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Curb Appeal
Empty House? 4 Way to Fill the Void
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Check out more before and after photos here.

Want to make an empty house more appealing to buyers? You bet! Here’s how to do it without breaking the bank.

Foreclosures and long days on the market make empty listings more of a challenge than in years past. You can always showcase the houses with a few pieces of strategically placed furniture to nudge the imagination of potential buyers, but we’ve got some more unusual ways of making a place feel like home.

1. Provide a Pleasant Scent
OK, so this tip isn’t that unusual—it’s a trick real estate professionals have been using for years. But, it works a whole lot better on an empty house. “A lot of agents bake cookies [prior to showings or open houses] to make a home smell good, but I think that’s too messy and time consuming,” says Raygan Sessums, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Advantage Team in Wesley Chapel. “Instead, I burn a Yankee [brand] candle—ironically enough, it’s called ‘Home Sweet Home’—which smells warm, inviting and familiar. Even when you don’t light it, the aroma fills the kitchen.”

2. Showcase the Bathrooms and Kitchen First
Forget dragging in heavy furniture. “Bathrooms are easy to [showcase] with towels, candles and decorative soaps,” says CJ Wright, a sales associate with ERA Dan Jones & Associates in Jacksonville. “I open shampoo and liquid soap containers and swish a little down the drain to make it smell as if someone just took a shower.”

Wright places a few empty food boxes on pantry shelves, along with a coffee pot, a filled wine rack and some pretty dinnerware on the kitchen counter to create a lived-in look.

3. Create an Indoor Garden or Art Gallery
“I brought in local artists to display their work in an empty house, which gave them some free exposure and brought in visitors to see the art,” says Charles Morganstern, a sales associate and part owner of M.W. &
Associates in Miami Beach. “The [listing] brochure combined information on the listing and the art.”

Morganstern often brings plants from the garden inside to add life to empty rooms, often with the added benefit of creating more space in an overcrowded yard.

4. Host a Home Decor Challenge or Charity Shower
Realtor Lynn Fulton, with John R. Wood Inc., Realtors in Naples, suggests hosting a party for a local charity, such as a women’s shelter that serves the community and brings potential buyers to the home. Guests bring donations for the charity and are able to preview the home at the same time. Fulton also suggests inviting interior decorators to bring in photos, fabric samples or small pieces of furniture to demonstrate their ideas for the house.

“They can leave their business cards and get free publicity while improving the look of the home,” says Fulton.

Michele Lerner is a Washington, D.C.–based freelance writer.