Brothers and sisters this is a sermon; a sermon on the mountain of vacant properties that are a growing, guilty reality for many in the world of residential real estate.
No bones about it vacant houses are soul less properties.
There is no life to or in them. An absolute fact because no one lives there!
A common expression, "home is where the heart is" is one we can all relate to.
How then can a house be called a home when there is nothing "homey" there to show for it?
It is a vacant, empty vessel. Once filled with life and the living, only to be left for dead.
Vacant properties are a hard sell folks, and for those in the real estate world we know it.
Fear not brethren, there is hope for the weary vacant soul less. Gather round the staging pulpit and take heed. There is redemption for the soul less!
In all seriousness, vacant, pre-owned residential properties are a growing problem in the real estate market. With sluggish new home sales being felt in many parts of the country, why would a potential buyer want to choose a pre-owned vacant property over a vacant new model home or a home in the same area that shows better because it's occupied(and appropriately showcased a.ka. "staged or merchandised")?
What does the pre-owned vacant property offer that a new model or nicely appointed occupied resale doesn't? In the case of model homes often, even if the model home is smaller, there are those buyers who would opt to purchase a brand new home over a vacant pre-owned property that may have (if only in their own minds) pre-existing problems. or other people's cooties. (I sometimes revert to childish terms, forgive me brethren but you get what I mean right?).
Whether or not that is the case, it is often assumed that an "older" home may present problems that a new home won't. A fresh, clean palette is awaiting the new occupants.
If you are currently selling a vacant property and are having a difficult time maybe it's time to rethink your strategy.
Here are some things to consider if you have a vacant property currently on the market or are considering leaving your yet to be listed property vacant. There are also some helpful tips on what you can do to get that property seen and sold.
Problems associated with Vacant Home Sales
- It is estimated that less than 20% of buyers can see beyond emptiness & envision their possessions and furniture in a vacant space. Potentially that translates to loosing 8 out of 10 buyers that walk through your door!
- Buyers generally make low ball offers because they may believe that the owner "must be desperate to sell" because "they could be paying two mortgages, utilities, landscape maintenance, etc". This often translates into a buyer thinking they'll get a better deal.
- Rooms appear smaller than they truly are. There is no point of reference and many buyers can't visually place their things and they become overwhelmed by a lack of vision.
- Rooms actually feel hotter in summer and colder in winter.
- Buyers may think the home is not cared for when not lived in. Is the pool/yard/home itself being maintained on a regular schedule?
- Paint colors (or even lack of any) stand out if too drastic; buyers look at it as work to do not move in ready. Same goes for wall paper, an often personal choice and it dates a property. Wall paper is "out" in many markets.
- Dirt, smells and small details stand out more distracting attention from what you want buyers to see. From holes in walls, stains in carpet, grout in kitchen and baths, scuff marks on walls, to doors and baseboards these issues can be addressed using nice, moderate accessories and limited furnishings, drawing attention what we want buyers to see. Never hide obvious flaws but you can minimize small problems in aesthetic details.
- Room flow issues or unique, unusual rooms may be a concern but with furniture properly placed buyers see how it works.
- Buyers may feel there are too many windows, doors and bare walls to contend with.
- Critters often take up residence in an unoccupied property, from insects to small rodents and raccoons! (especially in colder climates)
Tips on How to Prepare a Vacant Home for Sale
- Contact a Professional Home Stager to stage your property or give you a consultation to help provide you with the tools necessary should you decide to do it yourself! Many Home Stagers provide this service very cost effectively and can assist you with a "punch list" of items to do and get to show your home beautifully. This is number one for a reason, being a professional home stager myself I understand how to help you as do my staging partners around the country in the home staging industry.
- Clean, clean and clean some more. Carpets (replace if they're beyond professional cleaning, you will get your return on the investment a buyer can live with a clean, lower grade neutral carpet over dingy dirty and smelly - even if you offer an "allowance"), windows, grout, baseboards, walls, sinks, tubs, windowsills, patios, driveways, decks, switch plates, counter-tops EVERYTHING should shine.
- Curb appeal is crucial. Just because no one lives there doesn't mean it should look like it outside! Buyers drive through neighborhoods and feel a sense of excitement when the home they are being shown looks great from the front. A well maintained landscaped yard says, "I've been cared for and loved".
- "Beg, borrow or steal some furniture." No not really that would really be a sin to steal...Purchase, rent or bring back from your current residence broadly appealing, neutral furnishings to be placed in key rooms. There are many stores, from Target, IKEA, TJ Maxx and Pier 1 to name a few where you can get nice looking pieces for not a lot of cash. A furniture rental company is another option, they usually require a minimum rental budget and time frame but they deliver and set up for you and take it all away once the house sells. Many staging companies utilize the services of national furniture rental companies and can pick the pieces needed for your property. Many furniture rental companies also have furniture clearance centers should you decide to purchase. If you are local and have nice, modest furniture that isn't too "showy", large, outdated and the upholstery is in good shape, neutral tones and has broad appeal, consider bringing some pieces back to the vacant property to showcase certain areas. By placing furniture with the right scale in rooms, buyers will have a point of reference and the idea of furniture placement. Never obstruct traffic flow with furniture!
- Find a focal point in the room and highlight it. Maybe it's a beautiful view, an awesome fireplace or a unique architectural detail. Showcase it for the buyer to see. Don't hide it!
- Accessorize with tasteful items that are in proper proportion and scale to the room. Linens for the beds should be plump, fresh and neutral. Use tasteful artwork and décor in larger scale (nothing too small). Use the rule of 3 to arrange artfully. Tall, medium and low are visually appealing. Lamps, greenery, throws and decorator pillows are nice touches and should be used. Once again, many Professional Home Stagers keep items such as these as inventory and for a fraction of what you'd pay for it they bring their "tools of their trade" to your property and breathe life back into it.
- Update outdated and personal features and decorating choices. Paint is the easiest and most inexpensive of fixes and it takes nothing more than your time and a little sweat equity. Choose colors wisely. Nothing too bold, bright, daring, dark or dramatic. Think neutral tones, creamy beiges, taupe and antique whites for a "move in ready" appeal. Buyers can live with fresh and clean neutral wall colors that they can eventually put their personal stamp on over the work involved in having to paint or remove wall paper themselves. Remove outdated curtains, draperies and heavy "decorator" window treatments. Replace with neutral panels and rods or install 2" blinds (cost permitting). Hang rods higher than the frame of the window to bring the room "up".
- Make sure all light fixtures and fans are working and curtains or blinds are open to reflect lightness and brightness to a room.
- You don't live here anymore so make it appeal to those who will. Get over the fact that the mural on Chachi's bedroom wall was painted in her favorite fuchsia and cilantro with flowers of blue. Chachi has a new room and loves it! Your memories go with you!
- DID I MENTION TO CALL A HOME STAGER? I can't stress this enough if you're finding you're hitting a brick wall in creativity and ideas. They will be the objective eyes you need with the skill and knowledge to help you achieve your goals. Call one for a cost effective home staging consultation and they'll help you get on your way to a successful home sale.
- Say your prayers. It's always a good thing. Ask and you shall receive is what my Lord says. But you also need to know when to help yourself and your cause. God provides the door, but you must open it! There is hope for your vacant property!
Copyright © 2007 Karen Otto Home Star Staging
Proudly serving, Collin County and North Dallas, Realtors, Developers, Sellers & Investors, Home Star Staging is here for you Texas!