Protecting Vacant Homes
Whether you are selling a vacant home or going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, the following items will help to protect and preserve your property in your absence!
- Winterize your plumbing. This is one of the best, must-do items if you are going to be away! You never know when something is going to spring a leak or freeze and water damage can quickly become very extensive & costly! If the weather is warm or if you are going to keep heat on you can just turn off the main water shut off and run the water out of the lines. If it’s cold and there will not be heat you should have the plumbing fully winterized. Some homeowners complete this themselves, others hire a plumber to take care of it.
- Sump pump back up. If you have a sump pump consider having a battery back up or a system in place that will notify you if the sump pump quits working. Basement flooding can happen quick if a sump pump quits working & cause a lot of damage!
- Turn your hot water heater to pilot if your home is not fully winterized. This is safer than leaving it on heat, and will reduce your utility bill during the time no one will be using the hot water.
- Turn off gas pilot lights to fireplaces, stoves, etc that aren’t going to be in use while you are away. This is for safety & also reduces your utility bills while you are away.
- Perform routine maintenance before leaving. Consider having your heating & cooling system serviced, your gutters cleaned, etc. It’s important that the major systems of the house are in good working order while you are away to prevent any unexpected issues.
- Protect your home from vandals. Take steps to make it unnoticeable that the home is vacant. Consider putting timers on lights, having window coverings on the windows, arranging for someone to pick up any papers or bags that are regularly dropped off at the home, and having your mail forwarded or held while you are gone.
- Protect your home from pest entry by keeping up on maintenance, repairing any openings where they can get in, cleaning out refrigerators, cabinets, etc. The last thing home owners want to come home to is a rodent family occupying their home!! This is never a good thing when selling either!
- Consider installing smart home systems which allows you to monitor the systems in your home, change the settings through your smart phone, and act as a security system. This brings a lot of peace of mind to home owners who are frequently away from their property or who are away for long periods of time.
- Exterior lawn care & snow removal. Ideally have someone regularly check on your property while away. Have them clean off snow if it’s winter from the sidewalks & driveway, or mow and trim weeds if it’s summer. Nothing announces a home is vacant like these things not being completed!
- Last but not least, don’t advertise you are going to be gone. This is not a social media post you want to make prior to leaving! Instead of telling people you are going to be gone, save the announcement & pictures until you are back home.
For most people real estate is the single biggest investment they will make, so take steps to properly protect it while it’s vacant! In our years of selling real estate we’ve walked into show vacant homes numerous times and found basement’s full of water, plumbing busted and leaking, or HVAC systems no longer functioning. Not only does this cost the homeowner a lot of money in repairs, but also costs them a buyer real quick!