Vacant homes fetch less money and take longer to sell, says US brokerage

You probably have a routine list of suggestions for clients to enhance the saleability of their home—everything from removing clutter, mowing the lawn, and tossing in a bouquet of flowers for a homier feel.  But according to Redfin, a Seattle-based real estate brokerage, occupancy of a home is what really sells.

Anyone home?

In a news release this week, Redfin reported that in 2018 it looked at listed homes that were marked ‘vacant’ with homes that were not flagged as vacant in a variety of metropolitan areas of the US. They compared sale prices and the length of time homes sat on the market. Those that were vacant sold by as much as $11,300 (US) less on average, than occupied homes, and spend six more days on the market, than comparable occupied homes.

Though vacant homes sell for less money in every metro area included in Redfin’s analysis, the company says the amount varies by location.

In both Omaha, Nebraska and Greenville, South Carolina, where vacant homes are associated with the biggest discount, vacant homes sell for 7.2 percent, or about $15,000, less on average than occupied homes. Occupied homes in more affordable inland areas come with the biggest discounts.

However, in San Jose, California buyers get the smallest discount on vacant homes, which sell for just 0.9 percent less than homes that aren’t vacant, followed by Las Vegas (-1.5%) and Orange County (-2.3%).

Every home is a stage

Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather observes, “Although vacant homes are easy for buyers to tour at their convenience, the fact that the sellers have already moved on is often a signal that buyers can take their time making an offer.

“It’s also likely that sellers who are in a comfortable enough financial situation to own a property that’s sitting empty aren’t as motivated to get the highest possible price for their home, as sellers who need the cash from their first home in order to buy the next one.”

Many Realtors believe in the benefits of staging a home to sell, especially when done by professionals in that field. It can cost the seller, but the rationale is that whatever the seller spends on staging is quickly absorbed by the profit if the seller can get top price.

So even if the seller can’t or won’t occupy the listed home, having nice furniture and decor that is well placed and fits the space, at least permits the buyers to imagine what the home is like when occupied.

Staging professionals even think about small touches such as the smell of fresh baked muffins to evoke an emotional response from buyers.  That contrasts with the nullifying effect of a vacant, lifeless space that provides a colder atmosphere.

Read more about it here.