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Selling a Vacant House

The Johnson family on Elm Street has just moved to another city across the state when Steve Johnson was offered a promotion. The new job meant instant relocation so the Johnsons packed up all their furniture and left you with the task of selling their empty house. 555 Elm Street is located in a great neighborhood and hopefully it will sell quickly but there are a few adjustments you may need to make before listing this vacant house.

Sensible Security

When a house is empty, extra security precautions need to be taken. The Johnsons should inform the local police department that the house will be unoccupied, and give them emergency contact phone numbers. You may want to suggest that your clients upgrade their door locks and install deadbolt locks and strike plates. To give the house a more lived-in appearance you should set up a few lamps and put them on timers. Unless you're actually showing the house, you may want to leave the slats of window blinds closed, so that people passing by aren't aware that the house is empty. Remind the Johnsons that they need to stop their mail before they leave, so the mailbox doesn't overflow. Ask the Johnsons if they have a helpful neighbor who would be willing to walk around the house from time to time to pick up any junk mail and newspapers that may collect, and to keep an eye out for signs of vandalism.

Mindful Maintenance

Maintenance of an empty house is important, especially if the home doesn't sell immediately. Check the house periodically to make sure that no problems have developed. Take the time to walk through all the rooms, flush the toilets, and run the water in the faucets. If the Johnsons left their dishwasher and washing machine behind, they also be should operated from time to time to be certain that there are no problems with the pipes. Suggest to the Johnsons that a yard service should be hired to mow the lawns, water, weed the flower beds and carry out general garden maintenance at regular intervals. Make sure that the batteries in the smoke detectors have been changed recently. If the Johnsons have given their helpful neighbor a key, ask if the neighbor can keep an ear out and be ready to go in and reset the smoke detectors if needed.

Vacant Home Insurance

You should also remind the Johnsons to check their insurance policy to see if they are still covered if the house is vacant for more than 30 days or 60 days. If their homeowners' policy contains a vacancy exclusion, they should talk to their insurance agent about purchasing vacant home insurance.

Smart Staging

Few people want to buy a house that looks forlorn and deserted. Your mission, when showing the Johnsons' home, is to give it an ambience that will attract potential buyers. Prior to a showing, arrive early to open blinds, turn on lights and sweep the path and porch if necessary. Also, a little staging can help give the home an appearance of being lived in. Simple touches like a vase of fresh flowers, towels in the bathroom, and a plate of muffins on the kitchen island will help warm up an empty space and create a welcoming ambience. Most stagers agree that excessive clutter won't help to sell a house, but a home with completely empty rooms can also be a turn off for buyers. It can be difficult for people viewing the space to visualize how their own furniture would fit into and suit the rooms. Adding one or two pieces of furniture can help provide potential buyers with a sense of scale. For instance, a couple of chairs and a small table in the family room, arranged as if an after-dinner conversation was taking place there, will help viewers imagine themselves inhabiting that space with their own possessions surrounding them. With a little effort, the Johnson house will soon become a new family's dream home.

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