Best Practices For Selling a Vacant House

a vacant house with a no trespassing sign outside

Selling a home you live in can be a stressful ordeal. But selling a vacant home can be even more complicated. Advertising a property as empty can make it a target for burglars and squatters. That’s why it’s important to increase security and protect your vacant property as best as possible before and during the selling process. Otherwise, you could end up with bigger issues that end up costing you.

Keep reading to learn our best practices for selling a vacant house to ensure your property stays safe and well-protected.

1. Let Local Police Know You Are Selling

As a taxpayer, a portion of what you pay the municipality for your property goes towards various services. Depending on the size of your community, one of the services you are already paying for is local law enforcement. Because of this, 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 on occasion to check all is well. Some departments may even include extra patrols in the neighborhood to make their presence known. This is helpful and can prevent a burglary, especially if it’s a small area or a town with a small population, as a vacant home is at a much higher risk than others in the area.

2. Tell Neighbours the House is Going On the Market

As well as the local police, it’s a good idea to inform neighbors that the property is vacant and going on the market. Ask neighbors you trust to keep an eye on the property and give them your number to call (or the local police) if they see anything suspicious.

If your home sits in an area where a neighborhood watch or similar program is in place, it would be wise to have them watch your home, too. 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.

Just be sure not to advertise the fact that the property is vacant if you don’t trust your neighbors or have experienced prior issues with them. You don’t want to draw attention to the vacant property. After all, most break-ins are committed by people in close proximity to the property, according to Yardian datasets.

3. Make the Property Look Occupied

Although you are selling your home, it doesn’t have to be sitting completely (and obviously) empty. If the listing agent has posted photos of your home online, there are probably going to be some interior photos. Anyone can view these images, including criminals and squatters, and an empty property with minimal furnishings can be made a target.

For the images, keep some inexpensive furnishings in the photos so criminals don’t suspect that your home is unoccupied. Work with your real estate agent to stage a property appropriately so it gives the illusion that someone is still living in your home. Keep those furnishings in place for showings, too, so the house looks lived-in from the windows as well.

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 fast, there has to be an open house held at least once a week. 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.

Just remember that while an open house can help sell a house, they also invite criminals to walk into your home. This gives them a chance to review the layout of the property, ask questions about who lives there, and scope out any valuables to steal later. This is particularly true if the home is vacant and empty, and your real estate agent advertises the property as such.

5. Increase Home Security

a home security camera fitted indoors

Many entrances can be used to access a vacant home. Back doors and windows are often a primary target for most homes. But so is the front door, especially in a vacant property (when the chances of people paying attention to who is coming and going are slimmer). In fact, according to ADT, almost 35% of burglars break in through the front door.

This is why it is important to increase home security when selling a vacant property. Consider adding deadbolt locks, chains, window tracks, and an alarm system. Motion-activated lights in and around the home can also be a great deterrent for burglars. The more secure you make your vacant home, the less likely it will become a target for criminals.

6. Pick Up 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 around that the property is vacant. If there’s a “for sale” board outside to accompany the mail, this makes the property even more of a target.

Make sure you still arrange to pick up mail when selling a vacant house. If you live too far away from the property, ask a neighbor, friend, or real estate agent to lend a hand. Better yet, get your mail redirected, cancel subscriptions, and put a sign up asking for no junk mail to be delivered in the mailbox.

7. Keep Up On Curb Appeal

Your real estate agent will tell you that the visual people get from the street, known as curb appeal, has a huge impact on whether or not your home sells. When selling a vacant property, it’s still important to keep up with the way your home looks from the outside. This can 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 look abandoned, making it more of a target to squatters and burglars. Additionally, it will also reduce the visual appearance and curb appeal of your home to potential buyers. This can prevent buyers from booking a showing. It can even encourage some buyers to make a low offer. After all, a badly maintained property can be a sign that other parts of the home are not in good condition.

Final Thoughts

Selling a vacant house is not much different from selling an occupied home in terms of the process. Plus, even when selling your own home, you should take precautions to keep your property protected from intruders.

However, there are a few more precautions you need to take into consideration when the house is empty rather than lived in. Such precautions can protect your home from potential thieves.

Are you selling a vacant home in Philadelphia, San Diego, or New Jersey? At Brotherly Love Real Estate, we buy houses as is for a fair price. You can sell a house to us quickly (in as little as 21 days) and skip closing fees.

Give our expert team of real estate agents a call today at (215) 769-9875 to learn more.

About the Author: Mike Olson works as a freelance journalist at Cool Things Chicago covering real estate local news in the Windy City.