For a long time, the popular strategy behind preparing a home to go on the market has been to put the home’s best foot forward. Any realtor would tell you the key steps to maximizing a home’s selling potential are decluttering and getting rid of excess items, painting rooms in neutral colors, and staging furniture and decor to emphasize the function of each space and help potential buyers envision what it’s like to live there. It’s a smart strategy that’s been proven to work: Agents say that staging can increase the value of offers made on a house and decrease its amount of time on the market.
But the latest trend in real estate goes against everything we’ve been told about staging a home. Instead of updating older elements and bringing in decor to emphasize the house’s best features, homeowners are taking everything out, allowing buyers to see a completely blank slate. The trend is called “white-boxing” and it’s an increasingly popular way to sell a home, especially in high-end markets.
According to Jade Mills, a realtor in Beverly Hills, this strategy is appealing because it allows you to “walk in, you just see the walls, you see the interior space, but you can do whatever you want to that space.” For the luxury real estate market, that’s really appealing. These are often homes whose location and views are their primary selling feature, and whose buyers can afford to completely customize the interior of the house to their taste. And starting with a bare space makes that much easier.
This isn’t a great strategy for all homes, though. After all, we know that an empty room can actually look smaller than when it has appropriately sized furniture in it. And plenty of buyers are attracted to turn-key homes they can move in to as soon as they have the keys. But for homes that will attract buyers who plan to renovate—whether it’s a penthouse condo overlooking the ocean, a historic fixer-upper that needs new everything, or a home whose location adds more value than its dated floor plan—providing that blank slate could mean selling your home faster and at a higher price.