Selling your home is a big deal. It can also be a stressful event to navigate. Selling your home while it is vacant is often a much bigger and more stressful activity. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure that the sale proceeds smoothly and efficiently. In this article, we will share with you some of the top tips to consider while selling your vacant home.
Tip #1 – Let The Police Know What You Are Doing
As a taxpayer, a portion of what you pay the municipality your property is part of goes towards various services. Depending on the size of your community, one of the services you are already paying for is local law enforcement. It is because of this that you can feel confident in giving your local police detachment a call and informing them that your home is vacant and for sale. Most police departments will do courtesy checks of your property and will include extra patrols in the neighborhood just to make their presence known. This is most helpful considering a vacant home is at a higher risk of something happening to it.
Tip #2 – Let Your Neighbours In On It As Well
You probably have a few good neighbors on the street you were living on. You should contact them and let them know that you are in the process of selling your home while it is vacant. The odd neighbor you trust can be asked to keep an eye on your property and requested to contact you and the police if they see anything wrong. If your home sits in an area where a neighborhood watch or similar program is in place, it would be wise to have them watching your home. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask your real estate agent to swing by and take a look once in a while as well. The more eyes on it, the more peace of mind for you.
Tip #3 – Make It Look Occupied
Although you are selling your home, it doesn’t have to be sitting empty. If the listing agent has posted photos of your home online, there are probably going to be some interior photos. You should have some furnishings in the photos so that criminals don’t get tipped off that your home is unoccupied. Photos of an empty home are a target and you would want to avoid that. Work with your real estate agent to put together staging photos that give the illusion of you still living in your home. Keep those furnishings in place so the house looks lived in from the windows as well. It may even help sell your property.
Tip #4 – Decide Yes or No To Open Houses
Open houses have their pros and cons. From the standpoint of a real estate agent, some will say that to sell your home, there has to be an open house at least weekly. Others will tell you that an open house is a waste of time and a tool used only by real estate agents to connect with potential clients. Open houses are also an invitation for criminals to walk into your home and give it the once over so they will know the layout for targeting later. This is particularly true if the home is vacant and empty. It is far more vulnerable to a break-in which may be the result of an open house event hosted at your property.
Tip #5 – Beef Up Security
Many entrances can be used to access a vacant home. When you consider how many hours in the average day that your home is sitting unoccupied or without attention, you start thinking about how easy it would be to crack open a window or some other gateway other than a door. This is why it is important to add deadbolt locks to all doors, chains on doors, install sticks in sliding door and window tracks, and have an alarm system plus motion-activated lights in and around the home. The more secure you make your vacant home, the less likely it will become a target for criminals.
Tip #6 – Pick Up The Mail
One of the most obvious signs that your home is vacant or unoccupied is the number of newspapers and mail that is filling up your mailbox. Once that pile gets large enough to see from the street, you are signaling to anyone who notices that you are not spending time on your property. If you are now living quite a distance away from the home you are selling, you can ask a neighbor, a friend, or your real estate agent to stop by every so often to gather the mail or newspapers until you either cancel subscriptions or get things redirected to your new home.
Tip #7 – Keep Up On The Curb Appeal
Your real estate agent will tell you that the visual people get from the street, known as curb appeal, will have an impact on whether or not your home sells. While it is unoccupied, it is important to keep up with the way your home looks from the outside. This may mean keeping the lawn trimmed, weeding flower beds, raking and bagging leaves, and plowing snow from the driveway and walks. By not maintaining these chores, your property will not only look abandoned but will not have the visual appearance that makes your home appear attractive to a potential buyer. You may need to hire someone to do this, but it will be worth the effort.
Selling a vacant home is not much different from selling one that isn’t. Only there are a few more precautions you need to take into consideration as your home sits empty. These precautions are intended to protect your home from potential thieves. The list of tips above should give you some ideas on how to address that and inspire you to take the steps necessary to keep your investment safe until it sells. For more assistance, turn to your real estate agent for advice.
About the Author: Mike Olson works as a freelance journalist at Cool Things Chicago covering real estate local news in the Windy City.