Test Driving a House: Why Vacant Spaces Get in the Way of Offers

A vacant space in a home, whether a single room or the entire house, is a barrier to a sale. Provocative statement? Possibly, but I believe it’s true. Of course, vacant houses sell all the time. Walk in to any developing subdivision and most of the spec homes that have sold were shown empty. But, there is no question that empty rooms in a house create resistance in buyers.


You might ask “If houses sell vacant, how much resistance can there be?” Buyers juggle many things in their heads:  financing, packing, viewing home after home. These are just a few of the things on your potential buyers’ minds. Showing them a vacant space gives them more to ponder. Having to envision if their furniture will fit or what a particular room should be used for only gets in the way of them making the emotional connection needed for an offer. Vacant rooms are sterile and devoid of warmth. This lack of “hominess” throws up a barrier in your buyers.

Staging a house is like creating the perfect test drive on a new car. Buyers may absolutely know what type of car they want when they walk into a dealership, but they’re not sold until they open the door and get in. They want to get the feel of it – take it for a spin. In fact, car companies spend a lot of their ad dollars not only showing buyers the car – inside and out – but, most importantly, what it’s going to feel like to sit in the car and drive it. Smiling faces, relaxed and happy folks, even adorable dogs are all used to make the point. The message is, “This car is going to feel good when you drive it and your future is going to be so much better if you own it! So run, don’t walk, to your nearest dealer and pick one up.” For most of us, a car is the second largest purchase we are going to make; guess what the largest one is.  Staging a vacant house or room gives buyers the opportunity to “test drive” the house.

Vacant.Before 2

Am I biased? Sure. I’m biased because I believe staging helps buyers fall in love with a property. In my experience, staging is not a “magic bullet,” but it is a huge asset. Of the houses that I have staged, the average spent less than ten days on the market before receiving an offer. Of those, more than 50 percent received an offer after the first showing. I’m not the only who thinks staging works. The Real Estate Staging Association as well as Realtor.com have published material citing the importance of staging a house.

So before you let a room, or a whole house, sit empty, give some thought to adding furniture and decor to the space. It will give your potential buyers the opportunity to take a test drive in the property and imagine what their lives could be like in it.

To learn more, you can contact me at holly@shawstaging.com.


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