Selling a vacant home can be hazard and a big expense many times. It’s a common misconception that buyers look for an “at home” atmosphere when reviewing properties. In fact, the opposite is frequently true. Furnishings, decor and space aren’t a one size fits all phenomenon. They’re subject to personal tastes, quirks and a highly unique sense of aesthetics.
But keeping a property empty when selling a vacant home isn’t always a question of catering to design preferences. There’s a number of practical circumstances you simply may have to address. Perhaps you found an absolute steal and needed to move in quicker than you expected. Maybe it’s a rental property where previous tenants had to move out unexpectedly. Or maybe you’ve inherited a home and simply don’t have the time or resources to maintain it properly.
There’s no right or wrong reason not to occupy a home you’re selling. But it can come with both drawbacks and advantages if you’re not careful.
4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Keep Your Home Vacant
1. Vacant House Can Decrease In Value
I’ve discussed this before, but I still can’t emphasize it enough: the value of your home depends on regular maintenance as much as it depends on current market trends. Sometimes, even more so. You may not have the money to perform a complete renovation, but regular home repairs are positively vital to ensuring fair market value for your house.
2. Increased Chance of Theft
Over 5,000 homes were broken into in Utah during 2018 alone. That might actually seem like a relatively small number compared to the rest of the country. Until you stop to consider the estimated value of the burglaries: over $16.5 million. We’re not stating this to frighten you. But there’s no doubt that an unoccupied home is one of the quickest ways of inviting both thieves and vandals into your home, no matter how state of the art your security system is.
3. People Trespassing on Your Property
Believe it or not, squatting in Utah is more common than you might expect. And given our current affordable housing shortage, it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. But squatters aren’t always unfortunate people unable to find affordable housing. They can frequently be disgruntled former tenants who seem determined to enact their revenge; most commonly, through vandalism and a concerted effort to make your property uninhabitable. And sometimes they have more rights than you think.
4. Expensive Water Damage
It might surprise you, but over 14,000 Americans experience a water damage emergency in their home every single day. In fact, 98 percent of all basements experience water damage at least once in the life of a home. And it’s not just the cost of repairs that can eat at you when experiencing water damage with a vacant home. It’s the insurance costs; a reported $7,000 on average that insurance companies have to pay per claim.
Tips On Selling A Vacant Home
1. The Sooner Your Appraisal, The Sooner Your Sale
You can’t simply rely on recent neighborhood sales alone when selling a vacant home. Nor can you rely on your best judgement. A qualified appraiser will know exactly what to look for when helping to establish your home’s valuation. That means both the obvious as well as any hidden flaws. Both will ultimately affect your home value. But the sooner you address both, the sooner you can sell your house at a price that’s right for you.
2. Don’t Put Off Repairs
Easier said than done! Repairs can be costly; sometimes at a cost close to $75,000. But it’s also the quickest way to boost the value of your home, particularly in a buyer’s market. If you need to sell quickly and don’t have the time or resources to perform repairs immediately, disclose the estimated cost to any prospective buyer. You may have to reduce the price comparably, but it’s more convenient than having your vacant home on the market for months on end.
3. Keep The Lights On
Nothing tells a prospective buyer that there’s something to watch out for with a home than failing to keep general maintenance. And that includes utilities. But there’s a much more practical reason not to shut off utilities until after the sale of your home: structural integrity. Weather damage can be costly in Utah; sometimes in the six figure range. Keeping your heat, electricity and gas on in a vacant home may seem to be a waste of your money. But it’s not half as wasteful as unnecessary increases to your insurance.
4. All Your Home’s A Stage
Despite what I said earlier about buyers having their own judgement when it comes to space, they still need an approximate idea of what they can work with. By keeping just a bare minimum of furniture and decor in your vacant property, you can give a viewer a good frame of reference of just how to make it into their home. Empty homes can be depressing to look at, unless you’re a burglar. And you might find maintaining a vacant home even minimally to be a convenient and low cost way to deter trespassers and theft.
5. Sell Your Home As Quickly As You Can
The longer your home sits on the market, the greater the chances of depreciation. It’s hard enough finding a qualified buyer. But finding one after six months on the market doesn’t just tell buyers you’re asking too much. It sends a definitive red flag there’s something to watch out for.
At Gary Buys Houses, we can take your vacant home off your hands, regardless of its condition or even a downturn in the market; as often in as little as 3 – 5 business days. We’ve been in the business for over a decade now and have helped hundreds of Utah residents get a fair price for vacant properties in less time than it takes to apply for a second line of credit!