While there are some benefits to selling a vacant house (such as not having to negotiate move-in dates), a seller might face a different set of difficulties compared to selling a furnished house.
Even though there may be a perfectly valid reason to sell an empty home (for example, the house was a vacated rental property), potential buyers might assume the house will sell cheaper and faster because there is no differentiator other than price. To ensure you and your real estate agent are prepared for the task, here are some things to consider before selling an empty house.
The Challenges of Selling an Empty House
One of the biggest challenges with selling an empty house is convincing a prospective buyer to see the house as a home, and not just a collection of empty rooms. Buyers need help visualizing house layouts as well as how a room might function on a daily basis. It's difficult to paint a lovely picture of the family eating Thanksgiving dinner in the formal dining room when it's completely empty. An empty room can also feel a lot smaller than a furnished room when there's nothing in it—it's hard to judge size when there's no reference point within the room.
When there isn't any furniture or decor to accentuate features in a room, flaws like peeling paint or a chip on the door frame are magnified. Buyers may zone in on these and decide that the home needs more repairs that it actually requires. Vacant homes can also give off feelings of neglect and lack of maintenance, which is why they are more susceptible to vandalism, theft, and trespassers.
These may seem like minor inconveniences, but they add up to a negative experience for your buyers. Being proactive about these challenges will ensure that the house leaves a good impression on any buyer and further secures your investment.
Things to Do Before Selling a Vacant Home
There are a few things you can do before selling a vacant home to ensure buyers see the best side of the house. Here are a few ideas.
Leave the utilities on.
Keep the utilities running so the lights, fan, and heating/cooling system still work throughout the house. You'll still want your visitors to be comfortable (nobody wants to walk through an ice-cold home). The heating and cooling systems will also ensure the pipes don't freeze during winter.
Keep ceiling fans on low.
Rather than leaving an air freshener an enclosed space (and flooding the house with an overpowering smell of pine trees), leave a ceiling fan on to blow some air through the house. Ceiling fans (if left on low) use very little energy and will ensure that the air is being circulated.
Hire a gardener and a cleaner to come in once a month.
It's a good idea to make sure that the interior and exterior of the house is in tip-top shape. You won't be able to exude a feeling of comfort with furniture and decor, but you can make sure that the property is properly maintained. mowing the lawn and trimming hedges is an easy way to get a good first impression when buyers first clap eyes on the house. A cleaner should dust, sweep, and mop so all rooms are well-kept. A thorough cleaning should be done at least once a month and is worth the value to keep a tidy home.
Securing a Vacant Home
You're probably asking, why would anyone want to rob an empty home? Precious metals like copper can fetch high prices, so don't discount things that can be stripped from the house and sold for profit.
Take photos before removing the furniture.
According to a study by Realtor.com, over 90% of homes are discovered online, so uploading the best set of photos for your online ad is crucial. This prevents robbers from putting a target on your empty house when scanning home ads, and also allows potential buyers to visualize the house fully furnished.
Put security stickers on the front door.
While a real security system would be the most effective, it's not the cheapest option and not completely necessary. The evidence of a security system alone can throw robbers off the scent, place security stickers on your front door to deter criminals from targeting your home.
Forward your mail or have a neighbor pick it up.
An overflowing mailbox is a surefire signal that no one is home (and hasn't been for some time). To prevent putting a target on your door, use a postal forwarding system to redirect your mail to your new address or have a neighbor pick it up from time to time.
Selling an empty house can be inconvenient, but with the correct preparations in place, you’ll be able to create a lasting first impression on your potential buyers. By securing and maintaining your house, you'll have a home ready for the best possible outcome on the market.