As a real estate agent, you are likely drawn to “For Sale” signs, so you probably see many lonely looking houses with signs in the front yard and no evidence of life from within. If you pass such a house routinely, you may start to notice changes, such as a drooping shutter, a broken window or graffiti on the siding. Over time, a vacant house becomes more difficult to sell or to obtain a competitive price for.
If you have clients with vacant property on the market, you may worry about its vulnerability to vandals, thieves and deterioration. You certainly can’t stay on guard to protect the house from these things, but you can encourage your clients to take steps to reduce the chances that their vacant property will fall victim to criminal activity.
The lights are on, but no one’s home
Perhaps your clients moved out of state or into their new home before they could sell their previous home. Possibly, the vacant house belonged to their loved one who passed away. No matter why the property is unoccupied, the longer it sits vacant, the more attractive it may become to vandals, drug users, thieves and curious kids. The following steps may help your client protect the value of their property to improve the chances of selling quickly for a good price:
- Curb appeal: Your clients may want to hire someone to cut the grass, water the lawn, weed the flowerbeds and generally keep the exterior looking attractive.
- Deliveries: Neighbors may be willing to collect mail, newspapers or deliveries to prevent them from piling up.
- Lights: Setting a timer to turn on lights upstairs, downstairs and outside can simulate the presence of someone in the home.
- Security: An older home may benefit from updated locks on the doors and windows, and even simple precautions like wooden sticks in the tracks of sliding doors may deter troublemakers.
- More security: You may have to convince your client it is worth the money to install a security system with 24-hour monitoring, which may also be an additional selling point for the home.
- Even more security: Local law enforcement is often happy to make more frequent patrols past a home when the owners alert them it is vacant.
Of course, you will not want to leave the home looking cold and empty. Keeping the rooms at a comfortable temperature and strategically staging a few essential pieces of furniture may give the illusion that the home is occupied. Additionally, listing the property with pictures of an empty house publicizes the fact that no one lives there, which may entice criminally minded people.