Why not save some time and money on staging a house for sale and just sell it empty? This might be one of the thoughts you might have.
But some might also ask themselves if selling an empty house is better or instead selling it furnished.
So, which of the two is better?
According to the collected data and statistics about the positive effects of house staging, it is better to sell a furnished house.
It can sell 3% to 6% above the asking price, stay a shorter time on the market, and facilitate buyers visualizing themselves living in it.
In the rest of my article, you can read how I came to the above conclusion and learn about further data I collected about furnished houses.
What “Better” Means with Regards to Selling an Empty or Furnished House
In the context of whether it is better to sell a house empty or furnished, “better” means “faster.”
And “faster” implies that your offer (the house) has a better “showing to sales conversion rate.”
For example, if house A needs to be shown to 10 potential buyers and house B needs to be shown to 25 potential buyers before it sells.
So, house A has a better showing-to-sales conversion rate.
House A would have a 10% showing-to-sales conversion rate, and house B a 4% showing-to-sale conversion rate.
For the rest of this article, we may agree that better refers to a better “showing to sales conversion rate.”
Upsides and Downsides of Selling an Empty and Furnished House
Before we get into the more data and facts-based approach, let’s review for a moment what the ups and downsides of selling an empty house are and compare that with the same for furnished houses.
Four Upsides of Selling an Empty House
- Some buyers can better imagine living in the home when it’s sold empty. Not everyone identifies with interior design and style, which can be either too specific or generic.
- The house is 100% clutter-free, clutter generally being a turn-off for potential buyers.
- It signals potential buyers that tenants or owners have already moved out, so it’s ready for move-in.
- Owners don’t need to pay for staging and thus have lower costs.
Four Downsides of Selling an Empty House
- Flaws and damages get an emphasis in empty houses and become more visible. So, it’s more likely that potential buyers will start sweating the little things (imperfections).
- A property listing that is an empty house can signal to potential buyers that the owners are in a hurry to sell, negatively affecting price negotiations or value perception. This may cause more lowball offers than the owner wants.
- It is difficult to perceive an empty house as warm and welcoming. It’s usually the contrary. So, this might be another turn-off for potential buyers.
- An empty house marketed online with nice pictures can also attract squatters, who usually prefer empty houses.
Upsides and Downsides of Selling a Furnished House
Now, let’s see what we can find about the upsides and downsides of selling a furnished house.
Four Upsides of Selling a Furnished House
- You can better influence potential buyers’ perceptions and tailor the interior design to your potential buyer group, likely influencing the showing-to-sales conversion rate.
- You can take professional property listing pictures that will look better online. This, in turn, will positively affect traffic to lead conversion rates.
- You can mitigate a potentially negative perception by furnishing it smartly if a house has a weird layout or some weirdly shaped rooms.
- It usually becomes easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the respective house for sale.
Four Downsides of Selling a Furnished House
- It will cost the property owners additional time and money to prepare the house with standard home staging or soft staging.
- Undoing the home staging can also take some additional time.
- If the house is not furnished in a way that can target the potential buyer group, it may not have the positive effect the owner wants. So, again, you should know your potential buyer group beforehand.
- It could signal to potential buyers that the owners are still living in the house, so it doesn’t appear to be move-in ready.
Now, let’s summarize the above upsides and downsides of selling a furnished and empty house in one nice overview table.
|Upsides of Selling and Empty House||Downsides of Selling an Empty House||Upsides of Selling a Furnished House||Downsides of Selling a Furnished House|
|Better imagination possibilities for some buyers||Flaws and damages are more visible.||Buyer perception of the interior can be better influenced (higher showing to sales conversion rate).||More costs and time for sellers|
|100% clutter-free||Can signal a desperate seller.||Professional property pictures possible.||Additional time for undoing the staging|
|Signals moved out tenants or owners.||Usually not warm and welcoming||Bad or weird layout can be mitigated.||Furniture might not target the ideal buyer group well enough.|
|No staging costs for sellers||Can attract squatters.||Easier imagination wise for some buyers||Buyers might think sellers/tenants still live there.|
Let’s Analyze the Upsides of Selling a Furnished House
As you may see, the above table is a completely unweighted pro contra list.
Just counting the pros and cons, upsides and downsides, doesn’t help in finding the answer to whether selling a furnished or empty house is better.
So, we still need additional information to put more weight on some of the arguments.
Let’s check some statistics, facts, and other marketing data I have already published on my site.
Facts and Stats about Home Staging and Furnished Houses
In my article about the costs of staging a house, I also analyzed whether it is worthwhile.
And these were the statistics I mentioned:
- Staged houses can sell between 3% and 6% above the asking price, according to 25% of buyer agents.
- 30% mentioned that house staging had no impact on the dollar value.
- A slight majority of sellers’ agents (53%) affirm that home staging decreased the time on the market.
- 83% of buyers’ agents stated that staging a house makes it easier for a buyer to visualize the property, and only 6% stated that it had nearly no effect on the buyer’s view of the home.
So, by looking at these statistics, I think we can agree that most of them confirm the already-mentioned upsides of selling furnished houses.
The statistics confirm that they tend to have a shorter time on the market, can sell in some cases between 3% and 6% above the asking price, and make it easier for buyers to visualize the property.
Since the visualization part was rather an opinion poll from realtors, I would like to take a closer look and see if this makes sense logically.
A furnished or staged house will clearly favor people with aphantasia.
“Aphantasia is the inability to visualize mental images” (source).
And 3% of the population has this condition (source).
So, for 3%, selling a furnished or staged house is a clear benefit.
The next fact you may want to consider is that human brains love shortcuts to save time and energy (source); that’s why there are also so many cognitive biases we, as humans, can fall for.
So, we can confidently assume that visualizing furniture in an empty house will be more taxing for the brain energy and time-wise than offering a shortcut in the form of an already furnished or staged house.
And it is even more taxing if you consider that the potential buyers also need to process other important information regarding the property to potentially make one of the largest buying decisions of their life.
So, looking at these facts, the buyers’ agents’ opinion is well founded.
Are There Direct Stats About Sales of Furnished Houses?
A staged house is almost synonymous with a furnished house, so we could leave the above facts as they are and not add more.
But I also wanted to dig a bit deeper and see if there are also some direct stats about sales of furnished houses.
The evidence I found on different forums and real estate websites was anecdotal, so I collected my own data.
Google keyword research can give great clues about the demand for different topics, products, and more.
Because if someone searches for something, this usually means that there is at least a basic interest in it.
This information can be used to measure demand indirectly.
So, what I did was I headed over to the Google Ads Platform and checked the demand for the keyword “furnished house for sale” and compared that with the keyword “empty house for sale.”
I know what you think: no one is searching for houses like that.
And that’s true.
But my theory was that while no one is searching like that, comparing the search volume of these keywords can at least give us a clue about the difference in interest for each one.
I would never use these kinds of keywords in a Google Ads campaign.
And what did I find?
Well, for the U.S., the keyword “furnished house for sale” has a monthly search volume of between 100 and 1000 unique visitors, and “empty house for sale” gets just between 10 and 100 unique visitors per month.
Again, while these keywords are bad for a search ad campaign, the difference between the two in monthly search volume is pretty interesting.
This keywords data showing significantly more interest or demand for furnished houses for sale somewhat confirms the above-staged houses statistics.
It is safe to assume from the statistics, facts, and other conclusions I have presented that selling a furnished house is better in terms of showing-to-sales conversion rate than an empty one.
You can compensate for the downsides of selling an empty house by using technology such as augmented reality, not only remotely on the web but also on-site, to avoid the buyers being disappointed.
You can read my article about real estate marketing with augmented reality here.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.