3 Reasons to Sell Your House Empty

In this video we will discuss 3 reasons that selling a home unfurnished
may make sense for longtime homeowners and those who are downsizing. 

We are often asked the question about whether a home sells better with or without furnishings. What people really want to know, however, is whether they will get more for their house if it looks “lived in” versus empty. 

For those of you reading this who watch HGTV and other home staging shows, this blog may seem counterintuitive. That said, keep in mind that shows on television are ALL about ratings and NOTHING about reality.  

Show homes (every house on HGTV) are devoid of personality, warmth, and character. Show homes are designed to sell products, spotlight design elements, and create a sense of “lack” in those who are touring them. This sense of lack translates into, “Honey, it’s time to upgrade our old house (or furniture, lighting, appliances, etc.).” 

The average human family lives in an average human dwelling

Let’s face it. Few people live in what would be considered a show home. I certainly don’t and frankly, wouldn’t want to. Now, consider the homes of those having lived in the same place for as many as three, to even five or six, decades. Chances are, their decor preferences and furnishings are not the ones currently in vogue. This isn’t a criticism – it’s just a reality. We don’t go out and re-do our homes and buy new furnishings every 3-5 years, which is how often these trends typically cycle. 

Based on what this article has touched on so far, you may be led to believe that the aesthetic argument is the main one we’re making here. Not at all. Yes, aesthetics pay a role in why we think houses often should be sold empty, but there are three even more important reasons why it typically makes good sense for retirees, longtime homeowners, and downsizers to empty their home before putting them on the market. 

3 Reasons to Sell Your House Empty

Safety and Privacy 

By moving first and emptying the home of all valuables, personal effects, and furnishings, there is far less risk of burglary, theft, and breakage. 

When opening a home for showings, owners are essentially giving people access to their entire life. While real estate agents do their best to monitor clients walking through a property, it’s impossible to know for sure who is honest and trustworthy and who isn’t. 

The two most common items stolen from homes are prescription drugs and jewelry. These are often easily put into a purse or pocket and most agents are not going to follow people into bathrooms during an open house.

Stress and Overwhelm

Longtime homeowners, especially those who are downsizing or who have physical disabilities or illnesses to manage, already have a lot to deal with. By choosing to move first and then empty the remaining items before putting the home up for sale, they can work at their own pace without the stress of keeping the house clean and tidy for showings or looming contractual deadlines. 

When pets are involved, this stress increases. It is best practice for homeowners to leave the home when it’s being shown and doing this with pets only increases stress levels for everyone involved (including the pets). 


Lastly, but also an important factor, is when household items become focal points that detract from the home’s appeal or that distract prospective purchasers. Consider family pictures for instance. We often see people spending more time looking at the photos in the hallway than at the size of the rooms or closets. They may also get distracted looking at plaques, certificates, diplomas, and other memorabilia belonging to the owners or their family members. 

Collections can also be distractions. For instance, if the homeowner collects roosters and there are roosters all over the house, the buyer will remember the house as the “rooster house” and not the house with the amazingly renovated kitchen and dining area.   

Debunking the vacant house myth

For whatever reason, there is a long held belief that furnished homes “sell better,” but this is simply not true. The reality is that good agents know what helps homes sell better and for more money. Great agents know that positioning the home is only one part of the overall downsizing and relocation puzzle.

Those who are making a late-life move or who are downsizing to a smaller place have different circumstances and often different goals that require a different approach. When an agent specializes in these types of moves, they aren’t approaching the transaction as “one size fits all.” They will guide clients and give recommendations that make the most sense for their unique circumstances. 


Naturally, if you have questions about how to best position your home in the current market or how to make your next move as hassle-free as possible…just give us a call at 512-818-0988 or email at virginia@seniorslivingsmarter.com.