Leaving a House Vacant - How to WIN With Potential Buyers

Real Estate Agent
Home Buyers, when you start your WNY home search you may come across homes that are clearly vacant.  Don't be hesitant about scheduling a viewing to see them; being vacant doesn't equal "bad".  These homes may be this way for a myriad of reasons:
  • Sellers found their dream home and simply picked up and left with their home still on the market.
  • Sellers had to relocate ASAP for career purposes.
  • Seller was in financial trouble, home is now a short-sale or being foreclosed and they are living in accommodations they can afford.
  • The home is an estate of a late-relative.
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For the home sellers in WNY that know they will be moving out before a buyer can be found, here's how to keep both you and your potential buyer happy from bargaining to closing.
1. Maintain the Yard & Curb Appeal - Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, keep up the exterior especially snow removal.  Buyers often drive by homes before they tell their Realtor they're interested in them. 

2. Keep the Utilities On - This is a HUGE must do if you leave it vacant in the winter (unless you have it winterized of course). Don't let pipes freeze and burst.  Also, home inspectors, home appraisers and some loan programs will require them to be functioning for the buyer to proceed with the sale.  One more added bonus: keeping the buyers happy.  It's a pain and there's a fee to get utilities turned back on.  No one wants to spend more money after the closing table...

3. Make It LOOK Like It's Lived In - This helps for buyers with a lack of imagination and safety reasons.  Can you leave some furniture behind until closing?  Excellent!  Furniture placement help buyers visualize rooms better and keeps window peekers at bay.  Can't leave your stuff?  Find a home stager that furnishes vacant homes.  They can provide you with furniture while your home is on the market.  Deter break-ins by keeping a few lights in the home on timers.  Like your list agent?  Make them and other agents feel safe by having a home that looks like someone could be back at any moment.  It's scary showing houses to a stranger for the first time.
4.  Find a Family Member to Move In - Temporarily of course.  Maybe you have a friend or family member looking for a place to rent while they're searching for their home.  You could fulfill all of the above points and potentially make a few bucks.  Please refer to your attorney regarding local and state renting laws that may apply.
Happy house hunting and selling!  

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Sarah Lynn Jaskowski

House. Home. Today.
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