“For us, the dream scenario is someone walks into a house and they love everything—the floor, the paint color, the furnishings. But very rarely will someone come into a place, buy it, and not want to change something,” says Costello. “As far as calculating what it’s worth: First, you start with the value of the apartment unfurnished and then add a small number on for the furnishings themselves. So if you’ve put $200,000 into the apartment’s decoration, you build maybe $75,000 into the cost.”

The discount isn’t always that steep. In San Jose, Costa Rica, architect Jaime Rouillón lives in an apartment in a building he designed. He spent years decorating the two-bedroom, 1,991-square-foot apartment, says broker Alejandra Ibarra of Costa Rica Sotheby’s International Realty; now that he’s put it up for sale, listing it for $1.15 million, he’s hoping to recoup his initial investment.

“The value he’s given every piece is the amount he paid for it,” says Ibarra, who’s representing the listing. “He’s not assigning anything sentimental value.”

Without the furnishings, she estimates that the apartment would sell for about $950,000, but Ibarra says that the furnishings still represent a deal for buyers. Rouillón, who’s known for his high-end interiors, filled the apartment with “stuff he’s been collecting his entire life,” she says. “Every piece he bought is almost like art.”

Buyer Reaction
Not every buyer wants the furniture that comes with a house, but at the very least, it means that they have leverage to ask for a better price.

“There are some buyers who aren’t interested in the furniture,” says Scott Davidson, an Aspen, Colo.-based broker for Christie’s International Real Estate. “And if that’s the case, it’s part of the negotiation.”

Fully furnished homes seem to make the most sense in vacation destinations, where buyers want to start using the place as quickly as possible. It particularly makes sense when you’re dealing with homes for the super rich.

“It’s pretty common here to include the furniture in the purchase price,” says Davidson. “So many buyers have two or three different homes, and they just don’t want to go through the process of having to shop or get interior designers.”

That’s similar to a recent venture in Hong Kong, where a developer built $75 million villas that were filled with furnishings that included Christofle cutlery.

Davidson represents a $21.95 million, three-bedroom penthouse in Aspen that comes fully furnished. The style of the apartment’s decoration, which he describes as a “contemporary aesthetic, with sleek, low profiles and clean lines,” is a particular draw, he says. “Antiques, or beefy furniture, is less desirable—unless it’s midcentury, of course.”