The 5 Biggest Mistakes When Selling a Vacant Property

Home Stager with Cincinnati Home Stager

I wanted to share an excellent article written by fellow stager Birgit Anich of CT.  She brings to our attention many mistakes home sellers make when faced with selling a vacant property.   

Original content by Birgit Anich

There are many reasons why a house might be vacant when being sold – various reasons include:

  • new construction
  • relocation property
  • seller has already moved into their new home
  • it was a rental property that is now for sale

In all these cases the bottom line is that SELLING the property FAST is CRITICAL. There is a lot of money on the table because of ongoing mortgage costs, maintenance cost, insurance cost, and other carrying costs that need to be paid for all these months that the property is sitting on the market without any income stream.

Selling fast in a buyers market and a down market is a challenge, but especially it is difficult for vacant homes. Vacant homes sell typically slower than occupied homes. What are the 5 biggest mistakes when selling a vacant property?

Mistake #1:Selling the house as a VACANT property

We just said that vacant homes sell slower than houses that are occupied. Why is that?

a. People don’t buy houses, they by homes, they buy a lifestyle! Without furniture, wall art, rugs, lighting, décor,… there are no emotional connection points in the house – the house does not show its soul and any lifestyle buyers can aspire to.

b. Buyers do not have a point of reference

  • empty rooms look smaller
  • buyers cannot see how much furniture they will be able to fit in the room
  • they cannot envision how to set up the room functionally – how should I face the sofa, where does my TV go, can I fit…..

Adding the right furniture, rugs, lighting, wall art and other décor that reflect the target buyers’ lifestyle will make them feel drawn to and helps them envision themselves living in that home.

c. When a room is empty, buyers focus on the negative details
It is so much easier to notice cracks in the walls, paint chips, missed repairs,… if buyers have nothing else to look at. Providing them with a welcoming home they will focus more on how they can live in that house rather than what they don’t like about it. With staging we emphasize the positive features of the property while downplaying the negative features.

d. Only 10% of home buyers can actually visualize the potential of a home

Nine out of every ten people walking in your home have no imagination of the wonderful possibilities your house has to offer.

Mistake #2: Wait to see if it sells vacant

As a home stager in Connecticut, I often receive the response from clients “I want to see first if it sells vacant before I consider staging”. This can be a very costly mistake.

Selling a house is all about FIRST IMPRESSIONS. On a new listing most of the traffic is generated within the first 2-4 weeks.

The Real Estate Brokers open house will get the buyers’ Realtors into the property. They are your “sales staff”. If these brokers do not get excited about what they see, they are less likely to bring their buyers to your property instead of your neighbor’s house on the market.

Let’s say you change your mind down the road and have the property staged and then have another Realtors open house. It will be hard to get Brokers to come back to the property as they have already seen it and do not want to waist their time, nor will their buyers come back for a second time.

So, now you have wasted all that traffic and time on the market without showing the house at its’ best potential. If you had it staged upfront you may have it already sold by now.

Mistake #3: Not make it stand out from the competition

Put yourself into the shoes of a home buyer - 94% of home buyers start their search online first looking at all the photos of houses within their qualifying criteria. This is what they might see:

House #1:

House #2:

What makes your house different from these other vacant houses? Why should they visit your house? There is nothing that would draw a buyer into these houses.

Remember – A SALE CAN BE LOST BY ONE MOUSE CLICK - if your house does not stand out and attract these buyers for a visit, you have lost a potential sale.

Mistake #4: Price has now become your only marketing strategy

Selling a house, typically the home owner’s most valuable asset, is not any different than marketing a commercial product. Location, Condition & Showcasing, Price and Promotion need to be considered together. There is nothing that you can do about the location of the property, but you can influence the other marketing factors. The price is being influenced by the Location and the Condition & Showcasing (the packaging) of the house. The Promotion to bring the traffic into your house will be most effective if the Showcasing and Photographs are professionally done.

So, if there is no showcasing, the promotional pictures will not stand out, so price is now your only marketing strategy.

Buyers are willing to pay more if they feel emotionally connected to a house – on average staged homes sell for a 5-10% higher price tag.

Mistake #5: Seeing home staging as a COST instead of an INVESTMENT

Staging a house for sale can help you MAKE money. It is an INVESTMENT into your home selling process – most investments into home staging range between 1 and 3 percent of the listing price, which yield in a 5 to 10 higher sales price –how nice is this, but this is not all. If selling your house faster you will SAVE ongoing mortgage payments and carrying costs. See more details and examples on how Birgit Anich Staging and Interiors helped their clients MAKING a PROFIT by staging.

Barbara Corcoran, one of the biggest real estate experts in the US, says: “Never sell a home without furniture!” “Once the staging is complete you might even find that you can raise the price”

see Barbara’s 2 mintues segment on The TODAY SHOW


About the Author: Birgit Anich is the President and Creative Director of Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors one of the most innovative real estate staging and design firms in Fairfield County, CT. Our distinctive approach is creating a lifestyle experience that sells homes fast and at the maximum price. Birgit’s focus is working with home sellers and their real estate agents to prepare their property to appeal to the most likely buyers. As Certified Advanced Stagers, trained by HGTV star Matthew Finlason, Birgit Anich Staging and Interiors transforms a property into a buyer’s dream using Targeted Lifestyle Marketing Techniques.

Birgit also won the most prestegious awards in the Staging Industry - Regional and National Awards of Rookie Stager of the Year by RESA.

Copyright © 2011 Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors

RESA Rookie Stager  RESA-PRO SAR Advanced Design Specialist

Fairfield County, Connecticut   I   


Posted by

Teresa Meyer is the Owner and Lead Staging Designer at Stage a Star, Cincinnati's Premiere Real Estate Staging company located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Teresa is an Accredited Staging Professional and recently awarded 2011 Midwest Stager Of The Year.  She is a member of RESA, Real Estate Staging Association, RESA Instructor and currently is the State of Ohio RESA President.   Teresa can be reached at 513-379-5488 or by email: to answer your questions about the staging process and looks forward to assisting you in preparing and staging your house for the Cincinnati real estate market.


Stage A Star provides home staging services to Hamilton county Ohio, Butler county Ohio, Warren County, Ohio, Clermont county Ohio, West Chester, OH., Liberty Twp, OH., Mason, OH., Fairfield Twp., OH., Monroe, OH., Hyde Park, OH., Loveland, OH., Maineville, OH., Morrow, OH., Deer Park, OH., Indian Hill, OH., and surrounding Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas.


Comments (5)

Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

These are great tips, thanks for sharing.  I mainly represent buyer's, but the article certainly points out things that I have noticed when showing vacant properties.

Jul 25, 2011 02:53 AM
Susan West
RE/MAX Mountain Properties - Prescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ - ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES, SFR

Hi Teresa,

Birgit makes some excellent points.  I agree staging is an investment not an expense.  

Jul 25, 2011 02:58 AM
Birgit Anich
Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors, 203.807.4040 - Norwalk, CT
CT Home Stager Fairfield & New Haven County

Thank you Theresa for re-blogging my article! Have a great day!!!

Jul 25, 2011 05:33 AM
Teresa Meyer
Cincinnati Home Stager - Cincinnati, OH
Home Staging Cincinnati-OH.

You are welcome Birgit!  Excellent article- Thank YOU!

Jul 26, 2011 02:22 AM
Brent Albert

Thanks for sharing! very good tips.

Brent Albert- Cincinnati Home Inspector 

May 14, 2015 05:49 AM