Q: We just put our house on the market. Though it is a three-bedroom house, the rooms are small and with furniture in them they appear even smaller. We plan on moving out in a few days. Should we remove all the furniture to better show the space or should we leave some behind to dress it up a bit?
This type of question appears frequently on Real Estate forums and is often asked by sellers while discussing how best to show their property to ensure it is appealing to as many buyers as possible. Though you Realtor may instruct you to remove superfluous items to create a better flow and atmosphere at showings, the majority agree that it is not a good idea to show an empty house.
“There is a difference between a vacant house and an empty house”, says Deb Dawkins, a Realtor in Easton, MD. A vacant house is easy to show because no one lives there, but an empty house has no character and does not provide the visual clues buyers need to imagine the ambiance they hope to create in their new home.
Though it is recommended to remove items associated with your own story, such as family pictures, you should leave the key furnishings and decorative touches that make your house a home. For instance, Bob Kelly, a Moorestown, NJ Realtor, recommends, “Two chairs and a table with a lamp in the living room, a few decorative items grouped in 3’s on the counter in the kitchen and fresh clean fluffy towels in the bathrooms.” He adds, “Make sure that each room has some kind of lighting.” Good point.
At this time of year, you can create ambiance in the entrance or mud room by leaving a few coats on the hooks, and a pair of boots or two by the door. Of course, home buyers will realize that these are home staging props, but they are the very props they hope to find because they will assist them in picturing “living here.” It is almost like walking into a magazine photograph. Also, remember to keep the outside and lawn tidy, mowed or shoveled.
If you plan on furnishing your own new home with new items, this is a good opportunity to offer a package that would allow buyers to consider purchasing with or without the living room or kitchen set, for example.
You may want to hire the services of a professional home stager to help you decide what to leave in place and how to arrange items to create the right atmosphere. If there is anyone with an artistic eye in your immediate surroundings, round them up.
As a rule, furnishings give a sense of size and perspective because they provide the cues by which we normally, instinctively understand space. Empty space will not make your home look more spacious; it will make it more difficult for buyers to determine how everything flows once someone lives there.