I know it is better to sell a house with minimal furniture and clutter free.

Asked by Gupta, Fremont, CA Mon Jan 21, 2008

But is it just as good to show an empty house? Or a seller who has moved out of the house and the house is empty should buy furniture and stage it to show off the house?

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Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Mon Jan 21, 2008
Hi Gupta:

A house usually shows better with furnture and some accessorites in there. It tends to make a home seem warmer and more inviting.

There are staging services and now a days, Realtors are very good at doing so too. You don't need to spend tons fo money, the furniture does not have to be expensive and you can rent furnitures. If you use a stager, their price often include furniture. Add some pictures, pillows, small rugs, lotion bottle, towels in the bathroom. All makes a house show nicer.

But most important, make sure there is fresh coat of paint, neutual color, make the house show brighter, especially in this gloomy winter (yes, even in our sunny California); have the house professionaly cleaned even in the smallest space - grout, basebord, window sill, garage, shelves, etc. Just make the house looks good and presents better.

Your Realtor can also give you input on what other things need to be done to the house and yard to fit the neighborhood and the buyer mentality, and most importantly, how to price and market your house!

Make sure when you go into the home, you want to buy it too.


I am not sure if you need to go out and buy
2 votes
CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Jan 21, 2008

In this market, anything and everything to set your home apart from the other listings in the area is a good thing. You are correct that minimal is normally best as you want to show as much "space" as possible. However, to quote a good friend and professional stager/designer - " You want the buyer to feel like all they need to do is to move in." (xformyourhome.com) Making the home inviting and clean is essential. If you can leave a little bit of furniture you can avoid the expense of renting furniture.

One thing I have noticed during the winter months is many times the owner has completely turned off the heat. Nothing like walking into an ice box to show a property. If you have to keep cost down, do it during the week. On the weekends, keep the day time setting just a little bit warm so as to be inviting to those who are viewing your home. The cost of heating is nothing compared to the cost of sitting on the market.

Web Reference:  http://www.CJBRealEstate.com
3 votes
Karen Negrete…, , The Santa Clara Valley
Tue Jan 22, 2008

I'm a stager from San Jose and would be happy to assist in advising you how best to showcase your listing. Linda is correct that vacant homes don't show as well and historically don't sell as quickly. The majority of buyers can't envision what a house will look like once their furniture is in it. If a buyer can "mentally" move in, you stand a better chance of selling it. Vacant homes do leave buyers feeling cold. There are different solutions depending on the seller's budget. The bottom line is that a stage home will always show better than a non-staged or vacant home.

Karen Negrete, ASP, IAHSP,
Transform Your Home
Web Reference:  http://www.xformyourhome.com
2 votes
Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Mon Jan 21, 2008
You should talk with some Realtors and get a feel for the local market. I can tell you that my experience is that most Realtors and sellers UNDERESTIMATE the value of proper preparation. It's not just the staging. That is PART of the PICTURE.
One of the primary reasons that people hire a Realtor is to find out what they need to do to maximize the sale price. No wonder that people that well on their own sell for 16% less on average!
In addition to decluttering and staging:
1. Cleanliness IS next to Godliness
2. Fresh paint inside and out
3. Curb appeal - first impressions are priceless! There are buyers that will not get out of the car if the home is not appealing!
4. Landscaping
5. Bright lights
6. Needed repairs made
7. Extras thrown in...I was at an open house and the agent had place signs on everything that was included...it made a big impact to see a washer dryer set "Included in the sale".

Depending upon the market, do not "skimp". Remember, the national average is that buyers look at 12 homes before they by, including many more on the web. That means that in addition to the above, expert photography can be a huge plus. I use a professional that can take a marginal home, and make it look great! Remember, the goal of marketing is to get them in the door. So if 90% of the time the buyer first sees the home with a Realtor, you need to have some eye candy to get them in.

Good luck!
2 votes
Jim Welden, Agent, Greenwood Village, CO
Mon Jan 21, 2008
Gupta - I would agree with Sylvia and CJ about leaving the home with some furniture and staging accents. Try to have an attractive focal point in every room - my observation of Buyers is that they are much more likley to notice the minor blemishes (wall paint needing touch-up, mars on the molding, minor stain in the carpet, etc) that every home has if the home is vacant as opposed to staged. Additionally, I think many/most Buyers find it helpful to see furniture in rooms because it helps them see whether their own furniture will fit - the builders in my area furnish the model homes and I suspect they would not do it if it made more sense to have them vacant.

CJ makes a great point about the heat - I was showing homes this weekend and 2 vacant homes we were in had the heat turned down very low - the Buyers scurried through them and had difficulty recalling what they liked/disliked from the warmth of my car after we had been in the home - this is not what you want if you are a Seller! The same applies in the summer with A/C.

Good luck with the sale (no matter what you do about the furniture, price it to sell)!
2 votes
Dot Chance, Agent, Burbank, CA
Fri Jan 25, 2008
Hi, Gupta. The best thing to do is hire a professional stager. You can find an excellent stager for a good price.

I have found that my staged listings sell quicker and for more money!
1 vote
Brian Burke, Agent, Highlands Ranch, CO
Wed Jan 23, 2008
I feel like you should always have your home staged, A staged home sells faster and shows better.
1 vote
Paula Bean, , Orlando, FL
Tue Jan 22, 2008
Buyers buy with emotions.......why do you think that new home subdivisions spend so much money to 'stage' their models?

Most people don't have vision to see the house as they would live in it.

I've had buyers make remarks about the furniture, color scheme, decorations, etc......they can't envision, so my comments are always something like "it's a good thing that nasty couch you don't like isn't staying in the HOUSE!"

FIRST impressions count, that is why staging is so important, and so worth it. Sellers will make a LOT more roi if they enlist a stager.

Having said that, here is my disclaimer:


I do however want to move property, and price, showing availability, staging, etc makes it happen quicker, and makes the seller happy and makes me happy.

STAGE IT, price it right, sell it quick. It is NOT FUN to keep a house in showing condition and make the mortgage payments for 6 months to try to skimp. In the long run, you'll NET MORE, by spending a little more in the beginning.

I guess I don't quite grasp the concept that a house is one of the biggest investments most people own, yet they think the more they spend, the least they make.

Nothing could be further from the truth.
1 vote
Linda, , Berwyn, PA
Tue Jan 22, 2008
The problem with vacant homes is that they often feel cold and empty. No matter how much we would like to think buying is a logical process, there is a very big emotional component as well. Buyers need to feel (and see) that a house could be a home before they agree to purchase. Buyers often have trouble envisioning how their furnishings will fit in a given room. In addition, if the floorplan of the house is not straightforward, buyers may not be entirely clear on how they would use each space. Staging can help with all of these issues.
1 vote
Lise Desorme…, , Atlanta, GA
Sun Jan 27, 2008
The PROBLEM with Selling a Vacant Home

1. The supply and demand rule applies in our current market therefore; competition is currently at a very high level.
2. 90% of people cannot visualize furnishings in a space that is empty.
3. The money a seller try’s to save in utility bills will cost them “big time” in the end.
4. Empty homes produce empty emotions. Emotions create a sale, period.

The SOLUTION when Selling a Vacant Home

1. Think of yourself as competing in the Olympics in this market. Prepare yourself before the race and you’ll increase your chances of winning the gold metal.
2. By staging you will give the buyer many reasons to purchase your home such as, a good sense of size and space, a belief that their furnishings will fit in your rooms, an appreciation for your asking price and an strong emotional reason to take a pen to paper.
3. Buyers race through homes that are too cold in winter or hot in summer. The name of the game is keeping them in the house as long as possible so they’ll have the time to fall in love with it.
4. Your location, condition of your property and market conditions play a key role in the success of the sale of your home however, in any market condition buyers buy when their emotions are stirred no matter the item for sale! Emotions are stirred with any purchase with good marketing!!! Setting the “stage” is marketing that works. Consider this: Everyone considering selling his or her car gets it detailed to the 10th degree. A car is a depreciating asset. Why wouldn’t everyone consider their most valued asset a transaction that requires your utmost attention and consideration? Do all you can to succeed and make it count. You’ll be very happy when you count your money if you take this advice.

More Tips the Count!

1. It’s never clean enough, get crazy about clean!
2. Fresh paint inside and out when needed is a terrific return on investment.
3. Curb appeal is the first line of action. There are buyers that will not get out of the car if you don’t WOW it! Landscape it and you’ll sell it.
4. Natural light throughout the house is critical. If your drapes are defeating that goal then consider something else.
5. Complete all home repairs before you go to market not after inspection.
6. Consider a prize that comes with the home. Ideas include a large flat screen TV, a vacation for 2 to fun in the sun, a shopping spree at Neimans. Make it something people don’t usually spend on themselves. Get creative and make it fun!
7. Set the stage, create that emotion and sell it right.
Web Reference:  http://www.rmr-usa.com
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