Nationwide, vacant homes sell for $11,306 less and spend six more days on the market than comparable occupied homes, according to a Redfin analysis of homes that were listed and sold in 2018.
The analysis compares the sale prices and time spent on the market for home listings that were marked ‘vacant’ at the time they were sold with those that were not flagged as vacant. Only metro areas where the listings for at least 70 percent of homes sold in 2018 were clearly marked as either vacant or not vacant were included in this report.
“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 to buyers that they can take their time making an offer,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “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.”
In expensive West Coast metros, vacant homes still sell for less than occupied homes, but the price differential is smaller.
“Whether occupied homes sell faster and for more money depends on a lot of factors, as everyone’s tastes and preferences are different,” said Billie Jean Hemerson, a Redfin agent in Orange County. “If a home is occupied and the furniture is modern, up to date and fits the space, it has a positive impact on a potential buyer’s perception of the home and they may pay more than if the home were vacant. But if a seller’s furnishings are dated, dark or too large for the space, buyers may offer less.”
Less than 3 percent of homes included in the analysis started out occupied and became vacant while on the market, which makes it unlikely that the findings are skewed by homes whose sellers were unable to find a buyer before they needed to move out.
Staging Vacant Homes
Although vacant homes tend to sell for less money and spend more time on the market before going under contract, staging or virtual staging may help make a good impression with buyers.
Staging involves hiring a company to bring and arrange furniture in a home to showcase its potential to buyers. Staging can be particularly impactful for homes with open spaces or unusual layouts, where buyers most often need help to see how the furniture could be arranged. Professional staging can cost several thousand dollars, depending on the number of rooms staged and the length of time.
“Staging a property can have a profound effect on both the sale price and days on the market, but the main challenge of physical staging is that it’s cumbersome, costly and offers no flexibility to showcase various aesthetic stylings,” said Pieter Aarts, CEO and co-founder of roOomy, a virtual staging, CGI and 3D modeling platform.
Virtual staging is an option that gives homebuyers an idea of what the vacant home will look like.
“It caters to today’s homebuyers who are increasingly demanding immersive services and mobile augmented and virtual reality tools that allow them to evaluate a property, often times without needing to physically set foot in the home,” Aarts said.
(RedfinNow has partnered with roOomy to virtually stage some homes–samples pictured above).