Important Safety Points While Selling a Vacant Home

Selling a home is one of the most crucial decisions in life involving a great amount of stress, anxiety and a kind of uncomfortable feeling. These feelings intensify when leaving it vacant while selling since in the absence of the owners, several things might go out of control and the home is vulnerable to acts of theft and vandalism.

However, with necessary precautions, such risks can be avoided letting a peace of mind prevail over you. When you choose to leave the home vacant while selling, there are a lot of things to think about and a long to-do list and not to-do list.

Therefore, a carefully drafted checklist treating the issue from different angles is the needed. Also, most importantly consider how long you are going to be away from the home. Depending on that and given a comfortable margin period, make the necessary arrangements guided by the following points.

Inform the Local Law Enforcement Authority

As a resident of the municipality, you are paying taxes and, therefore, have every right to expect that your home is safeguarded in your absence by the law enforcement department. When you leave the home vacant during a sale, inform the local police department and also ensure that they are aware that your house is on sale. Usually, when informed, they shall stay alert in watching over your home.

Intimate your Neighbors

Unless you had not been in good terms with your neighbor, you can always have their good support in watching over the vacant home. Also, informing them that your house is on sale can help get some leads through them under some surprising circumstances.

Ask them to keep a watchful eye on your home. Talking to your neighborhood watch group or association can help. Also, it is necessary to ask your real estate agent to make periodical checks of the property.

Create an Illusion of an Occupied Status

Though you might need to leave the property unoccupied, there is no reason to leave it empty. During a home sale, it is most likely that the photos of the interior are clicked and posted on the internet. There might be criminals who could explore the photos to check whether the property has indications of being vacant.

With some simple staging tips, you can create an impression that the home is occupied. Also, this tip can help you to create a welcoming ambiance in your home. Therefore, adopt for some staging strategies like leaving some furniture inside. 

Think Whether You Can Take the Risk of an Open House

While selling a vacant home, you have the options of whether to allow open houses or not. Though the decision would have to depend on your situation, there could be some guidelines to help you decide on this correctly.

While some real estate agents would advise open houses frequently, some others would say it is a mere waste of time and effort.

However, know that there are several drawbacks to open houses that would actually discourage you from resorting to it.

In fact, the risks of open houses could be greater when selling the home while leaving it vacant. Who you think are prospective buyers might not be buyers at all.

They might just make use of the opportunity to learn the layout of the home and the entrances to plan some criminal acts later. Therefore, you will need to guard against this by deciding not to have open houses unless there is a compelling reason justifying taking this risk. 

Ensure all the Possible Entrances Are Secured

Though you might say it is natural for every home owner to secure the entrances while leaving it vacant, due to the crucial importance of this point, it is essential you recheck this aspect.

In addition to ensuring that you have closed all the windows and doors on all the floors, you might think of adding some deadbolt locks and chains to doors and wooden or metal sticks in sliding door tracks.

The extra time it takes for a criminal to access your house, the greater the chances are for someone to spot the attempt and do what is necessary.

Set-up a Security System

With a simple research, you will be able to find a number of companies that install and monitor security systems. While you may have to incur a monthly or yearly rental fee for these installations, this can significantly bring down the probability of break-ins in a vacant home.

If you cannot afford to pay for one, the best option could be to buy a security system sign or sticker from a local home improvement store and paste near the entrance.

 It is most likely that this can caution a potential criminal and prevent him from attempting entry into the property.

Recover Mail and Newspapers Periodically

If you have an overflowing mailbox or a newspaper pile in front of your home, it is most likely that onlookers will get an idea that the home is unoccupied. Therefore, arrange to collect them periodically.

If it is not practically possible for you, you may ask the neighbors to do so on your behalf.

When changing your address inform the local post office of the new address and make a request to forward the mails to your new address. This kind of request can also be made online.

Leave the Lights Glowing

It is a good idea to leave the lights on in vacant homes.

While it is not necessary and also a waste of power to leave the lights on during the daytime, you may arrange to do it during nights by installing timers purchased from local stores so that the lights turn on automatically during the nights.

You can set on and off times in these devices. This can paint a picture to onlookers that there is some activity going on in the home. It is also equally important to keep the exterior well-lit so that any suspicious activity by a criminal could be seen by the neighbors and passersby.

Maintain the Ideal Temperature

Keep the interior temperature at a reasonable setting. If the home is going to be vacant, turn off the utilities. If the climate in your region falls below zero at times, then it is advisable to leave the pipes drained so that they do not freeze.

Keep the inside temperature between 70 and 80 degrees. This can help you maintain comfortable energy bills. The ideal temperature inside can also give a welcoming feel to buyers when they visit your property.

Examine your Insurance Policy

Many insurers are concerned when their clients leave their home vacant. While some insurance policies can compensate you for any acts of vandalism, some do not. Therefore, you need to talk to your insurer and find out what kind of provision is there in the policy.

Nominate a Local Contact

It is obvious that you cannot visit your vacant home regularly. Therefore, entrust the responsibility of checking both the inside and outside of the property from time to time to someone you trust. You may say that you will pay them for such services.

You may also find some companies doing this job. They can offer a host of services connected to safeguarding as well as maintaining the vacant homes as per your choice.

Remove and Lock Up Prescription Drugs

Most real estate agents report that prescription drugs are on the top list of things stolen by the people visiting the property during open houses. Therefore, lock them up in cupboards to be collected later when you return.

Secure Your Valuables

Ensure that you have removed all valuables and stored them safely including jewels, art pieces, cell phones and gaming consoles. It is also important to note that such items are not photographed while taking the snaps for advertising. 

Let Adequate Sunlight Inside

Letting more sunlight inside the property by tilting the blinds will give a feeling that the home looks great as well as create an occupied look.

Remove the Pictures of Your Family

In the safety interests of your family, it is advisable that you remove family pictures from the walls and other places and secure them. This is essential from the point of view of appealing to the buyers as well as protecting the interests of your family members.

Leave the House Safe for the Visitors

Before showings to the prospective clients, turn on the lights to give a better appeal as well as to ensure the safety of the agents and buyers. Only when all the rooms have adequate lighting, the buyers and agents can move comfortably inside.

Remove any loose carpets and floorboards. This is necessary to prevent someone walking into trip and fall making you liable for the mishap.

Don’t leave the driveway and sidewalk slippery with snow. Arrange for snow removal from time to time so that you do not become liable to any mishaps that happen to the visitors.

Install a Home Monitoring System

If possible, make use of some sophisticated home monitoring system available today.

A wireless security system can do wonders. In fact, there are some companies that connect your old smartphones so it feeds videos from your device remotely. Installing a motion detection device can also help you tighten the security features.

Beware of Uninvited Visitors

Be careful when unexpected visitors come to your doorstep. Ensure only the real estate professionals having control of the locker box should be able to access the home. Establish this as the minimum procedure to see the home.

Beware of Rental Fraud Scam

This kind of tricky fraud is alarmingly growing these days. Some scammers remove the listing of homes for sale and then place them on the rental list in Craigslist. It is advisable that you paste a sticker on the door-front stating that the property is not for rent.

This will also give an indication to the viewers that it is only for sale. The sticker can carry the phone number of the listing agent, the district attorney’s office, and a link to the internet crime complaint center.

Secure the Viewings

Though more visits contribute to the quick selling of the property, ensure that the visits are secured. It is a good idea to let the agent inform you of the timing of the visit and personally be present there to perform checks on the property when you are there.

If you cannot be there, you can arrange for real estate agent accompanied visits and request them to be in advance before the clients to check the house and ensure the security processes are taken care of with the help of a checklist like setting the alarm.

Check the Status of Smoke Detectors

Check the batteries in the carbon monoxide detectors. Some of them can send automatic signals to local authorities while the home is empty.

Check the Weather Stripping

Check the condition of your weather stripping for any cracks or tears and replace them. This can help prevent the entrance of critters while keeping the interiors free of moisture producing. Also, clean the gutters since they can accumulate clogs that can freeze and tear away from the home.

Little Things Do Matter a Lot

Though the list has a mix of items that appear work intensive as well as those that look light, it is essential that you take care of all these aspects meticulously so that you can ensure that your property is safe and you stay at peace until the home sells. 


Relates To  -  home seller tips