Is it better to sell a house furnished or unfurnished?

When it comes to selling properties, there is a popular notion that the smell of freshly baked cookies will make a house feel more like a home, and thereby increase the appeal to potential buyers. Whether or not you believe this, if you’re selling a home, then you’re likely looking for ways to maximise the price you get, and the question of whether to sell furnished or unfurnished is an important one.

You may feel that selling a furnished house will increase the appeal and make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves at home. On the other hand, you may feel that furniture could make it more difficult for buyers to picture themselves in the space, or that hiring staging furniture could be expensive. Which approach is better? We’ll consider the pros and cons of each, as well as consider the costs of having a home professionally staged.

What are the pros of selling a house furnished?

You may find it advantageous to sell a home furnished because it’s the easiest option, or because the furnishings can add to the aesthetic appeal, and because furnishings can draw attention from minor defects.

Selling a home furnished can be easier

If you are living in a home while selling it, then keeping your furniture there may be easier for you than moving it out. If you take this approach, you will want to make sure that your home is tidy and has an appealing look. We’ll discuss some tips for styling your home below.

Furniture can add to a home’s aesthetic appeal

Furniture can add to the aesthetic appeal of a home and can help potential buyers visualise themselves living in the space, as well as give an idea of how certain rooms can be laid out. You may keep your own furniture in the home or you may choose to have it professionally staged, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Furniture can draw attention from defects

While a building and pest report will likely disclose any major defects in a home, there may be minor, easily fixable defects such as chipped paint and stains on the carpet. These things can make a house seem less appealing, and selling a furnished house can be a way to draw a buyer’s eye to the more positive aspects of the home.

What are the cons of selling a house furnished?

Choosing to sell a house furnished can lead to extra work and expense, as well as inconvenience for the seller. It can likewise detract from the aesthetic appeal of a home and can even make spaces look smaller.

Staging furniture can be expensive

If you choose to sell your home furnished, but do not wish to use your own furniture, you may wish to have the house professionally styled. The cost of styling and staging a home can vary from $2,500 to more than $20,000, according to Coco Republic, so depending on your circumstances, this option may not be appealing.

Selling a house furnished can be inconvenient

If you currently reside in a house that you are selling, you may wish to keep your furniture in place to increase the aesthetic appeal, but this could be inconvenient, particularly if you have already bought a new home. You are not guaranteed an offer within a certain time frame, and this may mean you will need to organise a removalist at the last minute.

The wrong furniture can detract from the aesthetic appeal

While attractive furnishings may help sell a home, furniture that is not in line with the potential buyers’ taste may work against you as a seller. You may ask your real estate agent for an honest appraisal of whether your furniture is right, or they may volunteer an opinion at the start of the sale process.

According to design blog Louis Interiors, it’s not just a myth that furniture can make a room look smaller – this is especially true if a lot of your furnishings are dark colours, as they can “create a lot of shadows that make the space look filled in.”

What are the pros of selling a house unfurnished?

Selling a house unfurnished can be cheaper and more convenient than selling it furnished, and it can also present a ‘blank canvas’ for a potential buyer to imagine their own furniture or artworks in the property.

Selling a house unfurnished can be convenient

If your home is unfurnished, then it will likely be easier for your real estate agent to show it at short notice and more often, as you won’t need to tidy and rearrange furniture. This could potentially lead to more interest from buyers or a quicker sale – note that the same would be true of a home that has been professionally staged.

Selling a house unfurnished can be cheaper

If you choose to sell unfurnished, then you won’t need to have it professionally staged or hire furniture, meaning that you will save money on these costs.

Buyers can have a ‘blank canvas’

It may be the case that buyers who walk through the home will not want to see anyone else’s furniture there, as it may limit their imagination.

What are the cons of selling a house unfurnished?

Potential downsides to selling a house unfurnished can be a loss of character or aesthetic appeal, questions in the mind of the seller as to why it’s unfurnished, and lack of places to hide imperfections.

Loss of character or aesthetic appeal

Furniture can add character and visual flair to a house, and make it feel more like a home. Conversely, if a house is unfurnished, a prospective buyer might not see the potential of a particular room, and the property may appear dull and lifeless, decreasing the excitement value.

Questions in the mind of the seller

A vacant house may raise questions in the mind of a buyer as to why the property is vacant, giving the impression that the house has been abandoned or has been on the market for some time and therefore the seller may be more desperate. Even if neither of these things is true, the less the house feels like a home, the more questions the seller may have.

Nowhere to hide imperfections

As mentioned above, furnishings in a house can hide minor imperfections and selling unfurnished means there is nowhere to hide these blemishes. They will be more prominent for potential buyers, and may give the impression of the house being worn and unloved.

Do houses sell better furnished or unfurnished?

The question of whether to sell furnished or unfurnished will ultimately come down to personal preference and budget. Tasteful furnishings or a thoughtful styling and staging can add to the visual appeal of a home, thereby making the house present better and generally encouraging more interest from buyers. On the other hand, if the home you are trying to sell is small, furniture may make the house seem smaller, so presenting it unfurnished to buyers may be a preferable choice. Likewise, having a home professionally staged can be expensive, and you may not feel like you will get a worthwhile return on your investment if you choose this approach, or it may be out of your budget entirely.

How much does it cost to style a house for sale?

A basic home styling and staging package can start at $2,500, and an extremely high end home styling and staging can cost anything up to $20,000 and above, according to Coco Republic. The price can vary depending on factors such as the size of the property and whether any of the seller’s own furniture is used in the styling.

Can you style your own home for sale?

If you do not wish to have a house professionally styled but you still want to try to maximise the appeal of your home for sale while your own furniture is in it, Canstar has some tips for styling your home on a budget. Important things to keep in mind include tidying and decluttering, making sure furniture is arranged so the home is easy to navigate, maximising the amount of light in the home and freshening up with small repairs such as a new coat of paint where necessary.



Sub-edited by Milan Cuk. Cover image source: New Africa/

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