Tips for Selling a Vacant Home

In a perfect world, your home sale and purchase would align so that you could move seamlessly from one home to another. However, that’s often not the case. Your current home might sell before you make an offer on a new house, or you might find a home you love while your current house is still on the market. The reality of the real estate market is that we have to manage these sometimes rocky transitions the best we can. Here are some tips for how to make your home appealing to buyers even after you’ve moved out.

Staging: While you could argue that an empty home is a blank canvas for a buyer’s imagination, it can sometimes be hard for buyers to truly appreciate a home’s potential when it’s sitting empty. Staging key spaces like the living room and master bedroom helps present a room to its best advantage, making it easier to picture the empty house as a home.

Photograph while lived in: If possible, take photographs for online listings before you move out. Especially when viewed online, it’s hard for buyers looking at empty rooms to get a sense of how big rooms are, how they might be used, and the overall layout of the home.

Landscaping: Landscaping is key to making a great first impression that will set the tone for the buyer’s opinion of the whole house, especially in the summertime. A well-maintained lawn signals to buyers that the interior will also be in excellent condition.

Ongoing maintenance: Although you no longer occupy the house, it’s important to make sure you keep up with regular indoor and outdoor maintenance tasks. Keep gutters clean, refresh the paint job, mow the lawn, give rooms and windows a regular cleaning, and open windows to allow fresh air to circulate through the house. If you’re no longer in town, hire a service to maintain these tasks for you.

Emphasize your assets: Some elements of your home may actually be easier to fully appreciate when there aren’t furniture and belongings to act as distractions. Hardwood floors, for example, can easily be overlooked or under-appreciated when hidden by rugs and furniture. If you have beautiful hardwood floors, invest in refinishing and polishing them so that they can truly shine.

Paint: For occupied homes on the market, the conventional wisdom is to paint all your walls white so that buyers aren’t distracted by a difference in taste. However, for an empty house, choosing soft, warm paint tones can make your house appear more inviting. While you’re at it, giving any woodwork or cabinetry a fresh coat of paint can help to spruce up the home and give it a “new home” or renovated feel without much effort.

Replace old fixtures: In the absence of furniture and other distractions, otherwise small details like fixtures and hardware receive greater attention. Replacing doorknobs, drawer pulls, light switches, and faucets can make the home feel recently updated.

Homey touches: There are a number of small touches you can add around your home to make it feel lived in even while sitting vacant. Purchase a few low-maintenance plants, leave attractive bars of soap in the bathrooms, or brighten large stretches of open floor with a nice rug. You could even request that your realtor put a batch of cookies in the oven before showings to make the house smell homey and welcoming when visitors walk in.

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