This is an on-going debate for which we see great arguments on both sides of the coin.
We, of course, are passionately in favor of Professionally Staging Vacant properties. And, no, we are not just saying this because we are Professional Home Stagers. We are saying this based on market research and/or examining behavioural tendancies of home-buyers. This may sound like something from the National Geographic channel...."we like to observe the creatures in their natural habitats". Funny.
The fact is that the majority of humans are very visually driven. Decision-making for most people is based on real, tangible characteristics. These are factors that can be seen, felt, heard, smelled, or heard.
When buyers are searching for their ideal/perfect new "home", they look for a property that creates a feeling of warmth within them. Welcoming, warm, inviting, cozy, homey. These are all obvious adjectives describing the epitomy of "home".
No matter how splendid a photographer one is, there is just no way to create these emotions in photos of a vacant property. Keep in mind that the buyer needs to have the ability to envision moving right in. This is tough when there are no items instrumental to living existing within the property.
Also important to remember is that as soon as the buyer opens that front door, and takes that first step over the threshold, there is literally only 4-6 seconds in which that first impression hits them and is imprinted permanently in their memory. So, we need to ask ourselves, what can be seen and felt from that front door as the buyers' eyes pan the space. Can they see into the living room, the great room, a sitting room, or maybe the kitchen as well?
We need to ensure that the scene from the buyers' perspective at the front door entices them and encourages them to take off their shoes, feel comfortable, and continue on with their tour. When a buyer walks into a blank, empty, cold space full of echoes, they instantly have to actually work at trying to determine if they could possibly make this property into a home. As soon as the buyer has to expend any energy on their part, or do any work (the worst 4-letter word of a home-purchase decision), they are turned off and discouraged.
Much like people who have navigational/directional struggles in life, most people struggle with determining size of a space or what can fit into a space without free-standing items for point-of-reference. Buyers want to know if their sectional will fit into the living room adequately, while leaving room for their entertainment center. They NEED to know if their new dinette set will be too large for the dining room. But, without an existing table in the space, they are at a loss for purposes of comparison in their mind.
Don't get me wrong. You WILL find the odd buyer who is very creative, imaginative, and resourceful. This buyer is able to, and maybe prefers to, envision their furnishings in an empty space. And, if you have found this buyer, lucky you. They are rare, but they are out there.
We always harp on the need to keep decor neutral. This is created by use of a warm neutral color pallette in the combination of walls, floors, furniture, and soft furnishings. We stand behind this because of the need to provide the buyer with a blank, but warm canvas to them to put their own signature on. But, when we say blank canvas, we do not mean empty. There is just no way to create a warm atmosphere or ambiance in an empty property.
When we strongly suggest having a Vacant property Staged for sale, one does not necessarily need to furnish the entire property. The key is at least Staging all spaces visible from the main entry to the property. We, as Real Estate Professionals, all know that first impressions are absolutely paramount. We NEED that buyer to FEEL the NEED to come in further and view the entire property. So, let's give them reason to want to see the rest. Let's create interest, ambiance, and a feeling of "home" to the widest possible audience, in photos and in person. If the buyer has at least a couple of spaces within the property to use as reference-point for an accurate idea of size, they are much more likely to maintain interest. They are able to recollect the available space in their mind once they leave. This is mandatory available criteria/info when making a decision on whether or not to make an offer.
As for required investment involved in Staging a Vacant property, the dollars put in are still far less than the first required listing-price reduction made in order to draw interest. You would actually be quite suprised to learn how little investment is actually required. A vast array of furniture/accessories/lighting/floor coverings/soft furnishings/linens are now readily available for rental/showcasing purposes. And, provided you are enlisting the help of a CCSP(TM) - Canadian Certified Staging Professional, such as ourselves, your manpower/labour investment is also very reasonable for this service.
Rhonda Wilson - CCSPTM
Home Staging and Decluttering Services
We transform properties into highly
sought-after products that sell in half
the time and for 7-10% more money.
Through personal experience, extensive
research and training, and a compassionate
approach, we De-clutter living/work spaces for
up-lifting and positive life changes.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada