If you move into a new home before selling your current house, inherit a property from a deceased relative, or lost tenants who rented a home you own, you may have a vacant home you're looking to sell. Selling an unoccupied house can come with challenges, so below are some tips to consider.
Vacant Home Security Tips
A visibly vacant home can be a target for criminals, so follow these tips to keep your home safe.
- Ask someone you can trust, such as a neighbor or your real estate agent—to check on the property often.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked and consider using deadbolts and chains to make the home even more secure.
- Invest in a home security system. Or, at the very least, place a sticker or sign on the property indicating the presence of a security system to deter criminals.
- Set up timers for interior lights to turn on at night to give the impression that people live there.
- Stage each room to look lived in for your real estate listing photos. Not only does this help attract potential buyers, but it wards off criminals too.
Tips for Preventing Squatters
Vacant homes can also be a target for squatters. So follow the same tips above to prevent criminals from breaking into the home. Just make your home appears lived in. This includes maintaining the home's interior and exterior as you did when it was occupied.
Homeowners Insurance for Vacant Homes
Because vacant homes come with their own risks, most homeowners insurance policies will not cover them. The time limit to switch policies varies, but as a general rule, if a home has been vacant for more than 30 days, your regular homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover property damage more than one month after its vacancy. Therefore, you may need to upgrade to a vacant home insurance policy, and you can expect a 50-60% increase in premium payments.
The higher insurance cost is because if disaster strikes, a vacant home will usually suffer more damage than an occupied home. If an occupied home has a fire or a pipe burst, residents will report those disasters immediately. But a disaster can go unnoticed in a vacant house for days, leading to even more damage.
Pros & Cons of Selling a Vacant Home
Selling a vacant home can be more difficult than selling an occupied one, and in some ways, it can be easier. The pros are that it’s easier to keep the house clean and schedule home tours, inspections, and appraisals. And it can be more appealing to buyers, as it allows them to visualize their own furnishings and preferred setups in empty spaces.
The cons of trying to sell a vacant home are the hassles of keeping the home safe, and it can lack the "warmness" of a lived-in home and appear "cold" or "sterile" to potential buyers. A vacant house also gives buyers the impression that the seller has already moved into a new home and currently has two mortgages. So it promotes the assumption that you are anxious to sell fast, which can lead to lowball offers.
Vacant Home Staging Tips
Whether or not to stage the property depends on the current market. If it’s a seller's market, assume there’ll be enough buyer interest and reasonable offers without staging. But in a buyer's market, staging the home could help bring in higher offers. Your real agent can advise you best on if staging your home would be worth the investment.
As for utilities, keep the home’s gas, electricity, and water on, as these will be needed for the home inspection. But feel free to discontinue internet, cable, and phone service.
Sell a Vacant Home Fast
If you want to sell a vacated home quickly, consider selling to a company that buys houses in cash. Remember, the faster you can sell your vacant home, the more money you’ll save from having to handle two mortgages at once, pay increased homeowner’s insurance, and deal with its upkeep and security costs.