The 5 Biggest Mistakes When Selling A Vacant House

The 5 Biggest Mistakes When Selling A Vacant House

The 5 Biggest Mistakes When Selling a Vacant House by Birgit Anich

There are many reasons why a home might be vacant when being sold – various reasons include:

  • New construction
  • Relocation property
  • Seller has already moved into their new home
  • It was a rental property that is now for sale

In all these cases the bottom line is that SELLING the property FAST is CRITICAL. There is a lot of money on the table because of ongoing mortgage costs, maintenance cost, insurance cost, and other carrying costs that need to be paid for all these months that the property is sitting on the market.

Selling fast in a buyers market and a down market is a challenge, but especially it is difficult for vacant homes. Vacant homes sell typically slower than occupied homes.

So, what are the 5 biggest mistakes when selling a vacant property?

Mistake #1: Selling the house as a VACANT property

We just said that vacant homes sell slower than houses that are occupied. Why is that?

a. People don’t buy houses, they by homes, they buy a lifestyle! Without furniture, wall art, rugs, lighting, décor,… there are no emotional connection points in the house – the house does not show its soul and any lifestyle buyers can aspire to.

b. Buyers do not have a point of reference

  • empty rooms look smaller
  • buyers cannot see how much furniture they will be able to fit in the room
  • they cannot envision how to set up the room functionally – how should I face the sofa, where does my TV go, can I fit…..

Adding the right furniture, rugs, lighting, wall art and other décor that reflect the target buyers’ lifestyle will make them feel drawn to and helps them envision themselves living in that home.

c. When a room is empty, buyers focus on the negative details
It is so much easier to notice cracks in the walls, paint chips, missed repairs,… if buyers have nothing else to look at. Providing them with a welcoming home they will focus more on how they can live in that house rather than what they don’t like about it. With staging we emphasize the positive features of the property while downplaying the negative features.

d. Only 10% of home buyers can actually visualize the potential of a home

Nine out of every ten people walking in your home have no imagination of the wonderful possibilities your house has to offer.

Mistake #2: Wait to see if it sells vacant

As a home stager in Connecticut, I often receive the response from clients “I want to see first if it sells vacant before I consider staging”. This can be a very costly mistake.

Selling a house is all about FIRST IMPRESSIONS. On a new listing most of the traffic is generated within the first 2-4 weeks.

The Real Estate Brokers open house will get the buyers’ Realtors into the property. They are your “sales staff”. If these brokers do not get excited about what they see, they are less likely to bring their buyers to your property instead of your neighbor’s house on the market.

Let’s say you change your mind down the road and have the property staged and then have another Realtors open house. It will be hard to get Brokers to come back to the property as they have already seen it and do not want to waist their time, nor will their buyers come back for a second time.

So, now you have wasted all that traffic and time on the market without showing the house at its’ best potential. If you had it staged upfront you may have it already sold by now.

Mistake #3: Not Differentiating Your Listing from the competition

Put yourself into the shoes of a home buyer – 94% of home buyers start their search online first looking at all the photos of houses within their qualifying criteria. This is what they might see:

House #1:





House #2:





What makes your house different from these other vacant houses? Why should they visit your house? There is nothing that would draw a buyer into these houses.

Remember – A SALE CAN BE LOST BY ONE MOUSE CLICK – if your house does not stand out and attract these buyers for a visit, you have lost a potential sale.

Mistake #4: Price has now become your only marketing strategy

Selling a house, typically the home owner’s most valuable asset, is not any different than marketing a commercial product. Location, Condition & Showcasing, Price and Promotion need to be considered together. There is nothing that you can do about the location of the property, but you can influence the other marketing factors. The price is being influenced by the Location and the Condition & Showcasing (the packaging) of the house. The Promotion to bring the traffic into your house will be most effective if the Showcasing and Photographs are professionally done.

So, if there is no showcasing, the promotional pictures will not stand out, so price is now your only marketing strategy. (click here for more details about the marketing strategy)

Buyers are willing to pay more if they feel emotionally connected to a house – on average staged homes sell for a 5-10% higher price tag.

Mistake #5: Seeing home staging as a COST instead of an INVESTMENT

Staging a house for sale can help you MAKE money. It is an INVESTMENT into your home selling process – most investments into home staging range between 1 and 3 percent of the listing price, which yield in a 5 to 10 higher sales price –how nice is this, but this is not all. If selling your house faster you will SAVE ongoing mortgage payments and carrying costs. See more details and examples on how Birgit Anich Staging and Interiors helped their clients MAKING a PROFIT by staging.

Barbara Corcoran, one of the biggest real estate experts in the US, says: “Never sell a home without furniture!” “Once the staging is complete you might even find that you can raise the price”

see Barbara’s 2 mintues segment on The TODAY SHOW





About the Author:

Birgit Anich is the president and chief  stager of Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors, LLC, a Real Estate Home Staging and Interior Styling Company in Fairfield county. Birgit is a National and Regional Awards Winner by the Real Estate Staging Company (RESA). Having been trained and mentored by HGTV star Matthew Finlason (“The Stagers”), she specializes in the most advanced and successful staging techniques of Target Staging & Lifestyle Merchandising. Birgit has been featured on local TV stations of FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, the radio, Life@Home Magazine, and other media. For more information contact 203.807.4040 or or visit




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