Selling An Unoccupied House
Vacant houses are harder to sell and riskier to own. Marketing vacant houses requires extra time, special effort & property management.
1. People buy with their hearts (not their heads).
Buying a home is an emotional decision and emotions influence what people will buy and how much they will pay. Vacant houses are lifeless and the ability to make an emotional connection with a vacant house is non-existent. An empty room is just four walls, a floor, a ceiling & probably no lights. Without furniture, pictures, rugs, lighting, window treatments, décor, etc. … the house is sterile.
2. Vacant houses create unneccesary buyer concerns.
Vacant homes are perceived as distressed properties. Once prospective buyers realize a house is vacant, they become distracted and a) irrelevant questions about why the house is vacant are asked, b) doubts about the value of the house are heightened and c) the recipe for a low offer is in place.
3. Defects are much more obvious in vacant houses.
In vacant houses, the floors, walls and ceilings are all the buyers will see. When there is nothing else to see, buyers are more likely to notice cracks, nail holes, carpet wear, gaps in the molding, paint chips, sun faded flooring or carpeting, repairs, etc.
4. People have difficulty envisioning the functionality of the rooms in vacant houses.
Without furniture, the purpose and functionality of each room is not clearly illustrated. An empty bedroom might appear awkward or a living room might seem cavernous. Some areas might even confuse buyers because their use is not obvious.
5. Vacant houses are often stale and uncomfortable.
Without people living in the home, even the best homes quickly look, feel & smell stale. Dust settles, cob webs form, light bulbs burn out, and the air becomes stagnant. Also the temperature in vacant homes never seems appropriate. They are either too warm in the Summer or too cold in the Winter
6. The first impression of the home will be the portfolio of online photos.
Photographs of vacant rooms are unappealing & cold and you cannot distinguish one room from the next. Is the room depicted in the photograph a dining room, a living room or a bedroom?
94% of all home buyers start their search online by analyzing the photos of homes in their price range. The online photographs will be the buyer's "first visit" to your house. If the online photos are uninspiring, you are one mouse click away from losing the sale.
7. Maintenance & property management.
Since no one is around to keep an eye on the home, undetected small problems can quickly grow into large expensive repairs. In addition, the equipment & systems in the home should be operated occasionally in order to keep them in working order and looking attractive. Periodically - Faucets, toilets & drains should be used - Dishwashers & laundry appliances should be operated - The house should be aired out - The house should be cleaned. Dirt, dust & cobwebs are going to accumulate.
8. Vacant houses tend to appear neglected.
There are many, tiny insignificant tasks that are handled every day by an owner/occupant. These tasks will not be handled in a vacant house and eventually the house will appear neglected.
Obviously you will hire someone to mow the lawn, rake the leaves, shovel the snow (after each significant snowfall), BUT … Who will pick up the “free circulars”, door hangers and phone books that are left at your door? Who will shovel 1” of snow from the walk? Who will pick up the branches after a windy day? Who will pick up litter on the front lawn? Who will water the lawn? Who is going to purchase & replace burned out light bulbs, smoke alarm & thermostat batteries? Visitors are probably going to use the bathrooms. Will there be toilet paper & paper towels in the home?
9. Security risks
Once a house begins to appear neglected, it is easy for burglars and vandals to identify the home as unoccupied.
Consider using Smart House technology or automation to control the lighting and the systems in your vacant house. Lights & lamps with timers, motion sensors or photocell switches – programmable (or wireless) thermostats - security systems - web cams (video surveillance). With today’s technology, no matter where you are, it is possible to control an entire house from your smart phone.
10. Most homeowner insurance policies ONLY cover owner-occupied homes.
Will your homeowners insurance policy cover a vacant house?
Selling a vacant home presents special challenges. Often home owners don’t realize how much more difficult it is to sell a vacant home or how risky it is to own a vacant home.
When a home has no emotional appeal and appears neglected, the only way it can compete with the other homes on the market is by discounting the price.
When selling a vacant home, there are only two choices.
1. Have the vacant home furnished, staged & managed
2. Or discount the price.
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