How to Stage an Empty House: Spark that Emotional Tie and the Rest Is History

“People buy houses for emotional reasons,” says Ruby Henderson, a top-selling real estate and home staging expert in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Yet buyers won’t get starry-eyed and passionate over just any home. It has to be one they can fall in love with and imagine a future in. And it can be difficult, as a seller, to convey the full potential of your house if it’s completely vacant, like a college town where everyone’s already left for the summer.

To help buyers see a home’s full potential, experts recommend staging an empty house that’s up for sale with selective furnishings, decor, and soft touches that have wide appeal. According to data from HomeLight, over 95% of top agents believe home staging to be effective, while 45% say vacant homes will benefit the most from the process.

Just think: When was the last time you walked into a model home that hadn’t been furnished?

A slide describing what types of homes benefit from staging.
Credit: HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey for Q1 2019

Use home staging to show every space of your empty house could be used

One of the main purposes of staging an empty house is to help buyers visualize the purpose of every room and area. Wide-open spaces, even if entirely functional, can leave buyers confused about where they’d put their couch or whether their existing furniture would have a place. A living room staged with an on-trend modern theme, statement art, and space-defining rug can make all the difference.

Without staging, a buyer may fail to realize that a side room off the kitchen would be the perfect den, or that the awkward corner would actually make an adorable book nook. Better Homes and Gardens shows how small spaces can still be stylish—you can turn a gap between two walls into a small office, display pretty dishware above the kitchen cabinets, or fix a bathroom storage problem with woven baskets.

But not everyone has the imagination to see them that way.

Keep it neutral and depersonalized to create wide appeal

You may love a room decked out with antique furnishings or an eclectic mix of patterns, but when you stage an empty house, you don’t want to go overboard on any unique stylings.

The good news is you can’t go wrong with simple, functional furniture with clean lines and neutral color palettes on the walls.

According to top agents HomeLight surveyed, the top 5 neutral paint colors are:

For more ideas, check out our complete guide to the best types of paint colors for home staging!

A bathroom that has been soft staged in an empty house.
Source: (Milly Eaton/ Pexels)

Soft stage empty rooms at a bare minimum

Soft staging is a lesser-known staging technique that doesn’t require furniture but uses simple decor pieces like vases and rugs add color, texture, and definition to an empty room, which can be more cost effective.

“If the sellers don’t want to stage the house, we’ll soft stage the empty houses because they sell a lot faster for more money,” says Henderson. “We don’t have furniture, but we have other things like accessories, pictures, and rugs.”

Soft staging is especially useful in rooms that don’t require furnishings, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Here are some easy, low-cost soft staging items to add to an empty room:

Focus on the money rooms to cut costs

According to top real estate agents, the top 3 rooms worth staging are the living room, the master bedroom, and the kitchen. Henderson says she always recommends sellers with empty homes rent furniture for these rooms.

If your concerned about costs, talk with your agent upfront—we’ve found that nearly half of top performing agents provide some kind of complimentary home staging services to their clients.

“We pick out the furniture for them and then they rent it for a very small fee that the rental companies charge,” says Henderson. All of the other staging pieces such as plants and rugs, Henderson and her team provide free of charge.

Keep your furniture rental budget-friendly

You don’t have to dish out loads of cash to rent high-end furniture for your empty home. Before you rent furniture, work with your real estate agent to figure out what pieces of furniture are necessary to define the space in each room.

For example, a couch, a coffee table, and a chair might be the only furniture needed in an empty living room. Save money on extra furniture and let soft staging decor work its magic.

In your hunt for rental furniture companies in your area, it’s important to read the fine print and make sure you understand the terms of the agreement. Each company has different policies when it comes to the duration of the rental, the cost per item, and the liability to damaged furniture.

We recommend one of these verified furniture rental companies:

  • CORT Home Staging is a nationwide staging rental company that allows you to rent individual pieces or entire rooms. The cost depends on how many pieces you rent and how long you rent them for.
  • Brook Furniture Rental provides full flexibility with your furniture rental. The delivery, set up, and pick up is included in the cost. They even have a calculator so you can figure out exactly how much you’ll pay for your rental furniture.
  • AFR Furniture Rental tells you the cost of the room sets up-front. You can browse through the site and pick out the best furniture for your home.
A fireplace staged in an empty house.
Source: (Milly Eaton/ Pexels)

Spark that emotional tie and the rest is history

People generally begin the process of buying a house from a logical perspective. They get tired of paying rent and finally commit to making a down payment.

They show the lender they’re ready for this huge financial undertaking and set a budget. They view it as a smart investment as they would their stock portfolio.

Then everything changes and the left side of the brain takes over.

If you can give buyers the nudge they need to picture family dinners and nights spent watching TV by the fireplace by staging your empty house like every buyer’s dream, that’s your one-way ticket to a full price offer.

Header Image Source: (Milly Eaton/ Pexels)

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