A potential buyer needs a warm, inviting space to help them feel emotionally connected to the home. You can create this no matter your decision of living there while selling or moving first. Just be sure to put extra thought and effort either way you decide. Ask your realtor for more advice if you are still unsure of what to do.

If you are selling your home in the Northern Virginia area and need some advice on this topic, feel free to give me a call! I look forward to hearing from you!