Tips for selling an empty house

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

It's not impossible to sell a vacant property, but there are things you can do to boost your chances of a quick sale.

We often hear experts discussing the downside of showcasing a home that is jam packed with furniture and other bits and bobs, but apparently trying to sell an empty house comes with its own set of challenges.

Yes, a house’s flaws may be highlighted if it is empty, but a lack of furnishings can also be a perfect way to show off gorgeous features like wooden floors or unusual windows. On the other hand, although one may think a potential buyer might appreciate the lack of furnishings as it allows them to better visualise their own belongings filling the space, this is not always the case. Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell the ‘blank canvas’ that is an empty house.

All is not lost, however, and there are ways to boost your chances of selling a house which is standing vacant.

Firstly, these properties need to be in tip-top condition, both inside and out. Nothing says ‘make me a lower offer’ like an overgrown garden, so keep the verges trimmed and the garden tidy and weed free. Sweep up dead leaves regularly and have the gutters cleaned if the house has stood empty for an extended period of time. It may be an idea to hire a garden service if you have already moved out of the area or don’t have enough time to do things yourself.

As far as the interior goes, walls should either be freshly painted and/or immaculately clean. Likewise, carpets should be pristine and any broken floor tiles should be replaced. Talking of painting, remember that when it comes to selling, neutral colours on walls are far more appealing than loud, bold colours. The entire property should be absolutely spotless. The windows should gleam and cupboards should be scrubbed inside and out.

And remember, while wooden floors might be a great selling point, if there is no furniture in the room, damaged sections will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Consider having neglected floors revamped once you've moved out.

Take a close look at the fixtures and replace any broken or outdated taps and knobs. If the bank will allow, replace old fashioned or broken light fittings. It's amazing what small cosmetic changes like these can do to give a home a new lease on life

One of the downsides to an empty house is the lingering musty smell. Make sure you air the house thoroughly at least once a week. This is easily accomplished by opening all the windows and doors for an hour or two. If you've moved away, ask the agent if they’d mind popping around and opening up every now and then.

Unfortunately, empty homes can be a target for criminals. Think about keeping your security company on retainer until the home has been sold. Ask for regular inspections to be carried out to ensure than criminals or vandals aren't taking advantage of the fact that the property is uninhabited.

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