The two hardest homes to sell are cluttered ones and empty ones. In the cluttered home, a buyer's eyes flit all over the room, trying to take in everything. In the process, he/she often misses the real object they are shopping for: the house itself. The one thing a friend of mine remembered from a house she was looking at was the suit of armour in the living room! Clutter eats equity. Buyers don't feel they are getting as much for their money as they do in a streamlined home where they can see and appreciate the good points of the home.
In the opposite situation, an empty home is just as bad. Instead of being overstimulated from all the "stuff," buyers tend to go into each room and say, "Ah--the _____ room," then move on to the next room because there is nothing of interest to keep them there longer. They miss out noticing the great selling points of the room. Even something as simple as a picture and greenery over the mantle piece adds some warmth and interest, and it calls attention to the fact that there IS a fireplace there. Furnishings can also give buyers a sense of proportion and size. In a bedroom, for example, a bed, nightstand and lamp can give buyers a sense for how big the room is. They can then imagine where their dresser and chest would go. Without the bed as a touchpoint, many bedrooms look much smaller than they really are. Some rooms have an awkward shape. Placing a few furnishings in them to give an idea of a possible furniture arrangement can go a long way to convincing the buyer that this home can work for them.
In today's buyer's market, we need to create an interesting and compelling image of the homes we are selling. Long gone are the days when a seller calls up a Realtor, they plant a sign in the yard, and the house sells. Merchandiising the home for sale is the new norm.