How Do I Sell a Vacant Home?

Posted by Tamara Berryman on Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 1:38pm.

You've taken an opportunity to take your career to the next level and have relocated. Perhaps you are simply wishing to offload an income property or second home. Whatever the reason, you have a property for sale and it sits there vacant with no real buyer interest. It's been on the market for awhile and you're not getting offers and wondering why.

The longer it stays on the market, the more it costs you, especially if you have a mortgage you're paying. Even if the property is yours free and clear, you're still paying property taxes and having to spend money on regular maintenance, to keep it in good, livable shape.

The situation is simply untenable at this point and isn't getting any better. You are becoming frustrated with the lack of interest and want to do something to entice buyers not only to see your home on the interest during their house hunt, but actually take the time to visit your property in-person.

The Problem with Vacant Properties

Vacant homes present very real challenges to sellers precisely because they are vacant. When an unoccupied and empty home is photographed and listed for sale, those are the pictures potential buyers will see. Unfortunately, what they see is empty space with no spatial context. In other words, no furniture to give each room a sense of scale and convey use. What's more, studies have shown that only one in ten buyers possess the ability to imagine a room in another way than it appears. That means your vacant home is less than appealing from the first impression of those empty images.

"Some home sellers have to sell vacant houses because they move out before their homes are sold. Realtors say it's a challenge to sell a vacant house, which needs to be insured, maintained, staged and secured against squatters and vandals." --Bankrate.com

It also means that buyers will have some questions as to why it's vacant in the first place. Those include wondering if you were transferred and took all the furnishings with you. Buyers will likewise think the home has been on the market so long, you've bought another home and moved your furniture out. Of course, two key questions will enter any buyer's mind, which ask if there's something wrong with the home and if you have it overpriced.

These questions quickly morph into objections and create barriers buyers simply do not want to take the time to deal with and they will just move-on to other properties. That leaves you losing out to your competition, which will continue to sabotage your efforts to sell your home.

How to Sell a Vacant Home

A vacant home is one that really puts an unwelcome onus on buyers, essentially forcing them to image empty rooms fully furnished. That's often just too tall an order, so, most will decide quickly to move-on to other listings. There are things you can do to make an otherwise unoccupied home more enticing to potential buyers. Here are some suggestions to follow:

  • Get your home secured right-away. When a home is vacant, it is at risk of being vandalized or inhabited by squatters. Both will be a big problem; but; these aren’t the only things you'll have to deal with. In addition, the longer a home sits vacant, the more the interior will stagnate; and, if it's a single family property, the lawn will be an issue. Deal with these potential problems before you do anything else.
  • Try virtually staging your property. You can take advantage of modern technology and stage your home virtually. There are individuals and companies which use computer-generated images to stage rooms. The downside is you'll have to add a disclaimer to your listing, which might be a turn-off to buyers.
  • Put some actual furniture and decor in your house. Another option is to hire a professional home stager or rent furniture. The point is to make each room more appealing, allowing people viewing your listing to develop an emotional connection with your property.
  • Offer one or more incentives to buyers. If none of these options really fit, then you can opt to buy furniture. One inexpensive source is close-out items, which usually come with big discounts, making them very affordable. You can then offer said furniture to buyers as an incentive. Another option is to sweeten the deal by purchasing and passing-on a home warranty to the buyer.
Little things make a big difference. For instance, area rugs are great for open concept properties because they define spaces. A bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter and open window treatments to let light in are nice touches. Put your focus on defining each room with a continuous style and point out the best features in each. Convey a sense of use and warmth and buyers will then be able to envision themselves living in the home.

Tamara Berryman
Google

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