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Do Houses Sell Faster if They Are Empty?

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When it comes to selling property, many sellers may find themselves asking the question: Is it better to sell a house empty or furnished? There’s weight behind both sides of the argument, but is there a clear winner? What’s clear is you can’t leave anything to chance when it could be the difference between a fast sale and a long-drawn out process. 

In this article, we’ll aim to look at both sides of the argument and which option will actually make an impact on the overall selling process. We’ll offer some industry insights and provide some helpful tips to make sure you have all your bases covered. We’ll even offer a solution that can ensure a fast sale regardless of whether your property is empty or not. 

Is it Best to Empty a House Before Selling?

Property aesthetics can have a huge impact on the buyer. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s only natural that the more the property aligns with what the buyer is looking for, the more they will be drawn to it. An empty house might allow a buyer to view the space available, but it may lack inspiration to help them imagine their future. As with anything, there are pros and cons for this; take a look below: 

Advantages of Selling an Empty House

  • Easier for Buyers to Visualise Their Future Home

An empty house offers the opportunity for potential buyers to imagine their own furnishings and decor without the distraction of the seller’s personal taste. An empty house is likely to appear cleaner than it would with the owners’ belongings still there. 

  • Highlights the Property’s Features

Things like paintings, curtains and other similar decorative pieces can cover up distinct features like hardwood floors or a spacious high-ceiling wall. Without furniture and personal belongings, buyers can better appreciate the actual space, layout, and architectural details of the property.

  • Simplifies the Moving Process

Selling an empty property means a simpler and potentially quicker move-out process. Not only will there be no delays in getting things packed and moved, but viewings can also be coordinated at any time, as there are no personal belongings on the property. 

  • Appeal to Investors

Empty properties can appeal more to investors and developers. They usually look for properties that they can renovate or rent out. With an empty property, they can start any work as soon as possible. 

Disadvantages of Selling an Empty House

On the other hand, an empty house may not always work in favour of the seller. For example:

  • Lack of Emotional Connection

Furnishings and decor make a property feel like a home. Without them, it’s just an empty space. Yet, buyers buy based on emotion, so a homely feel is really important. An empty property can feel cold and impersonal, making it harder for buyers to form a connection. This may be even more of an issue if the buyer is comparing your property against others they’ve recently been to see. 

  • Flaws Become More Evident

Without furniture to draw the eye away, any imperfections or maintenance issues in the property become more noticeable. It may only be for aesthetic reasons, but a child’s scribbles on the wall will take away from your otherwise perfect property.

  • Difficulty in Judging Size

Empty rooms can sometimes appear smaller than they actually are, as there’s no furniture for scale. This can lead to buyers underestimating the space available.

In summary, emptying your house first can make it easier to sell. However, staged houses are often seen as more attractive to buyers as they are able to visualise themselves living there. This can result in a faster sale and potentially higher offer. 

Why Are So Many Houses for Sale Empty?

If you’ve been for viewings yourself or have been browsing listings online, you may have found that there are many properties for sale that are vacant. Here are some reasons for this:

  • Relocation  

Many houses are left empty when on sale because the owner has moved to another property and has taken their belongings with them. As a result, they’ll leave their previous properties empty until they are sold.

  • Estate Sales

Another reason behind the increase in empty homes for sale is due to estate sales. Properties inherited through estates are often sold vacant, as the beneficiaries do not usually choose to reside in these homes.

  • New Developments

Newly built properties are naturally vacant at the point of sale, contributing to the number of empty homes on the market. However, they may still have a show home to interest potential buyers. 

  • Investment Properties

Some homes are purchased as investments as buy-to-let property. So, once a tenant leaves, the property may remain empty for an extended period, especially if the owner is waiting for the market to improve before selling.

  • Repossessions

Homes that have been repossessed by banks are often left empty until they are sold at auction or through estate agents.

How do empty properties affect the market?

The prevalence of empty houses certainly affects the overall housing market. On the one hand, it offers potential buyers a chance to view properties without the influence of existing furnishings, providing a clearer picture of the space. On the other hand, a high number of vacant properties can indicate a slow-moving market where some sellers may be looking to sell quickly due to urgency. 

Do Vacant Properties Sell for Less?

Another question that some sellers may have is if a vacant property will sell for less. The answer to this depends on the overall market and how the sale is approached. There are other factors which are likely to have a bigger impact on the final sale price. For example, in a high-demand area, the vacancy of a property will have less of an effect on its selling price compared to an area where there are fewer buyers interested. 

So, how exactly can an empty property affect the price?

Buyers might view a vacant property as a sign that the seller is motivated to sell quickly, which could lead to lower offers. Additionally, an empty property can also appear less well-maintained or cared for, impacting buyer perceptions and, thus, the price they are willing to pay.

What’s important is managing how the buyer views the reason for an empty property. If the seller appears to show desperation, then the offers will be lower. It really is up to the seller how the property is presented. 

Additionally, the importance of the location, local market and other unique features of the property can still ensure a good selling price regardless of whether it is presented as vacant or not. 

How Do You Dress an Empty Property for Sale?

Dressing or staging an empty property for sale is a strategic move that can help influence buyer perceptions and the final sale price. Effective property presentation is necessary to enhance its appeal to potential buyers. 

Here’s some tips on how to achieve this successfully: 

Staging Tips and Techniques

  • Minimal Furnishing

When staging a property, make sure you don’t overdo it with the furniture. Less is more. Add key pieces of furniture to define the space and provide a sense of scale. This could include a sofa in the living room, a dining table, and a bed in the master bedroom.

  • Neutral Decor

Use neutral colours and simple decor to appeal to a wide range of tastes. This will help ensure that the property feels welcoming but not overly personalised.

  • Highlight Key Features:

Use staging to draw attention to the property’s best features, such as a fireplace, bay windows, or spacious kitchen.

  • Good Lighting

Ensure each room is well-lit, either with natural light or by adding lamps and light fixtures, to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

  • Take Great Pictures

Most buyers will find your property through an online search. This means they will be paying a close look at the picture. So you may only need to stage the property for the pictures, and when buyers come to view the property, the emptiness may not even matter.

While staging has its advantages, it also involves costs. It will require a budget for furniture rental, decor, and possibly professional staging services. Weighing these costs against the potential increase in the sale price and reduced time on the market is crucial for sellers.

How to sell an empty house UK?

If you have an empty house, you may be wondering how you can sell it. The process would be pretty much the same if it was furnished. For a quick overview, the usual process is:

  1. Get your property valued
  2. Prepare the property 
  3. Set a realistic price
  4. Choose an estate agent/List it online
  5. Get an Energy Performance Certificate
  6. Arrange viewings
  7. Negotiate offers
  8. Accept an offer
  9. Conveyancing
  10. Completion

However, when selling an empty house, you’re at a slight disadvantage, with staged properties being more preferred by buyers. However, here are three top tips when selling an empty house:

  1. Cleaning 

Cleaning is an absolute must when selling a house anyway. But when selling an empty house, it’s extremely important. A clean home directly influences the first impression of potential buyers. An impeccably clean property not only displays proper maintenance but also allows potential buyers to view the space at its best. Dust-free surfaces, clear floors, and spotless windows create the right atmosphere of cleanliness and care. This will make the property more appealing. 

In an empty house, every detail is highlighted, so a clean environment ensures that buyers focus on the property’s features rather than being distracted by dirt or damage. Additionally, a well-maintained, clean space communicates a sense of pride and enhances the overall desirability of the property in the eyes of the buyer.

  1.  Avoid showing urgency or desperation.

An empty house can make it look like the seller is desperate to get the property sold. However, if that is the case and the buyer picks up on this, they may take it as a sign that there’s an issue with the property or that the seller may be more willing to negotiate on unfavourable terms to get the property sold. 

However, as long as you present the property as desirable without a pressing need to sell, sellers can position themselves for more favourable offers. 

  1. Keep the property warm before viewings, especially in winter.

An empty house lacks the cosy feel of a well-furnished property. This homely feel can greatly influence the buyer. Additionally, when selling during the winter months, a cosy property is an absolute necessity. By keeping the property warm before viewings, you can enhance the selling experience. A warm environment provides a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for potential buyers, making them more likely to spend time exploring the property.

What’s the fastest way to sell an empty house?

If your goal is to sell a house fast, but your property is now empty, you may find yourself at a crossroads. An empty house isn’t as attractive as a stage home. However, this isn’t the case with all buyers. In fact, you can use a cash house-buying company to get your house sold fast. 

A cash house buying company operates as a business. This means they are not influenced by emotions when making purchases. How the property looks currently is a secondary thought for them. Instead, they make an offer based on the market value to purchase your property in case. 

So, while the offer may be lower than selling on the open market, it saves you time and gets your property sold. This means you also save on other costs like estate agent fees, staging, and generally getting a property ready for sale. This might be a better option than having to worry about the issues of selling an empty home.

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