Six Reasons Vacant Homes are a Tough Sell

Many people believe that a vacant house will help show the buyers how spacious it is. However, it is well known in the real estate community that vacant homes are often a tough sell. They do not sell as fast as furnished/staged homes and they often sell for less money. Why is that? Here are some reasons and some visuals to help show the problems and solutions.

*All staging and decor in this post was done by Cathy Tarrant CCSP, owner and lead stager of HOMESTYLING BY CATHY


1. Buying a house is an emotional decision for the majority of people. They want to buy a home, not a house. They cannot get that homey, inviting feeling if the house is vacant. There is just no emotional connection.

A lovely but lifeless room

So much more inviting!


2. Most buyers will have difficulty determining the actual size of a vacant room and what would fit in it because there is no frame of reference. A room looks smaller in a vacant house than in a furnished house. The first reaction of buyers is to think….My sofa won’t fit here, my bed is too big for this master bedroom, etc. A properly furnished/staged room will SHOW buyers that yes, indeed, there is plenty of room for their furniture.

This vacant house was on the market for months. The main complaint by potential buyers was that this family room was just too small to fit their furniture. The house sold three weeks after staging to a buyer who previously said this room was too small!


3. A vacant house will emphasize all the shortcomings/flaws while a furnished house will downplay (NOT hide) those problem areas and emphasize all the positives. Yes, buyers may be able to clearly see the architecture of a vacant house but they will also clearly see an oddly placed window/door, the not-so-neutral paint colors and the dated décor. How much better to emphasize the positives with appropriate furniture and furnishings using proven staging techniques and to play down the problem areas by making it work? Even unusual or not-so-neutral paint colors can work so much better when incorporated into the overall plan of the stager.

This is an unusually shaped room—it has a half wall jutting out plus a door to the bedroom. The placement of the furniture allowed a division between the living area and bedroom and makes the half wall disappear.

4. Often buyers are confused about the function of a vacant room. They wonder ‘Is this room a dining room or a study or a bedroom’? Furniture & accessories solve this problem.

This room could be a dining room or a study or an extension of the living room. After staging it is clearly defined as a dining room.

5. People just cannot imagine themselves living in a vacant house because of the sheer emptiness of it. They cannot visualize themselves curled on the couch watching TV if there is no couch and no TV, or their family sitting down to a family dinner at a non-existent table. It definitely does not look warm and homey….and that goes back to the emotional connection as mentioned in #1.

A large empty space furnished as dining and living spaces.

6. The first impression that 94% of buyers will get of any house is from the MLS/online photos. If the photos simply show a vacant room, it sure won’t stand out against photos of a similar home that is beautifully furnished/staged. Often potential buyers will skip over the listing that shows an empty box for a room.

Which MLS photo would entice YOU?



Real Estate Stager

(709) 341-7115

Serving St. John's and metro areas in beautiful, historic Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada

Blog Archives