Here’s an article from San Francisco that discusses the merits, and demerits, of leaving furniture in what would otherwise be an empty house. I’m of the “leave it empty” school but as you’ll see if you read the article, some real estate agents think that’s a mistake. Read the whole article if you’re facing this dilemma but it has a great deal of useful information including how to stage your house yourself if you decide to go that route. For the rest of you, here’s an excerpt that touches on most of the issues involved.
Some realty pros who favor furnished over unfurnished love to extol statistics that show occupied houses sell faster and at higher prices. But they don’t seem to be able to provide reliable sources for their figures. One cited the Department of Housing and Urban Development as the origin for her statement that a furnished home fetches an average of 17 percent more, but HUD doesn’t keep numbers like that.
Obviously, at the right price, any house will sell. But those who espouse the furnished philosophy point to the new home sector, saying that builders wouldn’t dress up model homes if it weren’t necessary. Here, the point is well taken. Builders often spend up to 20 percent of the sample’s base price on furniture and accessories so visitors can visualize themselves living there.
Certainly, lots of people can’t “see” how a property might look unless you show them.
But that brings up another issue with furnished houses. To put it bluntly, sometimes the owner’s sense of decor leaves something to be desired. Their furniture is so ugly, so worn, so mismatched that it can turn off visitors, who take one look around and skedaddle.
Not that unoccupied houses don’t present their own set of problems. For one thing, empty often is seen as a sign of desperation. If would-be buyers get the sense that the place has been abandoned, they’re likely to make a lowball offer. You may, indeed, be desperate, but do you want to give the place away?
An empty house also tends to show all its flaws. Furniture and rugs usually hide the dings and dents. But once the furnishings are removed, the defects are there to see in all their glory – and for the buyer to fixate on and mentally calculate how much it is going to cost to repair them.