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 the question if selling an empty house is really better or rather selling it furnished.

So, which of the two is actually 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 with regards to furnished houses.

What “Better” Means with Regards to Selling an Empty or Furnished House

In the context of the question about whether it is better to sell a house empty or furnished, the “better” actually 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, this means that 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.

So, 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

  • There are buyers that can better imagine themselves living in the home when it’s sold empty. Not everyone identifies with the interior design and style, which can be either too specific or too generic.
  • The house is 100% clutter-free, clutter generally being a turn-off for potential buyers.
  • It signals potential buyers that either tenants or owners have already moved out, so it’s move-in ready.
  • 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, which can have a negative effect in terms of price negotiations or value perception. This may cause more low-ball offers that 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 that is marketed online with nice pictures can also attract squatters that usually prefer empty houses.

Upsides and Downsides of Selling a Furnished House

Now, let’s see what we can find with regards to the upsides and downsides of selling a furnished house.

Four Upsides of Selling a Furnished House

  • You can better influence the perception of potential buyers and tailor the interior design to your potential buyer group, which likely has an influence on the showing to sales conversion rate.
  • You can better take professional property listing pictures which will then look better online. This, in turn, will have a positive effect with regards to traffic to lead conversion rates.
  • If a house has a weird layout or some weirdly shaped rooms, you can mitigate a potentially negative perception by furnishing it in a smart way.
  • 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 the 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 specifically 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 both selling a furnished and empty house in one nice overview table.

Upsides of Selling and Empty HouseDownsides of Selling an Empty HouseUpsides of Selling a Furnished HouseDownsides of Selling a Furnished House
Better imagination possibilities for some buyersFlaws 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-freeCan signal a desperate seller.Professional property pictures possible.Additional time for undoing the staging
Signals moved out tenants or owners.Usually not warm and welcomingBad or weird layout can be mitigated.Furniture might not target the ideal buyer group well enough.
No staging costs for sellersCan attract squatters.Easier imagination wise for some buyersBuyers 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 by counting the different pros and cons or upsides and downsides doesn’t help in finding the answer if it is better to sell a house furnished or empty.

So, we still need some additional information so we can put more weight on some of the arguments.

For that, let’s check some statistics, facts, and also other marketing data I 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 if it is generally worthwhile to do.

And these were the statistics I mentioned:

  • Houses that are staged can sell between 3% and 6% above the asking price according to 25% of buyer agents.
  • 30% mentioned that house staging had no impact at all 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% state 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 from a logical point of view.

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% it is a crystal clear benefit to sell a furnished or staged house.

The next fact you may want to take into consideration 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 getting offered 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 to it.

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 only anecdotal in nature, so I decided to do my own data collection.

Google keyword research can give great clues about the demand on 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 in an indirect way.

So, what I did is 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.

In a Google Ads campaign, I would never use these kinds of keywords.

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.

Is it better to sell a house empty or furnished
Is it better to sell a house empty or furnished

Again, while these keywords are pretty bad for a search ad campaign, the difference between the two in terms of monthly search volume is pretty interesting.

This keywords data showing significantly more interest or demand for furnished houses for sale somewhat confirms the statistics about staged houses from above.

Conclusion

In my humble opinion, it is safe to assume from the statistics, facts and other conclusions I have presented that it is better in terms of showing-to-sales conversion rate to sell a furnished house than an empty one.

You can compensate for the downsides of selling an empty house by using technology such as augmented reality, and not only remotely on the web but also actually on-site to avoid the buyers being disappointed.

You can read my article about real estate marketing with augmented reality here.