Nationwide, vacant homes sell for $11,306 less and spend six more days on the market than comparable occupied homes, according to an analysis from Redfin.
The analysis looked at homes that were listed and sold in 2018, comparing the sale prices and time spent on the market for home listings that were marked ‘vacant’ at the time they were sold with those that were not flagged as vacant.
“Although vacant homes are easy for buyers to tour at their convenience, the fact that the sellers have already moved on is often a signal to buyers that they can take their time making an offer,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.
“It’s also likely that sellers who are in a comfortable enough financial situation to own a property that’s sitting empty aren’t as motivated to get the highest possible price for their home as sellers who need the cash from their first home in order to buy the next one.”
According to the experts, staging a home can make all the difference to the sale process and it works best when it’s utilized early in the selling process.
First impressions are everything in a sale, and the majority of open houses and showings happen in the first two weeks after listing.
Staging involves hiring a company to bring and arrange furniture in the home to showcase its potential to buyers.
It can be particularly impactful for homes with open spaces or unusual layouts, where buyers most often need help to see how the furniture could be arranged.
Frederick Peters, CEO of Warburg Realty, is a big proponent of staging, writing, “Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but not when it comes to real estate.
“Every property needs to be dressed for success. Editing and staging completely transform a property’s curb appeal, especially during those first crucial minutes.
“I have told my agents for years that buyers don’t necessarily know what they want to buy right away, but it takes no more than a minute for them to know what they don’t want to buy. It’s quite easy to make sure your listing doesn’t fall into the latter category.
“Even after 40 years in the business, I can still be thrown off by old grey furniture, empty bookshelves, sallow carpeting or dirty windows.”
Warburg agents Joel Moss and Samantha Rose Frith agree wholeheartedly. “It’s incredibly important to make a home welcoming for a prospective buyer,” the said.
“One way to do that is to maximize the space. While you may consider that old but comfy recliner like a throne fit for a king, rooms are more inviting when they feel spacious, light and airy; you’ll want to stash the chair out of sight. We recommend staging when a home is cluttered or pieces of furniture are dated or worn.”
According to the 2019 Home Staging Profile from the National Association of Realtors, when staging a home, 22 percent of sellers’ agents reported an increase of one percent to five percent of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to similar homes.
Seventeen percent of NAR respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between six and 10 percent.
None of the respondents reported that staging a home had a negative impact on the home’s dollar value
The NAR survey found that staging the living room was considered the most important for buyers (47 percent), followed by staging the master bedroom (42 percent), and staging the kitchen (35 percent).
Last week, REBNY members zeroed in on best staging practices, communication techniques, and domain expertise strategies at the board’s monthly Breakfast Club seminar.
Compass agent Heather McDonough Domi told Brokers Weekly, “Every situation is different and requires a variety of approaches.
“Thinning of closets and decluttering is almost always a must if the owner resides in the home. They intend to move anyway so might as well get a jump on preparing.
“And always consider if painting is needed, fixing the bathroom grout, cleaning of windows, etc… These items go a long way.”
The NAR survey found that 26 percent of sellers’ agents personally offered to stage the home. The median dollar value spent on home staging was $400, according to the NAR, but professional staging can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the number of rooms staged and the length of time.
“Staging a property can have a profound effect on both the sale price and days on the market, but the main challenge of physical staging is that it’s cumbersome, costly and offers no flexibility to showcase various aesthetic stylings,” said Pieter Aarts, CEO and co-founder of roOomy, a company that offers virtual staging services.
“Virtual staging is a cost-efficient option that gives homebuyers an ultra-realistic view of what the vacant home will look like at its full potential. It caters to today’s homebuyers who are increasingly demanding immersive services and mobile augmented and virtual reality tools that allow them to evaluate a property, often times without needing to physically set foot in the home.”
McDonough Domi believes it is important to utilize your resources. She said, “Make sure to identify stagers you like in different price points along with organizers. If the seller has a limited budget, then consider staging primary rooms and skip some of the secondary bedrooms. Staging is a seller’s expense generally but every situation is unique and there are ways to be creative.
“If you virtually stage, always post the unstaged photo immediately after the staged photo. Always manage expectations upfront as it can be quite jarring when a buyer arrives expecting to see a beautifully staged home and it’s empty.”
While everyone’s tastes and preferences are different, Citi Habitats’ Jimmi Circosta warned, “Never over-do it.”
Circosta explained, “The goal is to create more space in the apartment, not clutter. In the case of homes for sale that are currently occupied, it’s important to edit the seller’s belongings.
“For example, I worked with a client who had two desks in his studio apartment — with about 50 books piled up on top of them. This excess of personal items created a distraction. With most of the books and one of the desks gone, potential buyers could really focus on the apartment, instead of what was in it.”
Circosta believes that most people buy with their gut instinct, therefore, if the property is unfurnished they may not be able to visualize how the home can be fully utilized. “In a completely empty room, there’s no sense of scale – and buyers may think a space is smaller than it is. While real staging is ideal, virtual staging your listing photos can help illustrate the size of the space.”
However you choose to stage you property, veteran Douglas Elliman broker Jacky Teplizky believes the concept is a no-brainer.
She said, “In this market where you are competing with a large amount of inventory and new construction you as a seller must stand out. The only way to achieve this is to have a perfect, beautiful immaculate property and this means a stunning staged property. It will help with photography, online presence and of course showings.”