10 Tips for Selling Your Vacant Home | How To Sell A Vacant House

Kyle Hiscock
Published on August 23, 2017

10 Tips for Selling Your Vacant Home | How To Sell A Vacant House

How To Sell A Vacant House

10 Tips for Selling Your Vacant Home

10 Tips for Selling Your Vacant Home

When selling your home, it’s common you may experience some stress, feel a bit uncomfortable, and even have some anxiety.  These feelings are usually magnified when selling your home while it’s vacant.

The truth is that even though most human beings are hard-working, considerate, and law abiding citizens, there are always some people however, who are not.  When selling a vacant home, the probability of a home being vandalized, damaged, or broken into does increase.

Recently during the sale of a vacant home in Rochester, NY was broken into and damaged.  The criminal(s) who broke into the home stole the copper, likely to sell for money.  Whether this unfortunate and disturbing crime could have been avoided is unknown.  There are however precautions and tips that can be practiced to help increase the chances that horrible criminal acts do not happen when selling a vacant home.

Below is a short video covering the best tips for selling a vacant house.  Following these tips can make a huge difference in keeping your vacant house safe while it’s for sale.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth breakdown of the 10 tips discussed in the video, continue reading.  Below are detailed explanations and examples on why these top 10 tips are so important!

Vacant Home Selling Tip #1: Alert Local Law Enforcement

As a resident of your local municipality, you are required to pay taxes.  The money you work hard to earn helps cover expenses and salaries of local governmental departments and their employees, such as the local police department.

Make the local authorities aware that your home is for sale and ask if they can keep an eye on your property.  Many local law enforcement agencies will make note of your vacant home and often will make additional “drive-by’s” in your neighborhood.  A quick phone call to the local police department can help reduce the possibility of a problem when selling your vacant home.

It’s extra important to alert local law enforcement is important when selling a home from long distance!

Vacant Home Selling Tip #2: Contact Your Neighbors

Hopefully while you lived in your now vacant home that you are selling, you weren’t a “bad neighbor.”  It’s a great idea to alert your neighbors if you are planning on selling your home while it’s vacant.  Ask them to keep an eye on your home, as you may not be able to do so.  Many neighborhoods have watch groups or associations.  In addition to asking your neighbors to keep an eye on your vacant home, you may also want to ask your real estate agent if they can periodically check on your home.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #3: Stage To Reflect An Occupied Home

Even though you may not be living in your home doesn’t mean that it has to be empty.  When selling your home, it’s extremely likely that photos will be taken of the interior.  There are criminals, believe it or not, who will look online at photos of listings to see if they are empty.  Photos of empty homes can give the impression of an easy target to potential criminals.

There are simple staging tips that can help sell homes but also by leaving some small furniture such as tables, chairs, or couches in the rooms, can deter criminals from thinking your home is vacant.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #4: Consider Whether Open Houses Are Worth The Risk

When selling your home, you will have the opportunity to allow or not allow open houses.  There are many things that should be considered when deciding to have open houses or not.

There are many real estate agents who will tell you open houses should be done every weekend or at least every couple weekends to get your house sold.  There are other real estate agents who will tell you open houses are a big waste of time for a seller and the only reason for open houses is for the real estate agent to pick up potential clients.  For the most part, there are more drawbacks to holding open houses when selling your home.

When selling your home while it’s vacant, the drawbacks are even greater.  It’s a fact that criminals have used open houses as an opportunity to “stake” out their next target.  If your home is vacant and completely empty, it’s possible that the “prospective buyers” coming to the open houses are actually not interested in buying your home at all.  These “prospective buyers” could be using this time to figure out the easiest and quickest way to enter your residence, unlock an accessible window in the hopes it doesn’t get locked after the open house, or to just scope your neighborhoods activity.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #5: Secure Possible Entrances

When Selling Your Vacant Home Secure All Possible Entrances

When Selling Your Vacant Home Secure All Possible Entrances

Securing all possible entrances may sound like common sense but there are many sellers who fall short in executing this.  Whether it’s leaving a first floor window open or a sliding glass door, making sure your vacant home is secured is critical.

A few extra precautions that can be taken include adding deadbolt locks to all doors, chains to doors, and installing wooden or metal sticks in sliding door tracks.  The more time it takes a criminal to gain access to a vacant home, the greater the probability someone may see this unwanted “guest” attempting to access your vacant home.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #6: Install A Security System

Like securing all possible entrances, installing a security system may sound like an obvious tip for selling a vacant home.  In most communities, there are several companies who install security systems and monitor homes.  There are monthly or yearly fees to these systems, but a security system can greatly reduce the probability of a break-in to a vacant home.

Nowadays there are some fantastic smart home technologies that you can use in your vacant house to help keep an eye on it while it’s for sale.  Smart home technologies have impacted the real estate immensely, in fact, homes with smart home technologies will typically sell for more money and in a shorter amount of time.

If you are unable to or unwilling to pay for this service, another alternative that is much less expensive, is buying a security system sign or sticker for your window from your local hardware store is a good idea.  You may know there is no security system installed in your vacant home, however, a potential criminal may not and this could potentially deter them from entering your home.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #7: Retrieve Mail and Newspapers Regularly

If you have overflowing mail in your mailbox or a stack of newspapers on your front step of your vacant home, you might as well put a “this home is vacant” sign on the outside of your home.  If you are unable to retrieve your mail and newspapers from your vacant home, ask a neighbor, friend, or relative to stop by a few times a week to empty your mailbox.

It’s recommended that when you change addresses, you inform the local post-office and the local newspaper company.  You can have all of your mail forwarded to your new address, which eliminates the chance you will have an overflowing mailbox or stack of newspapers on your front step.  Having your mail forwarded can be done in a few minutes by accessing the United States Postal Service website.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #8: Keep Lights On

Another simple precaution that can be taken when selling your vacant home is leaving lights on.  Certainly having lights on during the day is not necessary and also a waste of energy and money, however, once the sun is down, it’s strongly suggested.

Interior lights can be set up on timers, which can be purchased cheaply at a local hardware store.  These timers are able to be set for an on and off time.  By having interior lights on at your vacant home can portray that someone is living there or is currently inside the home.

When selling your vacant home, it’s also suggested you have exterior lights on to keep the home well lit.  Nothing screams “vacant home” more than a poorly lit exterior of a home.  A poorly lit exterior can allow a criminal the comfort of not having to worry about someone seeing them entering your home.

Purchasing motion activated lights for the exterior of your home is suggested.  Similar to timers, exterior motion lights can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #9: Maintain Curb Appeal

Exterior Maintenance is Important When Selling a Vacant Home

Exterior Maintenance is Important When Selling a Vacant Home

Just like having a poorly lit home screams “vacant home,” not maintaining the exterior of your vacant home will do the same.  Make sure when selling your vacant home that you have the grass cut, driveway snow-plowed, or flowers watered.  A home with well maintained curb appeal is a sign that the home is visited often enough to keep it well maintained.  If your vacant home has overgrown grass, weed filled flower beds, or three feet of snow on the driveway, this can portray nobody is around to care for the home, making it an easy target for potential break-ins.

Not only will maintaining the curb appeal help deter criminals it also is important to the sale of the vacant home.  Perspective buyers will often drive-by homes and through neighborhoods before looking at a homes interior.  If your vacant home does not have a well maintained exterior, it can have potential buyers steering clear of it.

Vacant Home Selling Tip #10: Maintain A Reasonable Temperature

When selling your vacant home, it’s important to keep the temperature inside reasonable.  There are many reasons why you should NOT turn off the utilities in a vacant home.

First and foremost, if you live in a climate where temperatures fall below freezing, you need to ensure your pipes do not freeze!  Keep your vacant home at a reasonable temperature, which can vary between 50-60 degrees.  This will ensure the pipes do not freeze and also that your energy bills aren’t astronomical.

Another reason to keep your vacant home at a reasonable temperature is for private showings.  If your vacant home is being showed by a Realtor during the warmest day of the summer and it’s 85 degrees inside your central air conditioned home, a potential buyer may be so uncomfortable that they cannot focus on actually looking at your home.  Same goes for a buyer who is viewing your vacant home during the winter months!

Certainly when selling a home that is vacant, you hope for a quick and seamless sale.  The majority of vacant home sales go smoothly and have no issues with criminal activity, however, that is not always the case.  By following the above tips when selling your vacant home, you greatly reduce the chance of there being an issue.

Other Home Selling Resources


If you are considering selling your vacant home in Rochester, NY, contact us for a free and no-obligation analysis of your home.  We’d be happy to give you tips to help sell your vacant home in a short amount of time for the maximum value.


About the authors:  The above article “10 Tips for Selling Your Vacant Home | How To Sell A Vacant House” was provided by Kyle Hiscock of The Hiscock Sold Team at RE/MAX Realty Group.  With over 35 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.

We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.

© 2017, Kyle Hiscock. All rights reserved.

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10 Tips for Selling Your Vacant Home | How To Sell A Vacant House
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