Yesterday I had a call from a local REALTOR asking if I had furniture to rent. She had a client with a vacant house, and she thought that adding furniture would make it more appealing. I told her that although I had a few things, I didn't think that renting furniture was a good idea, so I usually recommend against it. (I think she was surprised to hear me say that).
In my experience, the furniture that's available for rental is often unsuitable for a particular house because of its quality, size, color, design or condition. If you stage a house with odds bits of furniture here and there, or with the wrong furniture, it looks a lot worse than no furniture. Having some furniture definitely is not better than having none.
Renting furniture is also expensive. In addition to rental fees, sellers have to pay to have the furniture transported and installed, and to have the rooms staged. They probably will also have to pay one or more months rental in advance, and may not be able to pro-rate the fees if the house sells during the rental term. Then they have to pay to have the furniture removed. This money is usually collected in advance too. In addition, if the furniture is damaged or stolen, sellers are responsible for repairs or replacement. You can see how the costs add up, which is why some stagers are really in the furniture rental business. They love the months of passive income, and who can blame them!
My preference is for sellers to use their budget to do things that add value, create more appeal (both in pictures and in person) and convey with the house, such as painting. The key is to use the right colors, because attractive colors will add a "wow" factor and help to furnish a vacant house, along with a few well-chosen accessories in the right places.
Instead of renting furniture, sellers should invest in a consultation with a professional stager who can recommend smart solutions that pay off, such as new paint colors, and upgrades of flooring, lighting and other fixtures that would enhance the value of the house and make it more marketable.