Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor®
Philadelphia Main Line Homes and Real Estate
Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties
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Strategies for Selling a Vacant Home
Consider these two scenarios:
A) Robert has accepted a job in another state. Although his home has not sold, Robert must leave soon because his start date is in a few weeks.
B) Diane built her dream home across town. She expected her present home to have sold before completion, but it is still on the market.
Both Robert and Diane are concerned about having to leave their unsold homes vacant. They know that a vacant house can imply that the owner is desperate for a fast sale, and that it can be targeted for vandalism.
What can be done? Homeowners like Robert and Diane can employ one or more of these strategies to hasten the sale of a vacant property and protect it during the process.
- Give the house a lived-in look to thwart any unwelcome visits. Set a couple of lamps on timers, and have a neighbor or friend check on the house daily to take in mail, park a car in the driveway, and close and open drapes and windows. Continue using a gardening service or hire someone to cut the grass regularly. During the winter months, arrange to have snow shoveled from the walks and driveway.
- If you remove the furniture, have the house cleaned and painted. Furniture, rugs and decorations tend to hide or minimize imperfections. When furniture and artwork have been removed, every blemish and bruise becomes accentuated, faded paint and wallpaper become more noticeable and scratches and nicks stand out.
- Repaint brightly and boldly colored rooms to a neutral tone. What was an eye-popping room when fully-furnished may appear stark and small when empty.
- Leave the utilities connected. Depending on the season, make sure the thermostat in the house is set at a comfortable level. You don't want a potential buyer to run through the home because it is too hot or cold.
- Leave behind a few select pieces of furniture and keep the window treatments in place. Instead of producing a spacious appearance, an empty room tends to look smaller than a furnished room. A chair or lamp on a small table will confer a sense of scale and help potential buyers gauge whether their furniture will fit the space.
- Review your homeowner's insurance policy with your insurance agent to find out what the stipulations and coverage are for your vacant home.
- If available in your area, consider employing a home manager or house sitter. At little or no cost to homeowners, the house is furnished and decorated for show-to-sell condition. Most companies require home managers to mow the lawn, shovel snow, even pay pool maintenance and utilities. Having someone living on site discourages vandalism, protects against deterioration and weather hazards and may even reduce insurance costs. (Check with your insurance carrier.) Using a service of this kind may help you sell the house faster and at a better price, while relieving you of property management duties. Search the Internet for professional house sitters in your area.
- Find a real estate professional with experience selling vacant houses. Very often, these sales professionals specialize in relocation. You want to make sure that you are comfortable with your lines of communication. If you will be residing in another town, come up with an agreement on how often your representative will check on the home and what should be done if a problem develops.
Although a vacant house presents certain challenges, it does not need to be difficult to sell. Just keep it spotless and in show-to-sell condition, inside and out.
"Real Service in Real Estate." For a personal consultation on buying or selling real estate, Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor® can be reached at (610) 642-3744, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors® is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.
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