3 Photos That Will Make You Want to Stage a Vacant Listing

By Patti Stern, Principal PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

After making a desperate $50,000 price reduction on her parent’s well-maintained home a “Today Show” viewer asked real estate expert, Barbara Corcoran, if she should remove the dated furnishings. Corcoran’s advice: Never list a home without furniture. Stage it!

Vacant homes aren’t memorable and won’t stand out to buyers particularly in online listings where the majority of buyers begin their home search.

These three different vacant properties, pictured below, are a great example of how unfurnished homes can often look the same in the listing photos and get lost in a buyer’s search. Without furnishings, buyers can’t distinguish one home from another. None of the homes stand out or make it onto their “must see” list.


Three different rooms, a master bedroom, living room and dining room, in three different vacant homes will look nearly identical to buyers online. Photo Credit: PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Regardless of price point, staging vacant homes is important to initially capture buyer interest and take them from the online listing to the front door. Once there, a well-staged home will help buyers emotionally connect to the property, ultimately taking their interest to the next level with an offer.


Photo credit: PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Our team staged this 1930, $2 million plus historic mansion. Our goal was to showcase the incredible architectural detail of the home — from the crown molding, wainscoting, windows and hardwood floors, to the fireplaces, and more.

“This grand home has a beautiful interior with stunning details,” says Joanne and John Hoye of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in West Hartford, Conn., the listing agents for the Hartford home. “However, most of the time buyers don’t have the vision to see what a room can look like. Larger vacant homes in particular can discourage buyers, who may think they don’t have enough pieces to furnish the home. A professional stager knows how to appropriately furnish a home, selecting the right sized pieces, colors and fabrics. Buyers see an inviting home, rather than a large vacant space, and get ideas on how they can arrange their furniture in the home. Ultimately it [staging] makes the home more saleable.”

Still need convincing or help convincing your sellers? Keep these insights in mind.

· It will sell faster. A vacant property can take up to 78 percent more time to sell than comparable furnished homes, according to the Real Estate Staging Association.

· Buyers will see it as their home. Only a few buyers can visualize a vacant room decorated and furnished. The majority of buyers, on the other hand, cannot envision how they will live in the home or use a room.

· They’ll stay longer. During a showing of a vacant home, I’ve found that buyers unable to connect with the space will only stay on average 5 minutes, compared to an average 40 minutes in a furnished home.

· Their furniture will fit. Empty rooms look smaller to buyers, who more often than not will think their favorite sectional or king-sized bed is too big. In larger homes, buyers will question if they have enough furniture. Either way they’ll be calculating the additional cost of new furniture rather than focusing on the home.

· Details stand out. Architectural details and key features can stand out when a home is professionally styled and staged whereas empty rooms put a spotlight on flaws or needed repairs.

See more examples of vacant home staging at www.PJStagingDecorating.com.
PattiABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern is a principal of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, and an interior decorator and accredited home stager. She and her team offer decorating and home staging services for individuals, real estate professionals, builders, and others in the industry. For more information visit pjstagingdecorating.com. She can be reached at patti@pjstagingdecorating.com.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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  1. I believe that a vacant home (unstaged) sits longer on the market then being staged. When I started my real estate career a few years back, I understood the importance of staging but couldn’t afford staging costs. I started collecting small decorative items when I found them on sale or just while browsing my favorite stores. I have been able to use these items as a “mini-model” in my homes and I found it helped generate more offers at more aggressive prices! Great Article! I will definitely be starting the search for staging partners now in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. If you know of , or are a stager in this area email me at: MJRealEstate12@gmail.com

  2. Just recently I tried virtual staging with a difficult home to sell because of the floor plan. Within 3 weeks I ended up selling the home myself from an open house as they buyer saw it online. I was not interested in breaking my back on moving furniture in or out, or getting into the storage business, or paying the staging fees when my client won’t. I included a disclosure in the MLS that the home had been virtually staged. I still can’t figure out how the company did it as it looked like the furnishings were there.

    David Phillips REALTOR® ABR, CRS, GRI, CSP
    The Real Estate Group
    Virginia Beach, VA

  3. Thanks this is a great article and I’m sure many of our clients can use this advise. For after costly fixes and renovating having to lower the asking price due to not being able to make a sale is hard. From a buyers point of view I would say that it is very hard to get an idea of the size of the space when empty!
    Being a bit of a computer techy myself I love the idea of the virtual staging too!
    Thanks again.

  4. Staging is huge! For 17 years I have seldom listed a home without some sort of staging, whether it’s rearranging furniture, creating focal points in a room, or staging vacant properties. It sells houses!!! Great article, thank you.

  5. Gail Oleaga, Realtor

    I agree. I virtually stage my vacant homes on the MLS to entice Buyers to come to the home. I sometime stage the home inside as well when I can. Great article, Thanks