When selling a home, many sellers hope to sell their home before moving into their new one, but that is not always possible. Unfortunately, that can leave their old home empty and vacant for some time. Because nobody is keeping an eye on the home, a vacant home is susceptible to a variety of risks.
Once you've packed up all your belongings and moved to a new property, there can be many challenges, especially if you're moving out of state. One issue you have to consider is property damage caused by thieves or vandals. If the home appears empty, it can become a target for these groups.
When you do find potential buyers, you don't want them to be deterred by broken windows or spray-painted walls. Also, thieves could steal valuable materials from the home, such as copper wiring, and these missing parts may be noted when buyers schedule a building inspection. As a result, you may have to funnel more money into the house to repair it.
We encourage you to follow the tips outlined below to protect your vacant home, so it is well-maintained and presentable for prospective buyers.
Follow These Tips to Avoid Risk and Make Your Home Look Occupied:
Notify Neighbors and Local Police
Before you move, give others in the community a heads up. If they know your old house is empty, they may keep an eye on it for you. Contact your local police department, as well. In the event a neighbor spots a rowdy bunch of teenagers or other vandals breaking into the property, law enforcement will know the property should be empty and we be able to address the situation in a timely manner.
Leave a Light On
A key deterrent to vandalism and theft in a vacant home is to create the illusion the someone is still living there. One way to accomplish this goal is to leave a few inexpensive lights in the home. Pair the lights with timers or photosensors so they automatically turn on during the evening. Photosensors can be better than timers, as the latter turns the lights on at the same time each day, possibly alerting thieves and vandals that the home is vacant. Don't forget to automate the exterior lights, as well.
Forward Your Mail
A ton of letters stuffed in your old mailbox is a dead giveaway that nobody's home. Set up mail forwarding at your local post office so all your mail is rerouted to your new address until you can update your contact information. Also, update your address if you have a newspaper delivered to the residence. As an extra precaution, it’s not a bad idea to ask a former neighbor to keep an eye on your mailbox to collect any mail that gets accidentally delivered.
Keep up With Lawn Care and Snow Removal
An unkempt exterior is another indicator of an empty home so it’s important to stay on top of your exterior clean-up. In warmer weather, be sure to make sure the lawn is mowed and cleaned. Additionally remove all debris like sticks, branches and leaves from the lawn. During the winter, make sure that all driveways and walkways are free of snow. Consider hiring a snow removal company or take care of it yourself. You may also want to enlist the help of nearby friends and family to make the process go a little quicker.
Take Care of Repairs
In the same vein of maintaining the exterior of the house, check that the property doesn't have any noticeable exterior damage every so often. Common areas of concern for vacant homes are gutters, doors and windows. Keep an eye on all items and if you notice something starting to look rundown, it’s a good idea to get it taken care of as soon as possible.
Consider Leaving Window Treatments
Blinds and curtains can be a pricey item to leave behind but can work to your advantage for the goal of protecting your vacant house. There is some debate regarding whether it is better to leave window treatments open or closed to create the appearance that someone is home. A happy medium would be to close the ones on the ground level while leaving the ones on the upper level open. As a result, no one can look in from the first floor and see the house is empty, but passersby will get the impression the property is occupied when they see the open blinds or curtains on the upper floors.
Showcase Some Indoor Plants
If you decide to leave your window blinds or curtains open, a good precaution to take is to make sure there are some indoor plants visible from the window opening. They do not have to be real plants; fake plants will do just fine in making the home see like it is still occupied. You additionally may want to include some plants outside just to complete the aesthetic, but this is not required.
While these steps cannot guarantee your home’s safety, they can go a long way in making your vacant home appear occupied. In addition to these steps, we strongly encourage having a trusted family member, friend or neighbor check-in on your home frequently to report any changes in its condition or appearance. We hope you found these tips useful and wish you the best of luck in your move!